WILY, Lt. W.
National Archives, Kew CO48/46, 340
August 12th 1819
In consequence of the considerable encouragement now about to be given by Government to persons wishing to settle in the Zuurveld or District of Uitenhage on the frontier of the Cape of Good Hope I beg leave to call your Lordship's attention to a subject of the utmost importance which, if countenanced by His Majesty's Government, is likely to be productive of the happiest effects and add considerably to the strength, security and welfare of that part of His Majesty's possessions. From a long residence in the Zuurveld (being stationed there to repel the incursions and prevent the depredations of the people of Caffraria) I have acquired so perfect a knowledge of that remote tract of country now requiring settlers as to feel justified in pronouncing myself fully adequate to give the most exact information on every subject that may stand in any manner connected with that wild and solitary, though beautiful and fertile district. To engage if possible your Lordship's attention more effectually on the subject and to facilitate any investigation which it may be thought necessary to make, I have thought it expedient to forward for your Lordship's inspection a Map of the Frontier of the Cape compleated during my stay in that part of the country and universally acknowledged to be most accurately delineated: to justify the truth of which assertion permit me humbly to refer your Lordship to Lieutenant General Sir J. CRADDOCK, long Governor of the Cape of Good Hope and a person thoroughly acquainted with every part of the Colony. The Zuurveld (for so it is generally called by the colonists ) comprises a tract of country about 120 miles in length and about 100 in breadth; the face of the country for the most part exhibits as great a variety of scenery as is possible to be met with in any region of the globe. Some tracts producing in a state of nature the most luxuriant pasturage are capable of the highest cultivation. While there are others so sterile, so dry and so parched as merely to afford sufficient pasture for sheep but totally unfit for the purposes of agriculture. In general the face of the country is covered with almost impenetrable bush, which is a constant refuge for Caffres, wild animals of every species, and deer of every sort. The valleys produce various kinds of timber of a tolerable good quality and size. The plains and hills unoccupied by bush produce a most exuberant growth of grass and though sour in some places I have always found cattle to thrive on it. The most beautiful tract of country, and that which is most adapted to receive settlers in my opinion, is that which commences at the landing place at Algoa Bay and runs along the coast to the mouth of the Great Fish River, extending about 60 or 70 miles inland; this part of the Zuurveld will yield to no country either in fertility or beauty of scenery, and if brought into a state of cultivation is capable of producing in abundance all the necessaries of life. From the indolent disposition of the farmers (or graziers as they may more properly be called, for they hardly attend to anything but their cattle) cultivation is too generally neglected, but when attended to proves an abundant source of wealth; as, unless the season should be particularly unfavourable (which may sometimes be occasioned by excessive drought) the crops are for the most part luxuriant.
About the distance of 30 miles along the coast from the Block House at Algoa Bay commences a tract of country in general covered with wood and bush as far as Bushmans River; this is called simply bush, having derived its name from a Caffre Chief who resided with a horde of Caffres for a considerable time in this part of the country, previous to the expulsion of the Caffres from the Zuurveld: and from the almost impervious state of the woods and bush still continues to afford ample refuge for the frequent pillaging parties from Caffraria; which are the external disturbers of the peace and tranquility that would otherwise reign on the frontier. To remedy this evil and remove this nest of hornets it would be advisable to establish in this fertile and unfrequented region a settlement of about 50 families, whose industry would soon make it assume a cheerful aspect and by persevering vigilance hasten the period of a final issue to the depredation of the perfidious Caffres. Not far from where the Sundays River disembogues itself into the sea is a place Lampmans Farm, which the proprietor left in consequence of its being so much exposed to the plundering savages; if still unoccupied it is a situation well adapted to receive settlers. Further on, at the distance of about 24 miles, is a delightful place, once a farm (but unoccupied when I was in the Zuurveld) called Vermaach, admirably situated to settle upon. Further on again about 2 miles beyond Ootzerheins is a most eligible situation for settlers to fix upon. Should these paces be occupied, a more advanced situation might be made choice of, either at Riet-fontein between the Karowka and the Kowie Rivers or else on the Kline Montje's River; which is if possible superior to the other places in point of situation, as it would be a certain barrier against the incursions of the Caffres; in a local point of view it may be said to possess a very considerable advantage, in this respect, that it is possible to lead the stream of the Kline Montje's in such a manner as to afford an abundant supply of water for the gardens of the settlers, a thing of the utmost consideration among the colonists at the Cape.
The persons to be made choice of for the formation of the settlement is another subject to be taken into consideration. I should conceive that 50 individuals (with family), guilty of petty offences, might speedily be collected from the prisons in the metropolis and may very probably thereby be made useful and peaceful members of society. But if, on the other hand, such should be deemed unworthy and improper persons to receive indulgence from Government it would be a most liberal and humane procedure on the part of His Majesty's Government to discharge the debts of 50 persons (men with families) of good repute who may at present be imprisoned for sums under 40 pounds, the whole to enter into a cognizance with Government to repay the money at the expiration of three years after they shall have arrived at the place intended for the settlement: this would be a most laudable action as it would restore liberty to many worthy characters, really deserving of commiseration. Lastly, if Government should disapprove of both the above description of persons, there are many poor that might easily be collected by a public advertisement to that effect, and who would feel grateful at being rescued from a state of penury, to be advanced to a state of comparative opulence.
Having thus far trespassed on your Lordship's time I beg the indulgence of being permitted to continue the subject, which I shall diligently labour to be deducibly brief upon. Individuals about to emigrate to a wild and unfrequented country stand in need of many little comforts which do not generally fall within the notice of persons living in a civilised country, happy with the comforts of society and blessed with affluent circumstances: it falls to the lot of those alone to judge on the subject with propriety who have been living in a country in a state of infancy, where manufacturers are unknown and where cultivation, though known, may be but little attended to; it is to such persons alone that we can be indebted for an equitable and prudent decision on the matter and it is to them alone and none other beside that we must appeal for information.
In the event of my proposals meeting your Lordship's approbation it would be desirable and highly requisite that the sum of 5000 pounds should be granted by Government for the accommodation of the 50 families; this will be at the rate of 100 pounds for each family, part of which will be expended in England in the necessary purchase of cloth, tools, implements of agriculture &c &c and the remaining sum will contribute to purchase a few cattle and other requisites after arriving at the Cape: the above sum of money, or any other that may be granted, should be deposited in the hands of six respectable persons to be considered as Agents to the settlement and to be held responsible for the proper application of the sum granted.
The quantity of ground to be appropriated to the use of the settlers would I conceive be about 6000 acres; less in such a country in my opinion would be inadequate, as the greater part of the ground must remain in its present condition for pasturage, the cattle in so warm a climate constantly requiring a large extent of pasture. After the first year each family will be enabled to exist comfortably on the produce of its grounds and in about three years have a sufficiency of produce for the market.
It is absolutely indispensable for the defence of the settlers that each person be provided with a musquet and 100 rounds of ball-cartridge as it is utterly impossible to exist in that country without fire arms.
I have strongly to recommend to your Lordship's consideration the mighty import of this application which, with your Lordship's approbation, so may advantages are likely to ensue and further to assure your Lordship that ten or twelve settlements formed after the manner of [this] particular plan would add considerably to the strength security and prosperity of the [colony] and would in the course of a few years necessitate and demand the expence of maintaining a Regt. on the frontier of the Colony.
If it may not be deemed presumption in me I humbly offer myself as a person seriously disposed to contribute as far as individual abilities will admit, with your Lordship's approval, towards forwarding the views of Government in any respect whatever that may relate to the settlers, either to their voyage or to the disposal of them after their arrival at the Cape of Good Hope, in which case if your Lordship shall view the subject in a favourable light I shall readily receive the assistance of four or five other Gentlemen now on half pay and anxious to engage in the same enterprise: with the hopes of receiving in common with the other settlers whatsoever advantages Government shall think proper to bestow.
Should your Lordship consider the purport of this letter of such real consequence as to merit real attention I shall with pleasure, as I can with ease, supply any information that may be required on the subject. On the contrary should your Lordship reject my proposals as being utterly irreconcilable with the views of His Majesty's Government I strongly solicit the favour of a grant of land, with a small some of money, as also the advantage of a twelvemonth's half pay with the privilege of a passage in one of the transports, to enable me to proceed to the Cape of Good Hope. A service of nearly nine years in His Majesty's 83rd Regt strongly induces me to hope that this claim on your Lordship's favour will be productive of the most desirable effect. I have the honour to be my Lord
Your Lordship's most obed't humble servant
Lieut HP 83rd Regt
[Reply from GOULBURN]
I am directed by Lord B to return to you his thanks for your communication of the 12th inst. His Lordship has however directed me to observe that as the measures which you have proposed with the view of colonizing the Waste Districts of the Cape of Good Hope are at variance with those which have been adopted by HM Government for giving assistance to those persons who may be desirous of emigrating to that colony, he cannot hold out to you any prospect that your suggestions will be carried into effect; and he has desired me to enclose to you a printed memorandum of the only conditions upon which he can give encouragement to persons who may wish to settle at the Cape.