Sunday, December 23, 2012

Rules for Husbands and Wives

Rules for Husbands and Wives published in the Grahamstown Journal of 1837.


1) Always regard your wife as an equal: treat her with kindness, respect and attention, and never address her with the appearance of an air of authority, as if she were, as some misguided husbands appear to regard their wives, a mere housekeeper.

2) Never interfere in her domestic concerns, hiring servants &c, except she consults you.

3) Always keep her properly supplied with money for furnishing your table in a style proportioned to your means, and for the purchase of dress, and whatever articles she may require, suitable for her station in life.

4) Cheerfully and promptly comply with all her reasonable requests; and as far as practicable, anticipate them. Whatever you accord to her wishes let it be done cheerfully and promptly, so as to enhance the merit of the matter by the manner.

5) Never be so unjust as to lose your temper towards her, in consequence of indifferent cookery, or irregularity in the hours of meals, or any other mismanagement of her domestics; knowing the difficulty of making many of them do their duty.

6) If she have prudence and good sense, consult her on all operations involving the risk of serious injury in case of failure. Many a man has been rescued from ruin by the wise counsels of his wife; and many a foolish husband has most seriously injured himself and family by the rejection of the advice of his wife, stupidly fearing, if he followed it, he would be regarded as henpecked.  A husband can never consult a counsellor more deeply interested in his welfare than his wife.

7) If distressed or embarrassed in your circumstances, communicate your situation to her with candour, that she may bear your difficulties in mind in her expenditures.  Wives, sometimes believing their husbands' circumstances better than they really are, disburse money which cannot be well afforded, and which if they knew the real circumstances of their husbands' affairs they would shrink from expending.

8) Never on any account chide or rebuke your wife in company, should she make any mistake in history, geography, grammar, or indeed on any other subject. There are, I am persuaded, many wives of such keen feelings and high spirit (and such wives deserve to be treated with the utmost delicacy) that they would rather receive a severe and bitter scolding in private than a comparatively mild rebuke in company, calculated to display their ignorance or folly, or to impair them in their own opinion or in that of others.


1) Always receive your husband with smiles - leaving nothing undone to render home disagreeable - endeavouring to win, and gradually reciprocating, his kindness and attention.

2) Study to gratify his inclination in regard to food and cookery; in the management of the family; in your dress, manners and deportment.

3) Never attempt to rule, or appear to rule, your husband.  Such conduct degrades husbands - and wives always partake largely in the degradation of their husbands.

4) In everything reasonable comply with his wishes with cheerfulness - and even, as far as possible, anticipate them.

5) Avoid all altercations or arguments leading to ill humour, and more especially before company. Few things are more disgusting than the altercations of the married, when in the company of friends or strangers.  There is one kind of conduct which is almost as revolting as this - but not of frequent occurrence - that is, a display of fondness before company.  There is time and place for all things.

6) Never attempt to interfere in his business unless he ask your advice and counsel; and never attempt to control him in the management of it.

7) Never confide to gossips any of the failings or imperfections of your husband - nor any of those little differences which occasionally arise in the married state. If you do, you may rest assured that, however strong the injunctions of secrecy on the one hand, or the pledge on the other, they will in a day or two become the common talk of the neighbourhood.

8) Avail yourself of every opportunity to cultivate your mind, so as, should your husband be intelligent and well-informed, you may join in rational conversation with him and his friends.

9) Think nothing beneath your attention that may produce even a momentary breach of harmony, or the slightest uneasy sensation.
Think naught a trifle, though it small appear;
Small sands the mountain, moments make the year,
And trifles life. Your care to trifles give,
Else you may die ere you have learned to live.  

10) If your husband be in business, always, in your expenditures, bear in mind the various vicissitudes to which trade and commerce are subject; and do not expose yourself to the painful self reproach, should he experience one of them of having unnecessarily expended money of which you and your offspring may afterwards be in the extreme want.

11) While you carefully shun, in providing for your family, the Scylla of meanness and parsimony, avoid equally the Charybdis of extravagance, an error too common in the United States, as remarked by most of the travellers who visit this country.

12) If you be disposed to economise, I beseech you not to extend your economy to the wages you pay to seamstresses or washerwomen, who are too frequently ground to the earth by the inadequacy of the wages they receive.  Economise, if you will, in shawls, bonnets and handkerchiefs; but, never, by exacting labour from the poor without adequate compensation, incur the dire anathemas pronounced in the Scriptures against the oppressor of the poor.

[Transcribed by Sue Mackay]

Saturday, December 15, 2012


Apologies to blog visitors trying to contact Mole: due to severe storms I have no phone, no internet facility. Hope to be online soon.  Best Wishes.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas in Natal 1865

Wagon crossing a drift

On Christmas Eve 1865, Sidney Turner, a pioneer of the Natal South Coast and Pondoland, wrote from the Lower Umzimkulu Drift:
I should have gone up to the Umzinto till Christmas, but am expecting the Governor and suite to be here every day … They were to cross the Upper Drift and to come back to Durban (120 miles away) by the lower road, it will be an event if they do …

          December 25th, Evening, 9 o’clock
I hope you have been enjoying your plum pudding and cattle-plagued beef just at the same time that I was eating a hot fowl, sweet potatoes, French beans and cabbages, with a dessert of peaches, granadillas, pineapples and cucumber. I have some beauties in my garden. It was three o’clock when my dinner began, one o’clock with you. I drank all your healths in a glass of rum and water, in spite of my teetotal pledge, as that isn’t to be expected to be kept when I have to wish a merry Christmas and happy New Year to those 10, 000 miles away.
I have had lots of swimming today, while perhaps you have been skating. I should like to try to swim from Dover to Calais if ever I get Home.
In a letter to his parents at New Year Sidney remarked that he had thought about them all on Christmas Day. ‘ … It was the day before that on which I shot the lion, and I had forty miles to ride to catch the wagon’ - hardly reassuring news for his family over the festive season.

A year later Sidney was able to report that his new house was ready to be occupied: it had
A large sitting-room, two bedrooms, pantry and store, with verandah all round. It will seem really like getting to civilization when I go into it. There is a splendid view ... this is likely to be the first time since coming out that Christmas will seem to be really Christmas; not so much because of plum pudding or beef, but that it is the first time that I have felt really at home and comfortable.
 This in spite of soaring temperatures. But though Sidney remains cheerful there is, as in most emigrant journals and correspondence, nostalgia for the old country and people left behind. Christmas morning was ‘awfully hot’ and ‘would, I think, be almost too much for Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego …'.
My plum pudding came to a bad job … so I ate beef for dinner, and had the pudding out and baked it in a tin dish till 7 p.m. but it still kept a sort of paste. I have just been eating some of it with milk and sugar, but it sticks to the top of your mouth much worse than the old stickjaw we used to get at school … You are now no doubt getting ready for dancing … Couldn’t I, and wouldn’t I, just have a go were I at Home at the present minute.’

Turner spent forty years in South Africa between 1864 and his death in 1901. He made a happy marriage, his wife Bella surviving him for about thirty years; they had twenty-two grandchildren. Perhaps his most exciting and notable contribution to history, apart from his valuable letters, was his interest in the wreck of the East Indiaman, Grosvenor, of which he salvaged several relics.

Extracts from Portrait of a Pioneer: The Letters of Sidney Turner from South Africa 1864-1901, selected and edited by Daphne Child (MacMillan South Africa, 1980).
The originals, as well as Turner's Grosvenor relics, are held in the Local History Museum, Old Court House, Durban.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

A Natal Settler Christmas: 1853

The Feilden home, Feniscowles, Durban.

For British settlers who came to Natal in the 1850s, Christmas was very different from those they were used to ‘back home’. Despite the unusual experience of 25 December occurring in the midst of summer heat, most families tried to retain aspects of their familiar seasonal traditions – turkey, roast beef, plum pudding and as many trimmings as possible. This would be a pattern followed by generations of Natal settler descendants.

Eliza Feilden, emigrating with her husband Leyland on the Jane Morice and acquiring the farm Feniscowles in Durban, wrote letters home during their five year sojourn in the Colony. When the Feildens returned to England, Eliza published her letters together with selections from her journal (the original journal is held at the Local History Museum, Old Court House, Durban). The result is a fascinating, illustrated account of settler life in Natal and more particularly a settler wife’s reactions to her new environment.

Eliza wrote in December 1853:

I am sitting on the door-steps under our deep roof, sheltered from the intense heat of the sun this scorchingly hot day, the thermometer 78 degrees in our cool, shady, and airy room. I walked over the ploughed field at two o’clock, seeking for my husband, and the ground burnt my feet through my shoes …
The farm is looking quite beautiful again … the arrowroot and sugar-canes as well as they can look … I do think the climate – lovely and charming as it is – very wearing and enervating, with all the work that has to be done, but I enjoy it.
We had no plum pudding on Christmas Day. We ate our roast beef and calabash and our papaw tart with relish, and drank all your healths (i.e. the family in England). We rode into church in the morning, and partook of the sacrament. Most people made a holiday. We were invited to a picnic, but rode home quietly, and Leyland … planted arrowroot all the afternoon.

Extract from My African Home, or Bush Life in Natal 1852-7 by Eliza Whigham Feilden, 1887 Sampson Low, Marston, Searle and Rivington, London. A reprint edition was published fairly recently.

Natal: the Christmas land.

Vasco da Gama, the Portuguese explorer, sailed along the south-eastern coast of South Africa and on Christmas Day 1497 sighted the land which he named Natal in commemoration of the Nativity.

This familiar story is widely accepted as true and, certainly, the name has never been – and hopefully never will be – subjected to change. However, was it really the Natal stretch of coast, as we know it, that da Gama saw from the deck of his ship? Professor Eric Axelson, in various published accounts, has questioned the fact, stating that the Portuguese fleet was further south on that date in 1497, near to Port St Johns.

Professor Axelson based his theory on the distance – contemporaneously recorded as 70 leagues – sailed by da Gama’s vessels between 20 and 25 December. ‘On Christmas Day … the expedition had discovered 70 leagues, so a section of the Transkei coast received the name Natal. Three days later the mariners caught fish off what was probably Durban bluff.’

The many calculations made by Axelson and others in trying to determine precisely which area of coastline was viewed by da Gama’s fleet on 25 December are discussed in an article by Brian Stuckenberg in Natalia v27, Vasco da Gama and the naming of Natal. See

Stuckenberg remarks: ‘Fortunately, no evidence exists of any error in attribution of the name Natal to our Province. There are instead good reasons to accept that this was indeed the land along which Vasco da Gama … coasted on Christmas Day 1497 … en route to their first encounter with the fabulous Indies.’

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Natal Volunteer Units: Victoria Mounted Rifles 1862-1888

The Victoria Mounted Rifles were inaugurated September 1862, first parade at HQ Verulam on 1 November in that year. About 50 members were enrolled.

The following officers were immediately appointed:
 Geo Adams J.P.  Major
 J Vacey-Lyle J.P.  Captain  (sometimes Vacy-Lyle)
 Henry Binns  1st Lieutenant and Adjutant
 Wm Lister  2nd Lieutenant
 J Stanton  Quartermaster

In 1867 Major Adams retired and was succeeded by Captain H Townsend, then in 1868 Captain Anthony Wilkinson took over command of the Corps. He was succeeded by Captain Charles Manning in 1873.

September 1873 saw the coronation of the Zulu King, Cetewayo, and a detachment of ten volunteers from the Victoria Mounted Rifles, under Captain Harry Escombe, were part of Theophilus Shepstone's escort to Zululand on this occasion.

Captain Henry Binns, a founder member of the Corps, took over command in 1875. By the end of 1878 when the Zulu War broke out, Captain Charles Saner* was in command and the VMR were mobilized for active service. The following men left Verulam on 2 December 1878 for the Zululand frontier:

Captain Saner
Lieutenant Robarts
Lieutenant Acutt
Quarter-Master Plant
Quarter-Master Sergeant Foss
Sergeant Major Armstrong
Farrier Sergeant Grove
Sergeant Galloway
Corporal Knight
Corporal Hobday
Corporal Acutt
Lance Corporal Todd
A Blamey
J C Blamey
L Coates
E Coates
E Dykes
J Dykes
H Fynney
H Galloway
H Godden
J Jackson
C Manning
A Mitchell
H Plant
F Rathbone
H Reed
C Jackson

During the Anglo-Zulu War, the Corps, as part of the Natal Volunteer Force, saw action at the battle of Inyezane on 22 January 1879 and the relief of Eshowe.

Captain William R Cowley** took command of the Corps in 1886, followed by Captain Harry Sparks until 1887 when the Stanger Mounted Rifles were amalgamated with the Victoria Mounted Rifles and Captain Friend Addison, previously OC Stanger Mounted Rifles, took over command of the enlarged unit. When all the coastal units of Natal amalgamated in 1888 as the Natal Mounted Rifles, the VMR ceased to exist as a separate Corps.

* Charles Taylor Saner, born 1850 in Yorkshire, emigrated to Natal in the early 1870s and farmed at Verulam. He married Mary Blaine, daughter of Dr Blaine, magistrate of Verulam. After the Anglo-Zulu War, Saner joined a gold-mining company in the Transvaal and became manager of Van Rhyn Estates. His four sons served in the Anglo-Boer War.

** William Cowley, born 1852 in Fairford England, came to Natal in 1859, and farmed in the Little Umhlanga Valley. He was one of the VMR's best shottists. (The unit produced numerous brilliant marksmen.)

Uniform: Blue cloth, scarlet facings; black cloth helmet with white plume for officers, black plume for other ranks. Buttons and helmet badges were embossed with monogram V.M.R. surmounted with a crown, silver for officers and white metal for other ranks. The kepi replaced the helmet in undress order. No shoulder straps were worn and the Corps did not adopt a collar badge.

Members provided their own horses, uniforms, saddlery and other equipment. Arms, ammunition and field equipment were supplied by the Government. At first armed with the Terry and Snider carbine, this was replaced in 1875 by the Swinburn-Henry carbine firing a .450 lead bullet. Officers carried swords and revolvers. Ammunition was carried in a pouch slung to a cross-belt, white leather with black pouch for full dress, and brown leather belt for service order. Colonial pattern saddlery was used.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Natal Volunteer Units: Stanger Mounted Rifles 1875-1887

The Stanger Mounted Rifles were inaugurated in November 1875, with:

 Joel Lean  Captain
 H Warren  1st Lieutenant
 F Addison  2nd Lieutenant

On 1 December 1878 the Corps was mobilized; the 36 members were:

Captain Friend Addison OC *
Lieutenant Warren
Lieutenant Shuter
Quarter-Master Knox
Sergeant-Major Moore
Sergeant Fayle
Corporal Bumner
Corporal Davidson
Corporal Boyce
Trumpeter J W Colenbrander **
J Louw
C Gielink
A B Gielink
Johan Gielink
J W Gielink
C Hoogvorst
Jas. Robbins
Jacob Louw
W C Robbins
W Warren
C Warren

Further men joined subsequently, bringing the total to 43 members.

Anglo-Zulu War 1879:
The Stanger Mounted Rifles marched to Thring's Post where they were met by the Victoria Mounted Rifles and the Buffs; they proceeded to the Lower Drift and were joined by the Alexandra Mounted Rifles, Durban Mounted Rifles and the Natal Hussars, collectively named the Natal Volunteer Force. They formed the southern flank under Captain P H S Barrow, 19th Hussars, of Colonel Pearson's 3rd Buffs (3rd Regiment of Foot).

The battle of Inyezane and the relief of Eshowe followed.

* Friend Addison born 1848 in Kent, came to Natal on the Lalla Rookh in 1849.

** Johan Wilhelm Colenbrander born 1856, Pinetown Natal, of Dutch parents who emigrated from Java to Natal in 1854. Their indigo venture failed and the family founded the settlement of New Guelderland near Stanger. Johan married Mollie Mullins in 1883, and after her death, Yvonne Nunn in 1902. His third wife was Catherine Gloster. He founded Kitchener's Fighting Scouts during the Anglo-Boer War.

Note four members of the Gielink family: the Gielinks were among the New Guelderland settlers.

Uniform: Navy blue cloth, yellow facings and helmet. Badge was monogram S.M.R. surmounted by a crown, all in white metal, worn on the front of the helmet and on the ammunition pouch. The buttons also carried the monogram and crown. The kepi was worn in undress order. The Corps did not adopt a collar badge and had no motto. Officers carried swords and revolvers.

In the early stages members carried the Terry and Snider carbine, and later the Swinburn-Henry carbine.

In 1887 the Corps was absorbed into the Victoria Mounted Rifles with Captain Friend Addison as commanding officer.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Natal Volunteer Units: Alexandra Mounted Rifles 1865-1888

The Alexandra Mounted Rifles: this corps was formed in 1865, with the aim of covering the area from the Illovo River south to the Umtamvuna River and inland for 50 miles. Organised in three troops, its strength varied from 70 to 130.

According to G T Hurst*, the unit adopted khaki for its field service uniform in 1874, apparently the earliest recorded use of that colour for military purposes in South Africa. [A possible exception is the 2nd Highland Light Infantry (74th Highlanders) who in the 8th Frontier War 1850-1852, fought in doublets of that colour.]

Their badge was the monogram A.M.R. surmounted by a crown and worn on the front of the white helmet. There is no record of the unit adopting a motto or collar badge. Members were armed with the Terry and Snider carbine up to 1875, officers carrying swords. Later the Terry and Snider carbine was replaced by the Swinburn-Henry carbine, with bayonet - another unique distinction for the unit as this was the first occasion on which the bayonet was used with the carbine. It proved unsuccessful and was discontinued. Members provided their own horses and saddlery while the Government supplied arms, ammunition, some field equipment and an annual grant to each member for maintenance of his horse.

On formation, Major W J Dunbar Moodie was Commanding Officer; others who followed were Capt W T Arbuthnot, Capt Frank U Reynolds and Capt Fitz-James Arbuthnot, all from the Umzinto area.

In 1873 a detachment of the AMR joined the force under Capt Harry Escombe, accompanying Theophilus Shepstone to the Coronation of Cetewayo in Zululand.

In December 1878 the unit, commanded by Capt W T Arbuthnot, joined the invading British force at the start of the Anglo-Zulu War. The following members reported for service:

Arbuthnot, Capt. W. T.
Cooke, Lieut.
Kirkman, Lieut J.
Kirkman, Quarter-Master T.
Parkin, Sgt. Major
Bru-de-Wold, Acting Sgt. Major H. T.
Archibald, Sgt.
Bazley, Acting Sgt.
Arbuthnot, Corporal F. J.
Arbuthnot, Trumpeter St. George
Arbuthnot, Trooper M.
Arbuthnot, Trooper N.G.
Bazley, Trooper G.
Crocker, Trooper T.
Crocker, Trooper W.
Pennington, Trooper J.
Prescott, Trooper C.
Pigg, Trooper G.
Fayers, Trooper T.
Pearce, Trooper
Reynolds, Trooper S.
Shooter, Trooper B.C.
Shooter, Trooper W.
Reynolds, Trooper C.
Knox, Trooper A.
Hawksworth, Trooper F.
Hawkins, Trooper W.
Thomas, Trooper S.
Saunders, Trooper C.

The unit crossed the Tugela into Zululand as part of Colonel Pearson's Column and proceeded to Eshowe.

With the Durban Mounted Rifles, Victoria Mounted Rifles, Stanger Mounted Rifles, Isipingo Mounted Rifles and the Natal Hussars, the Alexandra Mounted Rifles kept up communications between Potspruit, Krantzkop, Balcomb, Thring's Post, McDonald's and Stanger.

The Battle Honour South Africa 1879 was awarded to the Alexandra Mounted Rifles for the campaign. Two of its members were mentioned in despatches for their services in the field.

When the Isipingo Mounted Rifles disbanded in 1880, members of that unit joined the A.M.R.

In 1884 the southern portion of the A.M.R. separated from the unit to form the Umzimkulu Mounted Rifles under command of Captain Bru-de Wold. The A.M.R. despite a reduction of numbers continued to function until 1888 when, after 23 years of service, it was absorbed into a larger entity with the amalgamation of all small units on the Natal coast to form the Natal Mounted Rifles. Nevertheless, muster rolls of much later date for 'the Alexandra Contingent of the Natal Mounted Rifles' show the continuity of family names from the Umzinto area: Arbuthnot, Pearce, Langton, Archibald, Smith (William Dixon) Arnott, Royston, Bazley, Gold, Cole and others.

In 1894 the left and right wings of the Natal Mounted Rifles became separate entities, named respectively the Border Mounted Rifles and Natal Mounted Rifles.

* 'History of the Natal Mounted Rifles' by Col. G T Hurst, 1935