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Sgt Patrick Campbell


UPDATED: 05/04/2022

5 April 1886, Phoenix Hotel opens for business in Beaconsfield.
5 April 1886, William Hartley, an 1820 settler, dies.
5 April 1900, The battle of Boshof.
5 April 1902, Rhodes’ funeral train arrives in Kimberley.
5 April 1951, Great sportsman of the 1880s and 1890s, and De Beers assistant General Manager Irvine Grimmer dies.

Boshof, Patrick and his famous wife Mrs Patrick Campbell

Not many people, particularly in Kimberley, have heard of either the famous actress of the 1890s and 1900s Mrs Patrick Campbell – her stage name – nor indeed her husband Patrick.


Mrs Stella Campbell

And it is Patrick rather than his more famous wife that we concentrate on in this story, although a quick word about Mrs Pat is essential as she had a long term relationship with the even more famous George Bernard Shaw as well as being related to Winston Churchill by her second marriage.

Mrs Patrick Campbell (9th February 1865 – 9th April 1940) was a British stage actress, the most successful of her generation. She was born Beatrice Stella Tanner in Kensington, London, of English and Italian parents. She made her stage debut in 1886, some four years after her marriage to Patrick Campbell, and became successful as a result of starring in Sir Arthur Wing Pinero’s play, The Second Mrs Tanqueray, in 1893.

Fourteen years after the death of her first husband in 1900, she became the second wife of George Cornwallis-West (born 1874) – a dashing writer previously married to Jennie Jerome, the mother of Winston Churchill – but she continued to use “Mrs Patrick Campbell” as her stage name. In 1914, she played Eliza Doolittle in the original production of Shaw’s Pygmalion; though much too old for the part, she was the obvious choice, being by far the biggest name on the London stage.

In her later years, Mrs Patrick Campbell made notable appearances in motion pictures, including “One More River” (1934), “Rip Tide” (1934), and “Crime and Punishment” (1935). She died in Pau, France.

She and her first husband Pat had two children, Beo and Stella.


Mrs Pat (Stella) Campbell & Children

Patrick was born in 1862 to a prosperous family, his father having been manager of the Chartered Bank of India, Australia and China.

He was good looking, had well-bred good manners, a great affection for his home and family, and a passionate love for his deceased mother. He knew the names of all the birds and wild flowers.

He married Beatrice (known as Stella) after a four months courtship in 1882.

But the good life came to an end with the collapse of the Oriental Bank which financially ruined the Campbell family and Patrick had employment that paid only 100 pounds a year. Stella (baby) was born in 1886 and Beo (Alan Urquhart Campbell) shortly thereafter, but Patrick’s health had deteriorated and on doctor’s orders was told to take a sea voyage.

He left England on 5 October 1887 and settled in Australia but by July 1888 was in Mauritius and heading for Kimberley, South Africa.

By 17 September 1888 he was in Kimberley and working for Barney Barnato’s Kimberley Central Diamond Mining Company at 300 pounds per annum and was involved in the setting up of the diamond display for the Paris Exhibition. This was at the time of the great diamond mine amalgamation so jobs were very scarce and there was uncertainty in the diamond industry.

However, by January 1889 he wrote that “I am beginning to hate Kimberley”, and was asking Cecil Rhodes to send him up into the interior to Lobengula’s country of Matabeleland. By October 1889 he was unemployed but on 8 November had been told he was being sent up to Matabeleland, one of 15 who were friends of Rhodes. He was sworn in and attached to E Troop Bechuanaland Border Police.

He was then attested into the Pioneer Column as one of Rhodes’ specially selected twelve disciples (apostles) that left Kimberley for settlement in Mashonaland (via Mafeking) in 1890 as a Trooper in Heany’s A Troop, the column finally entering what is now Zimbabwe in April that same year.

Upon settlement the Pioneer column was disbanded and each individual sent off to seek his own fortune in the new country.

He was the first member of the Rhodesian Pioneer column to return to South Africa, having been sent to Kimberley by Rhodes to report personally to the secretary of the Chartered Company and was interviewed by all newspapers. His return to the promised land saw him undertake many ventures, all unsuccessful and by September 1893 he was down and out having contracted malaria and failed in his objective of making a new life for himself and his family. By April 1894 he was back in England with his wife.

A big jump to 1900 and the Anglo-Boer War as Pat joined Lord Chesham’s 10th Imperial Yeomanry unit that arrived in SA in March 1900, their first action against the Boers being the battle of Boshof on 5 April where the well-known French Colonel, Comte de Villebois-Mareuil was killed.

Campbell too, was killed that day, charging the Boers with bayonet fixed, and he was buried in Boshof cemetery on 6 April.

As a postscript. Beo, the son, was KIA at Cambrai, France, on 30 December 1917. He was a Lt-Commander RN and had won the Military Cross and bar. He had survived Gallipoli and Paschandaele.

Fame and fortune for Mrs Patrick Campbell, and a grave in Boshof not often visited for her husband, the handsome but ill-fated Sgt Patrick Campbell whose name is remembered mainly through his wife’s stage and film career.

Pictured is Sgt Patrick Campbell; Mrs Pat (Stella) Campbell; Stella Junior, Mrs Patrick Campbell, and Beo.

UPDATED: 05/04/2019

5 April 1886, Phoenix Hotel opens for business in Beaconsfield.
5 April 1886, William Hartley, an 1820 settler, dies.
5 April 1900, The battle of Boshof.
5 April 1902, Rhodes’ funeral train arrives in Kimberley.
5 April 1951, Great sportsman of the 1880s and 1890s, and De Beers assistant General Manager Irvine Grimmer dies.

Kimberley – and De Beers Consolidated Mines of course, played a role in the arrangements of the lying-in-state of the late Cecil John Rhodes, the processions, the funeral, and the various myriad details that were necessary for such a detailed and intricate stage set. Dr T.W. Smartt, Member of the Legislative Assembly and then the Commissioner of Public Works, superintended the entire plan from the deathbed to interment in the Matopos. The De Beers Director’s private coach was in Cape Town at the time and permission was granted for the coach to be used as the resting place for Rhodes’ coffin for the rail trip to Bulawayo. Changes were made in the interior of the coach, and space was made for a special contingent of Cape Police to travel as the Guard of Honour for the entire journey.


Kimberley Town Hall

The arrival of Rhodes’ funeral train in Kimberley at 4 am on 5 April 1902 saw ‘his’ town where he had amassed his fortune give him a right royal sending off. The Kimberley Regiment provided the Guard of Honour at the railway station, and the Griqualand West Brigade Band, under the baton of Herr Carl Rybnikar, played solemn music.

There to meet the train at Kimberley’s platform Number One were the acting Mayor, Councillor Robert Henderson, Councillors A. Bennie, D.W. Greatbatch, J.D. Tyson, J. Oats and H.A. Ziegenbein, together with the acting Town Clerk, W.W. Alexander, and Colonel David Harris. At 5 am the Kimberley Regiment, under Lt-Colonel R.A. Finlayson, filed on to the platform, and at 6 am the Brigade band commenced playing the ‘Dead March’, while the crowd, who had gathered since the early hours began filing past Rhodes coffin still in the coach. A large body of Police were in attendance to control the crowd around the railway station, and by 10 am some 15 000 citizens of Kimberley had paid their last respects, including Njuba, a son of the late Ndebele King Lobengula, who had employment with De Beers at the time.


Procession at Kimberley Station waiting to pass the funeral car.

The Women of Kimberley presented a wreath with the words ‘Thy Will be Done’ and ‘With Deepest Sympathy from the Women of Kimberley’. All other wreaths, of which there were hundreds, were placed within the carriage before departure at 10.45 am that same morning. Shortly before departure the band approached the carriage, and the Guard of Honour presented arms. The train moved slowly forwards heading north, and Cecil Rhodes, for the final time, left the town where he had made his fortune.

Pictured is Cecil Rhodes’ funeral train in Kimberley, on the way to the Matopos. (Photographs by kind permission Kimberley Africana Library).



From Kimberley Calls and Recalls on Facebook By Steve Lunderstedt

Aeon Computer Kimberley

About Steve Lunderstedt


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