This vivid account of the administration of Cyprus headed by Sir Walter Sendall at the end of the nineteenth century provides a fascinating insight into the island’s affairs when the British occupation was still only slowly taking root. We are made aware of the extent to which the colonial administration had to find a modus vivendi within what was still an Ottoman province. London had been alerted to the need for a new man as the Cypriots became dangerously disgruntled by the fact that the considerable tax burden they endured brought few corresponding improvements. This account highlights the difficulties and contradictions created by the ongoing Tribute payments, the underlying cause of the island’s financial problems. Nevertheless, Sendall made the most of the meagre available funds, established workable relations with Cypriot communities and coaxed his superiors in London into recognizing the need for constitutional, financial and educational reform. His achievements, readily acknowledged by the Cypriots, were remarkable against the background of a fragile regime that was, as he put it, in ‘bondage’ to the Treasury. Tracing the dilemmas of Sendall’s governorship is shown to be essential to understanding the nature of early British rule in Cyprus.