5. The British Cape Frontier before the Great Trek 1799-1836

Chapter 5 in the series WHO STOLE THE LAND?

— Our attention now moves to the interior to assess the border between the Western World and the abaThembu. We shall also describe the background and lead-up to the Great Trek.

By 1800, both the author’s ancestral Labuschange family and his wife’s ancestral Jordaan family were already living in the Tarka region north of the Winterberg or Amatole Mountains, as may be seen in THESE 1799-1801 muster roll records at the Mormon Church in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA, reproduced here by shrinking the horizontal dimension of the entry:

Pieter Willemz Coetzer ———- | Anna Susan: Jordaan — | Heeft 1 le. Plaats… legt aan de Tarka” (Has 1 loan farm located on the Tarka)

Casper Labuscagne Casper z. |—————————————| Woond bij Piet Coetzer..” (Lives with Piet Coetzer [above])

Pieter Jordaan Pieter z. —— —| Martha Cathar. Snijman | Legt aan de Tarka” (Located on the Tarka)

The Tarka may be seen in Barrow’s map of 1798 which we give again below (click on map to enlarge), but focused on the north of the region. On this map the eastern border of the colony is denoted by a broken line which we have toned in red. The abaThembu lived some distance east of this border, off the right hand edge of the map to the east of what is now Queenstown. Much of the Northern Tarka was under the control of San Bushmen, who repeatedly raided the farmers. The author’s direct ancestor, Casper Labuschagne, father of Casper above, had been killed by San Bushman on 27 January 1792 some distance to the south, as reported by the ineffectual Graaff-Reinet Magistrate Woeke in a letter1 dated 9 February 1792:

… de Bosjesmans Hottentotten … ten plaatze van Casper Labosgange agter de Bruijns hoogte … de Burger Casper Laboscagne en Pieter van Wyk, mitsg:s een Soontje van voorm: Laboscange en Seven Slaven deerlijk vermoord, de Huijsvrouw van ged: Van Wyk veele Steeken met Hasagaayen toegebragd, en met Klippen dermaaten geslagen, dat dezelve thans nog zonder hoop van herstelling is; …

Barrow’s map is actually annotated to indicate regions vacated by the farmers due to San (“Bosjesmans Hottentots”) depredations.

FIG 5.1 The Tarka and adjoining regions (Barrow-1798)

The Tarka was generally spared attacks byf the Suurveld amaXhosa. However, one small but significant episode needs to be recounted here from the Third Frontier War, because it took place in the Tarka but affects the Koonap south of the high Winterberg. To this end, the Kat, Fish, and Baviaans Rivers are toned blue on the map.

♦ The Third Frontier War touches the Tarka – 1800

In the middle of 1799, the British Governor basically disarmed the frontier Afrikaners in ignorance, thinking them to be the main military threat. The immediate consequence was a Khoekhoe rebellion in the east of the Colony with support of the mixed-descent amaGqunukhwebe Xhosa. This horde fell on the disarmed Afrikaner farmers. The author’s own Scheepers and Delport families were massacred at Great Winterhoek, northwest of the present Port Elizabeth, behind today’s Cockscomb Mountain. The detail of the disastrous British effort may be read in The Black King with the White Stepfather, elsewhere on this site. We refer to it here once more because of an important matter of territory, which we explain below.

Everywhere across the east of the colony the farmers fled westward toward Cape Town, or to Graaff-Reinet, or to the beach at Algoa Bay, hoping for protection by the British Army that had just disarmed them. The idiocy of the British knew no bounds during this debacle. Incredibly, they actually managed to hire some of the Khoekhoe rebels into the British Army and ended up being driven onto the beach at Algoa Bay. It was over this period that the first ever British soldiers died fighting indigenous Black men in Southern Africa.

The farmers of the Achter-Bruyntjeshoogte region (around the Somerset-East of today) gathered at the confluence of the Baviaans and Fish Rivers (near todays’s Cookhouse) and set off up the Baviaans River Gorge (below) into the Amatole Mountains in an attempt to reach the safety of the Tarka. They fought off attacks by the imiDange Xhosa all the way. Upon reaching the Tarka, their leader, Piet Prinsloo, set off to the capital of amaRharhabe King Ngqika. As fate would have it, the authors’s giant ancestral cousin, Coenraad de Buys, had married Ngqika’s mother, Yese, and was now key adviser to Ngqika. Ngqika was, in fact, the black king with the white stepfather.

The result of the consult with Ngqika was that Prinsloo returned with a message for his people, recorded by Johannes van der Kemp of the London Missionary Society in his diary2. Van der Kemp was in the same wagon train with these folks and had as yet not revealed himself as the mortal enemy of the Afrikaner he would later become (see further below). He travelled under the protection of these good folks, but refused to lift a finger to help ward off the attacks. One would understand why this behaviour would raise the ire and suspicions of a tough frontiersman like Piet Prinsloo:

Aug.14th.— […] soon after, Piet Prinslo arrived; he said Gika intended to keep peace with the colonists, and to protect them, offering them a piece of ground between the Kacha [Kaga] mountains, and the Konap River, that he has sent out four deputies to proclaim that all hostilities committed by his subjects were against his will, and immediately put a stop to them.

Aug.15th— […] and this morning Gika’s men arrived, and staid at this farm. In the evening the Mondankian* Caffres again appeared, but kept themselves in the river: our dogs flew at them, and as soon as one of Gika’s men oredered them to make their retreat, they obeyed.

*: Mondankian Caffres: The imiDange Xhosa

So, King Ngqika himself gave part of the land between the Koonap and the Kaga Mountain to his Afrikaner allies.

♦ The London Missionary Society – Van der Kemp

Johannes Theodorus van der Kemp

This lamentable organisation foisted itself on South Africa in 1800 in the form of an embittered and twisted individual by the name of Johannes van der Kemp. He had witnessed the death of his wife and child in a waterspout on the River Meuse in 1791. The event had profoundly affected him.

Van der Kemp soon courted the ire of the British governor of the Cape. He would maintain an antagonistic letter exchange with the authorities and would feed a constant stream of derogatory information, often completely contrived, about the Cape Government, his local Magistrate Jacob Cuyler, and the frontier farmers to his headquarters in London. There, his letters found the overly eager and unquestioning ear of the anti-slavery leader, William Wilberforce.

He intensely annoyed both Dutch and British authority at the Cape. Yet, he was idolised by those in faraway places who did not know the circumstances at the Cape. The fact was, his letters were being published in Britain, but no one heard what the authorities at the Cape knew to be the facts. Van der Kemp was, in effect, “the Media” of the time as regards the Cape whilst simultaneously practicing his unique brand of Egalitarian Christianity, which would centuries later become known as Liberation Theology.

The misery this man and his sidekick, Read, created for the frontier farmers may be better understood by reading the painful story of Slagtersnek elsewhere on this website. While the terrible Black Circuit and Slagtersnek both took place after the death of Van der Kemp, both events are directly traceable to his activities and those of the London Missionary Society. It bears emphasising that the section on Slagtersnek needs to be read to understand the depth of unhappiness engendered by this Society and the fools in London who believed them. Many honourable people were to die because of them.

♦ The Eastern Frontier from 1800 to 1820

The Cape was returned to the Dutch in 1803, who hived off the south-eastern portion of the Graaff-Reinet district. This they named Uitenhage and gave the same name to its capital on the Swartkops River, some twenty miles inland from Algoa Bay.

In 1806, with Britain and Napoleon once more at odds, the British returned with a 60-ship armada and large army of occupation. The Dutch were in no position to effectively oppose them. In an interesting twist of history, it was the very same regiment of Waldecker (Hessian) mercenaries who had fought Americans in their War of Independence who now broke and ran in the face of the British assault. This time the British came to stay.

In 1809, the new British Governor, Du Pré Alexander, the Earl of Caledon, dispatched Lieutenant Colonel Richard Collins on a major tour of the East of the Colony in order to advise on the future management of the Frontier. He returned an extensively researched report. Two recommendations stand out. The first was that the mainstay of the defence of the Colony should be the Afrikaner Commando system first introduced by Van Riebeeck around 1659. This first recommendation was implemented and British colonial interests would henceforth be defended and its policies imposed with Afrikaner blood.

Secondly, he advised that the London Missionary Society should be “encouraged to proceed to Madagascar or to the northern frontier. In the last event I conceive that the members of their institution should be confined to Bosjesmen…”(the San Bushmen). Collins clearly considered it a very bad idea to give Van der Kemp access to the Khoi, Gonaqua, or amaXhosa in the east of the Colony.In one of the most damaging decisions to the future of Southern Africa, the Society was left in place to undermine the interests of civilisation at the Cape. This led to the Black Circuit and Slagtersnek. I again implore the reader to return to the story of Slagtersnek elsewhere on this website. The Great Trek of Chapter 8 cannot be understood without that unfortunate story about the Place where men Die Twice.

Two more Frontier wars with the Suurveld amaXhosa would range back and forth over the region between the Winterberg/Amatole and the coast, but they would leave the dry Tarka (below) in the interior largely undisturbed. During the course of the Fourth Frontier War of 1811, the British would establish Grahamstown on the high ridge above the Suurveld. They would turn the Suurveld into the new district of Albany, named for the new British Magistrate Jacob Cuyler’s place of birth, Albany in New York State in the USA. His father had been a Dutch American Loyalist mayor of Albany who had been forced to flee to what would become Canada.

In the Fifth Frontier War of 1819, the amaXhosa, now led by a “Medicine Man” (in American terms) named Nxele, attacked Grahamstown with the help of deserters from the British Royal African Corps. This was a close-run thing. It was only with the timeous help of the Khoekhoe big game hunter Boesak that the amaXhosa were beaten off and the town saved. This near-disaster played a role in the British decision to settle the Suurveld.

♦ The 1820 British Settlers

Roughly 4000 British souls arrived at Algoa Bay in 1820. They came from England, Wales and Ireland, while 400 families fled the Scottish Highlands for the Cape. They were carted by the existing Afrikaner inhabitants on ox-wagons to their allotted parcels of land in the Albany District. These people, who had been soldiers and ordinary city dwellers, suddenly found themselves on the African veldt. They were stuck among pre-historic looking and latex-dripping euphorbia thickets (below), surrounded by the sounds of hyenas and jackals at night. The soil was unforgiving and covered in a very “sour” (tough) grass through which slithered deadly puff adders and Cape cobras.

The vast majority soon fled for the more familiar setting of towns where they could ply their trades. It would take them a while to become Afrikaners. Their natural allegiance by birth to the Britain, the master of the Cape and of the oceans, would not make that any easier or faster. Because of the great power of Britain, many would retain their English language, but eventually that language would no more describe their hearts and loyalty than it does the heart of an American. They would become British Afrikaners. However, by the 1820s they had not yet experienced the problems created by the two polar opposites of British influence: the British Army and the London Missionary Society. They considered themselves part of the blood of the British Empire. After all, had they not bravely fought for the British Empire against Napoleon a mere handful of years before?

There was, however, a very key aspect in which these good folks differed profoundly from their “Dutch” Afrikaner neighbours. They were citizens of Britain and their conduct outside the borders of British territory was governed by British Law. By contrast, their existing Dutch-French-German Afrikaner colleagues were “British Subjects” and were not subject to British Law outside British territories. The existing Afrikaners could leave the Colony and technically be free of British overlordship; the British Settlers could not. But the British Settlers did not fully comprehend that their masters in London had shipped them to Africa to form a human barrier between the amaXhosa and the rest of the Cape Colony. They would soon have reason to agree with their neighbours in the matter of the London Missionary Society.

♦ The London Missionary Society yet again – John Philip

John Philip D.D.

Van der Kemp died before seeing the terrible consequences of his actions, but his natural successor, John Philip, arrived at the Cape on 26 February 1819. Philip came with direct connections to the major philanthropists in Britain and with extremely serious political influence in London that outweighed that of the Cape Governors of the time. On top of that, his daughter Elizabeth would eventually marry John Fairbairn, editor of the only commercial newspaper in the Colony in the 1820s, The Commercial Advertiser. Fairbairn and his poet colleague, Thomas Pringle, were totally “in Philip’s camp”. They opposed the Governor, Lord Charles Somerset, in almost every way possible. When they could not secure their goals via local authority, they would do so via their friends and connections in London. Philip, in particular, would stop at absolutely nothing to get what he wanted. When Somerset was replaced by a series of weaker governors, Philip had a field day at the expense of both those Governors and the ordinary farmers in the Colony.

Theal’s description3 of Philip’s outrageous claims, behaviour, and influence makes fascinating reading. Theal further devotes nine pages4 to Philip as character. The core of the problem lay in:

(1) Philip’s overwhelming and misleading influence in London; and

(2) his disgraceful views on his own blood. His description5 of the 1820 British Settlers to the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions says everything one might ever want to know about the person John Philip:

In point of abilities and good feelings, I consider the Caffres on the borders of the Colony as most decidedly superior to that portion of the refuse of English society that find their way to this country.

♦ Emancipation of the British Slaves

On 1 December 1834 the last slaves at the Cape were emancipated6. They would have to render four or six more years of service under British overlordship. However, the die had now been cast more than three decades before it would be done in the United States. It was mostly in the Western Cape with its wheat fields, vineyards and fruit orchards that slave labour was used, rather than the eastern cattle ranching and sheep farming districts. However, there was nothing even vaguely like the plantation system of the United States. We consult William Bird7 as Head of Customs of the Cape Colony:

Of all the colonies belonging to England, there is not one where […] emancipation could be so safely made as at the Cape of Good Hope. There are no indigo, coffee, cotton, or sugar plantations to be made desolate by labor suddenly withdrawn.

Bird gives the exact numbers8 of slaves for 1820 as being a total of 34,329. Only 3,514, or roughly one in ten, were in the two eastern districts from where most people would leave on the Great Trek. As may be seen from the records of the Cape Orphan Chamber, a typical farming property was assessed at 3000 Rixdollars. A low average male slave was valued at around 1500 Rixdollars; some as high as twice that amount9. In this respect, it may be read on the same page of Bird’s tome that British law allowed the export of slaves from one British Colony to another. With slaves four times as valuable at the Cape as in Mauritius, British Law favored the importation of slaves to the Cape. Fortunately, however, the short-lived Dutch government at the Cape had outlawed such importation in 1803. So, the slave population at the Cape was inherently limited.

When the British government announced that the farmers would be reimbursed an overall average of only £85 per slave (a small fraction of the “assessed market value” of a low average male slave), many established farmers technically went instantly bankrupt10. The numbers to arrive at the £85 figure are provided by Chase11. This was, however, less of a factor in the cattle ranching east of the colony with its very few slaves. And then, rubbing salt into the wound, the British authorities announced that the payments would have to be collected 6,000 miles away in London.

Naturally, various British individuals promptly presented themselves as “agents” and demanded as a fee some 27-30% of the monies to be paid. The British government was rather obviously keeping most of the promised money for Britain; that much was clear. According to Chase’s numbers, only on average of 29% of the pittance that Britain was paying the farmers actually reached their hands. Into this consternation marched the inevitable British “carpetbaggers”, buying the ruined Afrikaners’ property for a song. Some received only between one fifth and one sixth of the assessed value. Theal12 describes the misery this brought about.

With no significant plan for the future of the freed slaves, the farmers were facing a vagrancy problem with its predictable associated crime. Add to this the fact that the government had instituted on 17 July 1828 a new Ordinance13 that made the former slaves equal to the former slave owners before the law. All this combined was too much for these farmers who had already suffered under the 1815 Black Circuit Court, its trumped up charges, its racist overtones, and its extreme life-threatening prejudices. They had suffered the hangings at Slagtersnek as a consequence.

The Philanthropists and Abolitionists in London were talking moral principles at their tea parties, but these poor frontier farmers were living the practicalities of Africa. They had been lied to, swindled, and robbed by the authority that had hanged their friends and family twice. They had been forced to defend themselves in court in a language they could not speak against accusations by a lying missionary group believed in London to the exclusion of all else. Their children were no longer allowed to be educated in their mother tongue. They kept getting called up to serve as soldiers for Britain in its wars with the amaXhosa. And all the while they had very little protection against the amaXhosa cattle thieves and vagrant Khoi who were descending on them in the dangerous eastern districts. Moreover, their magistrate, Stockenstrom favored both these latter parties over them. The latest outrage in the form of the “Great Swindle” of the Emancipation was completely unacceptable as far as the much tried frontier folks were concerned.

The new British Afrikaners still had access to willing and interested ears in London, but the existing Dutch-speaking Afrikaners had absolutely nowhere to turn. No one in the world stood up for them. Their own ancestral European countries had washed their hands of them. From their perspective, there was a truly overwhelming accumulation of straws on the camel’s back. It was more akin to a haystack on their particular camel’s back.

Every vile attempt is made in the 21st Century to sketch the frontier farmers as leaving on the Great Trek in order to institute slavery outside what is usually presented as “benign British Control”. The truth is very much different. They were never significant slave owners to start with. However, given their precarious existence, they were deeply incensed at the WAY in which the emancipation had been done, no consideration having been given to their predicament. The unhappiness caused by the above is surely understandable to any reasonable person with some debt and a mortgage on a dangerous frontier.

Despite all the malicious propaganda from the Media in Britain, and despite the disinformation that abounds on the subject even today, Theal14 has left us with the simple statement about 1 December 1834, the Day of emancipation:

In most of the churches throughout the country thanksgiving services were held

This author would submit that this is not the behaviour of a people that begrudged any slave his or her freedom.

Meanwhile, in the Tarka, north of the winter-snowcapped Winterberg mountains, our Jordaan and Labuschagne families and their Potgieter and Du Plessis relatives were being troubled more and more by horse thieves from Maphasa, an important chief of the abaThembu, better known as the Tambookies. Maphasa had moved the abaThembu westward across the Tsomo River where they had originally lived (See Chapter 3 : The Cape Military Commander visits the Frontier – 1777). His new location was southeast of the modern Queenstown on the Klaas Smit’s River. Some landmarks and farms in the area are still named for him. On one occasion, the tracks led directly to Maphasa’s kraal (corral/village/stockade). This eventually led to a violent clash15 between some of the author’s Jordaan and Du Plessis family on the one hand and Maphasa’s Tambookie warriors on the other.

The last two straws on the camel’s back were soon to follow; the first of those a mere three weeks after the Emancipation.

♦ The Sixth Frontier War – From the White House to the Fish River

On the evening of 21 December 1834, just three weeks after the Great Emancipation, the amaXhosa army crossed the Fish River frontier to invade the Cape Colony on a 100-mile front stretching from the Winterberg to the sea16. They streamed past the helpless mission stations, dragging out and killing those who were not missionaries.

The “Dutch” Afrikaners knew how to defend themselves against these attacks. As soon as they had beaten off the initial amaXhosa attack on their farm, the typical family would retreat and join up with their friends in agreed places and run their wagons in the classic circle of the laager (literally, “strong point”, but in South Africa it is synonymous with a defensive ox wagon circle). There, they would carefully prepare their collective defense, pour the lead to make slugs for their smooth bore muskets, and lay out their fields of fire. Each man of fighting age typically had two of these massive weapons and knew how to use them. They knew how to fight in Africa. They had done so since at least 1780.

On Christmas Day 1834, the amaXhosa fell upon the British Settlers themselves. They killed all the male settlers they could find, but, with some exceptions, spared the women and small children. The other settlers fled to Grahamstown, Bathurst, and Salem. The amaXhosa bypassed many military posts and focused on murdering the civilians.

The entire thing was new to the British Settlers, however. From a military perspective the “nation of shopkeepers” that had fled the Suurveld for the comforts of Grahamstown in the first three years after settlement was a frightened rabble. These Settlers were mostly ordinary civilians with zero military experience who had never fired a shot in anger, let alone faced a horde of battle-crazed amaXhosa anointed with potions by a suitable sangoma (witchdoctor/medicine man). They were lost in the face of the onslaught. Now, when all was at stake, the supposedly “surly”, “uneducated”, “dour”, “obstinate”, “Jacobin”, White Calvinist Afrikaner farmer—the Boer—became the pillar of strength on whom all depended. At Fort Brown, on the Fish River, a mere twelve “Dutch” Boer Afrikaners joined the terrified British troops, who were new to all this, and beat off the amaXhosa attack through their sharpshooting17.

The new Governor, Sir Benjamin D’Urban, dispatched the Deputy Quartermaster General at the Cape to the Frontier to take charge. Jumping from horse to horse to cover the six hundred miles from the Cape to Grahamstown, came dashing none other than Harry Smith, the man who had helped torch the American White House and eat President James Madison’s dinner in Washington twenty years earlier18 on 24 August 1814 (below).

Smith first knocked some much-needed discipline into the population of Grahamstown. Then he turned his attention to the amaXhosa. By 15 April 1835 he was at the Kei River for the first ever crossing of a white man’s army into the territory of paramount amaGcaleka chief Hintsa, who had always stayed out of any direct fighting. This was a strategic step, in comparison with which all previous military action was trivial. The amaXhosa had driven all the stolen cattle to Hintsa’s land, and this had to be addressed. Hintsa was rather obviously complicit in the invasion of the Colony.

The British Army had hardly crossed the Kei River when they were approached by six amaFengu chiefs19. Their people were six corresponding groups (including specifically remnants of the amaHlubi) who had fled the much-rumored tyrannical Zulu king further to the northeast. In exchange for refuge from that Zulu king, Hintsa and his amaXhosa had kept the amaFengu as slaves. In a twist of fate, the amaFengu had now fled that slavery and were offering the British their assistance against Hintsa.

On 24 April 1835, Governor D’Urban declared the Fingo, as they would come to be called, “British subjects” and formally declared war on Hintsa20. The Fingo freedom came into effect on 9 May 1835. They were the only indigenous nation of the present South Africa ever to be enslaved en masse, and they were enslaved by their fellow black man, the future Nelson Mandela’s amaXhosa.

Hintsa was eventually captured by Harry Smith and was shot dead21 when he attempted to escape. Governor D’Urban declared the territory between the Keiskamma and the Kei Rivers to be the new Queen Adelaide’s Province. The amaFengu would be settled there and the non-peaceful amaXhosa had to leave. By August 1835, Smith released the Afrikaner farmers from commando service. They had been away from their farms for going on five months.

At the end of this war, Governor D’Urban extended the entire border eastward to form the so-called Queen Adelaide Province. This was to include all land along the coast up to the Kei River and included territory to the east of the Tarka behind the Amatole Mountains.

♦ The Treason of the London Missionary Society – The Last Straw

Charles Grant, Lord Glenelg

In far away London, England, a snake more poisonous than a Cape Cobra was coiling in the dark. A new government had taken over in London. The new Secretary of State for War and the Colonies, Lord Glenelg (Charles Grant), completely under the influence of John Philip and the London Missionary Society, sank to the level of blaming the British Settlers, the Cape Governor, and the Frontier Afrikaners for the war. Eventually, Glenelg even reversed Governor D’Urban’s territorial decision. He forced D’Urban  to give  back to the amaXhosa not only the territory won, but also (with some small exceptions) the neutral zone (called the “Ceded Territory”) between the Fish and Keiskamma Rivers. The amaXhosa had been forced to vacate that after the 1819 5th Frontier War. Gelnelg was forcing his own people into a retreat after winning a war.

Then, to rub salt in the wounds, he appointed the much-resented Magistrate Andries Stockenstrom as Lieutenant Governor over the Frontier Districts. The border change meant that many Afrikaner families in the new Province east of the Tarka had to move back westward. The British Settlers would ultimately have their revenge on the London Missionary Society for the deaths of their families and friends. However, no one spoke for the Afrikaners on the Frontier of whom many had lost all.

The map below shows D’Urban’s Colonial boundary after the War of 1835. We also indicate the Fish River, to where Glenelg moved back the boundary. The “Ceded Territory” had been declared by Governor Charles Somerset after the 1819 War.

For the first time the British Settlers had to experience the true depth of dismay, despair, and the sense of desertion the Afrikaner of that time had had to live with all his mature life. The stunned and outraged reactions of these Settlers knew no bounds. Another work, titled AmaBhulu, by the present author describes this at some length and provides suitable quotes from authors and community leaders.

The Frontier Afrikaners had by now had enough of the contradictory and disastrous  management by Britain. They admired Governor D’Urban, and the respect was returned. D’Urban was so impressed with a Boer leader named Piet Retief that he named a defensive post after him, namely Post Retief in the Winterberg. We shall learn more of this respect for this particular governor in Chapter 8.

D’Urban made it clear to Glenelg that he knew Glenelg had been hoodwinked by the London Missionary Society. He advised Glenelg three times22 that the Frontier would be deserted by the Afrikaners if Glenelg persisted with his plans. For this, Glenelg dismissed him from his post. A good man, devoted to the place he had undertaken to protect, D’Urban stayed on at the Cape as ordinary citizen. The man who replaced him, Geroge Napier, would do all in his power to harm and bedevil Afrikaners, as we shall see in due course.

A new monarch, Queen Victoria, would ascend the British throne in 1837. The disaster by the fool Glenelg would never have been tolerated under the new Queen Victoria. Glenelg would ultimately be dismissed23 in 1839, two years into her reign, for equivalent disasters perpetrated in several other colonies. But all this was too late for the long suffering Cape Frontiersmen.  They had made up their minds upon the news of Glenelg’s decisions in 1835-1836. They were packing their families and their Bibles on their lumbering ox wagons and leaving toward the north into Darkest Africa, where there was reported to be empty country, far beyond the lying John Philip, his malicious London Missionary Society, and British authority. Quoting Charl Celliers, a future leader and much respected Elder of the Great Trek24:

We had sent an exploring party of ten men to Vet River, Sand River, and Valsch River, and found the country to be lying waste, and without any inhabitants. We sent a petition to the Governor of the Gape, signed with the names of seventy-two householders who possessed no land. Our petition was refused.

A similar expedition, comprising fourteen wagons led by Piet Uys, an Afrikaner greatly respected by the British Settlers, went up the coast through amaXhosa territory to investigate the area of Natal depopulated by Zulu King Shaka (see Chapter 7). To quote the Hon. Henry Cloete25,

…they soon came to the conclusion that this would be a country in every way suited to them and their countrymen;…

Clearly, anything was better than than further British Rule…

…. or so they thought.

—Harry Booyens


1. Cape Town Archives Repository, Resolutions of the Council of Policy of the Cape of Good Hope, Reference code: C. 202, pp. 196-303; March 27, 1792

2. Transactions of the Missionary Society, Vol.1 Second Edition. (1804) p.388. First attempt to enter Caffraria. Part of the Journal of Johannes Vanderkemp.

3. G. Theal, History of South Africa since September 1795, Vol. I, First Edition (1908), pp. 440-441

4. G. Theal, History of South Africa since September 1795, Vol. I, First Edition (1908), pp. 443-450

5. The American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, The Missionary Herald, Vol. 29, (1833), p. 414; Letter by Philip

6. G. Theal, History of South Africa from 1795 to 1872, Vol. II, Fourth Edition (1915), p. 75

7. William W Bird et al, State of the Cape of Good Hope, in 1822, (1823), p. 77

8. William W Bird et al, State of the Cape of Good Hope, in 1822, (1823), p. 69

9. William W Bird et al, State of the Cape of Good Hope, in 1822, (1823), p. 72

10. G. Theal, History of South Africa from 1795 to 1872, Vol. II, Fourth Edition (1915), pp. 76-77

11. J. Chase, Natal, a re-print of all authentic notices (etc), Part 1, (1843), p. 43

12. G. Theal, History of South Africa from 1795 to 1872, Vol. II, Fourth Edition (1915), p. 77

13. G. Theal, History of South Africa since September 1795, Vol. I, First Edition (1908), p. 442

14. G. Theal, History of South Africa from 1795 to 1872, Vol. II, Fourth Edition (1915), p. 75

15. G.D.J. Duvenhage, Van die Tarka na die Trans-Gariep, (1981), p.67 (not available for online reading)

16. G. Theal, History of South Africa from 1795 to 1872, Vol. II, Fourth Edition (1915), p. 90

17. Noël Mostert, Frontiers, (1992), p. 668

18. Sir Henry G. W. Smith, The autobiography of Lieutenant-General Sir Harry Smith, Vol. 1, (1902), p. 200

19. G. Theal, History of South Africa from 1795 to 1872, Vol. II, Fourth Edition (1915), p. 110

20. Robert Godlonton, Irruption of the Kafir Hordes (etc.), (1836), p. 248

21. D.C.F. Moodie, History of the Battles and Adventures of the British, the Boers and the Zulus in Southern Africa, Vol. I, (1888), p.318

22. J. Chase, Natal, a re-print of all authentic notices (etc), Part 1, (1843), p. 77

23. G. Theal, History of South Africa from 1795 to 1872, Vol. II, Fourth Edition (1915), p. 181

24. J. Bird, The Annals of Natal. 1495-1845, Vol.I, (1888), p. 252

25. H. Cloete, Five lectures on the emigration of the Dutch farmers (etc), (1856), p. 62