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  Randal William Johnson Walker

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PostSubject: Randal William Johnson Walker    Thu Jul 19, 2012 10:01 pm

[i]" Randal William Johnston Walker was the eldest son of James Walker and was born on December 27th, 1847. He would thus have been 17 years old when the Walker family arrived in 1864 to make their future in the Colony of Natal. And what a life he was to have!

The first record of RWJ in East Griqualand is a telegram sent to his father in 1876 from “40 miles beyond Kokstad” to advise that he was buying land. At that stage he, his father and his brother George, co-owned quite a bit of land the Colony.1 It is not clear how the purchase of the land unfolded but it was from Kunanata that he wrote a letter to a Doctor Sutherland on September 19th, 1977, in which he thanked him for the scab preparation the doctor had provided. Randal says in the letter that, although his own sheep are clear of the disease, he will pass it on to the many neighbouring farmers who have the problem and advise the results. He and Sutherland are obviously well acquainted; Randal tells of the weather that has finally broken, with rain falling after a dry year but that the sheep do not look too bad and that the lambing has been good. He makes the interesting observation that lots of people are crossing into the old Colony of Griqualand East and concludes by sending kind regards to Mrs Sutherland and the Sutherland family.2

For the next few years Randal was caught up in the considerable unrest in the Colony and East Griqualand. A receipt signed at Highflats on 12 Jan 1874 by Robert Gold, Quartermaster IMR, which is in the Killie Campbell Library, shows that Randal WJ Walker made a loan of £60 to the Ixopo Mounted Rifles @ 5% per annum for 12 months, for any longer period to be charged @ 10%.3 We learn from the History of Volunteer Regiments that, “The Ixopo Mounted Rifles were raised in the Ixopo district of Natal early in 1868. The unit was a force formed to co-operate with the Natal Mounted Police in keeping watch on the southern border of Natal bounded by the Umzimkulu River, then in a very disturbed state owing to the unfriendly and unruly activities of the Griquas in Griqualand across the river.

The corps was called out for active service and assisted in patrolling and guarding the border when the Griqua Rebellion broke out late in 1868. It served during that trouble which was of a short duration, but to the sparse and scattered European population of the southern districts of Natal it was a stirring and most anxious time. The duties of the corps were arduous and exacting but were performed with cheerfulness and efficiency. The Ixopo Mounted Rifles were again mobilised for field service in January 1879, upon receipt of the alarming news of the disaster of the British force at Isandhlwana in Zululand. But the unit was not sent forward to the Zulu War, being kept in its own district for local defence.

The original strength of the corps was 20, all ranks, which gradually increased during its short life to the number of 50. Captain Randal W. Walker was the Commanding Officer, the other officers being Lieutenant Walter Gray (who married Randal’s sister, Isabella Jane Johnston Walker) and Quarter-Master Robert Gold. The N.C.Os were Sergeant William Gold and Corporals Alex Stone and O.H. Michel. Members drew no pay or allowances of any kind and they provided themselves with everything they needed – a horse, saddlery, uniforms and other necessary equipment. The uniform was a drab coloured corduroy of a high scented quality. Government provided the arms and ammunition only, the weapon being an old type of Snider carbine with a well developed and vicious kick. Drills, shooting practices and competitions were held at frequent intervals and quarterly training encampments alternatively at Highflats, Hlutankungu, Dumisa and Craigie Lea, at the end of which sports were indulged in. Captain L. Davey, Staff Officer Volunteers, was the general instructor of these encampments. Discipline was not of a high order and after particularly insubordinate acts by several members, the Ixopo Mounted Rifles were disbanded by Government Proclamation of 19th July 1880.”4

Walter Walker has the Zulu War Medal awarded RWJ Walker, which bears the inscription “Levy Leader. Mr RWJ Walker”. It is possible that this medal was awarded to RWJ for service in the Ixopo Mounted Rifles but there were Native Levies, which were commanded by white settlers, and which were raised in southern Natal to fight in the Zulu War. Research has not placed RWJ in any of these as yet.

There is a website on SA Military Units which states that it bases its information upon the publication "The Armed Forces of South Africa with an appendix on the commandos by Major G. Tylden” and which makes reference to a unit called Walker’s Rifles which was raised on 26 October 1880. There is no further information on the unit as yet – it is possible that RWJ raised another unit after the Ixopo Mounted Rifles were disbanded. As will be seen below, he certainly continued to provide a military service to the community in which he lived.5

RWJ was now approaching the age of 32. The events that gave rise to his leaving Kunanata and also crossing into Griqualand East were probably now unfolding. Flossie Thring’s version of these events is that “Randal disgraced himself by having a liaison with a Bhaca girl who worked as a maid in the Walker household. The girl became pregnant and Randal’s father arranged for him to go to Europe for a year, by which time it was hoped that the whole incident would have been forgotten. His mother was never to be told of the affair. Randal agreed to these conditions, but on his return from Europe informed his father that he was a man of honour and wished to marry the girl. Inevitably there were terrible rows, but Randal’s father finally gave in on the following conditions: that Randal forfeit his rights as the eldest son to any claim on his father’s estate; that he move to East Griqualand where his father would buy him a farm; that his mother was never told. Randal married the girl and took her to ‘Belfast’ in the Indawana area of Swartberg. Once a month he would ride from his farm to his parent’s home at High Flats where he would stay one night, sleeping in an outhouse. He felt he had defiled his parents’ house, so never again did he sleep under the roof of their home. The story goes that his mother died without ever being aware of her son’s marriage, though that is hard to be believe!”6

After all these years it is very difficult to separate fact from fiction! Anecdotal evidence is crucial to a family history but, where possible, it must be substantiated by some fact. It is known that a 10-year-old boy named Randal Walker died on his parent’s farm Belfast, Umzimkulu, on 6 April 1889. His parents were Randal William Johnston and Cegeswa Walker. The child was born in February 1879.7 The birth date of William Walker, their second born, is October 10th, 1880.8 Whether or not RWJ was actually sent overseas is difficult to say, if this Randal junior was their first child then he would have to have been overseas in late 1878, after Cegeswa fell pregnant. Lastly, as is shown in considerable detail below, RWJ was not excluded from his father’s Will. It would thus appear that Flossie Thring’s account of this episode had probably grown with the telling over the years; however, any reader would agree with her that it is most unlikely that Isabella Walker was never aware of any of her eldest son’s children?

It is possible that RWJ’s relationship was an issue of class, in that Cegeswa was the kitchen maid, as much as it could have been an issue of colour? The point has to be made that there simply were very few females in the Colony at the time. John Shephard highlights this in his book, “In the Shadow of the Drakensberg”, albeit with reference to the Swartberg; “Many farmers brought in their families with them but when the elder sons began to farm on their own the proportion of bachelors rapidly increased. Eligible girls were at a premium. Because a farm house without a woman is like a cow without milk it is not surprising that quite a few white settlers living on isolated farms married or lived with Griqua or Bantu women.”9 It is a great pity that little is known about Cegeswa Spengane, the women RWJ was not prepared to desert. She was a member of the Bhaca tribe of whom Hammond-Tooke writes; “The Bhaca are proud of their unique identity, of their land, their distinctive thsefula dialect (reminiscent of Swazi and itself posing interesting problems of the ultimate origin), and, above all, of their common descent from the great culture-hero, Madzikane. Owing their origin to a flight from Natal in the early nineteenth century to escape the wrath of the Napoleonic Tshaka - the name ‘Bhaca’ comes from the Zulu word meaning ‘to hide oneself, to take shelter.”10 Madzikane commanded the Bhaca when Tshaka launched the final Zulu sortie against them in August 1830. On learning of the impending attack he sent the women and children into the mountains and placed the Bhaca army at Lutateni, between them and the approaching enemy. During the night a severe snowstorm overtook the Zulu Impi. Large numbers died of exposure and the next morning they limped home. “This miraculous victory was attributed to the magic of Madzikane. Keeper of the sacred tribal medicines and, in his own right, a herbalist of repute, he had called his people together and promised to counter the Zulu attack single-handed by means of his charms. It is said that the thick smoke rising from his ritual fire turned into the lowering clouds that brought the snow and sleet.” Small wonder the Bhaca are reputed to be great witches and sorcerers!11

A more modern story of the Bhaca at war is told by Commandant Strachan, writing from Kokstad on 5 February 1881 in support of a claim of £4000 for loss of horses and livestock, which the tribe incurred while supporting the government:

“I have the honour to bring to your attention the following facts in connection with the Pondo outbreak of 1879, and the services of the Umzimkulu natives in connection therewith. On the appearance of danger on the Pondo border, I, at the request of the Chief Magistrate, called out a force of Bacas (sic), numbering in all about 2,400 men. These men left their homes, and equipped themselves for service at considerable personal expense, and went into the field mounted on their own horses. After a service of some two months they were disbanded, and allowed to return to the location… The same men have, during the Basuto rebellion, again with equal alacrity and cheerfulness taken the field in the Government Service, and at a time when no other forces for the defence of East Griqualand were at the disposal of the Government.” 12

The “Pondo outbreak” mentioned above was precipitated by the Zulu War, more specifically, by the annihilation of the British forces on 22 January 1879 at Isandhlwana. In her book, Madonela, Margaret Rainier tells of the impact this event had: “The shock reverberated throughout the sub-continent and the Empire. Siveright (manager of the South African telegraph Compnay) wrote to Merriman (MLA for Namaqualand) that people in the Natal capital were ‘in a state of prostrate and abject funk’, no official either military or civil had control of the situation and the loyal Africans, in his opinion, were ‘not worth a curse’, for there was ‘not a single tribe, except the Fingos, and Donald Strachan’s wild mountaineers, to be trusted; and they may be needed to do work nearer to their own homes ….’ While the colonists trembled, many blacks exulted. Could their kinsmen, then, effectively defy the forces of the great white Queen? In East Griqualand, where armed conflict was endemic though on a limited scale, there could be no complacency.” “To check mounting excitement a series of meetings was arranged by the magistrates on either side of the border, rivalries between individuals no less than the ever-sensitive relationship between the adjacent colonies being temporarily overlooked in the face of mutual peril. At the Drift on 28 and 29 January Strachan addressed Griquas and Africans. On 5 February Randall Walker came from Kununata Glen (sic) ‘for advice re affairs of Ixopo District’, …” On the 23rd of Ferbuary “Strachan and Brisley, with forty men in attendance, rode across to Walker’s farm, where the Natal Nthlangwini of Kukulele were assembled to meet him. The Natal Mercury reported that when Strachan had addressed them ‘in his usual pithy style’, reminding them of rewards and penalties that government distributed according to merit, his listeners though initially sullen, ‘seemed to quickly turn into a pleasant mood’, their leaders readily pledging their support.”13

As has been in another section, James Walker was one of the settlers of Natal who took the cautious course of actions and left with his family to stay with friends in the Cape until things quietened down, leaving Randal to look after Kununata Glynn. And quieten down they did, at least in Natal. The Zulus were eventually defeated but their initial successes had sown the seeds of revolt in the unsettled border area and trouble was brewing. “Acutely aware of hostile undercurrents elsewhere, Strachan ascribed such tensions to the jealous influence of chiefs unwilling to see their power eroded by alien government rule. He claimed that communities who had broken away from their traditional allegiance had become more successful and progressive in every way. To encourage this trend, he emphasised the need for better liaison between the government and the people, enabling them to understand and appreciate official policies. Lasting peace, he insisted could only be achieved by ‘the most delicate management’, and by implementing a system ‘comprehensive and firm …. quietly but consistently carried out, a policy that would not be likely to meet with changes of purpose nor create any universal grievance or common cause of distrust’. The ‘universal grievance’ re of which Srachan warned was the implementation of the inappropriately named Peace Preservation Act, No 13 of 1878, providing for the surrender by tribal people of all their weapons.”14

These were unsettled times, and, unfortunately, events overshadowed the lives of individuals. The scraps of information that still exist only tell part of the story. So it is that the sheep farmer, who presumably owned land in both Natal and East Griqualand, applied for a job in the civil service! In September 1979, RWJ Walker, writing from ‘Kunanata Highflats’, applied for the vacant position of Scab Inspector, Ixopo District, as is shown in the attached letter.15 Randal clearly saw himself to be well qualified to move about the Ixopo District as a government employee; he states that his fluency in the language and his popularity with the natives is an endorsement to his application for the position.

RWJ seems to confirm his compassion for the Natives when he persistently championed the attempts by one Malambule who, according to RWJ, “worked from a child for the late Lewis Reynolds, Esq, Camionbi, Lower Umkomasie, accompanying him on all shooting expeditions both here and in Zulualand + on his deathbed bequeathed a certain single barrelled gun to Malumbule.” The Executors of the Estate had sent the weapon to RWJ who had, in turn, lodged it with the Magistrate and had written for a permit for Malambule to take possession thereof. He had written to Mr Campbell, Resident Magistrate at Ixopo and subsequently to Mr Ayliff. This letter was the third attempt to secure the permit. In it RWJ says that Malambule “is a good shot and a plucky fellow (who) materially assisting his master to kill a lion when in Zululand (for) Ketchewayo’s coronation.” Unfortunately, unbeknown to RWJ, the rifle had been destroyed in the fire in the Magistrate’s Office on 29 December 1879; the authorities would have to purchase another gun should the request be granted! The response was thus a bland, “His excellency is unable to accede to this request.”16

And now to the War of the Gun in more detail! After the demise of the Griqua State “white settlers began (as we have heard from RWJ) to invade the country in ever-increasing numbers, buying up the land, building homesteads and developing the wool industry markets with Natal.”17 “The origin of the trouble which became to be known as the Gun war lay back in 1867 when the diamond fields opened in Kimberley. The mines needed labour and machinery. The machinery needed rail transport and labour was urgently required to build the line from the Cape. The Basutos, a robust and hardy race, were an obvious source of almost unlimited labour if they could be induced to work on the railway. Basutoland was barely recovering from the war with the Boers of the Free State in 1865 so a powerful inducement was needed to tempt Basutos to work in the country of their late enemies. The Cape Government conceived the bright idea of promising to sell arms and ammunition at very low prices to those tribesmen who would go to work on the railways.” “Thousands of guns poured into Basutoland, until the Cape Government began to have second thoughts about the wisdom of their policy.” “It was decided to disarm the Basutos. The decision was reached without the sanction of the Imperial Government. It was applied to a people already in the mood for revolt because of poverty and lack of employment within their own borders. It is true that some compensation was offered for arms surrendered but the Basuto considered this inadequate. No British troops were used in the long and indecisive campaign, which followed in 1880. Nobody gained and many white settlers, especially those traders in tribal areas, lost everything they possessed.”18

The Hon. Charles Brownlee confirms this account most eloquently as he explained the effect of the Peace and Disarmament Act of 1879 in a lecture on the Basuto War read before the St Andrew’s Literary Society, King William’s Town, 1887. “In answer to the opinion that the Kaffirs (sic) would willingly give up their arms on condition of compensation, it was replied that the bearing of arms was one of the most cherished customs of the Natives, and in fact formed part of their religion; for when lads were initiated into the privileges of manhood, a tribal gathering took place, the leading men and elders put arms into the hands of their youths, informing them that they were a sign of their manhood, and with these arms they were to defend their chief and country and themselves, adding ’Hold to your arms.’ Orations were then delivered by the chief and most eloquent men of the tribe on the duties of the young men, the substance and text of the admonition being that having left the ranks and practices of boyhood, they were for the future to conduct themselves as men; and it may easily be imagined that an interference with the most interesting ceremony in a man’s life would not be lightly estimated.”19

Brownlee had been key to the attempted softening of attitudes on this issue, by indicating that subsequent disarmament would be voluntary. He left to attend a meeting with the Basuto at Matatiele in October 1880, knowing full well that an ambush was in the offing. By clever manoeuvring he was able to conduct the meeting, withdraw with honour and then evade the pursuit. The rebellion had begun!

“Kokstad was in confusion. The senior representatives of government had escaped the trap set to destroy them, but endless difficulties lay ahead. Brownlee appointed Strachan commandant of an army that was still to be created, and for which men and equipment were still to be found.” “A defence committee was nominated, and rather than reinforcing the old magazine and the outlying CMR camp, defensive works were thrown up around the great Griqua church and Dower’s parsonage, stripped of combustible thatch and re-roofed with iron. Officers were appointed in charge of white men, Griquas and Africans who rallied from all quarters,…”

“From Umzimkulu came scores of Abalondolozi, eager for combat. Dower, palpably uneasy, watched as these wild men termed Defenders, their hair fantastically dressed came along singing in unison their war song, beating their shields all in rhythmic time, making a weird and to some unaccustomed ears, a terrible sound…They often outnumbered the Europeans ten to one – yet I never heard of one of them offering insult or injuring property in the town.”

“Mrs EC Coetser, of the Afrikaner community recently settled about Matatiele, echoed Dower’s words when she recalled hearing as a child of her parents flight to Kokstad: Strachan het al die lojale kaffers (sic) opgeroep ..Honderde lojale bontgeverfde kaffers (Baccas) het die dorp .. ingekom, gesing, geskree and geslaan op hulle skildvelle wat ‘n mens senuweeagtig gemaak het … Die kaffers was tien teen een witman.”

News of the rising at Matatiele, says the historian Theal, ‘burst like a sudden thunderclap upon’ the government.”20

Action by RWJ to assist some of the friendly tribes in recovering livestock during this campaign is addressed in the official correspondence of the Secretary of Native Affairs. The Administrator of Native Law, Polela Division, Mr Jackson, reported to his superiors on 15 October 1880 that he had assumed the duties of his office. He reports at 11am that he has just been informed by “one of the Native Police, that the natives of the tribes of Kukulela and Sekayedwa, who went over to Mr Randal Walker, seized a large number of cattle from the Basutos and had sent them over the Umzimkulu, into Natal.” RWJ and his men were reportedly trapped at Endowana due to the swollen rivers.21 On 18 October 1880 Jackson submitted further reports to the effect that Mr Strachan (Donald Strachan, Resident Magistrate, Kokstad) was about to attack the Basuto force and that Kukulela had been admonished not to take any of the cattle that RWJ and he had removed from the Basuto. Whether the action by RWJ was pre-emptive or whether it had been as a result of the action the rebellious Basutos had taken against those amongst them who were not prepared to join in the action against the Crown, is not clear from the official documentation. The comments by the powers that be are, however, very clear; “For your Excellency’s information. I think proceedings of this kind should be at once put a stop to.”22 The record does not say what eventually became of the cattle or whether anybody actually paid any attention to Mr Jackson in this regard?

A valuable input is a letter discovered in the Killie Campbell Library; dated 20 December 1880, it is written by RWJ to “My dear Father” and signed “Your affectionate son”. In it RWJ tells his father that Strachan has given him an appointment. He is to have a permanent force of 100 men under his command, with the authority to call out any number of Kaffirs (sic). His pay is 20/- a day and, in other ways, he hopes to double this. “All heads of field forces live here together in a mess, very comfortable good grub. Govt here appear to make up their minds that this is going to be a long job. Please send me Sir Garnets little red book on military tactics.” He also mentions that he wants to learn to signal with the looking glass. James Walker has added a note to the bottom of the letter indicating his opinion of this state of affairs, as per attached.

In the midst of all this conflict Mr Jackson received a telegram from Maj Dartnell dated 16 February 1881 to ask Mr Randal Walker whether the Mounted Policeman Steen, who is ill at Matatiele is well enough to be moved and, If not, what medicine or assistance is requested? RWJ replied “Capt Tarlton goes to Kokstad on Monday and will enquire as to Steen (I suppose you mean Major Dartnell’s brother in law)”? It appears that the unfortunate Steen had contracted typhoid fever and that RWJ did not appear to be all that sympathetic, given the events about to be described. Of more interest in this letter however is RWJ’s comment that “I understand the Strachan is going to organise a column to attack the Basutos from this side(,) I will let you know as soon as I get orders to make preparation. If I had my way in the matter we will make a fort in (the) Bush with food (+) ammunition + then patrol in + out again… Won’t do any good.” The note is clearly written in haste and seems to indicate that RWJ was on standby for imminent military action.23

Flossie Thring takes up the story again; “In the Indawana region of Swartberg, near the Natal Border, the few farmers who had settled there joined together to protect themselves. These were Randal Walker of the farm ‘Bathurst’, Archie Scott from ‘Brachan’, old van Wyhe and his sons from ‘Glen Coe’ and John Carroll who farmed on ‘Umgano’. The wives and family of these men fled to Underberg in Natal where they stayed at the kraal of a wealthy Zulu. Randal Walker was also joined by some Zulus from Underberg who were seeking protection. They all remained on the farm ‘Bathurst’, which is still called ‘Walkers Camp’, waiting for the Basutos. The Basutos attacked from a hill behind the house, shooting one of the Zulus and driving off a lot of the cattle. Walker and his men pursued them, recovered the cattle and drove the Basutos back over the Drakensberg. Afterwards Walker built a port-holed stonewalled laager and house at ‘Bathurst’ in case of further trouble. Walker’s fort was later to be used as a place of safety during the Le Fleur scare of 1897” (as will be discussed below).24 Mr Jackson confirms these events as can be seen from his letter.

This report also mentions that that “Messrs Amos and Bell, in charge of our Mounted Scouts, had called at Mr Walker’s, while out patrolling on the Endowana, and were there when the attack was made, and Mr Bell had his horse shot by the Basutos”.25 There is a letter from Mr Bell informing of this visit to Commandant Walker’s Camp.26 In further correspondence Jackson reports, on April 1st, 1881, to “The Honourable The Secretary for Native Affairs” that “I learn from Mr Walker that the natives in Griqualand East are responding but slowly to the call of Mr Strachan, to follow the Basutos into the Berg, but they expect to be ready in about two weeks. Mr Bell, in charge of Scouts, has today sent in two young natives, who have come down the Ingwangwane pass and said that they were on their way from the Orange River to join relatives living under Ramncana in this district. Part of this document is another letter from Jackson, dated 2 April 1881, stating “Mr Randal Walker has applied to me, through one of his officers, Capt Tarleton, for the two natives Umgwago and Umbunda, reported in my minute of yesterday. I believe Mr Walker wants them as guides to his force about to cross the Orange River, I shall see him on the 4th inst and if such is the case, shall I hand the men over to Mr Walker?”27 Yet another note from Jackson to his superiors advises that Ugebe, the uncle of one of the two youngsters, had been to see him and confirmed their story. “Ugebe, being a Cape subject, is going with Mr Walker in order to find the rest of his family, taken away by the Basutos, and he wishes to take the two young men with him.”28 The annals dry up at this stage and do not tell us more in the same detail as these few pages. However, there is no doubt that Mr Randal Walker was the Commandant of a formal Native Contingent, with white officers, which provided military service to the Crown.

Grace Walker, the third of RWJ and Cegeswa’s children was born in June 1882. The 4th child, another daughter, was born in July 1884 and was given a Johnston family name, Lucy. It is not, as yet, known whether or where they were baptised.

These events were all taking place in the Ipolela District. Fortunately, there is a period map in the Pitermaritzburg Archive Repository: “Map showing farms, owners' names, boundaries, hills, rivers of Ipolela district north of the Endowana and Zildawana rivers” which is shown on the attached orientation maps.29 Note the names of Gold, Eagleston Store, Houston and, of course, Walker’s Camp.

On May 25th, 1883, Randal wrote from Ixopo to His Excellency, Sir Henry Bulwer, KCMG, to request permission to be able to purchase two boxes of ammunition as he lived out of the Colony for a period of nine months of the year. RWJ concedes in his letter that the amount of ammunition looks large but states that he shoots a lot of game and lives in a much-disturbed country, and thus prefers to keep adequate reserve at hand for protection, as in the recent Basuto War. There was no objection to his request, in principle, but he was to obtain the permission of every Resident Magistrate involved, both where he lived and through whose territory he wished to transport the ammunition.30

It is obvious that by 1884, with the passage of time and the events in which they had been involved in the past, RWJ and Mr Ivo Jackson, Resident Magistrate of Harding, were on good terms. RWJ addresses the latter on a letter dated Dec 16th, 1884, as “My dear Mr Jackson”. The letter also indicates that things had calmed down for Randal reports “There is no news here of any kind.” He continues with the information that he “has no new specimens of coal to send you as I have had no time to go there + to get good coal would require some work.” He had obvious been invited to join Jackson for New Year and he apologises, saying “I shall not be able to get over to your sport at New Year as I shall be at High Flats for some time.” Jackson seemed to have wanted to purchase sheep and RWJ advises that, after New Year, he shall be able to sell. He concludes with the information that he has “a little scab and is dipping at present”.31

RWJ had obviously been interceding on behalf of the people of Chief Ramncana who had expressed the wish to move across the river from the rather crowded Natal into East Griqualand. However, he seemed to have been unable to induce the Cape Government to agree to this move, as, in his opinion, Natalians (sic) are looked upon with great suspicion (by the Cape) whenever we touch Native matters or policy. RWJ says in the letter attached that he likes the people but not Chief Ramncana, who allows his folk to do as they please and not control them.32

One can imagine that Randal must have spent some time with his father in the latter part of 1885 discussing the infuriating issue of sheep theft. James wrote a long letter addressing the issue in August 1885 and RWJ follows up with a letter of his own on 17 February 1886, days before the death of his father. RWJ had tasked two messengers to move amongst the folk of East Griqualand and Ixopo to “ascertain what stock was being stolen (if any), by whom and how disposed of.” The result of this investigation produced hard fact as to who was guilty. His informants had established that tenants on the farm stole the sheep and passed them on to relatives in East Griqualand for disposal. The farmer, when looking for the sheep, would find his own folk at home on the farm and never suspect them. RWJ states “I myself need not go into the details suffice to say that the matter is becoming very serious and the younger Kaffirs (sic) utterly reckless. I could write pages about losses. I will report to you further when more spies and when my investigations are completed….. I am earnest in this matter first because both myself and my friends are loosing heavily (30 are gone from Kunanata between 14 Jan and 11 Feb 9 or 10 at a time) + secondly the bitter ill feeling to which this sort of thing is giving rise between the two races in Natal. Especially amongst the rising generation.

As a remedy I propose that we sheep farmers subscribe one percent of the value of each man’s clip of wool + this money to be handed to you with which to bribe the Chief or Headmen in districts when sheep are kept. You will know how to manipulate this fund better than anyone. Had we a man at Ixopo as RM like the late Martinus Stuart or Wheelright it might be left to them but Magistrates who don’t understand Kaffirs (sic) should stay in town. In talking over this sheep stealing one of my Kaffirs (sic) remarked ‘If Gadupy (Chief of the tribe near Highflats) liked he could stop his people stealing sheep. But why should he, the sheep owners never give him anything. He gets beer from his people but your brothers (G + H Walker) never give him even a glass of grog. I don’t say Gadupy eats your sheep but he has an idea who does. Nothing is very long a secret amongst Kaffirs (sic).’ I think this man’s hint is logical(,) shall we take that you need some advice on these matters. I am standing entirely alone, I belong to no farmers protection society. I think it useless to catch, now and then, a thief + then there has been much foolish talk about shooting.”33 Randal William Johnston Walker’s approach was clearly based upon his far better understanding of the situation on the ground whereas the view espoused by others, including his father, was that of the more traditional harsher application of the Law. Interesting reading!





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PostSubject: Re: Randal William Johnson Walker    Thu Jul 19, 2012 10:01 pm

"It would appear that the relationship between the brothers had been formalised into a company. Alexander Henry Walker mentions this in his letter about sheep theft to Sir Henry Bulwer in February 1885, saying that “I joined the firm of Walker Brothers in 1880” and that the land was farmed prior to 1878 by Randal and George B Walker.34 In another letter, written in November of that year and addressed to the Surveyor General, Alexander Henry makes “application on behalf of RWJ Walker, GB Walker and Alex Walker who desire to purchase jointly on the ten years system, a portion of land adjoining the Farms ‘Rosenthal’, ‘Esperanza’ and Keatsland’ together with such other portion of adjacent Crown land as may be required to make up the extent of 2000 Acres. And I would request permission to survey this land for which purpose I shall attend at your Office as soon as possible to obtain such tracings as I require.”35 It is not clear whether they obtained the land but Alex certainly seemed confident that the request would be granted. His qualifications to undertake such a survey on his own are confirmed in his application for the post of Commissioner of Mines and Agriculture, in which he states that he attended Kings College in London, reading Engineering and Applied Science, and had practised as a land surveyor for two years in Natal.36

The reports that RWJ sent though to “My dear Jackson” must have been most helpful to the Administrator of Native Affairs. They are detailed and draw conclusions, which must have greatly assisted Jackson in his work. For example on April 4th, 1886, he reports “I think it right to let you know that there have been rumours of war for the past week – a Hlangwini Basuto rising is predicted in connexion with present disturbances on the Pondo border. I cannot find that there is much cause for alarm but nevertheless the …. and others speak of trecking into Natal in a day or two, in fact they are now all packed.” RWJ requests the loan on some 200 rounds of Martini ammunition, as he only has the short ones, before continuing “ I hear several Basutos in Coles simply have bolted leaving their wages behind but I don’t know to what tribe they belong. A final note on April 5th states “Umzimvubu farmers are much excited. No fresh news.” By 6pm on the 15th April 1886, RWJ obviously had a better handle on the situation and was able to report to Jackson that things appeared to have settled down again; Houston having gone back to his farm. He sketches the latest intelligence; that most of the Hhlangwinis are perfectly loyal and that Mkelleys sons from Basutoland are back and forth across the border threatening to clear out the area. RWJ’s own opinion of all of this was that it hinged upon Pondoland and that Basutoland had nothing to do with the current scare. Above Matatiel some Basutos were upset about the recent placement of beacons demarcating the boundaries of their location. RWJ adds “I am told that the Pondo Baca affair is over for the present, if so I am satisfied thing will settle down for the present. Had the Basutos any intention of fighting I don’t think the Mkelleys sons would shake the fists and say they are coming. Still it is well to be on the look out as this Govt is such a miserable hand at Kaffir (sic) matters. One thing that I think unsettles Umzimvube farmers is that Griquas are continuously leaving for Pondoland. This I think is only natural, (ink blot) having given them a piece of country where they hope again to build a Griqua nation. If I saw an exodus in a hurry + then I would take alarm.” 37

James Walker passed away in March 1886 and RWJ’s fifth child, another daughter, was born in June of that year. This time the child was not just given a Johnston name; she was named after his mother, Isabella! And the next child, also a daughter, who was born on the 10th of July 1888, was given Randal’s mother’s second name, Jane. Gloria Napier, William’s granddaughter, has anecdotal evidence of visits by the “old Irish granny” which confirm that there had been a relationship between mother and son, and his family.38 It is interesting that RWJ only used his mother’s names after his father’s death?

In November of 1886 a native was killed near RWJ’s farm under suspicious circumstances. In a note dated 19 Nov, RWJ says “Musi, son (of) Mongwaca Ipolela was found dead in a sluit near my place under suspicious circumstances (,) there being marks of a scuffle on the path near where the body was found.” The body of the man bore bruises and scratches and was also mutilated. Jackson and RWJ exchanged further notes in this regard and RWJ confirms that it was murder; the District Surgeon had found that the man’s neck had been broken. RWJ also gives clues as to the suspects, urging Jackson to keep his eyes peeled and, should they be apprehended, recommended that they be sent to Umzimvubu authorities for prosecution. Two of the men were apprehended and sent under escort to the authorities as requested above. On Nov 28th, RWJ advises Jackson that the younger of the two had “turned States Evidence as you expected, describing how Musi was seized from behind.”39 In a sequel RWJ advises Jackson on 11 April 1887 that he had just received a summons to appear at the trial of the murderers, which would be held on 19th before a “kind of Combined Court. I send a Kokstadt paper in which you will see that these kind of courts have been sitting at Qumbu, Mount Frere + Mount Ayliff.” It is interesting that these two gentlemen collaborated so well across the border between the Cape and the Natal Colonies. RWJ requests the loan of a detective for some investigation; something that was obviously a common occurrence in their relationship.40 It would, of course be far easier for RWJ to liase with Natal authorities across the river that with those of the Cape, even if they happened to be in Grahamstown, which was still a long way away.

Further proof of the good relationship between them was the letter from RWJ on 30 May 1887, in which RWJ says, “Have just heard from our sec (secretary) that he cannot get together a team to shoot against yours. Four of our best shots will be away + rest object to Polela at this season. Can we not shoot a match each team at its own ground any time about next July?” Not all pleasure as he then follows up about the theft of 4 goats from one of his men 2 years previously and that had now been found (under suspicious circumstances) at another’s kraal. Jackson was requested to advise when he would be able to look into the matter upon which RWJ would submit all the evidence.41

There is a four-year jump in the annals before we again hear from Mr RWJ Walker of Endowana. In a letter to Henrique Shepstone Esq, Secretary for Native Affairs of Natal, dated 4 March 1891, RWJ says, “I beg to inform you that one Mamamela + her son (the wife and child of the late Hlangwini Chief Sidoi) has left this country + gone to reside in Natal somewhere on the Umkomasi River. The excuse being that she and her child are fleeing from sickness. Now a few of us old residents in this country know that the lately appointed Chief of the Hlangwini tribe, Pata, is doing all he can to obtain adherents both in + out of this country + we look with great suspicion on this tribe. They are hand in glove with Basutoland and the other Malcontents. They want to fight the Bacas (sic) in this country whom they greatly outnumber + it is this trying to secure followers amongst other small tribes who have nothing to do with them hitherto which looks as if there was something brewing. I expect Mamamela was sent to Natal that her son Eta might grow up there + draw together all the Hlangwinis. As far as I can find out Mamamela had no permission or pass from either the Cape or Natal Govt. Can’t she + her son be sent back(?) Please excuse me bothering you but I expect trouble here before long.” This report sets off a flurry of bureaucratic exchanges which establishes that they were, after arriving in Natal, given a permit for 3 months but have long overstayed their welcome. This matter culminated in the report that “they can give no good account of themselves and can give no valid reason for staying in Natal for so long.” It appears that they were to be sent back across the river as requested by RWJ.42

RWJ objected again to a similar development in a letter to the Secretary for Native Affairs dated 24 September 1892. It had come to his knowledge that a Basuto, Christian MKellie, referred to previously as Mkelley and a troublemaker, was attempting to purchase land in Natal, supposedly at the source of the Umkomasi River. RWJ reminds the Hon Secretary of the trouble caused by MKellie in looting during the Basuto Rebellion and his subsequent stirring up the of locals. “I dread his return to this neighbourhood for although not much of a fighting man personally still he is a clever fellow + most indefatigable stock thief + in case of any disturbance on your border would make it hard for your farmers in that way. Since the war he settled in both Free State and Basutoland and has been kicked out of both. I.O Jackson, RM Harding can confirm all I say with reference to Christian Mkellie + the other members of his family.” The official records states that no application to purchase land had been made by “this man”.43 RWJ seems convinced that something was afoot however, and in another letter, this time to Mr Murray, Glencairn, Polela, he reiterates his charges that Christian and Powell Mkellie are attempting to purchase Crown Land in Natal and requests Murray to take the matter further saying, “I would write to your RM but he is not inclined to be civil to me for some reason + from what I hear I think Christian has got Boash (Resident Magistrate) by the tail already.“ RWJ ends his letter with the comment “A wet cold spring here + lots of cattle.” Murray duly forwarded this matter to the Colonial Secretary in Maritzburg on November 7th, 1892, emphasising that “Mr Walker is a Justice of the Peace in East Griqualand.” Finally RWJ achieved his objective! The Secretary for Native Affairs, Natal, issued an instruction, “By Command” to the Surveyor General on 11 November 1892, instructing him to inform the Secretary of any applications to purchase Crown Land in the Colony from “Piban, Powell Umkellie, Ruba + Son.”44

Yet another daughter was born to RWJ and Cegeswa on 5 May 1890; she was named Margaret. And according to Baptism Certificate No 61, of the Wesleyan Church of SA, Mount Currie District, Kokstad, John followed on the 1st December 1892, his date of Baptism was 17 November 1893.45

According to RWJ’s Estate, he and Cegeswa entered into an Ante Nuptial Contract on 6 October 1893. It was sworn before Arthur Edward Mortimer Walker of Elliot and Walker, who were to become the Executors of the Estate and were obviously RWJ’s lawyers. It was entered into by RWJ Walker of Endowan and Cegeswa of the same place, daughter of Spengan, a Tolo agriculturist (this may refer to Tsolo, the area near Mt Frere). The intent of the ANC Contract was clearly to protect the interests of Cegeswa; “Cegeswa shall have the sole free and entire administration of and complete control over her separate property, estate and effects which she now possesses or which may hereafter be acquired by her and that the same shall in the no way be subject to the marital power or to any interference herewith or control there over by RWJ Walker as if the marriage had never taken place.”46

According to the marriage certificate their wedding took place on 17 November 1893 in their home and was registered at the Bathurst Parish, East Griqualand, District Umzimkulu. It stated that Randal William Johnston Walker, Bachelor, had married Cegeswa Spengan, Spinster, after License by LGR Aspeling, the Wesleyan Methodist Minister. The witnesses to the marriage were RB Hulley (this must be Richard Brangan Hulley, Annie Booth’s father) and JF Radcliff. The document was a true copy from the Register of Marriages of the Wesleyan Methodist Church, Kokstad, in the District of Mount Currie, dated 14th March 1910.47 The youngest of the children, Robert Walker, was born on the 8th of November 1894.

The archives provide a wealth of information and it is possible, from the financial transactions entered into by RWJ, to establish that he was buying farms in addition to Bathurst and Belfast already mentioned above. He took a mortgage, in favour of Elizabeth Atmore (born van Reenen; husband William Atmore) for the “sum of £250 being the balance of purchase amount of a certain piece certain piece of perpetual quitrent land being the farm No 25B called ‘Bloemfontein’ situate in the district of Mount Currie in Griqualand East. Measuring 1261 morgen & 409 square roods.” 48

John Shepard brings us up to date with events in East Griqualand. “Between 1880 and 1890 the white settlers in East Griqualand were fully occupied in getting their newly acquired lands into working order, building up their homesteads and outbuildings and setting up kraals for their stock. But the time came when need for corporative action became apparent.” “In May 1895 a representative meeting of farmers was held at Kokstad at which it was decided to form a body known as the East Griqualand Farmers Congress.”49

“While in 1895 Congress was getting into its stride, in May 1896 fifteen farmers met at the home of Mr J. Hulbert, where under the chairmanship of Mr RJW (sic) Walker they agreed to form an association of farmers in the Indowana area. Very soon this expanded to became the Zwartberg Farmers’ Association with Mr Walker as first President and Mr P Davey, Vice President.” “By the following year membership had risen to twenty-four and the books showed a credit balance of one pound eleven shillings. Today membership of the Association includes almost every farmer in the district and it has become a sound business organisation owning land, buildings, extensive sales facilities and investments which enable it to carry out its main function of marketing the produce of the district on a co-operative basis.”50

“In the Shadow of the Drakensberg” contains a wealth of information about the trial and tribulations of the East Griqualand farmer. “There was a heavy mortality in the district in those years from horse sickness and, if that were not bad enough, in 1896 rinderpest struck the cattle. No effective treatment of the disease was then known until a Dr Kock found a vaccine and put Kock’s Bile Cure on the market.” “Before the scourge of rinderpest struck there were 1,063,455 cattle in Cape Colony. By the middle of 1898 this figure was reduced by six hundred thousand and is was calculated that £1,144,000 had been spent to eradicate the disease.”51

While it is not definite that this was the cause, it is small wonder that RWJ found it necessary to borrow £1000, in a mortgage arranged by Casper van Zyl of Van Zyl and Buissinne, from Henry Beale and Edward McKenzie Greene against the properties in the Umzimkulu District of East Griqualand as listed below:

No C78 Curragh
No B10 Belfast
No 25B Bloemfontein (Situate in the Mount Currie District and which was transferred into his name on 18 November 1895)52

“To add further to the troubles of East Griqualand settlers,” continues John Shephard, “sections of the Griquas under (Andrew Abraham Stockstrom) le Fleur rebelled. Le Fleur was an agitator. He revived the old grievance about the ‘Forty Years Money’; which was paid by the Cape Government to the Griquas whose rented farms had been taken over by the Orange Free State (in 1854). Le Fleur alleged that in many cases this compensation had not been paid and that the Griquas were being deprived of their rights. He persuaded some of them to part with money to finance a rebellion. At first this did not amount to anything very serious but as Le Fleur’s agitation continued and his following increased the affair developed into an excuse for armed banditry against the white settlers. White farmers became afraid to leave their families especially in isolated farms so laagers were formed at Elton Grange, Etterick, Lourdes and Kilrush and other suitable places in which families could be concentrated. While the farmers formed themselves into volunteer commandos the East Griqualand Mounted Rifles under Colonel Stanford and Hugh Nourse patrolled the district.”53

It is an interesting exercise to attempt to reconcile the different versions of what took place with this uprising. On Wednesday, January 20, RWJ sent his first note to the Resident Magistrate. A telegram was immediately sent to the Resident Magistrate at Bulwer, to say “You can let the natives know that the Govt hears of the disturbances on the other side of the Border and that they are all to be quiet + not to be concerned as a sufficient force will be sent down to protect the border.” RWJ sent a second note, to the RM, but in an open envelope – which gave offence to the RM as it could have alarmed the folk to whom it could have been shown. The 20th was a Wednesday, and RWJ was saying that the attack was due that Sunday, the 24th of January 1897. The Resident Magistrate then set out to check for himself what was going on and to calm the “natives” as instructed. This was on the Natal side of the Border. He also paid a visit to RWJ and his group as he describes in his official report.54

G.C. Stafford in his 1955 private writings “The History of the Griqua Nation including Basutoland War and Pondoland Annexation and Le Fleur Rebellion” describes his experience of the situation.” ‘I had heard that Randal Walker with numerous of that locality had gone into laager just across the Natal Border at ‘Belfast’. I left my farm in Natal later in the evening, mounted and with a six-chamber revolver fully loaded and some spare bullets in my pocket. I arrived at Walker’s camp at Belfast that night at 9.30pm. On arrival I found silence everywhere, but rode up to the entrance gate that I knew, and was immediately challenged. ‘Halt, who goes there?’ ‘Friend’ was my answer. I knew the procedure, as I was a member of the Border Mounted Rifles in Natal. ‘Advance friend. Give the counter sign.’ I had not learnt the counter sign so could not give it, but I advanced and made myself known to the sentry, Joe Ratcliff, a man I new well, and told him that I wanted to interview their senior, Randal Walker. In this way I was allowed into the camp and there saw Walker at 10pm. I knew Mr Randal Walker well and after a few minutes chat told him my mission. He said, ‘my boy, you do not now the risk you are taking in going on further. The position is very serious and we are expecting an attack…..any moment.’ He told me another laager had been formed by Mr Davey at ‘Poortje’ and that my friends were probably there and that probably they had already been attacked. He told me that another laager had been formed at ‘Kilrush’, the farm of Mr Fred Hayward and that numerous other farmers were in laager there. Fred Haywards’s wife was ill at the time, and being unable to move with her, a number of his farmer friends had joined them and formed a laager. By this time, having thought out matters I decided I had a duty to perform to my friends and I must go to Davey’s at any cost. I left Walker’s Camp at about 1.00am or a little later. Before I left, Randal Walker summoned me to his room and said that if I was determined to go on and if I reached Davey’s, he wished me to deliver a message to say that things were very serious indeed and if Davey and his party wished to proceed to the camp and join Walker, they would be welcome.”

Riding through the rest of the night, Stafford arrived at Davey’s laager at sunrise and delivered the massage. Davey and his party then proceeded to Walker’s Camp, where it was decided to take the women, children and cattle over to a laager until things settled down.55

The official Natal account of what precipitated the scare is rather interesting to say the least – it places the blame on RWJ Walker for having created the scare! Is it possible that RWJ no longer had the same feeling for the situation that he had shown in previous events that we have been able to follow in the official records? He writes a letter of thanks to the Resident Magistrate at Polela, dated February 6th, 1897, “On behalf of the various members of our treck (sic) who took refuge in Natal during the late scare in this country. I beg to tender our sincere thanks for your kindness in coming over to see us + so kindly offering protection to our women + children. On my own account I cannot tell you what a weight you took off my mind by sending the ammunition.” He laments the situation that they have been told that they will have to be dependent upon themselves for their own protection. And continues, “Now sir this disturbance is a land question + though Pata the Hlangwini Chief may try to keep his people loyal I believe there will be another outbreak sooner or later, Griquas or no Griquas. The young men of the tribe want to fight, just as the younger Zulus wanted to fight, just as the young Thlubis under Sangaletalele wanted to fight, the Chief did’nt + Natal should prepare as my spys (sic) speak of collusion between the Hlangwini tribe + Madulinis people on your side. I shall keep you informed of all that goes on here + believe me with much respect, yours faithfully.”56

A few days later RWJ pens the following to Mr Murray, which is a little disjointed as the fold obscures some of the writing:

“Endowna Feb 11th 1897
E.J. Murray Esq
Underberg

My dear Mr Murray
When I parted from you at Underberg I promised to let you have any news there might be from Basutoland. Well there have been rumours but nothing to interest either you or I. Still I thought that perhaps it would be good way to get the ear of the Natal Govt through your brother. You see to these responsible Govt men you may say I am unknown, though well enough acquainted with the Shepstones Father + son. I am perfectly certain that the Natal Natives in our border opposite Insikini were mixed up with this ……..(illegible due to fold). But it has since come out here few went so far as to come over to a station near me and abuse the Chief fa (they are related) I need not go into but just state my opinion that has settled down pro tem. But if does not put a permanent + force in the country we will see fun this when the crops are reaped. I have written to the magistrate thanking him for his kindness to that he gave us. I also mentioned that he should find out about the part people on the border were taking in the disturbances. But men their head that they can see clearly when some + in his Madulini may personally be loyal but, I swear many of his people are not. Therefore I write. Perhaps your brother would lay the matter before the Sec for Native Affairs so that if our people go … this Winter Natal may be spared the horrors of a Kaffir War. Our Magistrate had been warned of what was going on for months, + just poo pooed the lot + the first communication the settlers got from was, things are bad as can be (-) take care of yourselves. People here are agitating for laagers + 100 CMR. I question if they get them. The removal of the Inhlangwini tribe – well if they try to move them that will mean war + the best thing that could happen, but who knows where it will end. Hoping I do not bother you with this long letter.
I remain
Yours faithfully
Signed RWJ Walker”

Unlike in the past, this letter was not responded to, but was merely forwarded to the Secretary for Pondoland, Cape Government.57

It is probably herein that the key to RWJ’s frustration lay. His friend Ivor Jackson no longer represented the “Colony of Natal”, to which RWJ had addressed all his correspondence over the years, while actually living in East Griqualand! According to records an attempt was made to remove Mr Jackson from the Magistracy of Harding in 1894 and the Albany District responded, successfully, with a petition to prevent this!58 Jackson was removed in 1896, for the residents of Alfred County applied for permission to allow them to present him with an address and purse on the occasion of his leaving Harding for Newcastle!59 The new regime did not get on with RWJ, as indicated by his references to Boasch in the first letter to Mr Murray above. In turn, RWJ could not have endeared himself to the local civil servants by using Mr Murray’s brother to circumvent them!

But did RWJ understand the situation on the ground – even if he should have addressed himself to the Cape? John Shepard, I believe, provides the answer when he refers to the early business of the Congress formed in Kokstad in 1895: "The minutes of those early meetings clearly show how strong was the need for better internal security. No Cape Police were employed in those days but detachments of Cape Mounted Rifles patrolled the country and carried out patrol duties for which they were not fitted. Few of them could understand the native language, laws or customs. They were constantly being moved from one place to another on purely military duties. They were armed with carbines that were unsuitable weapons for police work. Congress repeatedly requested the Cape Government to replace the soldiers with a proper police force and to make arrangements for laagers to which families could go for protection in the event of armed native risings. Stock theft assumed proportions that almost amounted to warfare between farmers and raiding natives. Because of the difficulty in obtaining evidence to convict thieves very many known offenders went unpunished or got off with minimal sentences. Congress recommended stern measures; three years imprisonment for first offenders with twenty-five lashes on going to jail and twenty-five lashes on coming out as a reminder. For a second conviction a penalty of seven years imprisonment and fifty lashes going and coming. These matters were brought to the personal notice of the Hon. W.P. Schreiner, Premier of the Cape when he met Congress in Kokstad in 1899. While sympathetic the Premier could only promise to have further enquiries made about the internal security needs of the territory.”60

It is clear that the new authorities in Natal regarded the border between the colonies as a bureaucratic divide as opposed to the river easily crossed by friends to which RWJ had become accustomed over the years! They did not concern themselves with the very real problems facing the settlers in the troubled East Griqualand. According to Flossie Thring “The situation remained uneasily calm until December 1897 when Mr Kyd’s farm ‘The Willows’ in the Franklin District was attacked. Mr Kyd got wind of the fact that Le Fleur was in the vicinity and sent immediately to Kokstad to ask the Magistrate for protection. However Le Fleur managed to waylay the messenger. Henry Dorning was visiting My Kyd that night and was able to write a first hand account about the progression of events thereafter. ‘At the moment that Mr Kyd was explaining the position to us, there was a knock on the door and a voice said in Griqua, ‘A note from the Magistrate, Baas.’ Kyd opened the door and advanced a pace or two, to a native who held a note. As Mr Kyd put out his hand to take it, the boy stepped back a little, whereupon about eight or ten men dashed out of the darkness and attacked Mr Kyd. Mr Kyd tried to grapple with his assailants, but to no chance – it all happened too suddenly. Before we could do anything Kyd received a blow to the head, and a bad wound in the back. Brown and I had rushed to his aid, and I being first behind him, managed to pull him into the house, but in the process got an assegai wound in the arm, although I did not realise it at the time. Meantime Brown was helping, and fired a shot at the attackers who then gave way. Brown promptly blew out the lamp, which was providential, as two of the attackers had run through the door before I could close it. All of us being in the dark, and we knowing the house, the advantage was with us, and the attackers just dashed through and out the back door.’ Shots were fired and the attackers fled. Le Fleur was captured soon afterwards with 75 of his followers. He was sentenced to fourteen years imprisonment.” 61

Andries Morrolory was in arrears in payments on his land and had come to RWJ for assistance, which had been given. It had apparently been a bad winter, that year of 1899. Writing from Endowan on August 4th, RWJ states “I promised to take over his stock + square up the matter for him. He is solvent I believe but I have been laid up with influenza bad, I can just write now if you can stay proceedings for a month I’ll get to work + get the money paid in. Hoping you are in good health. We have had a high old time here, both master and servants down at the same time.”62

John Shephard reports, “Farming at best holds an element of luck. It is a gamble against the weather. In that same year 1902 the worst blizzard the settlers had experienced struck the district. For three days and nights gale-force winds carried heavy snowfalls over the whole area. Huge snowdrifts banked up. In one a thousand sheep were buried alive. Oxen were found dead but still standing frozen stiff in the snow.”63

Once again, it may be an assumption that it was these circumstance that made RWJ enter into another mortgage, but it is known for a fact that he mortgaged the Farm Beersheba, No 211A, District of Umzimkulu to Emma Henrietta Jones and Thomas Coulter for the amount of £600 from the Estate of Edward Thomas Jones, in Kokstad on 17 July 1902.64

The adage of attempting to rule from the grave is often misplaced. The deceased, in his last Will and Testament, surely intends only the best for those who remain behind! Such was the case with James Walker, who left immovable and movable property to his children, but gave his wife Isabella Jane Walker usufruct of Kunanata Glynn and its homestead for the duration of her life. For whatever reason, now surely forever obscure, Alex Walker and his elder brother, Randal William Johnston, entered into an agreement in 1905 which materially altered James Walker’s Will and planted the seeds for potential family dissention in later years. In terms of the agreement, RWJ signed away his claim to “The dwelling house, plantations around same, out houses and the land on which same are built and erected, and the fields fenced in, planted or otherwise cultivated in extant not exceeding 250 acres situated on “Kunanata Glynn” County of Pietermaritzburg,” and “All the other lands referred to by the said James Walker in his said Will, and that whether consisting of freehold or leasehold, and comprising the farms or properties known as “Kunanta Freeholds Glynn”, “Knookagh”, “Keats Land” L’Esperance”, “Umtwalumi Falls”, “No 2 Mournepea”, “No 2 Kealesland”, and that on the terms set forth.” The price that Alex paid for RWJ’s birthright was £5,400. RWJ acknowledged in the agreement to having received £1,100 in part payment of the said purchase price. The balance of the purchase price, namely £4,300, was to be paid to RWJ within one month after the date of the death of Isabella Jane Walker, their mother. By virtue of this agreement, RWJ (or his nominee and thus by default that would probably imply his heirs, in the event of his death) agreed to sign whatever documents where necessary to give Alex transfer of the property in question. The agreement did not include the property that their father had owned in South Barrow, Natal, nor to livestock mentioned in his Will. This agreement was signed on the 6th May 1905 but the date of sale was taken to be the 1st day of April 1904.65 This could have implied that the £1,100 mentioned above had been paid the previous year?

Flossie Thring brings the RWJ Walker story to a close with these comments, “As he grew older Randal became more and more reclusive, spending much of his time sitting at the head of his table brooding. In addition he developed an addiction to opium. He nevertheless contributed positively to the well-being of the community, for he served as the first president of the Zwartberg Farmer’s Association from 2 May 1896 to 13 November 1897. He died in 1909.”66"
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PostSubject: Re: Randal William Johnson Walker    Thu Jul 19, 2012 10:05 pm

"It is difficult to confirm his actual frame of mind at the time. The records show that John Carroll, who indicated that he was a close friend of RWJ, informed the Executors of RWJ’s Estate that in February 1908, Randal told him that he was short of cash and John had loaned him £334/10/0.67

A recent and thorough sifting through the Walker documentation in the Killie Campbell Library has brought much to light; amongst others, the source of some of the anecdotal evidence about RWJ’s marriage and subsequent life. It would appear that Flossie Thring quoted directly from a documented interview that Joan Simpson and Yvonne Winters of the Library conducted with Mrs Rosemary Walker on 26 September 1984. Clearly, it was a case of hearsay and anecdotal evidence. And as is the case with anecdotal evidence, there is always another version of the story somewhere.

Walter Walker visited RWJ’s granddaughter Marjorie Hodnett in December 2002 and was told that Randal became bedridden in later life and that her mother Margaret (Davey) used to nurse him. She said, “I remember one season helping my Mum, [Margaret] to store bottled vegetables and fruit in the cellar. I noticed a lot of green bottles stacked in a section of the cellar. I asked my Mum what they were used for. She replied that they used to contain medicine for Grandpa (RWJ) He would use them to lesson the pain of an injury that he received, an injury that had resulted as a fall off a horse or something. The bottles had contained Laudanum.”68 This places a different context on the statements above by Rosemary Walker. Laudanum is a tincture, or alcoholic solution, of opium, first compounded by Paracelsus in the 16th century. Not then known to be addictive, the preparation was widely used up through the 19th century to treat a variety of disorders.

Laudanum was a wildly popular drug during the Victorian era. It was an opium-based painkiller prescribed for everything from headaches to tuberculosis. Victorian nursemaids even spoon-fed the drug to cranky infants, often leading to the untimely deaths of their charges. Originally, Laudanum was thought of as a drug of the working class. As it was cheaper than gin it was not uncommon for blue-collar men and woman to binge on laudanum after a hard week's work. Use of the drug spread rapidly. Doctors of the time prescribed it for almost every aliment. Many upper-class women developed habits. The outbreak of tuberculosis may have been another factor in the drug's rising popularity. For a short period of time the tuberculosis "look" (very pale skin and frequent fainting spells) was quite in vogue. Victorian women went to great lengths to emulate the look, often taking arsenic to pale the skin (slowly poising themselves to death). In a later chapter it is disclosed that Peter Davey did exactly this, poisoned himself with Laudanum after taking it as medication for his cancer.

Thus far no obituary for RWJ Walker has yet been found. He died on the 4th of April 1909 at the age of 61. He is apparently buried on the farm Bathurst with Cegeswa, although current occupants of the farm deny the existence of any graves? RWJ’s legacy was considerable, having lived a full life he managed to accumulate considerable wealth and left the following farms to his children:

Melville Park – William Walker £2885
Bloemfontein – Grace Kyd £1890
Bathurst – Margaret Walker £2262
Curragh – Bella Walker £2480
Belfast – Jane Walker £1834
Beersheba – John and Robert Walker £2030
Erf 15 Block 35, Kokstad – John and Robert Walker £ 80
Erf 16 Block 35, Kokstad £138

These farms were thus valued at a total of £12799, excluding Lucy Drew’s farm, Elanga, which had been given to her prior to his death. Cegeswa had usufruct of Bathurst and was also left livestock – there is no subsequent Death Notice or any real mention of her. Dorothy van de Casteele, the granddaughter of George Birch Walker, says that she remembers Cegeswa and that she was "a wonderful woman"!

Clearly an important portion of this research would entail examination of the Title Deeds of these farms, to see when and in what manner they passed from Walker hands. This has not yet been done. All but one of the Deeds is the Bloemfontein Archives, the other is in the Cape Town Archives.

Isabella Jane Walker passed away in 1915. This brought James Walker’s Will to final conclusion and gave effect to the agreement that had been entered into by RWJ and Alexander Henry Walker. The executors of RWJ’s Estate were John Carroll and John Furzor Drummen Elliot, the latter of Walker and Elliot, Kokstad. In a Memo to the Master of the Supreme Court, Cape Town, in the Seventh Distribution Account of the Estate dated 29 September 1917, they write, “When the late Randal William Johnston Walker died his brother was due to him a certain sum of money by virtue of an agreement, copy of which is hereto annexed but this amount did not become due and payable until the death of their grandmother. Upon the latter’s death a dispute arose as to what property was actually the subject of the agreement in question and a special case at the request of the heirs was submitted to the Supreme Court of Natal whose decision was against us.”70 It would appear that the heirs refused to give Alexander Henry Walker transfer of the property as agreed between him and RWJ in their 1905 contract, arguing that, as RWJ had died before his mother, the agreement was invalid, as he had not then (before her death) inherited and thus had no right to sign away that which was not his!

An interesting technical argument and it somehow seems unlikely that the heirs would have come to this conclusion without some legal input. The upshot of all of this was that Alexander Henry took the matter to court to “for once and for all” clarify what belonged to whom. Justice Broome accepted the argument that Isabella Jane merely had usufruct, and that James Walker’s intention had been to leave the said property to his heirs. The contract between RWJ and Alex was thus valid and he dismissed the heirs’ case with costs.71

This event could not have resulted in equanimity between the heirs and Alex, who up until then had been helpful with his brother’s Estate and his relatives. “On 16 January 1911, Syfret, Godlington and Low had transferred £198 into the Estate on behalf of Alexander Henry Walker, who of course owed the Estate quite a bit of money but which was only due when his mother died. He advanced the money to facilitate the transfer of Jane’s farm. The Executors considered approaching him for the £390 needed to complete the remainder of the transfers and settle the outstanding death duties, but decided to wait a while as he had been so accommodating in coming forward with the amount mentioned above.”72 It is stated in the Eighth Account of the Estate that deposited by cash per “AH Walker, executor Estate of James Walker, being Estate’s share in proceeds of purchase price of certain two lots of ground situate at South Barrow, Natal & registered in the name of the said late James, the sum of £86/4/2 and by cash per AH Walker for the purchase price of certain furniture & silver sold to him out of hand and with consent of heirs, the sum of £150/0/0.73 The Walker’s north and south of the Umzimkulu seem to have then drifted apart to the extent that most of the current generation barely, if at all, recall there ever having been a Randal William Johnston Walker, eldest son of James Walker.

Fortunately, Marjorie was able to fill in some of the gaps with Cegeswa. Apparently Bella moved in with Margaret to help care for their mother, who eventually was also bedridden. Marjorie recalls that the house was quite large and was divided in two; Aunt Bella and Godfrey lived in the other part of the house. According to her, Cegeswa was already bedridden when she first arrived at the house. Margaret and Bella took over the management of her medication and controlled her diet; and as her health improved, started walking around with the aid of a walking stick. A sunroom was added onto her room for her use. Marjorie says young “black” girls used to come and visit the old lady, spend time talking to her, and she seemed to enjoy that. She would sit on her chair and all the young girls would sit on the floor. In the final stages of her life, a day nurse and night nurse were employed to care for her. She was fed a liquid diet with the aid of an implement inserted into the side of her mouth. Cegeswa died whilst she, (Marjorie) was away at school.

Marjorie’s memories, as a grandchild, are that Cegeswa was not particularly involved with her grandchildren. It was more a case of running to her room to greet her or give her messages, etc. She cannot recall any other interaction, no memories of pocket money and the like. Following the death of Cegeswa, she remembers Aunt Bella and Aunt Margaret saying the following to their brothers: “Having cared for Mum out of our pockets the least you all can do is put a headstone on her grave.” Sadly, this was never done! Cegeswa is buried next to Randal William Johnston on the farm.

Marjorie remembers her brother picking up Uncle “Jack” (John) and Uncle “Bob” (Robert) for Cegeswa’s funeral. They were she recalls, always neatly dressed and well spoken. Her brother did the same for Aunt Bella’s funeral.74

Marjorie was not the only relative that Walter visited while in South Africa in December 2002. Sipho Spengane, a direct descendent of the Spengane family, had also been traced to Dannhauser in Natal, and Walter paid him a visit. Walter’s notes reflect the following: “Sipho is a budding researcher in his own right. He has undertaken some research into his family tree as well. He lives in a beautiful house in Dannhauser. His wife is a schoolteacher. They have a daughter and a son. There may be more kids. I only met two. He informed me that “last year”, 2001, the President, (I’m assuming President Mbeki) was present at the handing-over ceremony of their tribal lands.

Sipho informed me of the following; Cegeswa’s father, our great, great grandfather had four other brothers. When Cegeswa and Randal married according to Nguni custom, the family split up. The argument, according to Sipho, was as follows; how could our great, great-grandfather, (Cegeswa’s father) allow Cegeswa to marry a “white man”? This problem was so great that the matter had to be settled by a Magistrate. As I recall, the matter was settled in such a way that the descendants of the other four brothers did not retain the surname, Spengane. I asked Sipho if this was still the case now and he informed me that they, (his cousins) are beyond the history and reconciliation has taken place! Following the marriage of Randal and Cegeswa, Sipho informed me that their family were not able to obtain employment with the Walker’s family because; firstly, how could they have permitted the marriage, and, secondly, they (the Walker’s) did not want the other labourers to accuse them of doing favours for the Spengane family.”75

This is, however, surely not the end of the Randal William Johnston Walker story? More anecdotal evidence is bound to surface as this project gathers momentum and it will thus become a “living” document. The story must now also move from the archives to the “living” – the descendents of RWJ and Cegeswa!"

1. Unsigned Notes on the “Walker Family History”, Killie Campbell Library.
2. NAB SGO Vol 111/1/43 Ref 56691/1877
3. Cheque, Walker Collection, Killie Campbell Library.
4. Hurst, Colonel Godfrey T. Short History of the Volunteer Regiments of Natal and East Griqualand. The Knox Publishing Company, Durban, 1945, pp. 55-56
5. http://www.lib.sun.ac.za/samu/samu.exe?MenuItem=UnitInfo&UnitID=588
6. Thring, F. Unpublished Manuscript on the Zwartberg, p. 30
7. Death Notice KAB MOOC Vol 6/9/661 Ref 604 dated 1889
8. Death Notice KAB MOOC Vol 6/9/620 Ref 2313 dated 1909
9. Shepard, John. In the Shadow of the Drakensberg. T.W. Griggs & Co, (Pty) Ltd. Interprint Durban, 1976, pp. 112-113
10. Hammond-Tooke, W.D. Bhaca Society. Oxford University Press; Cape Town. 1962, p. 1
11. Hammond-Tooke, W.D. Bhaca Society. Oxford University Press; Cape Town. 1962, p. 6
12. G.94-’82. Correspondence by Commandant Strachan, presented to both houses of the Cape Parliament by Command of his Excellency the Governer,
13. Ranier, Margaret. Madonela, Donald Strachan – Autocrat of Umzimkulu. John Rainier, Grahamstown, January 2003. Pages 136 – 137
14. Ranier, Margaret. Madonela, Dinald Strachan – Autocrat of Umzimkulu. John Rainier, Grahamstown, January 2003. Pages 152 – 153
15. NAB CSO Vol 718 Ref 1879/4145
16. NAB, SNA Vol I/1/52 Ref 1880/546
17. Shepard, John. In the Shadow of the Drakensberg. T.W. Griggs & Co, (Pty) Ltd. Interprint Durban, 1976, p. 112
18. Shepard, John. In the Shadow of the Drakensberg. T.W. Griggs & Co, (Pty) Ltd. Interprint Durban, 1976, pp. 115-116
19. Brownlee, C. A Chapter on the Basuto War. Lovedale South Africa, 1889, p. 5
20. Ranier, Margaret. Madonela, Dinald Strachan – Autocrat of Umzimkulu. John Rainier, Grahamstown, January 2003. Pages 159 – 160
21. NAB SNA Vol I/1/42 Ref 1880/625
22. NAB SNA Vol I/1/42 Ref 1880/642
23. NAB 1/BLR Vol 6 Ref P18/1881
24. Thring, F. Unpublished Manuscript on the Zwartberg, pp 23-24
25. NAB CSO Vol 795 Ref 1881/736
26. NAB 1/BLR Vol Ref P21A/1881
27. NAB 1/BLR Vol 6 Ref P100/1881 + P103/1881
28. NAB SNA Vol I/1/45 Ref 1881/179
29. NAB Map Ref M3/443
30. NAB CSO Vol 909 Ref 1883/2098
31. NAB 1/BLR Vol 7 Ref P335A/1884
32. NAB SNA Vol I/1/85 Ref 1885/294
33. NAB SNA I/1/89 Ref 162/1886
34. NAB SNA Vol 1/1/84 Ref 1885/432
35. NAB SGO Vol III/1/55 Ref 1979/1885
36. NAB NT Vol 62 Ref T966/1895
37. NAB 1/BLR Vol 8 Ref P116A/1886
38. Gloria Napier, 30 July 2002
39. NAB 1/BLR Vol 8 Ref P364/1886
40. NAB 1/BLR Vol 8 Ref P165/1887
41. NAB 1/BLR Vol * Ref P253/1887
42. NAB SNA Vol I/1/139 Ref 1891/318
43. NAB SNA Vol I/1/162 Ref 1892/1140
44. NAB SNA Vol I/1/163 Ref 1892/1229
45. KAB MOOC Vol 13/1/2231 Ref 80 dated Dec 1913: Third Tutor’s Account
46. KAB MOOC Vol 13/1/1847 Ref 157 dated 19 Feb 1910: First Account
47. KAB MOOC Vol 13/1/1847 Ref 157 dated 19 Feb 1910: First Account
48. KAB DOC Vol 4/1/448 Ref 3608 dated 18 October 1895
49. Shepard, John. In the Shadow of the Drakensberg. T.W. Griggs & Co, (Pty) Ltd. Interprint Durban, 1976, p. 143
50. Shepard, John. In the Shadow of the Drakensberg. T.W. Griggs & Co, (Pty) Ltd. Interprint Durban, 1976, pp 144-145
51. Shepard, John. In the Shadow of the Drakensberg. T.W. Griggs & Co, (Pty) Ltd. Interprint Durban, 1976, p. 136
52. KAB DOC Vol 4/1/530 Ref 2200 dated 24 March 1897
53. Shepard, John. In the Shadow of the Drakensberg. T.W. Griggs & Co, (Pty) Ltd. Interprint Durban, 1976, p. 137
54. NAB 1/BLR Vol 4/1/4 Ref P44/1897
55. Thring, F. Unpublished Manuscript on the Zwartberg, pp 41-42
56. NAB 1/BLR Vol 4/1/4 Ref P44/1897
57. NAB CSO Vol 1502 Ref 1897/1363
58. NAB CSO Vol 1399 Ref 1894/3162
59. NAB CSO Vol 1479 Ref 1896/5569
60. Shepard, John. In the Shadow of the Drakensberg. T.W. Griggs & Co, (Pty) Ltd. Interprint Durban, 1976, pp. 143-144
61. Thring, F. Unpublished Manuscript on the Zwartberg, p 42
62. NAB SGO Vol III/1/137 Ref SG3228A/1899
63. Shepard, John. In the Shadow of the Drakensberg. T.W. Griggs & Co, (Pty) Ltd. Interprint Durban, 1976, p. 139
64. KAB DOC Vol 4/1/860 Ref 4303 dated 17 July 1902
65. NAB RSC Vol 1/5/297 Ref 83/1915
66. Thring, F. Unpublished Manuscript on the Zwartberg, p 30
67. KAB MOOC Vol 13/1/1847 Ref 157 dated 19 Feb 1910: First Account
68. Marjorie Hodnett, as told to Walter Walker, December 2002
69. The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001.
70. KAB MOOC Vol 13/1/2920 Ref 339 dated 29 Sep 1917: Seventh Account
71. NAB RSC 1/5/297 Ref 83/1915
72. KAB MOOC Vol 13/1/1910 Ref 127 dated 1911: Second Account
73. KAB MOOC Vol 13/1/3277 Ref 98 dated 1918: Eighth Account
74. Marjorie Hodnett, as told to Walter Walker, December 2002
75. Walter Walker interview with Sipho Spengane, December 2002[/i]
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