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Today in Kimberley's History

TODAY IN KIMBERLEY’S HISTORY – 29 NOVEMBER

UPDATED: 29/11/2019

29 November 1890, Olive Schreiner (pictured) meets Cecil Rhodes for the first time.
29 November 1899, The military funeral of Major Henry Scott-Turner, Black Watch in Gladstone cemetery, killed with 22 of his men the previous day.
29 November 1965, Clarence Crowther enthroned as Bishop of Kimberley and Kuruman.
29 November 1965, Alice Pearce, Sacristan and Lay Worker at St Cyprian’s for 56 years, dies.

OLIVE SCHREINER MEETS CECIL RHODES
Perhaps the most intriguing of Cecil Rhodes’ relationships with women was that of Olive Schreiner, who, like Rhodes, was quite an enigma of the time, and renowned world-wide through her novel “The Story of an African Farm” that was first published in London on 19 May 1883.

Olive Schreiner

Olive had stayed with her brother Theo and his wife, Ettie, on the dry diggings of Kimberley between 7 December 1872 and October 1873 when she was an ‘unknown’, but never met Cecil, and on her second stay at The Homestead between 1894 and 1898, she was married and famous. Once Rhodes had become a politician and amalgamated the diamond mines, he had become a household name in England as well as Southern Africa. “Cecil Rhodes must be a splendid man, the only man of genius we have in this country,” she wrote in a letter in February 1890. She also wrote a letter to Rhodes thanking him for his encouragement. “I am very grateful to you, though I have never shown it, for the sympathy which you expressed with my work the other night. No-one has ever done so in just the same way. I am very thankful to you for having told me. It helps me.”

She had seen Rhodes in late 1889 when boarding a ship in England and admitted to having some sort of magnetism for him. It was a “curious feeling…it’s not love…you know, a person can’t help these strange attractions. These feelings never mislead one…He’s very fond of An African Farm…it’s not love, it’s not admiration…it’s the deliberate feeling that man belongs to me.” But her admiration was to be fairly short-lived, as Rhodes voted to introduce the Masters and Servants Bill into law in 1890, a law known as the ‘Strop’ Bill, where Blacks would be whipped instead of being fined and imprisoned for minor offences. Although not passed, it was a Bill that Schreiner found most offensive and she started to turn slowly against Rhodes’ viewpoint and policy which would culminate in intense dislike after the Jameson raid.

They met for the first time over a meal in the Matjiesfontein Hotel on 29 November 1890. Olive was residing in Matjiesfontein at the time because of her asthma, and Rhodes was travelling by train between Kimberley and the Cape. (The Cape to Kimberley train stopped for breakfast at the hotel at 9 am, and the Kimberley to Cape train stopped in the evening for supper at 6 pm). By 21 December 1890, when she traveled with Cecil on the same train from Cape Town to Bloemfontein, she had decided, “…we could never become close friends. We never once met without a royal fight”

UPDATED: 29/11/2017

29 November 1890, Olive Schreiner meets Cecil Rhodes for the first time.
29 November 1899, The military funeral of Major Henry Scott-Turner, Black Watch in Gladstone cemetery, killed with 22 of his men the previous day.
29 November 1965, Clarence Crowther enthroned as Bishop of Kimberley and Kuruman.
29 November 1965, Alice Pearce, Sacristan and Lay Worker at St Cyprian’s for 56 years, dies.

Pictured is Henry Scott-Turner, and his funeral on 29 November 1899

DID YOU KNOW

It was today, 29th November in 1899, that Henry Scott-Turner was buried with full military honours in Kimberley, the day after he had been killed in action against the Boers surrounding the diamond town. His funeral was attended by all the town’s dignitaries including Cecil Rhodes and the Mayor RH Henderson.

PT-Henry_Scott_Turner-Funeral-1899

Henry Scott-Turner’s Funeral

Henry Scott-Turner, the son of Major Scott-Turner, formerly of the 69th Foot, was born in May 1867 and educated at Clifton College, and was killed at the second battle of Carter’s Ridge on 28 November 1899 during the siege of Kimberley.

He joined the 1st Black Watch (42nd Royal Highlanders) as a 2nd Lieutenant in 1887 when he was 20 years old, and promoted Lieutenant in May 1890. On 24 May 1898 was promoted to Captain, and the following day received his brevet-majority.

Took part in the Matabeleland Expedition in 1893, and then entered the service of the British South Africa Company in what became Rhodesia, being the Adjutant and Paymaster with the Matabeleland Relief Force in 1896.

From 1894 up until his seconding to Kimberley in June 1899 Scott-Turner was the Magistrate/Mayor of the fledgling town of Umtali in Rhodesia. In fact, Scott-Turner was the British South African Company representative in Umtali in 1897 and in April 1898 was the appointed Civil Commissioner. He had overseen the planning and sale of stands in the newly laid out town, the surveyor being Rhys Fairbridge, father of the better known Kingsley Fairbridge.

PT-Henry_Scott_Turner-1899

Henry Scott Turner

The public library in the town today (Mutare, Zimbabwe) is the Scott-Turner Memorial Library, and within its precincts are a portrait, his two swords, medals, dirks, sporrans, and several trophies. (I believe his medals have disappeared from display).

He was the son-in-law of Sir Lewis Michell, the General Manager of Standard Bank South Africa who became the Chairman of De Beers Consolidated Mines Ltd upon the death of Cecil Rhodes in 1902. Michell was also Minister without Portfolio in the Jameson Ministry (Cape Colony), and wrote the “Life of the Right Honourable Cecil J Rhodes.”

In June 1899 Scott-Turner was appointed a Special Service Officer with the British army and was posted to Kimberley, residing at the Kimberley Club in one of the rooms in what is known as Trafalgar Square. He arrived in July 1899, the first of the special service officers to arrive, with the brief “…to keep his eyes and ears open, and obtain information of a secret character.”

A prolific note and letter writer, several are worthwhile recording.

In a letter addressed to the Town Clerk of Kimberley on 6 October 1899 when preparations were in full swing prior to the outbreak of war, he replied: “In answer to your letter O 382/99 I am requested to inform you that at present while he is unable to arm all the white men who are offering themselves for service it is not possible to consider the question of arming the coloured men. Colonel Kekewich however suggests that you take their names and if an opportunity arises he will gladly avail himself of their services and he highly appreciates the spirit of their offer. By order, Henry Scott-Turner, (illegible), Staff Officer.”

On 19 October 1899 he was appointed as Officer Commanding the Mounted Troops and was tasked with the raising of the Kimberley Light Horse.

He led the three actions against the Boers on 24 October, 25 November and 28 November 1899, and was killed in the latter. Scott-Turner had been wounded in the shoulder in the action of 25 November.

His second to last note, written hurriedly on a Kimberly Club notehead on the day he died, read: “Dear Mrs Smith, We will take care of your old man don’t be afraid. The Imperial troops will be in here at daylight tomorrow. Yours sincerely, Henry S-Turner.” Mrs Smith was the wife of the Quartermaster of the KLH, J.A. Smith. Scott-Turner, on his way to his own death, had turned back (briefly) to write the note.

His death was indeed a severe loss to the garrison, and Rhodes was deeply distressed at the time. He was buried with full military honours, his coffin being second in line behind Lt Wright, both coffins being on Diamond Fields Artillery gun carriages. Scott-Turner’s carriage was followed by his horse. The pallbearers were Colonel Robert Kekewich, Lt-Col David Harris, Lt-Col Chamier, Lt-Col Robinson, Lt-Col Finlayson and Lt-Col Peakman. Archdeacon Holbech conducted the service at Gladstone cemetery. In attendance at the graveside were Cecil Rhodes, Dr Smartt, Rochefort Maguire, Robert Henderson (the Mayor), and other important dignitaries.

“I wish to place on record the brilliant services of the late Brevet major (local Lt-Colonel) H S Turner; in him the army has lost a most valuable officer; he was a great organizer, full of energy, and possessed of real ability and courage; he was the principal organizer of the Town Guard, and acted as my staff officer, carrying out his duties with marked success under great difficulties…he commanded the mounted troops in numerous reconnaisances and sorties, and I cannot speak too highly of the manner in which he conducted them and carried loyally carried out my orders.” So wrote Colonel Robert George Kekewich.

Henry Scott-Turner is remembered in Kimberley by the cairn placed where he fell on Carter’s Ridge where his name is top of the list of those killed. Various photographic memorials are at the Moth Centre, Kimberley Club and the McGregor Museum.

The late Harry Went of Umtali, Rhodesia, had a very comprehensive collection of early Umtali papers and documents. Included among them were his grandfather’s notes on the death of Henry as written in the journal South Africa. “A true frontiersman…a friend of Rhodes…A benefactor of Umtali…Died in Harness.”

In an obituary the Diamond Fields Advertiser stated that at his death, Henry left his widow, a young child (both in Cape Town) and his elderly mother in England.

Dora Scott-Turner, widow of Henry, and eldest daughter of Sir Lewis Michell, died at her home “Rondebosch” in Eastbourne, England in August 1946.

Their son, also Henry, died on 11 March 1915 while on active service as a 2nd Lt with the Black Watch.

From Kimberley Calls and Recalls on Facebook By Steve Lunderstedt

Aeon Computer Kimberley

About Steve Lunderstedt

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