16 JULY 1983, Page 19

The Selous story

Sir: I had intended, apart from making my family's personal remonstrance to the Mayor of Camden, to remain silent on the controversy raging over Selous Street. However, when inaccuracies of the sort Produced by Xan Smiley of the Times are Printed in your august columns (Letters, 2 July), 1 think it time to intervene.

My great-uncle, Captain F. C. Selous, DSO, got shooting rights in the land of the Matebele and Mashona at the age of 19 from Lobengula in 1871. He had to wait a week at the royal kraal before obtaining his audience. People familiar with African tribal custom will know with what creature Fomforts he would have been provided dur- ing his wait. The innuendo of a wife 'back home, is pure fabrication as he did not marry until late in life and my great-aum Gladys, whom I knew well, accompanied her husband to settle Rhodesia after her husband had been the guide to Cecil Rhodes's Chartered Company's expedition.

What most Camdenites don't know is that the three Selous brothers, Frederick Lokes Selous, Henry Courtney Selous RA, and Angelo Robson Selous, built themselves three houses, side by side, in the Borough. The eldest brother, my great- grandfather, and father of F. C. Selous, eventually when he retired in 1865 had become Chairman of the Stock Exchange and had been, in quite large measure, resPonsible for the ending of the Crimean War as he had managed to stop a Russian loan being raised on the Stock Exchange and the war ceased shortly afterwards — the Russian Treasury being empty. The. third brother was the Victorian dramatist or, perhaps, one would now say playwright; True to the Core was one of his better- known efforts.

This Camden family has given seven of its sons to their country in four generations in this century. I myself earn my living in this Borough, pay about £8,000 per year in rates and employ roughly 30 people. I believe that there must be many people in Camden who would be sorry to see this street renamed. Visitors within our normal- ly peaceful shores should be thankful that they have found a haven.

Commander G. M. B. Selous

Coppice Wood, Chobham, Woking, Surrey