The Colony of Natal was a British colony in south-eastern Africa. It was proclaimed a British colony on May 4. 1843, after the British government had annexed the Boer Republic of Natalia, and on May 31, 1910, combined with three other colonies to form the Union of South Africa, as one of its provinces. It is now the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa. It was originally only about half the size of the present province, with the north-eastern boundaries being formed by the Tugela and Buffalo rivers beyond which lay the independent Kingdom of Zululand (KwaZulu in Zulu).
Fierce conflict with the Zulu population led to the evacuation of Durban, and eventually the Boers accepted British annexation in 1844 under military pressure. A British governor was appointed to the region and many settlers emigrated from Europe and the Cape Colony. The British established a sugar cane industry in the 1860s. Farm owners had a difficult time attracting Zulu laborers to work on their plantations, so the British brought thousands of indentured laborers from India. As a result of the importation of Indian laborers, Durban became the home to the largest concentration of Indians outside of India.
In 1823 Francis Farewell, formerly a lieutenant in the British Royal Navy, with other merchants of Cape Town, formed a company to trade with the natives of the south-east coast. In the brig Salisbury, commanded by James S. King, Farewell visited Port Natal, St Lucia and Delagoa Bays. The voyage was not successful as a trading venture, but Farewell was so impressed with the possibilities of Natal both for trade and colonization that he resolved to establish himself at the port. He went on with ten companions, among them Henry Francis Fynn. All the rest save Farewell and Fynn speedily returned to the Cape, but the two who remained were joined by three sailors, John Cane, Henry Ogle and Thomas Holstead. Farewell, Fynn and the others went to the royal kraal of Shaka, and, having cured him of a wound and made him various presents, obtained a document, dated August 7, 1824, ceding to “F. G. Farewell & Company entire and full possession in perpetuity” of a tract of land including “the port or harbour of Natal”. On the 27th of the same month Farewell declared the territory he had acquired a British possession. In 1825, he was joined by King, who had meantime visited England and had obtained from the government a letter of recommendation to Lord Charles Somerset, governor of the Cape, granting King permission to settle at Natal. Farewell, King and Fynn made independent settlements at various parts of the bay.
In 1834, a petition from Cape Town merchants asking for the creation of a British colony at Natal was met by the statement that the Cape finances would not permit the establishment of a new dependency. The merchants, however, dispatched an expedition under Dr Andrew Smith to inquire into the possibilities of the country, and the favorable nature of his report induced a party of Boers under Piet Uys to go thither also. Both Dr Smith and Uys traveled overland through Kaffraria, and were well received by the English living at the bay. The next step was taken by the settlers at the port, who in 1835 resolved to lay out a town, which they named Durban, after Benjamin D’Urban, then governor of Cape Colony. At the same time the settlers, who numbered about 50, sent a memorial to the governor calling attention to the fact that they were acknowledged rulers over a large tract of territory south of the Tugela River, and asking that this territory should be proclaimed a British colony and that a governor and council be appointed. To all these requests no official answer was returned. The settlers had been joined in the year named (1835) by Allen Francis Gardiner, a naval officer, whose chief object was the evangelization of the natives. With the support of the traders he founded a mission station on the hill overlooking the bay. In 1837, Gardiner was given authority by the British government to exercise jurisdiction over the traders. They, however, refused to acknowledge Gardiner’s authority, and from the Cape government he received no support.
The next wave of immigration consisted of Voortrekkers fleeing British rule in Cape Colony, who pushed out the English settlers at Port Natal. In May 1838, the Boers took control of the port and soon afterwards established the Natalia Republic. The Republic suffered from disorganized government and poor relations with the Zulus. On December 2, 1841, Sir George Thomas Napier, governor of Cape Colony, issued a proclamation declaring his intent to resume British military occupation of Port Natal. Most of the Voortrekkers left by 1843.
Natal was proclaimed a British Colony on May 4, 1843, and administered from the Cape Colony in 1844. However, it was not until the end of 1845 that an effective administration was installed with Martin West as lieutenant-governor that the power of the Boer Volksraad finally came to an end. In the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879 the British defeated the Zulu army, and Zululand was annexed to Natal in 1897.
In April 1842, Lord Stanley, then Secretary of State for War and the Colonies in the second Peel Administration, wrote to Sir George Napier that the establishment of a colony in Natal would be attended with little prospect of advantage, but at the same time stated that the pretensions of the emigrants to be regarded as an independent community could not be admitted. Various measures were proposed which would but have aggravated the situation. Finally, in deference to the strongly urged views of Sir George Napier, Lord Stanley, in a dispatch of December 13, received in Cape Town on April 23, 1843, consented to Natal becoming a British colony. The institutions adopted were to be as far as possible in accordance with the wishes of the people, but it was a fundamental condition “that there should not be in the eye of the law any distinction or disqualification whatever, founded on mere difference of colour, origin, language or creed”. Sir George then appointed Henry Cloete a special commissioner to explain to the Natal volksraad the decision of the government.
There was a considerable party of Natal Boers still strongly opposed to the British, and they were reinforced by numerous bands of Boers who came over the Drakensberg from Winburg and Potchefstroom. Commandant Jan Mocke of Winburg and others of the “war party” attempted to induce the volksraad not to submit, and a plan was formed to murder Pretorius, Boshof and other leaders, who were now convinced that the only chance of ending the state of complete anarchy into which the country had fallen was by accepting British sovereignty. In these circumstances the task of Henry Cloete was one of great difficulty and delicacy. He behaved with the utmost tact and got rid of the Winburg and Potchefstroom burghers by declaring that he should recommend the Drakensberg as the northern limit of Natal. On August 8, 1843, the Natal volksraad unanimously agreed to the terms proposed by Lord Stanley. Many of the Boers who would not acknowledge British rule trekked once more over the mountains into what are now the Orange Free State and Transvaal provinces. At the end of 1843 there were not more than 500 Dutch families left in Natal.
Cloete, before returning to the Cape, visited Mpande and obtained from him a valuable concession. Hitherto the Tugela from source to mouth had been the recognized frontier between Natal and Zululand. Mpande gave up to Natal all the territory between the Buffalo and Tugela rivers, now forming Klip River county.
The colony’s early population growth was driven by settlement from the United Kingdom between 1849 and 1851, with approximately 4500 emigrants between 1848 and 1851. From the time of the coming of the first considerable body of British settlers dates the development of trade and agriculture in the colony, followed somewhat later by the exploitation of the mineral resources of the country. At the same time schools were established and various churches began or increased their work in the colony. John Colenso, appointed bishop of Natal, arrived in 1854. In 1856, the dependence of the country on Cape Colony was put to an end and Natal constituted a distinct colony with a legislative council of sixteen members, twelve elected by the inhabitants and four nominated by the Crown. At the time the population of settlers and their descendants exceeded 8000. While dependent on the Cape, ordinances had been passed establishing Roman-Dutch law as the law of Natal, and save where modified by legislation it remained in force.
On September 14, 1876, the Colonial office in the UK received a telegram from Sir Henry Barley in Cape Town of the imminent collapse of the Transvaal because the Transvaal’s President Burger and his men had been routed after their attack on Sekhukhune and his people the Pedi. This galvanized Henry Herbert, 4th Earl of Carnarvon who obtained permission from Disraeli to appoint Sir Theophilus Shepstone (known by the Zulu honorific as Somtseu meaning ‘’father of the nation’’) who had served for 30 years as a Natal administrator, first as Diplomatic Agent to Native Tribes, then as secretary for native affairs, to act as special commissioner to the Transvaal.
On December 15, 1876, Sir Shepstone with 25 troopers from the Natal Mounted Police and others set out from Pietermaritzburg to Pretoria to annex the Transvaal; arriving on January 27, 1877 to a cordial reception. That controversial British annexation of the Transvaal, was disrupted when Sekhukhune allegedly signed a peace treaty with the Boers removing the main justification for British intervention in the Transvaal at that time. Nonetheless, tensions between the British colonists and the Zulu continued to build, culminating in the Anglo-Zulu War.
In 1884 the Witwatersrand Gold Rush caused a considerable rush of colonists from Natal to the Transvaal. Railways were still far from the Transvaal border, and Natal offered the nearest route for prospectors from Cape Colony or from Europe. Durban was soon thronged; and Pietermaritzburg, which was then practically the terminus of the Natal railway, was the base from which nearly all the expeditions to the goldfields were fitted out. The journey to De Kaap by bullock-waggon occupied about six weeks. “Kurveying” (the conducting of transport by bullock-waggon) in itself constituted a great industry. Two years later, in 1886, the Rand goldfields were proclaimed, and the tide of trade which had already set in with the Transvaal steadily increased. Natal colonists were not merely the first in the field with the transport traffic to the new goldfields; they became some of the earliest proprietors of mines, and for several years many of the largest mining companies had their chief offices at Pietermaritzburg or Durban. In 1886, the railway reached Ladysmith, and in 1891 it was completed to the Transvaal frontier at Charlestown, the section from Ladysmith northward opening up the Dundee and Newcastle coalfields. Thus a new industry was added to the resources of the colony.
The demand which the growing trade made upon the one port of Natal, Durban, encouraged the colonists to redouble their efforts to improve the Port of Durban. A heavy sea from the Indian Ocean is always breaking on the shore, even in the finest weather, and at the mouth of every natural harbor a bar occurs. To deepen the channel over the bar at Durban so that steamers might enter the harbor was the cause of labor and expenditure for many years. Harbor works were begun in 1857, piers and jetties were constructed, dredgers imported, and controversy raged over the various schemes for harbor improvement. In 1881, a harbor board was formed under the chairmanship of Harry Escombe. It controlled the operations for improving the sea entrance until 1893, when on the establishment of responsible government it was abolished. The work of improving the harbor was however continued with vigor, and finally, in 1904, such success was achieved that vessels of the largest class were enabled to enter port. At the same time, the railway system was continually developing under the Natal Railway Company.
For many years there had been an agitation among the colonists for self-government. In 1882, the colony was offered self-government coupled with the obligations of self-defense. The offer was declined, but in 1883 the legislative council was remodeled so as to consist of 23 elected and 7 nominated members. In 1890, the elections to the council led to the return of a majority in favor of accepting self-government, and in 1893 a bill establishing responsible government was passed and received the sanction of the Imperial government. At the time the white inhabitants numbered about 50,000. The electoral law was framed to prevent more than a very few natives obtaining suffrage. Restrictions in this direction dated as far back as 1865, while in 1896 an act was passed aimed at the exclusion of Indians from the suffrage. The leader of the party which sought responsible government was John Robinson who had gone to Natal in 1850, was a leading journalist in the colony, had been a member of the legislative council since 1863, and had filled various official positions. He now became the first premier and colonial secretary with Harry Escombe as attorney-general and F. R. Moor as secretary for Native Affairs.
John Robinson remained premier until 1897, a year marked by the annexation of Zululand to Natal. In 1898, Natal entered the Customs Union already existing between Cape Colony and the Orange Free State.
The Second Boer War broke out on October 11, 1899, with the Boer seizure of a Natal train on the Orange Free State border. Boer forces quickly occupied Newcastle. In the Battle of Talana Hill on October 20, 1899, outside Dundee, British forces under William Penn Symons defeated the Boer columns at high cost, and withdrew to Ladysmith. Boer forces proceeded to Ladysmith and surrounded the town, cutting off its communications from the south. The Siege of Ladysmith lasted until February 28, 1900, when the town was relieved by forces under Redvers Buller. During the six weeks previous to the relief, 200 deaths had occurred from disease alone, and altogether as many as 8424 were reported to have passed through the hospitals. The relief of Ladysmith soon led to the evacuation of Natal by the Boer forces, who trekked northwards.
As one result of the war, an addition was made to the territory comprised in Natal, consisting of a portion of what had previously been included in the Transvaal. In particular, the following districts were transferred to Natal: the district of Vryheid, the district of Utrecht and such portion of the district of Wakkerstroom as was comprised by a line drawn from the north-eastern corner of Natal, east by Volksrust in a northerly direction to the summit of the Drakensberg Range, along that range, passing just north of the town of Wakkerstroom, to the head waters of the Pongola River, and thence following the Pongola River to the border of the Utrecht district.
The districts added to Natal contained about 6000 white inhabitants (mostly Afrikaners), and some 92,000 natives, and had an area of nearly 7,000 square miles (18,000 km²), so that this annexation meant an addition to the white population of Natal of about one-tenth, to her native population of about one-tenth also, and to her territory of about one-fourth. An act authorizing the annexation was passed during 1902 and the territories were formally transferred to Natal in January 1903.
On May 31, 1910, the Colony of Natal became Natal Province, one of the founding provinces of the Union of South Africa.
The first stamps of Natal were issued on May 26, 1857. They were uncolored designs embossed in plain relief on colored wove paper and were imperforate. The next stamps were issued in 1859, with the Chalon portrait of Queen Victoria. Between 1869 and 1895, postage stamps of 1859-67 and fiscal stamps were overprinted POSTAGE in various styles or additionally surcharged Half-Penny. Stamps of King Edward VII were issued between 1902 and 1909. Six official stamps of King Edward were also issued.
Scott #51 was issued by Natal in January 1874, a one penny rose printed by Thomas de la Rue & Co., London, using typography. The stamp is perforated 14 and bears the Crown CC (for Crown Colonies) watermark. It was reissued in the same color and perforation gauge in January 1884 but with a Crown CA (for Crown Agents) watermark (Scott #67). The stamp bears a portrait of Queen Victoria.
Victoria (Alexandrina Victoria, born on May 24, 1819) was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from June 20, 1837. until her death on January 22, 1901. From May 1, 1876, she adopted the additional title of Empress of India.
Victoria was the daughter of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn, the fourth son of King George III. Both the Duke of Kent and King George III died in 1820, and Victoria was raised under close supervision by her German-born mother Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. She inherited the throne aged 18, after her father’s three elder brothers had all died, leaving no surviving legitimate children. The United Kingdom was already an established constitutional monarchy, in which the sovereign held relatively little direct political power. Privately, Victoria attempted to influence government policy and ministerial appointments; publicly, she became a national icon who was identified with strict standards of personal morality.
Victoria married her first cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, in 1840. Their nine children married into royal and noble families across the continent, tying them together and earning her the sobriquet “the grandmother of Europe”. After Albert’s death in 1861, Victoria plunged into deep mourning and avoided public appearances. As a result of her seclusion, republicanism temporarily gained strength, but in the latter half of her reign her popularity recovered. Her Golden and Diamond Jubilees were times of public celebration.
Her reign of 63 years and seven months is known as the Victorian era. It was a period of industrial, cultural, political, scientific, and military change within the United Kingdom, and was marked by a great expansion of the British Empire. She was the last British monarch of the House of Hanover. Her son and successor, Edward VII, belonged to the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, the line of his father.