National Archives Department

History and Evolution of the Dept


The National Archives was influenced by the successive settlers on the island. During its early years of operation, the National Archives functioned under different departments; the records were managed by different administrators and housed at several different locations.


The Dutch Period (1598 – 1710)

Many administrative records were produced during the Dutch settlement. When the Dutch left the island in 1710 however, they took along with them, all their archives. Most of these records are kept at the Dutch Archives, Hague and at the South African Archives, Cape Town.

The French Period (1721 – 1810)

Records (such as correspondences, deeds) generated by the French administration during its first decade (1721-1731) were initially located in a lodge at Vieux Grand Port. Subsequently they were shifted to Port Louis and were kept in a small building where the Provincial Council used to assemble.

In February 1731, the building was badly damaged in a cyclone leading to the loss of most of the records. When Mahé de Labourdonnais completed the construction of a new building in 1736 for the Superior Council – (presently the Government House in Port Louis), all the records were then transferred and kept in a room there. The largest part of records produced continued to be kept there until 1810.


There emerged a clear division of the records into four distinct categories:
i. Administrative – Kept in intendant’s office
ii. Judicial – Kept by the Greffier (Registrar of the Superior Council)
iii. Domanial– Kept by the Greffier (Registrar of the Superior Council)
iv. Civil Status registers – Kept by the Priests


Decree of Louis XVI – Dépôt des chartes des colonies of Versailles


A first archivist of the notary was appointed to look after the records.

1790 – 1803

Following the Arrêtés of 14 Prairial An III, notaries and land surveyors were required to deposit duplicates of their documents in the office of the Directory.


Pierre Auguste Le Maire took charge of Archives until 1803 after which he handed over all the records to a representative of General Decean


When the British conquered the island, General Decaen handed over the records to Marroux, a French Officer. The Archives were transferred to Beau-Bassin.











Le Vieux Conseil, Port Louis











The Archives was transferred to a room at the Government House in 1736.

Photo Source: National Archives, 1850

The British Period (1810 – 1968)

In December 1810, when the British forces captured the island of Mauritius and its dependencies from the French, an Act of Capitulation was signed between the British and French. However, the archives were not included in the Capitulation Act. It was only with the signature of the Treaty of Paris in 1814 (specifically Article 31) that the archives records, which were since the capitulation, in the custody of a French Officer (Marroux) returned to their former abode in the Government House. The National Archives got its official recognition under the British administration. The first Colonial Archivist was appointed in 1815. For the major part of the British period however, the Archives remained an associated Department of the Registrar General, and it did not have enough power to operate as a fully autonomous body.

Combat du Grand Port, Isle de France, 20-25 Aout 1810
Photo Source: Dessein de Lebreton, Musée de Marine, Paris

Vue du combat de l’Ile de la Passe pendant la journée du 23 Aout 1810.
Photo Source: Archives Nationales

Le Baron Antoine Marrier d’Unienville, 1er Archiviste, nommé en 1815

27 July 1831

Demise of Baron Antoine Marrier d’Unienville


Following recommendations of the Royal Commissioners Colebrook and Blair on the Archives, the post of the archivist was abolished. Many records were described as worthless and were destroyed. Of the remaining ones, part was entrusted to the Registrar General and the rest was sent to the Conservator of Mortgages.