Wiltshire, Samuel (24/5/1844 - 1/3/1923)
Born in Gloucester on 24 May 1844 he did not qualify as a Veterinarian until 17 April 1872 when he obtained his MRCVS in London. (He is reported to have been in America during the Civil War). In 1874 he was appointed to the "Office of Colonial Veterinary Surgeon and Inspector of cattle at the Port of Natal". His was the first official appointment of a veterinarian in Natal. He assumed duties in his new post on 28 October 1874 and in February 1880 also took over the control of all sheep inspectors. In 1896 he retired as he had been unsuccessful in convincing the Politicians in the Government that in addition to veterinary know how he also required the necessary legislation to control diseases such as Lungsickness. The Politicians refused to be party to disease control measures which would make them unpopular with the farmers and consequently no legislation was passed. He was awarded a £200 a year pension by the Natal Government and used this to return to England and resettle in Gloucester where he died on 1 March 1923. During his service in Natal he has offices on the site of the present Colonial Building in Church Street, Pietermaritzburg and lived in a house "The Rhydd" which he built in Mountain Rise. After the death of his wife he went to live in a house in Church Street, Pietermaritzburg (Called Winganthorpe). It is felt that the manner of Wiltshire's retirement should be recorded as follows:
In 1894 a Commission called the stock Commission was instituted to investigate the heavy mortality amongst imported cattle. The members of the Commission were:
Francis Augustus Robert Johnstone MLA
Theunis Jacobus Nel MLA
Edward Ryley MLA
John Henry Wallace MLA
Henry Nicholson MLA
The recommendations of the Commission were:
1. Re-organisation of the Veterinary Department
2. Retirement of S. Wiltshire
3. Appointment of a new Principal Veterinary Surgeon to manage the Department
The effect of the forced retirement on Wiltshire must have been overwhelming.
He had reached a stage where he had already selected a piece of land to build a laboratory and on hearing the news he scrapped the idea (incidentally the site that he selected was the same one eventually chosen for the erection of Allerton Laboratory). He also felt that great injustice has been done to him. In his own words "a commission composed of men utterly incompetent to deal with matters affecting the Department, conducting enquiries behind closed doors, only examining such persons as they deemed likely to give evidence which supported their pre-conceived ideas and conclusions, giving the officer of the Department no opportunity of explaining or refuting any charges, thus conducting the enquiry in an underhand and dishonourable manner".
He is reported to have advised the Prince Imperial against the horse named Percy which he selected from the Natal Mounted Police stables as being too "skittish". The Prince obviously considered this a reflection on his horsemanship and insisted on taking the horse.
History records that it was the "skittishness" of Percy which lead to the Prince Imperial's death when it refused to allow him to mount when being attacked by a Zulu scouting party.