Saturday, April 27, 2013

Souvenir Saturday: Elizabeth Smith Hamilton

Elizabeth Smith Hamilton (always called 'Beth')
18 May 1910 - 11 December 1981
daughter of Annie and Joseph Hamilton of Stevenston, Ayrshire
and later of  Durban, Natal, South Africa.
Beth married Richard Bance, 9 April 1938; they had
a daughter, Ann, b 28 March, 1940.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Sugar in Natal: the Pioneers – Vacy-Lyle

William Bray Lyle started business as a sugar merchant in Durban in 1864.  By 1874 he was managing the Kirkly Vale Sugar Estate; described by John Robinson in 1870 as ‘the last sugar plantation to the northward’ Kirkly Vale was near the Umvoti River between the coast road and the sea.

Natal sugarcane fields: green gold
The estate was sold in 1877, and Lyle took it over, ploughing up the cane and planting tea. By 1888 the Kirkly Vale Tea Estate was reportedly owned jointly by Arthur T Reynolds (son of Thomas Reynolds, M.L.C.) and W B Lyle. The old sugar mill had been converted into ‘a large and commodious tea-house.’ Sir Liege Hulett later purchased the estate.

William Bray Lyle was manager, in 1886, of the Glendale Sugar Estate (which belonged to Arthur T Reynolds); the Glendale mill was put up in 1880. In 1890 the estate was sold to G Nicholson, and in 1920 was bought by the Paruk family.

W B Lyle had two sons, John C Vacy Lyle and Leonard Vacy Lyle.

John Vacy-Lyle, D.S.O., M.C., was a medical doctor and sugar planter who served as a founder member and Captain of the Victoria Mounted Rifles and later as Colonel in the Natal Mounted Rifles. He founded the Fenton Vacy Sugar Estate at Verulam in 1860. By 1870 600 of its 1400 acres were under cane. A popular product of this estate was Fenton Vacy Rum, advertised in local newspapers at the time. The estate was sold in 1878 to Arbuckle and again to Tom Milner who added it to his adjoining estate, Redcliffe.

Leonard Vacy-Lyle, John’s brother, was a sugar planter at Inyoni. He served as Lieutenant in the Natal Mounted Rifles 1889-1892 and also in the Matabele campaign. From 1893-1897 he was a transport rider in Rhodesia, returning to Natal to serve during the Anglo-Boer War. He married Emma Farthing in 1892 and the couple had four sons and two daughters. In 1929 he married Emily Faram.

The compound surname, Vacy-Lyle, originated with the marriage of Mary Ann Vacey to William Lyle in 1825, at Whitstone, Cornwall. The spelling of Vacy/Vacey varies depending on date and source as does the use of the hyphen. William Bray Lyle included neither Vacy nor the hyphen.

A civil marriage declaration is held at Pietermaritzburg Archives Repository for Mary King Vacy-Lyle to Bartlett Little, 6 November 1876. (CSO 22286 p 298)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Sugar and Natal: the Pioneers - Harrison

Guest post by Jennifer I Giles.

In 1858 Henry Pratt HARRISON (B: 1823 in England) married Emma Mariah FISHER (B 1832 in England) who was the daughter of James and Elizabeth FISHER. 
As a young man, Henry worked as an assessor in the shipping business in London. Emma and Henry lived in London before they and their son Edwin, aged 2 years, and daughter Ursula, aged 16 months, emigrated to South Africa on 3rd July 1863 on the ship Monsoon (a Barque sailing ship of 296 tons).  The sea voyage took 11 weeks with much time spent becalmed in the doldrums. At approximately 5 pm on Sunday 20th September 1863 the Monsoon safely anchored in the outer bay of Port Natal.

Henry Pratt Harrison
In Durban, Henry was originally involved with Customs and Excise and soon bought land at Avoca, about 16 km north of the port.  The land was cleared by using sharpened hoop-iron discarded from bales of goods taken off the ships at Durban docks. The bush was extremely dense and was one mass of wild vines, honeysuckle and all sorts of creepers, making progress very slow.

In approximately late 1863, Henry built the substantial seven bedroom home Rosehill on the ocean side of Avoca; it consisted of a solid brick home with verandahs on all sides and calico ceilings in the bedrooms to help to combat the heat. 

Henry planted coffee and built a coffee mill in the valley at Rosehill.  By 1870 he had 140 acres under coffee and was producing upwards of 15 tons of coffee per year.  This was soon increased to 30 tons of coffee per 100 acres; the coffee fetched £50 per ton early in the season.  He found coffee very profitable and won many awards for its quality.

Unfortunately, the coffee got blight, so Henry turned to growing sugar cane in 1876 and, in order to produce more sugar, he bought the adjacent land.

On 13th September 1898, an Agreement was drawn up between Henry Pratt Harrison (the Lessor) and his sons Henry Fisher Harrison (known as Fisher) and Robert Jameson Harrison (The Lessees) to lease the sugar estate.  The portion of the Estate not included in the lease was “the dwelling house, outbuildings and garden, the cottages in the village of Avoca and the stores on the main road at present occupied by the Indians”.

On 8th December 1898, Henry Pratt Harrison passed away at the age of 75 years at his home Rosehill.

On 17th December 1898, nine days following the death of Henry Pratt Harrison, H Fisher Harrison and his brother Robert J Harrison signed a Memorandum of Agreement, witnessed by their mother, Emma Harrison, and their sister, Ursula Harrison, to carry on business in partnership as sugar planters.  The name of the partnership was to be Harrison Brothers and was to “subsist for six years, or for twelve years in the event of the partnership carrying on the lease of Rosehill Estate for such period”.  The Agreement showed that:

“Robert Jarrold Harrison shall devote his whole time and attention to the firm’s business, and be entitled to draw a salary of £15 a month”, while “Henry Fisher Harrison shall be at liberty to devote the whole of his time to his farming or other business but if he shall give his time to the partnership business during such time, he shall be entitled to a salary from the firm of £15 a month”.

In August 1906, a township named Kensington was planned. The extent of the township was 694 acres.  However, the developers fell on hard times so the land that included Francis Hill, Wattle Field, Distillery Blackhill and Kensington Field, was sold in 1907 to Robert Harrison as he was keen to have this land that joined his sugar estate (1).

On 16th February 1909, Harrison Brothers commenced clearing bush and scrub and, on 2nd March 1909, ploughing began and was followed the next day by the planting of cane.  A large cattle kraal was built on the western face of Bell Hill that continued down to the Quarry stream.  It was necessary to have a great many oxen to pull ploughs and the wagons of cane down to the mill, so large areas were set aside for grazing.  Another large cattle kraal was started on 17th March 1909; all these large areas of grazing disappeared with the advent of tractors and lorries and they were put under cane (1).

A sugar cane mill was built across the road from the Avoca Hotel in 1877 and did very well.  The mill was closed down after the 1916 season and the cane was then sent to Natal Estates for crushing.

Fisher and Robert Harrison ran the estate, as the Harrison Brothers partnership, for their mother until she died in 1917, at which time the property was divided among the family once the estate of their mother, Emma, was finalised.  Ursula Harrison (eldest daughter) bought 10 acres including the old homestead Rosehill and Robert bought the remainder.  Robert had already built another home Sunnyside on the estate adjacent to his sister Ursula’s homestead Rosehill, where he lived with his wife Blanche (neé Bishop) and ran the sugar estate. Fisher Harrison lived with his sister Ursula at her home Rosehill.

In 1920 Fisher and Robert Harrison bought 1100 acres in an insolvent estate (Durban North) which they sold only 2 years later to Durban North Estates at a considerable profit. In 1920, Robert Harrison purchased Fisher Harrison's share in Harrison Brothers partnership.  On 28th October 1920 the property was then registered by Robert Harrison as Avoca Estates.  Avoca Estates included approximately all the areas of Umtata and Torvale as far as the Indian Temple below Torvale.  The total area of Avoca Estates was, at that time, 3300 acres plus (1).

In approximately 1924, Robert decided to retire and he and Blanche bought a home on the Berea (546 Musgrave Road) and called it Avoca House.  The Avoca Estate was rented out to Mr Charlie Price who, with his wife, resided at Sunnyside. Mr Price ran the farm on his own with advice from Robert Harrison, however, Mr Price could not make a go of it so, in 1928, Robert Harrison took back the farm and hired Mr Price as his overseer/manager. 

Robert Harrison died on 30th May 1928, and Mr Price continued to run the farm for the family.  However, Blanche Harrison decided to go back to Avoca Estate, so, in 1938, she had a new home built, also called Avoca House on the hill close to the original Rosehill homestead built by Henry Pratt Harrison.

A short time later, Charlie Price died suddenly and Blanche Harrison and her eldest son, Kenneth Harrison, took over the running of the property in approximately 1946 (2).  Ken gave up his work as a lecturer at the old Natal Technical College in order to run the sugar estate.

In 1957 the Government instructed the Durban Municipality to begin developing a new housing scheme for Africans at KwaMashu (3).  Following this, a fairly large section of the Avoca Estate farm land was expropriated by the Durban Municipality in order to obtain more land on which to build the KwaMashu township (2)

The Avoca Estates land stayed in the family until 1964 when all but a mere 4 hectares surrounding Blanche Harrison's home was sold to Coronation Brick (approximately 1400 acres of land (2)) and, in turn, to Glen Anil (a Real Estate Development Company). Unfortunately, the historic coffee huller, invented by Henry Pratt Harrison 100 years before, which had stone wheels, rather than the less efficient old-fashioned wooden wheels (4), was demolished by earthmovers cutting roads for the new settlement.

At this time the original Rosehill homestead built by Henry Pratt Harrison in 1863 (143 years ago) that is adjacent to what was Blanche Harrison's residence still stands and belongs to the great-great-great granddaughter of Emma and Henry Pratt Harrison. Blanche Harrison's home on the Avoca Estate also still stands today.


1.         Harrison, Kenneth.  Diary records (undated).
2.         Bryce, John. Personal Communication, 2006.
3.         Edwards, Iain. History. Cato Manor Development Project.
4.         Osborn RF. Valiant Harvest: The founding of the South African Sugar Industry, 1848-1926, South African Sugar Association, 1964.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Sugar and Natal: the Pioneers - A Sinclair Smith


The story goes that that Marshall Campbell handed 'Garibaldi' Smith (of Smith & Batten) half-a-crown, thus closing the deal which made over the Blackburn Central Sugar Mill (founded 1874) to Natal Estates Ltd for 20 000 pounds.

Five years before that, Smith had missed a chance of selling the property for 70 000 pounds. Smith & Batten had been offered, in the early 1890s, this large sum for the Blackburn Estate, but nothing came of the offer. In 1895 Garibaldi Smith became convinced that the district's sugar prospects had been ruined by drought and locusts, and offered the estate to Marshall Campbell for 20 000 pounds.

As was the practice in those times, Campbell handed Smith a half crown to clinch the deal and then proposed that Natal Estates buy the property. But the London Board turned down the idea. Nevertheless Campbell was able to make local arrangements suitable to all parties and Blackburn became part of Natal Estates ca 1898. Some of the mill machinery and buildings were moved to Mt. Edgecombe.

Smith & Batten had acquired the Blackburn Estate in 1880 (from the Glasgow and Natal Sugar Co. Ltd. which went into liquidation in October of that year), paying 12 000 pounds for it - so made a considerable profit selling at 20 000.

Why was A. Sinclair Smith called 'Garibaldi'? Apparently he 'boasted service as an officer in the red-shirted legions of the Risorgimento' (the political and social movement for the unification of Italy in the 19th century) and because of this intriguing history Smith was nicknamed after the Italian rebel leader Giuseppe Garibaldi.

Giuseppe Garibaldi, Italian rebel leader, in 1861

Our local Garibaldi, i.e. A Sinclair Smith, also played a role in local Natal politics: after the General Election of September 1892 when Marshall Campbell had forfeited a seat in the Victoria County constituency, Campbell was the following year appointed to fill one of the vacant coastal seats vacated by Smith.

There was another link between Smith and Marshall Campbell: Campbell had bought two cane farms, Hill Head and Meadowbank, both situated on the Great Umhlanga. Meadowbank extended to the mouth of the river. Originally owned by Charles Povall (one of the Wesleyan settlers who arrived in Durban in March 1850) the property was purchased from Povall in 1874 by Garibaldi Smith for Ł6 000. Later, Smith sold it to Campbell and the latter subsequently excised 17 acres on the eastern boundary of this land where he built a holiday bungalow named Peace Cottage near the Umhlanga Lagoon.

For more on the Campbell family, including the Blameys, see

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Sugar and Natal: the Pioneers - Koch, De Pass, Kisch


Koch was one of the founders of the Durban Club and a prominent Durban merchant. He bought the estates of Babbs and Smart and worked the re-named estate, Reunion, for about five years. In 1868 Reunion was put up for sale, Koch having been declared insolvent.

Robinson noted in 1870: 'Reunion represents three different estates, those owned when I was here in 1861 by Mr Babbs, Mr Smart and Mr R King. Since Messrs de Pass & Co became owners of the property, a large amount of capital has been expended in improvements. ... The first engine is 25-horse power and drives the mill, which is the original one imported by Mr Babbs, the largest in the Colony. The other engine works the vacuum pan and centrifugals. ... 700 or 800 acres are under cane and 220 labourers are employed. Like its neighbours, Reunion suffered disastrously from the flood of 1868 and the frost of 1869.'

Illovo Sugar Estates Ltd acquired the whole of Reunion in 1920.


As a young man, de Pass joined his father's Cape Town firm of De Pass, Spence & Co and was instrumental in persuading the then governor to annex the Ichaboe Guano Islands to the Cape Colony. He developed the Sandwich Bay fisheries, from which stemmed his sugar milling project of Reunion Estate at Isipingo. His ships, after unloading fish at Mauritius, returned laden with sugar. Later, de Pass decided he would produce his own sugar in Natal and in due course became owner of Reunion Estate.

It's interesting to note that in the 1860s, de Pass was joined by his cousin, Daniel Montague Kisch, who subsequently assisted in the management of the Reunion and Umzinto plantations which belonged to de Pass. Daniel Montague Kisch was the brother of Natal photographers Benjamin and Henry Kisch.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Sugar and Natal: the Pioneers - Mack, Platt, Babbs, King


Mack and his brother James arrived in Natal on the Henrietta in July 1850. Robert bought land on the Isipingo Flat and in 1852 he and two other Isipingo farmers sent a wagon to Compensation to buy plant cane from Edmund Morewood. In 1861, Robinson states that Mack 'started with half-a-crown and a family of sturdy sons'; by 1870 there were 300 acres under cane on the Mack estate. Though Robert Mack was dead by that time, succeeding generations of the Mack family continued as sugar planters in the Isipingo area.


These Yorkshiremen arrived in Natal within a year of each other, possibly attracted by cotton prospects in the Colony. Sidney, however, bought land at Isipingo in 1849 and Lawrence secured 50 acres near his brother's property, naming the farm Prospecton. At first the Platts, like many other early farmers, grew beans as a cash crop, but in 1852 Lawrence joined Mack and Birkett, also of Isipingo, in sending an ox-cart to Morewood at Compensation to buy cane-tops. Lawrence Platt's first mill, like his brother Sidney's, was ox-powered but they each soon acquired a steam mill.

Lawrence Platt died in 1886, and his work was continued by his youngest son Alfred, born in 1853, to whom he had given Prospecton at the end of the Anglo-Zulu War 1879. Alfred Platt died in 1938 - in 1945 the Prospecton Estate was amalgamated with Tongaat Sugar Co Ltd, with Cecil Platt, grandson of Lawrence, as a director. Cecil died in 1950, aged 68.


Babbs and his wife Sarah were passengers on the Globe in 1850. Like Jeffels, he didn't like the allotment provided in the cotton lands near Umhlali and settled at the Isipingo Flat, becoming a sugar planter and manufacturer at his Umlaas Estate. He started with an ox-power mill but by 1856 was sending into Durban sugar made at a new 8-horse power steam mill. John Robinson wrote in 1861 that Babbs's estate was the largest but one in the Colony, with 360 acres of cane.

Between 1862 and 1864 Babbs sold Umlaas Plantation to John Daniel Koch, a merchant. At the same time Koch bought Smart's sugar estate and the combination of these two farms was named Reunion. This concern was built up by Daniel de Pass, who later formed a syndicate of neighbouring planters to make Reunion one of the leading estates in Natal.


The original grant of 6 000 acres made to Dick King included the whole of the Isipingo Flat. Most of his neighbours bought their land from him, and they began planting cane in 1852 though it's uncertain when King himself planted his first cane - possibly about 1854 or earlier.
When the Flat was flooded in 1856, King, by means of a raft, rescued his neighbouring sugar planter, Smart, with his family, from the attic of Smart's house, where they had been forced to stay for two days and three nights due to the rising flood-waters.

He first had an ox-power mill but by the end of 1857 was operating a steam mill. John Robinson noted in 1861 that King had 110 acres under cane.

In 1868 King's estate was sold by auction to WH Acutt for £2 200. Shortly afterwards the Reunion estate, also on the Flat, was reorganized and Robinson wrote that Reunion consisted of three different estates, those owned in 1861 by Babbs, Smart and King. In the 1870s King himself continued to grow cane on the higher ground around his house at Isipingo.

King married Clara Jane Noon, sister of Adolphus Henry and Arthur Noon, who were also sugar planters at Isipingo. See more on Noon at:

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Dick King Statue: who are the people in the boat?

The Dick King Statue, Durban

A blog visitor poses the above question, referring to one of the side panels which are incorporated below the equestrian statue of King which stands on the Esplanade, Durban.

You can see a close-up of the relevant panel here:

In 1842, when Captain Smith and his regiment were besieged in their camp at Port Natal, George Cato (later to be mayor of Durban) volunteered to ride to Grahamstown to alert the authorities and obtain relief for the British garrison. However, Captain Smith would not allow Cato to go, and it was decided Dick King should do so instead. Cato and his brother Joseph Cato woke King at midnight and rowed him and his African companion Ndongeni across the Bay, towing two horses.

Their names appear at the foot of the scene depicted; from left to right: Undongeni [sic], Joseph Cato, Dick King, George C Cato. Dick King’s horse is swimming at the stern of the boat which is carrying King; Ndongeni’s horse is alongside the second boat.

There are some discrepancies in historical sources regarding who was in which boat. For more on this and other controversial aspects of the statue, Google the Quick View of 'Negotiating Public Memory: the Dick King Memorial in Durban' by S Marschall.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Souvenir Saturday: Captain George Brown of the Priscilla

This photograph shows Captain George Brown and his wife Frances ca 1870.

Brown commanded the clipper barque Priscilla which brought my great great grandfather, Thomas Gadsden, to Natal in June 1863. The Priscilla, one of the earliest of the White Cross clippers (others were the Silvery Wave, the Verulam, Isabella Hartley and Burton Stather) was a frequent visitor to the Colony during the 1860s and 70s.

Advertisements in The Natal Mercury reveal that the Priscilla in November 1863 made the fastest passage then on record from Natal to England, i.e. 52 days.

The card mount mentions C Bunting & Sons: Bunting, Charles, photographer, 72 Nelson Street, South Bank near Middlesbrough is listed in Bulmer’s Directory 1890. Bunting had a studio there from at least 1884. [Source: The Cleveland, North Yorkshire and South Durham Family History Society.]

SOUTH BANK, formerly called Tees Tilery, is a rapidly increasing and populous market town in this township, having a station on the Darlington and Saltburn line of the North Eastern railway, and is distant three miles from Middlesbrough. (Bulmer's History and Directory of North Yorkshire (1890).

The Natal Mercury, 12 April 1861

Friday, April 19, 2013

Sugar and Natal: the Pioneers - Jeffels


Jeffels arrived in Natal on the Sovereign in March 1850 with his wife Mary and children. His allotment of about 112 acres on the cotton lands, assigned to him under Byrne's scheme, was relinquished in favour of a property on Dick King's farm on the Isipingo Flat, near the confluence of the Umbogintwini. Jeffels purchased plant cane from Morewood in 1852 and by 1853 the Feildens rode out to visit the Jeffels family, reporting that 'the sugarcane of three or four months growth was very fine'. In 1853 and 1854 Jeffels imported two sets of sugar mill machinery from England, the first recorded importation into Natal of such machinery.

As early as 1854, Jeffels saw the need for central milling if sugar was to be produced economically in Natal, and he was instrumental in organizing a meeting at Messrs Evans and Churchill's store, to find ways of building and maintaining a central mill at Isipingo to meet the needs of the growing number of small planters.

In 1856, The Natal Mercury remarked that 'Mr Jeffels is the type of a class that form the pioneers and harbingers of all successful colonization ...'

In a letter to the same newspaper in October 1858, Jeffels claimed that he had imported the first sugar-mill and plant into Natal, had brought the first sugar of quantity into Durban, and introduced the first steam sugar-mill into the Colony.

A parcel of Jeffels's sugar won a prize at an exhibition in Cape Town and was purchased by the French consul, who sent it on to the Paris Exhibition. Jeffels was at that time well ahead of other Natal sugar planters. He was also a public-spirited citizen, nominated as a Durban Councillor and as Justice of the Peace. He died in 1862; his will is held at Pietermaritzburg Archives Repository. By the 1870s his estate was managed by WF Jeffels, possibly Michael's brother.

Jeffels's Albion Estate was sold in 1899, eventually becoming part of Prospecton Sugar Estate.

For more on the Isipingo sugar planters see article in Natalia by Duncan Du Bois:

Sugar and Natal: the Pioneers - Joyner


The Feildens were not alone in their losses as a result of the 1856 flood. On the Isipingo Flat, William Joyner's sugar mill machinery was washed away forever.

Joyner came to Natal with his wife Ann and family on the Conquering Hero in June 1850 and lived in Durban for about two years working as a painter and decorator before moving to the Isipingo to farm at his sugar estate named Dingwall. During that time, Richard ('Dick') King, the well-known early colonist, was his neighbour. In 1860 Joyner sold his Isipingo property and moved to a new farm in Alexandra County on the Ifafa River, Ellangowan. By 1863 he had a 6-horse power steam mill in operation. In 1870, John Robinson wrote: 'Mr Joyner ... assisted by his intelligent and industrious sons, has year by year laboured on, until now more than 200 acres of sugarcane stretch round his house and a steam mill smokes under his windows'. Joyner produced sugar made from the indigenous cane, imphe.

His daughter, Clara Joyner Anderson, in her Reminiscences and Memories of Early Durban and its Pioneers*, gives a detailed picture of what life was like for pioneering sugar farmers in Natal, working with primitive equipment and their crop threatened by the elements and other hazards. Joyner at one period prospected for gold and during one of his absences from home a run-away fire threatened his Ellangowan mill. Close neighbours, Aiken and Bazley, came to the rescue of Mrs Joyner who was running the mill alone.

Joyner sold Ellangowan estate in 1868. Eventually it became part of Reynolds Bros Ltd. William Joyner died in East Griqualand in 1886 at the residence of his son, Archibald Scott Keith Joyner. The latter was born 3 Jan 1877; he married Florence Rose Beale and they had two sons and three daughters. Archibald Joyner served in the Natal Royal Rifles 1896-99, transferred to B Squadron, Natal Carbineers 1899; he was a marksman. After the Anglo-Boer War he farmed in the Matatiele district at 'Bon Accord'. In 1916 he was Lieut in 1st Cambridgeshire Regiment serving 16 months in the trenches in France, and was wounded 22 August 1919. He then returned to farming in East Griqualand.

For more on Joyner descendants see:

* copies available at Killie Campbell Library, Durban

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Sugar and Natal: the Pioneers - Sinclair, Povall, Feilden


EF Rathbone mentions that in 1881 he saw Sinclair's 'small American mill' powered by two oxen. Sinclair probably planted his first cane about 1872 - the Natal Blue Book for 1874 notes that the Ambleside Plantation mill was an 8-horse cattle power American mill and American evaporator. Sinclair farmed at Lower Umzimkulu in 1878, naming the property Ambleside after a British ship of that name which was wrecked in August 1868 on the coast between the mouths of the Umtentweni and Umzimkulu Rivers. He introduced the first sugar mill, crushed the first cane and made the first sugar at Umzimkulu.


Meadowbank Sugar Estate was started by Povall in 1850, and he began crushing cane at his own mill in 1863. By late 1874, he sold the estate for £6 000. Eventually Meadowbank became part of Natal Estates Ltd.

Povall, a Wesleyan who arrived with his wife Mary and three children on the Edward in March 1850, worked with George Cato on breaking up ships wrecked on Natal's coast, and assisted in the building of the William Shaw at Durban.


Feilden was one of the earliest sugar planters in Natal. A fellow passenger of Povall's on the Edward, Feilden's home in Durban was Feniscowles, at Umbilo. It's not often remembered that Feilden planted his first cane at Umbilo as early as 1850. From Henry Milner, he leased 130 acres on the Springfield Estate where he planted cane. It showed considerable vision on Feilden's part as it was some time prior to Morewood showing the feasibility of this crop in Natal. The sugar sold at the first public auction in Durban in June 1855 was produced by Feilden, who was Milner's largest lessee.

In 1856, the Umgeni River came down in spate and the resulting floods destroyed a portion of Feilden's crop. Though the remainder was saved, this disaster led to the Feildens returning to England in July 1857.

The Feilden farm, Feniscowles
Feilden's contribution to the sugar industry was important though of comparatively short duration. He acquired immortality through his wife, Eliza Whigham Feilden, who kept a diary of their experiences in Natal, illustrated by her own sketches. This, as well as some of her correspondence with her relatives in England, was the basis for her book My African Home published in London in 1887.

She writes: 'Alas for our hopes! The river Umgeni rose so rapidly, and so high, that the whole country in its neighbourhood became a lake. Twenty or thirty feet of water covered many of the plantations ... The effects of this sad flood were greater and worse than we at all anticipated, and finally drove us out of Natal.'

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Sugar and Natal: the Pioneers - Rathbone


In 1848, Ephraim Rathbone became overseer of the north coast cotton estate then managed by Edmund Morewood. Born in Tiverton, Devon in 1812, the son of Thomas and Elizabeth Rathbone, Ephraim Rathbone had spent about 16 years in Mauritius and had considerable experience as a sugar planter there, before emigrating to Natal on the Rosebud, 1855 in August 1848. According to Rathbone, he urged Morewood to suggest to the Cotton Company the advantage of cultivating sugar rather than cotton. Morewood agreed that Rathbone should experiment initially with 5 acres, providing Rathbone supplied the plant cane. Rathbone states: 'I found a small patch (of cane growing) on Mr Peel's farm, Umgeni ... which I purchased for the Cotton Company and engaged four Mauritian coolies to hoe five acres on an establishment I formed on the Umhloti ... In July 1849 I was appointed manager and gave Mr Morewood the cane on the Umhloti for removal to Compensation, with advice on its culture. I offered gratuitously to supervise his planting 40 acres on his estate'.

In May 1842 The Natal Times reported that a party of gentlemen were to inspect Mr Morewood's enterprise - among them was Rathbone. That Rathbone remained a strong supporter of Morewood can be seen from Rathbone's letter to The Natal Mercury in 1859:

'Mr Morewood was the first man in Natal with sufficient spirit to speculate with his own funds in sugar cultivation: only for the enterprising spirit which animated him, the production of the Colony would have remained at potatoes and beans, and the great landowners have been content with one shilling per acre for their land. When Morewood made the first sugar it was: "Hurrah, Morewood, for my land is now worth 10s" and when he was ruined for want of sufficient funds they ought to have supplied him by a sub ... and not ungratefully try to deprive him of the unprofitable merit of being the first sugar manufacturer'.

Ephraim Rathbone married twice (both marriages took place in Mauritius) and founded a large Rathbone clan in Natal. Eleven children are listed on his Death Notice but other sources mention fourteen in total. There were two sons from his first marriage with Josephine Emilie Modet: Thomas Britannia and Frederick. With his second wife, Ann/e Williamson he had at least eight children: John Mexican, Annie Alice Chieftain (married Seymour), Flora Natalia Blade (married Matthew), Harriet Pumgwine/Ponguin (married Shuttleworth), Caractacus Reliance, Boedicia Industria (married Silverlock), Alfred Leyricer, Constance Rosemont (married Fearnsides) and (perhaps at this stage the parents were running out of exotic names) Elizabeth Edith.

Ephraim operated as a trader for many years in Natal and Zululand. He died on 24 June 1882, aged 70, at Lower Umzimkulu, Alexandra County. Among the documents in his deceased estate file is an interesting invoice dated July 29 1882 listing the type of articles sold by 'Rathbone & Horning' including: green beads, striped beads, hoes, clasp knives, blankets, red serge coats, rugs (square pattern), white baize, covered sheets, handkerchiefs, Tonga Salampore, Striped Salampore @ 10/6 (Salampore was a blue cotton cloth originally in 17th c made at Nellore in India and exported, later a cheap print with stripes and bright colours much used for trade goods), serge trousers and military trousers.

In 1859 Rathbone was given a grant of land 'in the Zulu Country' under an agreement with King Mpande and remained 'in undisturbed occupation of the land, residing on and cultivating portions of the same until 1862 when owing to false reports made to the King as to his intentions, Cetywayo (sic) ordered him to leave, though at the same time admitting E F Rathbone's right to the land and of his family to reside on it.' For his own safety Rathbone deemed it advisable to comply with Cetewayo's order to quit. Subsequently in 1864 Cetewayo discovered that Rathbone had been falsely accused and invited him to return but Rathbone, distrusting the King's promises of future friendship, declined to do so.

Frederick Rathbone, Ephraim's second son by his first wife, married Sarah Warren, and farmed cane at Tongaat, Inanda, Natal. He died aged 83 in 1927.

Ephraim's daughter Harriet Pumgwine Rathbone (1852-1945) married, at Utrecht, James William Shuttleworth (1847-1918), who was a transport rider and later farmed at 'Duck Pond', Newcastle. They had 9 children, of whom only one was a boy.

Caractacus Reliance Rathbone
Caractacus, Ephraim's fourth son, known as 'Crack' to the family, had a remarkable career in his own right. Born in 1854 in Zululand, he married in 1881 Caroline Magdaline Williams and farmed at 'Tiverton' in the District of Utrecht. In 1870 he went to the Diamond Fields with his brother-in-law John Seymour, and took up claims at Heilbron. After working these for six months he went to Dutoit's Pan in 1871 and then went to New Rush (later called Kimberley), selling out of his claims there in 1872. He then proceeded to Button's Gold Reef near Marabastad, before returning to his farm. He saw service throughout the Anglo-Zulu War 1879 as Lieutenant in Wood's Irregulars, under Sir Evelyn Wood, receiving the campaign medal and bar. In 1880 he served in Basutoland as a Lieutenant in Hanson's Troop, Transvaal Horse, and earned another medal and bar. He was Guide and Interpreter to Colonel Deane OC Natal Field Force in 1881 (First Anglo-Boer War), then transferred to Field Hospital as Officer-in-Charge and Interpreter to Native Stretcher Bearers, attached to Natal Field Force, under Surgeon-Major Babington. He was present at the actions at Ingogo Heights (9 February 1881) and Majuba (27 February 1881).

In 1882 he went to Lower Umzimkulu and planted cane on Ambleside (property owned by Archie Sinclair who had an ox power mill). In 1885 he moved to the Harding District, and then farmed near the Ingela in 1886. He became a transport rider to Barberton in 1888, discovered the only coal mine worth working on the Newcastle Town Lands and worked this for two years before returning to farming. He served as OC transport attached to Lord Dundonald's Mounted Brigade, under General Sir Redvers Buller, in the Transvaal, 1900 (Second Anglo-Boer War). He joined the Field Intelligence Department, under the Hon Captain Guest, serving to the end of the war in 1902, and receiving the Queen's medal, 2 bars, and the King's medal, 2 bars. Caractacus Reliance Rathbone had six sons and a daughter.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Sugar in Natal: the Pioneers - Edmund Morewood cont

Early in 1851 Morewood purchased a large acreage of land, including a farm at Umhlali which he sold off in 20 acre lots. This provided funding for his sugar enterprise at Compensation, then still at the experimental stage. In January 1852, The Natal Times reported that 'E Morewood Esqre has succeeded in perfecting the production of sugar on his estate at Compensation' and that the sample shown 'is of a quality to prove incontestably the adaption of the coast lands of the colony for the successful production of this valuable article'. The news caused a sensation. However, Morewood was to undergo many trials and tribulations: equipment was primitive, the production process was slow, and transport was an additional problem. Morewood lacked the necessary capital to acquire better machinery and his fellow colonists were cautious regarding investment. He had his detractors, too.

In 1853 Morewood went to England in the hope of acquiring improved machinery and raising further funds, but due to 'a series of unfortunate circumstances' his efforts ended in failure and he lost his property in Natal.

Nevertheless, Morewood had started the ball rolling for sugar as a commercial undertaking, and other Natal settlers were cultivating sugar. By 1854 cane was being grown at Umhlali, Tongaat, Umgeni, Umbilo, Isipingo and Umkomaas, and there were 6 sugar mills at work. In 1855 the first public auction of Natal-made sugar took place in Durban's Market Square.

Apart from the brother J J Morewood of London, mentioned above, little is known of Edmund Morewood's family. The 1881 Census for Llangennech, Carmarthen, Wales reveals an Edmund Morewood aged 60 and unmarried, born at Stoke Newington, London, whose occupation was steel, iron and tin plate manufacturer. He is believed to have been the inventor of the tin plate machine, and had several workshops in Wales - 13 at Llangelly and 7 at Swansea. In 1892, E Morewood and Co. established tin plate and steel making works and a foundry plant at Gas City, Indiana. The 1900 Census for Gas City shows hundreds of families who came from Wales to work for E Morewood and Co as puddlers etc. Further research may discover whether Edmund Morewood the tin plate manufacturer was related to Morewood the sugar planter: apart from identical names, they seem to have shared an inventive streak, and both men were bachelors.

JJ Morewood, Edmund's brother, was living in London in the 1850s, so a search of the 1851 Census could reveal more about him*. Morewood himself left Natal early in 1853 and never returned. He spent a year in Hamburg, Germany, and then went to Brazil where he kept a school, but this failed due, Morewood stated, to religious prejudices. Another venture, a cotton spinning and weaving factory at Faubati in Brazil, for which Morewood attempted to borrow money from old Natal friends such as Beningfield and Kahts, also seems to have come to naught. There is no doubt, though, that Natal is indebted to Edmund Morewood.

Sugar mill, Natal
* There is a John J Morewood, born 1807, occupation merchant, living at 1 Barford Terrace, Islington, London, with wife, Sarah, and 8 children.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Sugar and Natal: the Pioneers - Morewood

For decades prior to white settlement in Natal, there was an indigenous variety of sugar cane which grew wild and was known to the Zulus as imphe. It was chewable and sweet, but its sugar content wasn't found by settlers to be high enough to make its cultivation commercially viable. There was also umoba, an imported strain of true sugarcane: in 1837 the traveller Nathaniel Isaacs mentions both these plants. In 1858, Michael Jeffels, a planter and miller at Isipingo, stated that to his certain knowledge sugarcane was growing in the area of the Isipingo River at the time of Shaka's war with Faku in 1828.


Morewood, regarded as the founding father of the sugar industry in Natal, made a very early visit to this area in 1833, before spending time in Australia, New Zealand and Mauritius. He returned to Natal in 1838, after the Battle of Blood River, when British military forces had been temporarily withdrawn and the flag of the Voortrekker Republic of Natalia had been hoisted at the port. Morewood was on good terms with the Voortrekkers and was one of the men chosen to visit the Zulu King, Mpande, in the hopes of making a peace treaty. In 1840 Morewood was appointed Harbour Master and Commissioner of Customs under the Republican government, and it was in this capacity that he became involved in the events of 1842 when the vessels Conch and Southampton brought reinforcements to assist in raising the siege of a British force at what is now the Old Fort, Durban. William Bell, Captain of the Conch, remarked that Morewood, on being rowed out to the schooner, accompanied by the Voortrekkers' Military Secretary, was astonished to find the Conch's lower deck bristling with grenadiers 'as thick as bees'. According to Bell's Narrative, Morewood 'had sufficient power of speech left to say he was a friend of the English, but at the same time I could see that he was much embarrassed by the position he had placed himself in ...' and it truly was a difficult situation for an Englishman in the employ of the Trekkers.

Morewood's farm, Compensation, in 1852
However, Morewood remained in Natal and though the British authorities retained some understandable suspicions as to his allegiance, he quickly adjusted to the new British regime and began to pursue his interest in sugar cultivation.

In November 1847 the first plant cane was brought to Natal from Mauritius on the Sarah Bell, by the Milner brothers. It's thought that this cane, or a portion of it, was imported for Morewood. He began planting towards the end of 1847 or early in 1848. At that time he was employed as manager of the Natal Cotton Company on the Umhloti River, but he resigned his position in July 1849 to focus on growing sugar on his property, Compensation.

According to John Robinson's Notes on Natal written in 1870:
... before 1850 agriculture in this colony was confined to the growth of a little wheat by the Boers, and of a fair quantity of maize by the natives. Cotton culture ... had been attempted at New Germany (by the Bergtheil Settlers) ... a few coffee bushes were bearing berries in the garden of a private householder of Durban, and a small patch of sugarcane was being planted by Mr Morewood at Compensation.' Arrowroot (to a value of £31) was the first agricultural product to be exported from Natal, in 1853, but the following year the export record showed a new export - Sugar, £2. 
It was a small beginning, but of great significance. After that date, sugar was exported every year in increasing quantities, and, as Morewood had predicted, it became the 'staple article of Natal'. 

A young man named George Lamond who arrived in Durban in June 1850 on the Byrne ship Unicorn, joined Morewood at Compensation and later wrote that he found the estate under the management of 'a surveyor named George Jackson, with some half-a-dozen ploughmen (plus native labour). We had six acres under cane ... When I left in 1854 we had more than 100 acres of cane ready for crushing. In 1851 I helped to make and eat the first sugar manufactured in Natal ... The ploughmen were Randal, South, Coward, Dykes and an apprentice named Moore, son of a Gloucester parson, and a grand old Dutch gardener named van Versfeld'. Late in 1850, Morewood constructed a simple mill, which would be used to crush his first cane crop.

Morewood, a man of apparently boundless energy, was also involved in immigration as agent in Natal for the Justina, which arrived in November 1850 under a private scheme arranged by George Murdoch and Capt Richard Pelly. Among the passengers were Thomas and Lewis Reynolds who would become leading figures in the sugar industry. The ship also brought £5 000 worth of merchandise for sale in South Africa: this venture had been arranged by Morewood's brother, J.J. Morewood, then residing in London.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Sugar and Natal 1855

The first public auction of Natal-made sugar was held in Durban's Market Square, 23 June, 1855 - a historic event.

The engraving, left, from the Illustrated London News, is a snapshot in time depicting colonial life, the people of Natal and their costume. Auctioneer Robert Acutt's name can be seen displayed behind the wagon carrying the sugar - a relatively small quantity but the start of greater things to come.

Robert Osborn, in his book Valiant Harvest, mentions:

Acutt gave his services gratuitously on this occasion, and Henry Milner ordered champagne for the company present to toast the sugar enterprise... the Springfield Estate supplied some eight tons of sugar packed in gunny sacks enclosed in vacoa bags imported from Mauritius. The sugar was sold by the single bag, the several qualities averaging 30 shillings per cwt. The novel scene was the subject of a sketch by J Lloyd ... (later this appeared in the Illustrated London News)
Although the sugar auctioned on that day was made from Springfield cane, purportedly to have grown on Milner's estate, it was produced in fact by John Leyland Feilden, Milner's largest lessee - Feilden leased 130 acres of the total Springfield acreage of 250 acres.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Souvenir Saturday: Annie Hamilton nee Gibson 1882-1951

My maternal grandmother, Annie Hamilton nee Gibson (1882-1951)
with daughter Elizabeth Smith Hamilton ('Beth'),
ca 1911

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Durban High School: Early Days Part Two

Cont. article by Robert Russell, I.S.O. (First Head Master 1866-1875; Inspector of Schools 1875-1878; Superintendent of Education 1878-1903).

When the school re-opened in August [1866], 21 boys presented themselves. By December the attendance had increased to 40, the limit of the Mansion House accommodation. It was found necessary to form an Upper and a Lower Division, and an Assistant Master, Mr David Calder, was sent from the Maritzburg High School. For the next 18 months boys could be admitted only as vacancies occurred. So many boys sought admission and public discontent grew so loud that the Government was at last obliged to incur the risk of renting a larger building. The school was accordingly transferred to a roomy but otherwise unsuitable building in Cato Square previously used as a granary. The attendance speedily rose to over 100, but still there was only one Assistant Master. Each of us gave instruction in all subjects to our own division. The public purse was not full in those days and expenditure on education was confined within the narrowest limits. For several months during this flourishing period the Government income from the fees exceeded the total outlay on the school.

The earliest head boys were:
Eben. Coakes
Henry Buchan
Fred Dore
John W Leuchars
Alfred D Millar
Herbert Mann
Benjamin Hampson.

On the school registers between 1866 and 1874 may be found the following well-known coast names:
Acutt (3)
Buchan (2)
Cooper (2)
Dacomb (2)
Dore (2)
Fisher (3)
Knox (2)
Lloyd (2)
McArthur (2)
Millar (3)
Pay (2)
Shuter (3)
Smith (2)
Tatham (2)
Vause (2)
Wilson (2)
Wright (2)

As I was only a few years older than most of the senior boys who joined the school in 1866, I entered with zest into all their play as well as their work. Football, cricket and other games were carried on ... but they were not allowed to bulk largely in the public eye or to be regarded as anything but healthy and manly recreation. On alternate Saturdays the boys and myself had long rides in the country. Riding horses were cheap and plentiful and formed the general means of getting about. These excursions were undertaken with the object of observing the flora, fauna and geology of the countryside. I cannot now vouch for the scientific results of the rides, but it is certain that we all had a good time - characterised by the Superintendant of Education as high jinks. The physical advantages which I myself had derived from Volunteer training in Edinburgh in the early sixties led me to secure at once military drill twice a week for the boys. The instructor was a sergeant belonging to the company of regulars stationed at that time in the old Camp near the Umgeni Road. This developed into a Cadet Corps in 1868. The Government gave a drill-instructor, carbines, ammunition, accoutrements and cloth for uniforms, which were gladly made by mothers and sisters. A company of Cadets nearly 80 strong paraded in 1871 with the regulars and volunteers at the Queen's Birthday celebrations. Many of the boys were capital shots, and competitions were encouraged by prizes given liberally by the Durban merchants.

English subjects and mathematics occupied the greater part of school time. Latin and French were not in demand. Practical geometry, historical and physical geography, drawing, English composition and arithmetic were the favourite subjects. Every boy had to send in weekly a carefully written exercise in English composition. We kept to the old-fashioned method of taking places and giving marks.

There was no trouble about discipline. I inflicted corporal punishment only three times during my eight years' Headmastership, and then only for gross deceit and marked cruelty. I acted on the principle that the existence of the minor vices in a school, such as inattention and laziness, is as much the fault of the master as of the pupils.

Dr Mann, who was the first Superintendant of Education in Natal, had left for England a few weeks before my arrival. He was a man of scientific bent, and is remembered in the Colony as a keen advocate for the use of lightning conductors, and as the author of several handbooks on 'Science in the Household'. He was succeeded by Mr T Warwick Brooks, a scholar and man of the world and cousin of Shirley Brooks of 'Punch'. Mr Brooks was not an educationist in the present acceptance of the term, but it would have been hard to find any one more in sympathy with children. He had a commanding presence, rode a spirited horse and always had a cheery word and a half holiday for the boys who looked up to him with admiring awe as a man who had soundly thrashed an insolent prize-fighter in the early days of the Bendigo diggings. He allowed me the utmost freedom in the management of the school, being satisified ... if I kept steadily in view that the main end of my work was the moulding of the lads into good Citizens and Colonists. The Governors of the Colony occasionally visited the school and the Mayor generally presided at the prize-givings.

The Assistant Master left in 1870 for the Diamond Fields. He was succeeded first by Mr John Laurie, master of an aided school in Maritzburg, and then by Mr F Colepepper, latterly and for many years Inspector of Indian Schools. When I was appointed Associate Inspector of Schools in January 1875, my place as Head Master was taken by Mr James Forbes, an experienced master selected in England by Dr Mann.

Robert Russell
London Feb 18th 1905.

[Transcribed from The Durban High School Record]

Field St., Durban, ca 1870: unsurfaced.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Durban High School: Early Days Part One

By Robert Russell, I.S.O. (First Head Master 1866-1875; Inspector of Schools 1875-1878; Superintendent of Education 1878-1903).

As far back as 1861 the Legislative Council of Natal passed two Laws which created two Collegiate Institutions, one for Maritzburg and the other for Durban. It was, however, never found practicable to bring these Laws into operation, and the Trustees had to confine themselves to the custody and improvement of the moneys and lands granted, in terms of the Laws, by the Government and the Corporations of the two towns. It was not till 1903 that these Laws were finally abolished. The accumulated endowments were then devoted by the Government to the improvement and extension of the two existing High Schools.

In 1864 Messrs Robert Acutt, J F Churchill, John Millar, George Rutherford and Richard Vause petitioned the Government, on behalf of the townsfolk of Durban, to establish a High School at the port similar to the one which had been begun in the capital two years before and had since been successfully carried on under the Headmastership of Mr William Calder. The Government gave its consent and asked the Secretary of State to send out a Head Master. I was then a very young man, Senior Assistant and Master of Method in the Church of Scotland Training College in Edinburgh and a student at the University, and when the appointment was offered to me the innate Scottish desire of 'getting on', together with the fascinating prospect of work in a new land, induced me to accept it.

 Very little was known about Natal in the Mother Country at that time. The current geographical text-books dismissed the little colony with scanty notice. It was described as 'Port Natal on the S.E. coast of Africa with a bar-fenced harbour' and its inhabitants as mainly 'Zoolahs, a fierce and predatory race'. ... Any fame the Colony had acquired was due to its being the see of Bishop Colenso, whom I was afterwards privileged to call a dear friend, known to schoolboys of the period by his 'Arithmetic' and 'Algebra' and to their elders by his Biblical Criticism. His 'Ten Weeks in Natal' gave me some insight into the conditions of Colonial life; and I was further enlightened by the perusal of a pamphlet by John Robinson, Editor of the Natal Mercury, written chiefly for immigrants, wherein he pictured the scenery, the people and the industries of his adopted land ...

I arrived in Natal in April 1866 in the 'Eudora' after a three months' passage. There was then a short railway, the only one in South Africa, between the Point and Umgeni. The present Point Road was a sandy tract through the bush. Durban was a well laid out, almost exclusively English, town with streets still ankle-deep in sand, and much primeval bush in evidence. There were only one or two double-storeyed houses in the town. ... There was an enlightened and progressive Town Council which had Mr R W Tyzack as Mayor and Mr R H U Fisher as Town Clerk. The names of Acutt, Adams, Beningfield, Butcher, Greenacre, Harvey, Henwood, Jameson, Millar, Parker, Poynton, Randles, Snell and Wood were written large ... in the commercial life of Durban.

The day after my arrival I had an invitation to attend a meeting of the Durban Literary Society and to take part in a discussion on a paper, 'The Cid', to be read by one of its members. The weekly meetings of this Society were held in the Council Chamber in West Street, and its sessional programme would have been no discredit to the Philosophic which I frequented in Edinburgh. For there were intellectual giants in the land even forty years ago. Athletics had not yet become a craze, and the serenity of the cultured home life of the people was not then disturbed either by the feverish rush to the diamond and gold fields or the daily distraction of cable news from the outside world. The excitement of news from home was enjoyed only once a month when the 'Bismarck' steamed round the Bluff with the English mail from Capetown. ... Old Durban remembers with pride the literary, musical and scientific galaxy which included such men as John Robinson, Harry Escombe, John Sanderson, J F Churchill, W W Wheeler, Alfred Evans, W H Evans, William Crowder, E P Lamport, J R Goodricke, Savory Pinsent, John Milne, William Boyd, F Harvey, Archdeacon Lloyd, Rev S H Stott, Rev John Buchanan, A M Campbell, J S Steel, T R Hadden and the Rev W H Mann - the last four still happily with us. [at date of publication 1905] 

The Durban High School was opened on 1st June 1866 in the Mansion House, Smith Street, a handsome two-roomed building erected during his Mayoralty by Mr William Hartley, and in later years enlarged and occupied by the Athaeneum Club. Before that date there were only four schools in Durban, one the Government School, then under the direction of Mr McLetchie and Mr Doig and later under Mr James Crowe, and the others private adventure schools. I may be allowed to say here that I am glad, despite the changed name of the sister institution in Maritzburg, that my old school still remains the High School. Only seven boys turned up on the opening day. The first name enrolled was that of Eben Coakes, son of the Durban Postmaster and now [1905] an Archdeacon in the Diocese of Capetown. July was a holiday month, but a start had been made with the school. My instructions were to admit only boys over 13 years of age and to give them an 'education according to the most improved methods in vogue in English high-class schools'. I soon found that the age limit was too high, and that I need not burden the lads with a multiplicity of subjects of instruction. The fees, payable to the Government in advance, were fixed at £1 a month for each pupil and 16s each for members of the same family.

[Transcribed from The Durban High School Record]

West St., Durban, 1874

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Durban High School group 1885

The School in 1885

Standing top right: P Sandford Headmaster, W H Nicholas Assistant Master; two African employees
Top Row: S A Marriott, R Hooper, E Goble, H V Adler, W Gilbert, W Grundy, R Arbuckle, H Mason
Middle Row: H C Bell, W Millar, P Acutt, C Jenkyn, H Robinson, A Osborne, J D Cockerell, P Stevens, T Maddison
Bottom Row: Fisher, Palmer, H Gillespie, H Sewell

Note from Philip Sandford's grandson:
Sandford was locally unpopular for publicly supporting his friend Bishop Colenso in calling for decent treatment of the Zulus after the Anglo-Zulu War 1879. Colenso baptized at least one of the Sandford children. We have two brief letters from Colenso congratulating Sandford on his new son and offering condolences on the death of Sandford’s father (1883) a few months before Colenso himself died.

Durban High School group post-1886

W H Nicholas, wearing mortar-board 4th left in back row, was Headmaster from 1886

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Souvenir Saturday: Maud Alice Gadsden nee Swires

A delightful portrait of my grandmother Maud Alice Gadsden nee Swires b 18 April 1890 with her only child, my father, William Bell Gadsden, b 29 June 1910, seen here aged about 6 months.

The daughter of Alice Mary nee King and James Dudley Swires, Maud married Sydney Bartle Gadsden, son of Thomas Alfred Gadsden and Eliza Ann nee Bell (daughter of Port Captain William Bell).

Both Maud and William's outfits are lavishly trimmed with the hand-embroidered broderie anglaise much in vogue at the time. Maud's hair achieves the high bouffant style through use of net and wire pads worn underneath.

Unfortunately, the photographer who took this cabinet photo remains unknown as the print at some stage (before my time, I hasten to add) became separated from its cardboard mount.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Was Your Ancestor in the Durban Water Police?

The first South African Water Police HQ was established at the Point, Durban, in 1854.
Initially a small Force, it grew in strength until by the end of the century it comprised over 50 men.

Twentieth Century Impressions of Natal reports in 1906:
‘The Water Police are a body of men specially enlisted to patrol the harbour in boats or launches. The Docks are in charge of the Water Police, whose duty also consists in preventing contraband goods being passed through. They are closely connected with the Customs Department. They also assist in case of emergency with the lifeboat and life-saving apparatus. Its strength is about 53 constables and 4 officers and non-commissioned officers. The pay the men receive is on the same scale as the Railway Police, a constable receiving seven shillings a day. The whole charge of the wharves is left to them, the Borough Police of Durban (which, like the Pietermaritzburg Borough Police, is an entirely separate body) having no jurisdiction at the Port.’ 
In the early 1890s Captain George Edward Tatum was Superintendent of the Water Police, under the Natal Harbour Board. In 1894 the Natal Mounted Police, the Water Police and the Railway Police were amalgamated into one Force - the Natal Police.

Two members of the Water Police: the
man on the right is probably J McCarthy
Jeffray McCarthy, a Sub-Inspector of the Natal Police, joined the Water Police in March 1892, and by 1906 had risen to the position of Assistant Superintendent of the latter Force. Born in Islington in 1868, he was the eldest son of James J McCarthy of London, and was educated in that city. In 1893 he married Amy, the daughter of F Head of Johannesburg; they had three children. During the Anglo-Boer War McCarthy supervised a massive task: the landing of all troops at the port of Durban prior to the Siege of Ladysmith. A committed Freemason, he was Worshipful Master of the District Grand Lodge, Natal. He died in 1961.

According to the Natal Almanac & Yearly Directory, the Water Police had jurisdiction over:

all the waters and islands of the Port and Harbour
all vessels on these waters or on the foreshores
all wharves of the Harbour Department
the portion of the Bluff under control of the Harbour Department
all criminals, offenders or suspected persons within the jurisdiction of the Water Police, ‘or in flight therefrom’
all property suspected to be stolen or smuggled

The duties of the Water Police were thus described:
the maintenance of peace, dignity and order
the prevention of crime
the prevention of smuggling and of contraventions and evasions of the Customs Laws
the enforcement of the Port and Harbour Regulations
the protection of public and private property
the arrest of criminals, offenders and suspected persons
the prevention and repression of mutiny and insubordination on board vessels
the seizure of property reasonably supposed to have been smuggled or stolen

There are over 200 references on NAAIRS* to the Water Police. Some reveal names of various people applying for the post of Superintendent of the Water Police in the 1870s. Inspector D Irwin Nolan was reported by the Collector of Customs in 1878 for ‘insulting behaviour', mentioning ‘rumours to his discredit’. Despite this, Nolan was Superintendent of the Water Police by 1883.

The start of the Anglo-Boer War and the Immigration Restriction Act at about the same time meant additional duties for the Force. There was a huge increase in the volume of shipping passing through the harbour at the turn of the century. Apprehending prohibited immigrants, stowaways and seamen who deserted their ships - these were all in the day’s work for Durban’s Water Police.      

Also see: The Mounted Police of Natal by H P Holt (pub John Murray London 1913) Chapter XXVIII, The Water Police, pp 342-367

*   [go to NAB database i.e. Natal)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A Gadsden birthday and a marriage in Australia

Waterford, The Quay ca 1880-1900

Tomorrow marks the birthdate of Florence Amelia Gadsden b city of Waterford Ireland 3 April 1835 to John and Mary Ann Gadsden (nee Bone).

Florence Amelia was the sister of Thomas Alfred Gadsden, my great grandfather, also born in Waterford.
Her marriage announcement was
recently spotted by an eagle-eyed researcher:

DAVIES—GADSDEN—April 18th [1863], at St. Paul's Church, Ipswich [west of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia], by the Rev. John Bliss, M.A., William John Davies, second son of the late A. T. Davies, Esq., of Tyglyn, Cardiganshire, to Florence Amelia, third daughter of the late John Gadsden, Esq.,  of Waterford.

It's always worth checking the amazing trove newspaper site for references to ancestors who apparently disappeared into thin air - you might find they emigrated to Australia.