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|Subject: HENRY FRANCIS FYNN. Sat Jan 01, 2011 11:10 am|| |
HENRY FRANCIS FYNN
Some information on HENRY FRANCIS FYNN. With Photo.
Full PDF Copy available on line here. http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~db=all~content=a781761856~frm=titlelink
Diaries and Despatches: The Life and Writing of Henry Francis Fynn (1803-61) and Henry Francis Fynn Junior (1846-1915)
Author: Julie Pridmorea.[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]"Pioneer, Trader and Authority on the Zulu’s.(born in Fleet Street, London, Eng., 29.3.1803 – died in Durban, 20.9.1861), Natal pioneer, trader, authority on the Zulus and government official, was the son of Henry Francis Fynn, who traded between Britain and the Dutch East Indies and came to South Africa by chance. Little else is known of Fynn’s antecedents. He was educated at , London (the ‘Blue-coat school’), where, among other things, he acquired a rudimentary knowledge of medicine and surgery; this was to stand him in good stead in his future relations with the Zulus.
He joined his father in Cape Town in 1818 and in the same year went to Algoa bay, where he remained until 1822, when he returned to Cape Town. In 1823 he proceeded to Delagoa Bay as the supercargo of a commercial speculation for H. Nourse and Co., of Cape Town. He was mainly interested in trade, but also saw in the expedition an opportunity to observe the manners and customs of the inhabitants of the north. At Delagoa Bay he met Lt F. G. Farewell, and it was during the course of a journey up the Maputa (Usutu) river that he first heard of the Zulu king, Shaka, and of his military feats.
With Farewell he planned to establish a trading station at Port Natal with the object of sharing with the Portuguese the profitable ivory trade of Natal and Zululand, for, as a result of his trip to Delagoa Bay, Fynn had been able to confirm Farewell’s theory that the Portuguese obtained their main supplies of ivory from native sources.
With a party of Europeans and Hottentots Henry reached Natal in the Julia in May 1824, and it was not long before he had erected the first habitable shelters where Durban now stands. Six weeks after arriving he was joined by Farewell and together they proceeded through hostile territory to Shaka at his Bulawayo kraal (near the present town of Eshowe), this reputedly being the first time that the Zulu king had seen a white man. Henry remained at the kraal when Farewell returned to the Bay and, after an attempt on Shaka’s life, he was able to restore the chief to health. Fynn’s ministrations secured for the whites at the port a concession of land thirty miles in length and one hundred miles in width. Although Farewell was the moving commercial spirit among the whites, the security they enjoyed was primarily due to Fynn’s tact and diplomacy.
Thereafter Henry frequently visited Shaka at his kraal and was present when the king’s mother, Nandi, died in 1827. He witnessed the extraordinary massacre which followed this event and his safety was solely due to his friendship with Shaka. Since Fynn possessed a gun, his services were very much in demand. On one or two occasions he was compelled to accompany Shaka’s warriors when on their way to attack other tribes in the vicinity.
His interest was not confined to Zululand and, at the conclusion of his negotiations with Shaka, he set off on an expedition to Pondoland and eventually got as far as the Umtata river. His ostensible object was to find where ivory could be obtained, but he was also very interested in becoming better acquainted with the native languages and customs. At the end of an expedition of nine months (during the course of which he saw what remained of the wreck of the Grosvenor), he returned to the port with a vast knowledge of the native tribes of Natal.
On his return he became intimate friends with Nathaniel Isaacs on account of their similar trading interests, and at the Bay he took under his protection many starving and homeless natives who had been victims of Shaka’s wrath. In this way he earned for himself the Bantu appellation of ‘Mbuyazi’ (‘The man who comes back with the whole thing summed up’), and, according to Fynn himself, ‘Father of the people’. These natives he eventually formed into a tribe which he called the iziNkumbi (‘Locusts’) and who later settled in the present Umzinto district. After the assassination of Shaka in September 1828, and the accession to power of Dingane, the position of the whites at the bay became precarious in the extreme, the new chief being hostile to them and to their trade. Regardless of danger Fynn remained on at the Bay until the Zulu army was ordered to attack him, which it eventually did south of the present town of Port Shepstone, a large number of his party being killed. Nothing daunted, he followed the Zulus back to Dingane, with whom he remonstrated, being presented with a solatium of one hundred cattle. In 1834 he left Natal, as his services were required in the Cape Colony. He entered the government service as headquarters interpreter to Sir Benjamin D’Urban during the Sixth Frontier War (1834-35). From 1837 to 1849 he filled the office of diplomatic agent at Tarka Post on the upper Swart Kei, having, in August 1842, been appointed by Sir George Napier as justice of the peace for the district of Cradock. In 1849 he became British resident with the Mpondo chief, Faku, remaining with him for three years.
Fynn returned to Natal in 1852, being appointed by the Natal government to the post of assistant magistrate at Pietermaritzburg. In May 1856 he was designated resident magistrate of lower Umkomazi, but shortly afterwards retired from active life because of ill-health.
For the remainder of his life he lived on the Bluff (Fynnlands), near Durban, in sight of the locality which had brought him so much adventure. He died there, a greatly disappointed man because of the Natal government’s refusal to recognize his just claim to a free grant of land. Until his death he was regarded both in and out of Natal as the final authority on matters relating to the natives of Natal, and it was said by many that his knowledge of the Natal tribes was even greater than that of Theophilus Shepstone. His evidence before the Natal native affairs commission of 1852 was particularly valuable as it contained, for example, a complete list of all the Natal tribes before they were dispersed by the raids of Shaka.
Perhaps even more important than mere knowledge was the fact that Fynn possessed a literary turn of mind. Soon after his first arrival in Natal he set down on paper his impressions of the Zulu and other tribes then inhabiting the territory. He made extensive notes on his travels but seemed to concentrate mostly on observations of tribal beliefs and customs; he remains the accepted source for Zulu social lore of the time. After losing his original notes (they were buried with his brother, Frank), he began his memoirs again in 1830, and this time took great care that his jottings were preserved. During his enforced retirement he set about the task of sorting out his voluminous notes. By 1834 he had composed a few chapters of what was to be a history of Natal (the first such attempt), but the work was sketchy and haphazard. With the help of several assistants he devoted his time, during the years 1859 to 1861, to supplementing his jottings, but even then no single narrative was written and many gaps remained.
After his death his accumulated papers were drawn on extensively by J. C. Chase in his Natal papers, by Bishop J. W. Colenso (Ten weeks in Natal), and by John Bird for The annals of Natal. After various vicissitudes the papers, including a fragmentary diary which was eventually edited and published in 1950, came into the possession of the Natal archives, Pietermaritzburg, in 1961. They are a most important source, covering native lore and a wide field of experience, and are a storehouse of knowledge on all aspects of native life in Natal in the early days before the arrival of the Voortrekkers and the British administration.
Fynn has been described as perhaps the most human figure among the founders of Natal. By his courage (he was only twenty-one when he confronted Shaka) and his unfailing good temper, to say nothing of his humanity, he did much to persuade the Natal natives of the white man’s good faith. Through unceasing activity and steady determination he helped particularly to lay the foundations of British, and of white interests, generally, in Natal. It is justifiable, therefore, that he is commonly known as ‘the first Natalian’.
Fynn was apparently married twice. His first wife, named Ann, died on 30.6.1839 on the Swart Kei while he was serving at Tarka Post. In 1841 he married Christina Brown at Grahamstown. His son, also named Henry Francis Fynn (1846-1915), afterwards became British resident to Cetshwayo in January 1883 and kept the Fynn papers in his possession during his life. Fynn’s father and three of his brothers lived in Natal with him; his father died near Isipingo, and his brother, Francis (Frank), some time before 1830, in the present district of Port Shepstone. Another brother, William MacDowell Fynn, was in Natal from 1828 and after 1834 served as an official in various capacities in British Kaffraria and the Transkei ; the third brother, Alfred Fynn, is merely mentioned as having shared the early years of their residence in Natal."
A portrait of Fynn at the age of forty-one, drawn by C. D. Bell in 1844 at Tarka Post, appears as the frontispiece in his published diary; a photograph is to be found in the Natal archives, Pietermaritzburg, and was reproduced in B. I. Buchanan’s Natal memories (Pietermaritzburg, 1941). A small photograph was also reproduced in E. C. Chubb’s Natal centenary, 1824-1924 (Durban ).
Source: Dictionary of South African Biography and British Settlers in Natal Volume 6, by Shelagh Byrne Spencer
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|Subject: Re: HENRY FRANCIS FYNN. Sat Jan 01, 2011 11:23 am|| |
Thanks Littlehand enjoyed that. An eventfull life.
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|Subject: Re: HENRY FRANCIS FYNN. Sat Jan 01, 2011 1:17 pm|| |
Someone was asking about this fellow not so long ago.