Frank Cundall (1858 - 1937) - The National Library of Jamaica

Frank Cundall (1858 - 1937)

Frank Cundall was born in London on the 17th of January 1858. Frank Cundall was married twice and had two children. His son was the Hon. Leslie Cundall, Q.C., Attorney General of Jamaica and his daughter, Mrs. Frances Wiehen who was married to Mr. Guy Weihen, a Master of Munro College, St. Elizabeth.

Mr. Cundall held the position of Assistant Secretary in 1883 to the International Fisheries Exhibition and from 1884-85 to the Health and Inventions Exhibition. In 1879, Sir Anthony Musgrave, the then Governor of Jamaica, founded the Institute of Jamaica. At a special meeting of the Board of Governors of the Institute of Jamaica held in 1890, Frank Cundall was appointed Secretary and Librarian. He arrived in Kingston on February 6, 1891.

Prior to his appointment Frank Cundall was an author. He was the author of The Landscape and Pastoral painters of Holland  and Reminiscences of the Colonial and Indian Exhibition.

During his tenure at the Institute of Jamaica his focus was on historical research and the development of the West India Reference Library. It was his past involvement in exhibitions that lead to the quick creation of  the Art Gallery at the Institute. Cundall used his connections overseas to acquire most of the Institute’s collection. He saw to the collection and preservation of all types of materials on all the Caribbean Islands with the greater emphasis on Jamaica. Cundall, with minimal support from the government made significant contribution to the development of the West India Reference Library now the National Library of Jamaica.


In 1929, His Majesty King George V was pleased to confer on him the Order of the British Empire (O.B.E.).

His Involvement

  • He was Chief Assistant Secretary to the Royal Commission of the Colonial and Indian Exhibition in 1886.
  • For many years he was a Church warden of the St. Andrew Parish Church and Lay Representative of the Synod of the Church of England in Jamaica.
  • He was a Fellow of the Society of the Antiquarians and of the Royal Historical Society
  • He was an Honorary Corresponding Member of the Institute Historique et Heraldique de France, the American Antiquarian Society, the American Jewish Society, the Hispanic Society of America, the Ontario Historical Society and the Academic des Jeux Florimontains.

Some of his Publications

Mr. Cundall was a prolific writer and a bibliography of his works make for much reading. The items include:

  • The Story of the life of Columbus and the Discovery of Jamaica
  • A Brief Guide to an exhibition of maps of the sixteen century…
  • The Life of Enos Nuttall, Archbishop of the West Indies
  • The Press and printers of Jamaica prior to 1820
  • A History of printing in Jamaica from 1717 to 1834
  • The Taxation of Jews in Jamaica
  • A Supplementary bibliography of Richard Hill
  • A Brief History of the Parish Church of St. Andrew Jamaica
  • The Aborigines of Jamaica
  • The Rodney Memorial in Jamaica
  • A Brief account of King’s House, Spanish Town, Jamaica
  • Jamaica in 1901; a handbook of information for intending settlers and others
  • Jamaica in 1897; a handbook of information for intending settlers and others
  • Jamaica in 1896; a handbook of information for intending settlers and others
  • Jamaica in 1895; a handbook of information for intending settlers and others
  • Place-names of Jamaica
  • Historic Jamaica
  • Catalogue of the portraits in the Jamaica History Gallery of the Institute of Jamaica
  • Jamaica in 1928, a handbook of information fro visitors and intending residence with some account of the colony’s history
  • Tortoise shell-carving in Jamaica
  • Bibliographies of the West Indies (102, 1908,1909)
  • Lady Nugent’s Journal (editor of)

A portrait of Frank Cundall is on display at the National Library of Jamaica.