Selected Settler Correspondence 1820 - 1829

For this set of documents only letters written by or about known settlers or their families have been transcribed, whereas ALL the 1819 correspondence was transcribed whether or not the writers emigrated to the Cape.

PIGOT, George, 1823


National Archives, Kew, CO48/61, 410


June 20th 1823


I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 20th Dec 1822 in answer to my communication to Earl BATHURST of 27th August, in which I stated the alarm of the settlers at the Caffres being invited into the settlement, assembling at Mr. MAHONY's, Mr.BROWN's and Mr. STUBBS locations, close on this side the Fish River's bank, to barter with Government for Ivory; before closing my letter I was enabled to state the fact of the murders of Mr. MAHONY's servants the result of that traffic.

In the month of May last they were again invited to the same place for the same purpose, and extraordinary as it may appear the same week I received your answer to my original complaint the Caffres produced only two teeth to the Government agents, as Government gave them only red clay in return, but they told STUBBS (who was in the habit of constant intercourse with them) that they had plenty of ivory at hand. STUBBS with some others met them accordingly and was in the act of procuring ivory and cattle in exchange for wire, beads &c when some Hottentots by the direction of the Officer commanding at the Post seized the cattle and ivory with two boys (STUBBS' sons) and took them to Graham's Town. The Caffres, considering that this was a trick of STUBBS to get the cattle before they had completed their bargain, murdered him. He was the head of a party, had been particularly industrious, and has left a wife and several young children.

I do not mean to vindicate STUBBS for trading contrary to orders, but how discouraging to see exertions to have these barbarians brought amongst us, in opposition to our wishes and remonstrances.

In the faith that the British Government would [obscured] me more protected, I have established myself in a way that would not disgrace a settlement of many years standing; having done so, it is out of my power to quit the country. Sir Rufane DONKIN intended establishing a fair for the colonists but as it was to have been held on the Keiskamma, the Caffres could not then have lingered in the woods, as there is a fine open country between it and the Fish River, which if inhabited could effectively protect itself and the country in its rear.

In March last I transmitted to Earl BATHURST a duplicate of a statement of the settlers to the British Government* which, with the original that was signed by two hundred of the principal settlers, I hope arrived safe. I trust my sentiments are sufficiently known at the Colonial Office to satisfy them that I would not sign any statement that was not correct, loyal, respectful and moderate, and I beg it may not go unobserved that persons of the description of Mr. PARKER, Mr. BURNETT &c have not been permitted to sign this statement. As in your letter of the 20th Dec you refer to the new Levy I will state a few facts concerning it, gathered from my close intercourse with the persons called on to enrol. Had conciliating measures been resorted to every man would have entered, this I can vouch for, from having myself sworn in two hundred; it was the general feeling that they were willing to take the new oath of allegiance and to serve for the defence of the District, but they objected to the oath as it was worded, the violent measures taken to enforce the oath and the insults offered to half pay officers made the measures obnoxious and has driven many of the settlers out of the District, among whom were most of my party, after my having built their houses and kept together at great expence for three years.

Since writing the above I have received a letter from my brother on the subject of quit rents paid by the Boers, which he did not sufficiently understand to explain [obscured]. A Dutch Boer's farm contains from four to six hundred acres of land for which he pays from twenty to one hundred rix dollars quit rent. Lord BATHURST's circular letter to the settlers states that they are not to pay more than two pounds (which at the present rate of exchange is twenty five rix dollars) for every hundred acres, consequently a farm of two thousand acres, which is as large a portion as any of the settlers enjoy, the quit rent would amount to five hundred rix dollars.

As our titles have not yet been given to us we cannot say how much of this quit rent will be required, but we are naturally very anxious on the subject, particularly as a small grant given to me by Sir Rufane DONKIN of 92 acres (the only instance of the quit rent being known) is charged twenty rix dollars. Small as this sum may appear in England, it is quite unreasonable here, where we have no other prospect than following the Dutch Boer's system (which has been so much abused) of grazing farms; for I am fully convinced by experience we can never grow grain to any extent, and even if the climate would permit it the present high price of wages would effectually prevent us.

With respect to the slaves I named to my brother the Landdrost, the Secretary and District Clerk as employing them, merely as persons immediately connected with the settlers, but every shop keeper or fresh resident from Cape Town bring their slaves; the old Dutch inhabitants of the District of course have them.

My brother mentions that you told him you thought we ought to have a preference in receiving prize slaves as apprentices; this would indeed be a great thing for us, but if we had also a preference in engaging Hottentots it would in a great measure make up for the want of slaves. I hope you will excuse my suggesting to you a plan for distributing these prize slaves.

The heads of parties consisted of two classes, one who brought out articles servants, the other merely a nominal head, the party being perfectly independent having paid their own deposits. As the first class in principal suffers from the loss of their servants, I submit that they should receive prize slaves in proportion to the number of articled servants they brought out, for I assure you it is this class of person that has suffered and is still suffering from the repeated losses we have sustained. As well as the want of an acknowledged gradation in [obscured] for the natural effect of a Government of this sort must be to place every one on a level, except the supreme head or his chief magistrate the Landdrost of the District.

I continue to be as partial to the country and climate as ever, and I have no doubt of ultimate success. I am convinced I could not have established myself in any of the other British Colonies at so easy a rate as I have done here, although I have expended several thousand pounds. I am now turning my attention to sheep and Spanish wool, which I am persuaded may be grown to any extent, we only want a direct communication from England to the mouth of the Cowie, if one ship in the year would visit us; it would be a stimulus for our exertions.

I hope there is nothing in this letter that can be construed into disaffection to the Government, which believe me is far from my principles. The proximity of my residence to the spot where these murders have been committed and the welfare of the poor people around me compelled me to make mention of it.

I am much obliged to you for your promise to my brother to write to Mr. [MIGG?] on my behalf. I shall be most happy to give him any information with respect to the new settlement which my local knowledge may enable me to do.

I have the honor to be Sir

Your most obed't servant


*Transcriber's Note: George PIGOT's transcription of the statement is filed in CO48/61, as is the original document with the original signatures (see transcription under Settler Statement)