Sunday, February 7, 2010

British immigrants to the Cape early 19th c

When the British established a firm grip on the Cape in 1814, the next step was to populate the territory and to bring in workers whose skills would be useful in the Colony.

In 1817 200 Scottish artisans – coopers, carpenters, masons, smiths, tanners – were brought to the Cape by Benjamin Moodie of Orkney. This venture was not an unqualified success, a number of the immigrants finding complaint with Moodie’s terms of employment absconded and lived as outlaws. Some married Dutch girls and made their permanent home at the Cape. References to Moodie’s indentured workers occur in Philip’s volume discussed earlier (British Residents at the Cape 1795-1819).

Other private schemes emerged at this period. Henry Nourse, a London merchant who had settled at the Cape, brought out a small group of Irish people as his employees in 1818, and suggested that a government scheme would be beneficial.

The authorities had already come to that conclusion: by 1819 the troubled eastern frontier was a headache, while in Britain there was unemployment and discontent. Sponsored emigration would relieve the burden at home, offering the hope of a brighter future to many and would be an inexpensive means of defending the frontier districts by installing a buffer strip of unsuspecting colonists.

This was the underlying purpose which led to the arrival of the 1820 Settlers, the first major organized scheme to colonise British territory in South Africa.

For much more on the 1820 Settlers go to

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