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Sir Bartle Frere's return to Cape Town, June 1879

Reference Code: GBR/0115/RCS/Y3059B

Scope and Contents

A leather-bound album containing prints of various sizes, all uncaptioned. The album, which has the Frere arms on a silver shield on the corner, contains an illuminated address opposite the title page reading:

Presented to the Lady Frere by the Reception Committee. The Chairman of the Committee in making the presentation said: The Executive Committee entrusted with the arrangements for the reception of His Excellency Sir Bartle Frere on his return from Natal, June 6th, 1879, before completing their labours desired to leave in your hands some small memento of a day and of celebrations which will long be remembered by the inhabitants of Cape Town, and they could think of nothing more appropriate than binding together some of the photographs taken of the reception in its various stages - a reception never exceeded in enthusiasm in the annals of South African History. Unfortunately the conditions of weather were unfavourable to the production of successful pictures but the committee hope that the grateful recollections attached to them will more than make up for the imperfections of the memorial. It was gratifying to the committee that, amid the numerous welcome addresses to His Excellency, there were one or more which especially mentioned your own anxieties and joys in connection with the prolonged absence and return of Sir Bartle Frere, and the admirable manner in which your Ladyship was by the help of God, enabled to perform the responsible duties which devolved upon you while His Excellency was at the scene of war and they desire, with your permission, that this volume may remain with you as a token that the part taken by yourself and family in the anxieties and labours of that time, are remembered with the deepest sympathy and gratitude. [signed by the Executive Reception Committee].

The above remarks concerning the weather are unfortunately true and the photographs themselves do not live up to the promise of the extravagant binding, consisting largely of street scenes showing triumphal arches.

Sir Henry Bartle Frere (1815-84) was appointed Governor and High Commissioner of South Africa after a successful career in India culminating in the Governorship of Bombay 1862-7, and his instructions were to forward the cause of confederation in the South African colonies. His period of office (1877-80) however was beset with military complications which ruled out any movement towards Confederation: the annexation of the Transvaal in 1877 (see Y3055H) cut the ground from under his feet, and thereafter the 9th Frontier War (1877-8), Rebellions in Griqualand East and West (1878) and the Zulu War (see Y3058A) of 1878-9 fully occupied his time. The unpopularity of this latter war in England and Frere’s share in the responsibility for it led to the splitting of the High Commissionership, Sir Garnet Wolseley being given responsibility for Zululand and South East Africa in May 1879. But Frere’s unpopularity at home was matched by a fervent admiration in South Africa itself where his journey from Pretoria to Cape Town (May 1-June 6) was marked by public receptions, addresses and letters of approbation (Martineau Vol. II, pp. 331-6, 1895). On his arrival in the capital of Cape Colony he was welcomed by a reception of 'inhabitants of all classes and sections and of whatever origin … such as had never been surpassed in Cape Town' (Martineau, Vol. I, p. 334).


  • Creation: 1879-06

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14 item(s) (14 images)

Language of Materials


Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

fair condition apart from some fading.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Presented to the Royal Commonwealth Society by Brigadier J.G. Frere in March 1953.

Existence and Location of Copies

This collection is available on microfiche: Africa, fiche numbers 187.


Martineau, John (1895),'The life and correspondence of the Right Hon. Sir Bartle Frere, Bart., G.C.B., F.R.S., etc.,' Vol. II, pp. 331-6, London: J. Murray.


This collection level description was entered by WS using information from the original typescript catalogue.


Executive Reception Committee, Cape Town

Includes index.
2006-10-05 12:42:48+00:00
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository

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