Basutoland was a British Crown colony established in 1884 due to the Cape Colony's inability to control the territory. It was divided into seven administrative districts: Berea, Leribe, Maseru, Mohale's Hoek, Mafeteng, Qacha's Nek and Quthing.[2]

Basutoland was renamed the Kingdom of Lesotho upon its independence from the United Kingdom on 4 October 1966.


Flag of Basutoland

Location of Basutoland
StatusSovereign State 1822-1884 Crown Colony under partial local rule 1884-1966
GovernmentConstitutional monarchy
Paramount Chief or Monarch 
• 1822-1870
Moshoeshoe I (before Basutoland became a British colony)
• 1870-1884 (independent period of Letsie I’s reign)
Letsie I
• 1884–1901
Victoria (after Basutoland became a British colony)
• 1952–1966
Elizabeth II
• 1884–1894
Marshal Clarke
• 1961–1965
Alexander Giles
Paramount Chief 
• 1884-1891 (non-independent period of reign)
Letsie I
• 1891-1905
Lerotholi Letsie I
• 1905-1913
Letsie II
• 1913-1939
Nathaniel Griffith Lerotholi
• 1939-1960
Simon Seeiso Griffith
• 1960-1966 (afterwards as King of Lesotho)
Moshoeshoe II
• British territory
12 March 1868
3 November 1871
18 March 1884
4 October 1966
• Established
• Disestablished
• Total
30,355 km2 (11,720 sq mi)
• 1875
• 1904
Today part ofLesotho


Between 1856 and 1868 the Basuto engaged in conflict with the Orange Free State.[2] Their King, Moshoeshoe I, sought British protection.[2] On 29 August 1865, he wrote to Sir Philip Wodehouse, the Governor of Cape Colony: [2]

I am giving myself and my country up to Her Majesty's Government under certain conditions which we may agree on between your Excellency and me.

In July 1866, after referring to the former letter, the Chief said: [2]

All those things I have given up into your hands the last year..., they are still yours. I still continue to be the humble servant of Her Majesty.

1963 Basutoland R1 mohair
Postage stamp with portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, 1963

Eventually, in January 1868, the Governor received a document dated 9 December 1867, signed by the Secretary of State for the Colonies, authorizing the annexation of Basutoland to the Colony of Natal (not to the Cape as Wodehouse had wished).[2] On 12 March 1868, a proclamation declared the Basotho to be British subjects and Basutoland to be British territory.[3] It was not in fact annexed to Natal but rather placed under the direct authority of the High Commissioner for South Africa. Three years later, it was annexed to the Cape Colony by Act No. 12 of 1871 of the Parliament of the Cape of Good Hope, confirmed by Order in Council of 3 November 1871.[2] Cape Colony rule proved unpopular with the people, and by an Order in Council dated 2 February 1884, and brought into force on 18 March 1884,[4] royal assent was given to a Cape bill repealing the Act of 1871. Basutoland was thus brought under the direct authority of the Queen, with legislative and executive powers vested in the High Commissioner.[2]

Executive branch

Basutoland's Executive Council members were the resident commissioner, who presided, three ex-officio members and four council members from the Basutoland National Council, appointed by the resident commissioner, one by the Paramount Chief and three nominated by the Council itself, selected by secret ballot.

Legislative branch

The legislative council, known as the Basutoland National Council, consisted of a non-voting President appointed by the Resident Commissioner, four official members (ex officio), twenty-two Chiefs, forty elected members elected by District Councils, and fourteen nominated members appointed by the Resident Commissioner on the nomination of the Paramount Chief. The Resident Commissioner had the right to address the Council.

The Commissioner had authority to make laws by Proclamation on certain subjects, such as external affairs, defence and the public service. These matters were excluded from the powers of the National Council, but the Commissioner was required to lay a draft of any Proclamation before the Council and to consider their observations. The Constitution made special provision regarding particular objections made by the Council.

Paramount Chief

There was a College of Chiefs of Basutoland whose function related to matters pertaining to the offices of the Paramount Chief, Chief and Headman. Their decisions and recommendations were submitted for acceptance to the Paramount Chief. They were subject to review by the High Court.

The Constitution vested a number of functions in the Paramount Chief. In exercising these, he was required in most cases to consult either with the Executive Council or with the Resident Commissioner, a Council member of the Executive and a member of the Basuto Nation appointed by himself.

Land in Basutoland was vested by the Constitution in the Paramount Chief in trust for the Basuto Nation, subject to lawfully acquired rights.


Considering the extensive area of uninhabitable mountain land it contained, the territory supported a large population. The inhabitants increased from 128,206 in 1875, to 348,848 in 1904. Women outnumbered men by about 20,000, which was, however, about the number of adult men away from the country at any given period. The majority lived in the district between the Maloti mountains and the Caledon river. The great bulk of the people were Basuto, but there were some thousands of Barolong. The White inhabitants in 1904 numbered 895. The seat of government was Maseru, on the left bank of the Caledon, with a population of about 1,000 including some 100 Europeans. There were numerous mission stations throughout Basutoland, to several of which Biblical names have been given, such as Shiloh, Hermon, Cana, Bethesda, and Berea.


British Resident Commissioners

Incumbent Tenure Notes
Took office Left office
Sir Marshal James Clarke 18 March 1884 18 September 1894 Afterwards Resident Commissioner in Zululand, 1894
Godfrey Yeatman Lagden 18 September 1894 1895
Sir Herbert Cecil Sloley 1895
Godfrey Yeatman Lagden 1895 1901
Sir Herbert Cecil Sloley 1902 1903
James MacGregor 1913
Sir Herbert Cecil Sloley 1913 1916
Robert Thorne Coryndon 1916 1917 Afterwards Governor of Uganda, 1918
Edward Charles Frederick Garraway 1917 Apr 1926
John Christian Ramsay Sturrock Apr 1926 Mar 1935
Sir Edmund Charles Smith Richards Mar 1935 Aug 1942 Afterwards Governor of Nyasaland, 1942
Sir Charles Noble Arden-Clarke Aug 1942 Nov 1946 Afterwards Governor of Sarawak, 1946
Aubrey Denzil Forsyth-Thompson Nov 1946 24 October 1951
Edwin Porter Arrowsmith 24 October 1951 Sep 1956
Alan Geoffrey Tunstal Chaplin Sep 1956 1961
Alexander Falconer Giles 1961 30 April 1965

Chief Justices

The Chief Justice was the Chief Justice of the High Commission Territories (Basutoland, Bechuanaland Protectorate and Swaziland).[5] From 1951 the Chief Justices were:

Incumbent Tenure Notes
Took office Left office
Walter Harragin 1951 1952
Harold Curwen Willan 1952 1956
Herbert Charles Fahie Cox 1957 1960
Peter Watkin-Williams 1961 1966


  1. ^ Census of the British empire. 1901. London: HMSO. 1906. p. 160.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Roberts-Wray, Sir Kenneth (1966). Commonwealth and Colonial Law. London: F.A. Praeger. p. 830.
  3. ^ Tylden, G. (1950). The Rise of the Basuto. Juta. p. 107.
  4. ^ S.R.O. & S.I. Rev. III, 79
  5. ^ "Bechuanaland Colonial Administrators c.1884-c.1965". Retrieved 27 February 2016.

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Basutoland" . Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.

External links

Coordinates: 29°31′00″S 27°48′00″E / 29.5167°S 27.8000°E

Basotho National Party

The Basotho National Party is a political party in Lesotho, founded in the 1959 as the Basutoland National Party by Leabua Jonathan. He was Prime Minister from 1965 until the coup of 1986.

In the 1993 general election, the BNP received almost 23% of the vote but did not win any seats in the National Assembly, with all 65 seats going to the party's rival, the Basotho Congress Party (BCP). It suffered a similar defeat in the May 1998 parliamentary election, in which it won 24.5% of the vote but only one seat in the National Assembly. Due to its lack of success in winning constituencies, the party sought the introduction of proportional representation in deciding the allocation of seats; as a compromise, a mixed system providing for 40 compensatory seats that would be decided through proportional representation (in addition to the 80 constituency seats) was introduced.Justin Lekhanya, the leader of the 1986 coup, was elected as Party Leader of the BNP at its Conference in March 1999. In the election for the National Assembly held on 25 May 2002, the party won 21 compensatory seats through proportional representation with 22.4% of the vote. Since then, the party has been rocked by internal squabbles which have seen it fail to provide an effective opposition within the Lesotho parliament. In the 17 February 2007 parliamentary election, the party won only 3 out of 120 seats. Its headquarters is in Maseru, The capital city.

Basuto Gun War

The Gun War, also known as the Basuto War, was an 1880-1881 conflict in the British territory of Basutoland (present-day Lesotho) in Southern Africa, fought between Cape Colony forces and rebellious Basotho chiefs over the right of natives to bear arms. Although officially considered a stalemate, the final settlement favoured the Basotho.

Basutoland African Congress

The Basutoland African Congress is a political party in Lesotho.

At the last elections for the National Assembly, 25 May 2002, the party won 2.9% of popular votes and 3 out of 120 seats.

Basutoland Congress Party

The Basutoland Congress Party is a pan-africanist and left-wing political party in Lesotho.

The Basutoland African Congress (BAC) was founded in 1952 by Ntsu Mokhehle and Potlako Leballo. The party was renamed the Basutoland Congress Party (BCP) in 1957 and retained this name after independence in 1966, stating that Lesotho was not truly independent. Leballo left the party in 1959 to form the Pan Africanist Congress of South Africa (PAC).

The BCP lost the 1965 election but won in 1970. It was denied power by a military coup in support of the defeated prime minister Leabua Jonathan Molapo.

In 1974, following an unsuccessful rising, the BCP sent 178 men for military training by the PAC in Libya. In 1979 they began a guerrilla war as the Lesotho Liberation Army (LLA).

The party won a landslide victory at the 1993 legislative elections, and its leader Ntsu Mokhehle became prime minister. Mokhehle left the party in 1997 with his faction to form the Lesotho Congress for Democracy. The BCP was led by Tseliso Makhakhe, Qhobela Molapo, Ntsukunyane Mphanya and (currently) Thulo Mahlakeng.

At the last elections for the National Assembly, 25 May 2002, the party won 2.6% of the vote and 3 out of 120 seats.

Cape of Good Hope General Service Medal

The Cape of Good Hope General Service Medal is a British campaign medal which was awarded to members of the Cape Colonial Forces who took part in three campaigns in and around the Cape of Good Hope, in Basutoland in 1880–1881, in Transkei in 1880–1881 and in Bechuanaland in 1896–1897.


Fabrosaurus ( FAB-ro-SAWR-əs; meaning "Fabre's lizard" in honor of Jean Fabre, a French geologist and a colleague of Ginsburg on the expedition that collected the fossil in Basutoland, Southern Africa ; Greek sauros "lizard")) was a genus of herbivorous dinosaur which lived during the Early Jurassic (Hettangian to Sinemurian stages 199 - 189 mya).

High Commissioner for Southern Africa

The British office of high commissioner for Southern Africa was responsible for governing British possessions in Southern Africa, latterly the protectorates Basutoland (now Lesotho), the Bechuanaland Protectorate (now Botswana) and Swaziland (now Eswatini), as well as for relations with autonomous governments in the area.

The office was combined with that of Governor of Cape Colony from 1847 to 1901, with that of the governor of Transvaal Colony 1901 to 1910, and with that of Governor-General of South Africa from 1910 to 1931. The British government appointed the Governor-General as High Commissioner under a separate commission. In addition to responsibility for Basutoland, Bechuanaland and Swaziland, he held reserve powers concerning the interests of the native population of Southern Rhodesia. The post was abolished on 1 August 1964.

History of Lesotho

The history of people living in the area now known as Lesotho () goes back as many as 40,000 years. The present Lesotho (then called Basutoland) emerged as a single polity under paramount chief Moshoeshoe I in 1822. Under Moshoeshoe I, Basutoland joined other tribes in their struggle against the Lifaqane associated with the reign of Shaka Zulu from 1818 to 1828.

Subsequent evolution of the state was shaped by contact with the British and Dutch colonists from Cape Colony. Missionaries invited by Moshoeshoe I developed orthography and printed works in the Sotho language between 1837 and 1855. The country set up diplomatic channels and acquired guns for use against the encroaching Europeans and the Korana people. Territorial conflicts with both British and Boer settlers arose periodically, including Moshoeshoe's notable victory over the Boers in the Free State–Basotho War, but the final war in 1867 with an appeal to Queen Victoria, who agreed to make Basutoland a British suzerainty. In 1869, the British signed a treaty at Aliwal with the Boers that defined the boundaries of Basutoland and later Lesotho, which by ceding the western territories effectively reduced Moshoeshoe's kingdom to half its previous size.

The extent to which the British exerted direct control over Basutoland waxed and waned until Basutoland's independence in 1966, when it became the Kingdom of Lesotho. However, when the ruling Basotho National Party (BNP) lost the first post-independence general elections to the Basotho Congress Party (BCP), Leabua Jonathan refused to cede and declared himself Tona Kholo (Sesotho translation of prime minister). The BCP began an insurrection that culminated in a January 1986 military coup forced the BNP out of office. Power was transferred to King Moshoeshoe II, until then a ceremonial monarch, but forced into exile when he lost favour with the military the following year. His son was installed as King Letsie III. Conditions remained tumultuous, including an August 1994 self-coup by Letsie III, until 1998 when the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) came to power in elections which were deemed fair by international observers. Despite protests from opposition parties, the country has remained relatively stable since.

List of ambassadors of the United States to Lesotho

This is a list of ambassadors of the United States to Lesotho.

Prior to 1965, the area of southern Africa that is now Lesotho was a Crown colony by the name of Basutoland. Along with most of the empire's other colonies and protectorates, Basutoland gained full independence from Britain in the 1960s. The nation was granted full autonomy on April 30, 1965. On October 4, 1966, Basutoland was granted independence, governed by a constitutional monarchy with a bicameral parliament. At the same time the name of the country was changed to The Kingdom of Lesotho.

The United States immediately recognized Lesotho after the nation gained its independence. An embassy in Maseru was established on October 4, 1966, Lesotho's independence day. Richard St. F. Post was appointed as chargé d'affaires ad interim pending the arrival of an ambassador. The first ambassador, Charles J. Nelson was appointed on June 9, 1971.

List of monarchs of Lesotho

This article list the monarchs of Lesotho (also known as Basutoland until 1966).

Marematlou Freedom Party

The Marematlou Freedom Party (MFP) is a political party in Lesotho.

National Assembly (Lesotho)

The National Assembly is the lower chamber of Lesotho's bicameral Parliament.

National University of Lesotho

The National University of Lesotho is in Roma, some 34 kilometers southeast of Maseru, the capital of Lesotho. The Roma valley is broad and is surrounded by a barrier of rugged mountains which provides magnificent scenery. The university enjoys a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. The governing body of the University is the Council and academic policy is in the hands of Senate, both Council and Senate being established by the Act.

No. 72 Squadron RAF

No. 72 Squadron Royal Air Force is currently a training squadron based at RAF Linton-on-Ouse using the Short Tucano T.1, a modified version of the Brazilian Embraer EMB-312 Tucano training aircraft. 72 Squadron started its service life supporting the army during World War I on operations in Middle East and afterwards was quickly disbanded. In its second incarnation the squadron was a real fighter unit, transitioning from Gloster Gladiator biplanes to Gloster Javelin all-weather jets, in between flying the Supermarine Spitfire during the Battle of Britain. The jets went in 1961 and from then till 2002 the squadron flew helicopters in the transport role.

The squadron nickname, "Basutoland", is derived from the fact that during both world wars, the Basutoland Protectorate, now Lesotho, donated aircraft to RAF, which were assigned to No. 72 Squadron.

Postage stamps and postal history of Lesotho

This is a survey of the postage stamps and postal history of Lesotho, formerly known as Basutoland.

Revenue stamps of Basutoland and Lesotho

Basutoland, now known as Lesotho, first issued revenue stamps in 1900 and continues to do so.

Rugby union in Lesotho

Rugby union in Lesotho, and its predecessor Basutoland is a minor but growing sport.

Senate (Lesotho)

The Senate of Lesotho (Sotho: Senate ea Lesotho) is the upper chamber of the Parliament of Lesotho, which along with the National Assembly of Lesotho — the lower chamber — comprises the legislature of Lesotho.The current Senate has a total of 33 members. 22 are hereditary tribal chiefs and 11 are nominated by the King through the Prime minister's advice. Members serve five-year terms.

Mamonaheng Mokitimi is the current president of the Senate. She succeeded Prince Seeiso Bereng Seeiso.


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