The Cape of Good Hope, also known as the Cape Colony (Dutch: Kaapkolonie), was a British colony in present-day South Africa, named after the Cape of Good Hope. The British colony was preceded by an earlier Dutch colony of the same name, the Kaap de Goede Hoop, established in 1652 by the Dutch East India Company. The Cape was under Dutch rule from 1652 to 1795 and again from 1803 to 1806. The Dutch lost the colony to Great Britain following the 1795 Battle of Muizenberg, but had it returned following the 1802 Peace of Amiens. It was re-occupied by the UK following the Battle of Blaauwberg in 1806, and British possession affirmed with the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1814.
The Cape of Good Hope then remained in the British Empire, becoming self-governing in 1872, and uniting with three other colonies to form the Union of South Africa in 1910. It then was renamed the Province of the Cape of Good Hope. South Africa became a sovereign state in 1931 by the Statute of Westminster. In 1961 it became the Republic of South Africa and obtained its own monetary unit called the Rand. Following the 1994 creation of the present-day South African provinces, the Cape Province was partitioned into the Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, and Western Cape, with smaller parts in North West province.
The Cape of Good Hope was coextensive with the later Cape Province, stretching from the Atlantic coast inland and eastward along the southern coast, constituting about half of modern South Africa: the final eastern boundary, after several wars against the Xhosa, stood at the Fish River. In the north, the Orange River, also known as the Gariep River, served as the boundary for some time, although some land between the river and the southern boundary of Botswana was later added to it. From 1878, the colony also included the enclave of Walvis Bay and the Penguin Islands, both in what is now Namibia.
Cape of Good Hope
Kaap de Goede Hoop (Dutch)
The Cape of Good Hope c. 1890
with Griqualand East and Griqualand West annexed
and Stellaland/Goshen (in light red) claimed
|Common languages||English, Dutch (official¹)|
Khoekhoe, Xhosa also spoken
|Religion||Dutch Reformed Church, Anglican, San religion|
|John Charles Molteno|
|John X. Merriman|
|1822||331,900 km2 (128,100 sq mi)|
|1910||569,020 km2 (219,700 sq mi)|
• 1865 census
|Today part of|| Namibia2|
An expedition of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) led by Jan van Riebeeck established a trading post and naval victualing station at the Cape of Good Hope in 1652. Van Riebeeck's objective was to secure a harbour of refuge for Dutch ships during the long voyages between Europe and Asia. Within about three decades, the Cape had become home to a large community of "vrijlieden", also known as "vrijburgers" (free citizens), former VOC employees who settled in Dutch colonies overseas after completing their service contracts. Vrijburgers were mostly married Dutch citizens who undertook to spend at least twenty years farming the land within the fledgling colony's borders; in exchange they received tax exempt status and were loaned tools and seeds. Reflecting the multi-national nature of the early trading companies, the Dutch also granted vrijburger status to a number of former Scandinavian and German employees as well. In 1688 they also sponsored the immigration of nearly two hundred French Huguenot refugees who had fled to the Netherlands upon the Edict of Fontainebleau. There was a degree of cultural assimilation due to intermarriage, and the almost universal adoption of the Dutch language.
Many of the colonists who settled directly on the frontier became increasingly independent and localised in their loyalties. Known as Boers, they migrated westwards beyond the Cape Colony's initial borders and had soon penetrated almost a thousand kilometres inland. Some Boers even adopted a nomadic lifestyle permanently and were denoted as trekboers. The Dutch colonial period was marred by a number of bitter conflicts between the colonists and the Khoisan, followed by the Xhosa, both of which they perceived as unwanted competitors for prime farmland.
Dutch traders imported thousands of slaves to the Cape of Good Hope from the Dutch East Indies and other parts of Africa. By the end of the eighteenth century the Cape's population swelled to about 26,000 people of European descent and 30,000 slaves.
In 1795, France occupied the Seven Provinces of the Netherlands, the mother country of the Dutch East India Company. This prompted Great Britain to occupy the territory in 1795 as a way to better control the seas in order to stop any potential French attempt to reach India. The British sent a fleet of nine warships which anchored at Simon's Town and, following the defeat of the Dutch militia at the Battle of Muizenberg, took control of the territory. The Dutch East India Company transferred its territories and claims to the Batavian Republic (the Revolutionary period Dutch state) in 1798, and went bankrupt in 1799. Improving relations between Britain and Napoleonic France, and its vassal state the Batavian Republic, led the British to hand the Cape of Good Hope over to the Batavian Republic in 1803, under the terms of the Treaty of Amiens.
In 1806, the Cape, now nominally controlled by the Batavian Republic, was occupied again by the British after their victory in the Battle of Blaauwberg. The temporary peace between the UK and Napoleonic France had crumbled into open hostilities, whilst Napoleon had been strengthening his influence on the Batavian Republic (which Napoleon would subsequently abolish later the same year). The British, who set up a colony on 8 January 1806, hoped to keep Napoleon out of the Cape, and to control the Far East trade routes.
The Cape Colony at the time of British occupation was three months’ sailing distance from London. The white colonial population, was small no more than 25,000 in all, scattered across a territory of 100,000 square miles. Most lived in Cape Town and the surrounding farming districts of the Boland, an area favoured with rich soils, a Mediterranean climate and reliable rainfall. Cape Town had a population of 16,000 people.  In 1814 the Dutch government formally ceded sovereignty over the Cape to the British, under the terms of the Convention of London.
The British started to settle the eastern border of the colony, with the arrival in Port Elizabeth of the 1820 Settlers. They also began to introduce the first rudimentary rights for the Cape’s black African population and, in 1834, abolished slavery. The resentment that the Dutch farmers felt against this social change, as well as the imposition of English language and culture, caused them to trek inland en masse. This was known as the Great Trek, and the migrating Boers settled inland, forming the Boer republics of Transvaal and the Orange Free State.
British immigration continued in the Cape, even as many of the Boers continued to trek inland, and the ending of the British East India Company's monopoly on trade led to economic growth. At the same time, the long series of border wars fought against the Xhosa people of the Cape's eastern frontier finally died down when the Xhosa took part in a mass destruction of their own crops and cattle, in the belief that this would cause their spirits to appear and defeat the whites. The resulting famine crippled Xhosa resistance and ushered in a long period of stability on the border.
Peace and prosperity led to a desire for political independence. In 1853, the Cape Colony became a British Crown colony with representative government. In 1854, the Cape of Good Hope elected its first parliament, on the basis of the multi-racial Cape Qualified Franchise. Cape residents qualified as voters based on a universal minimum level of property ownership, regardless of race.
In 1872, after a long political battle, the Cape of Good Hope achieved responsible government under its first Prime Minister, John Molteno. Henceforth, an elected Prime Minister and his cabinet had total responsibility for the affairs of the country. A period of strong economic growth and social development ensued, and the eastern-western division was largely laid to rest. The system of multi-racial franchise also began a slow and fragile growth in political inclusiveness, and ethnic tensions subsided. In 1877, the state expanded by annexing Griqualand West and Griqualand East – that is, the Mount Currie district (Kokstad). The emergence of two Boer mini-republics along the Missionary Road resulted in 1885 in the Warren Expedition, sent to annex the republics of Stellaland and Goshen. Major-General Charles Warren annexed the land south of the (usually dry) Molopo River as the colony of British Bechuanaland and proclaimed a protectorate over the land lying to its north. Vryburg, the capital of Stellaland, became capital of British Bechuanaland, while Mafeking (now Mahikeng), although situated south of the protectorate border, became the protectorate’s administrative centre. The border between the protectorate and the colony ran along the Molopo and Nossob rivers. In 1895 British Bechuanaland became part of the Cape Colony.
However, the discovery of diamonds around Kimberley and gold in the Transvaal led to a return to instability, particularly because they fuelled the rise to power of the ambitious imperialist Cecil Rhodes. On becoming the Cape's Prime Minister in 1890, he instigated a rapid expansion of British influence into the hinterland. In particular, he sought to engineer the conquest of the Transvaal, and although his ill-fated Jameson Raid failed and brought down his government, it led to the Second Boer War and British conquest at the turn of the century. The politics of the colony consequently came to be increasingly dominated by tensions between the British colonists and the Boers. Rhodes also brought in the first formal restrictions on the political rights of the Cape of Good Hope's black African citizens.
The Cape of Good Hope remained nominally under British rule until the formation of the Union of South Africa in 1910, when it became the Province of the Cape of Good Hope, better known as the Cape Province.
The post of High Commissioner for Southern Africa was also held from 27 January 1847 to 6 March 1901 by the Governor of the Cape of Good Hope. The post of Governor of the Cape of Good Hope became extinct on 31 May 1910, when it joined the Union of South Africa.
|No.||Name||Party||Assumed office||Left office|
|1||Sir John Charles Molteno||Independent||1 December 1872||5 February 1878|
|2||Sir John Gordon Sprigg||Independent||6 February 1878||8 May 1881|
|3||Thomas Charles Scanlen||Independent||9 May 1881||12 May 1884|
|4||Thomas Upington||Independent||13 May 1884||24 November 1886|
|—||Sir John Gordon Sprigg (2nd time)||Independent||25 November 1886||16 July 1890|
|5||Cecil John Rhodes||Independent||17 July 1890||3 May 1893|
|—||Cecil John Rhodes (2nd time)||Independent||4 May 1893||12 January 1896|
|—||Sir John Gordon Sprigg (3rd time)||Independent||13 January 1896||13 October 1898|
|6||William Philip Schreiner||Independent||13 October 1898||17 June 1900|
|—||Sir John Gordon Sprigg (4th time)||Progressive Party||18 June 1900||21 February 1904|
|7||Leander Starr Jameson||Progressive Party||22 February 1904||2 February 1908|
|8||John Xavier Merriman||South African Party||3 February 1908||31 May 1910|
The post of prime minister of the Cape of Good Hope also became extinct on 31 May 1910, when it joined the Union of South Africa.
Population Figures for the 1904 Census. Source:
The 1820 Settlers were several groups of white British colonists settled by the government of the Kingdom of Great Britain government and the Cape Colony authorities in the Eastern Cape of South Africa in 1820.Afrikaner Bond
The Afrikaner Bond (Afrikaans and Dutch for "Afrikaner Union"; South African Dutch: Afrikander Bond) was founded as an anti-Imperialist political party in 19th century southern Africa. While its origins were largely in the Orange Free State, it came to have a significant presence across the region, and especially in the Cape Colony and the Transvaal.The Afrikaner Bond was distinct from the later Afrikaner Broederbond which, while similarly named, was a secret cultural organisation formed in the 1918 and was not a political party.Battle of Blaauwberg
The Battle of Blaauwberg, also known as the Battle of Cape Town, fought near Cape Town on 8 January 1806, was a small but significant military engagement. Peace was made under the Treaty Tree in Woodstock. It established British rule in South Africa, which was to have many ramifications for the region during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. A bi-centennial commemoration was held in January 2006.Cape Government Railways
The Cape Government Railways (CGR) was the government-owned railway operator in the Cape Colony from 1874 until the creation of the South African Railways (SAR) in 1910.Chief Justice of South Africa
The Chief Justice of South Africa is the most senior judge of the
Constitutional Court and head of the judiciary of South Africa, who exercises final authority over the functioning and management of all the courts.
The position of Chief Justice was created upon the formation of the Union of South Africa in 1910, with the Chief Justice of the Cape Colony Sir (John) Henry de Villiers (later, John de Villiers, 1st Baron de Villiers) being appointed the first Chief Justice of the newly created Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of South Africa.Dutch Cape Colony
The Cape Colony (Dutch: Kaapkolonie) was a Dutch East India Company colony in Southern Africa, centered on the Cape of Good Hope, whence it derived its name. The original colony and its successive states that the colony was incorporated into occupied much of modern South Africa. Between 1652 and 1691 a Commandment, and between 1691 and 1795 a Governorate of the Dutch East India Company. Jan van Riebeeck established the colony as a re-supply and layover port for vessels of the Dutch East India Company trading with Asia. The Cape came under Dutch rule from 1652 to 1795 and again from 1803 to 1806. Much to the dismay of the shareholders of the Dutch East India Company, who focused primarily on making profits from the Asian trade, the colony rapidly expanded into a settler colony in the years after its founding.
As the only permanent settlement of the Dutch East India Company not serving as a trading post, it proved an ideal retirement place for employees of the company. After several years of service in the company, an employee could lease a piece of land in the colony as een Vryburgher ("a free citizen"), on which he had to cultivate crops that he had to sell to the Dutch East India Company for a fixed price. As these farms were labour-intensive, Vryburghers imported slaves from Madagascar, Mozambique and Asia, which rapidly increased the number of inhabitants. After King Louis XIV of France revoked the Edict of Nantes (October 1685), which had protected the right of Huguenots in France to practise Protestant worship without persecution from the state, the colony attracted many Huguenot settlers, who eventually mixed with the general Vryburgher population.
Due to the authoritarian rule of the Company (telling farmers what to grow for what price, controlling immigration, and monopolising trade), some farmers tried to escape the rule of the company by moving further inland. The Company, in an effort to control these migrants, established a magistracy at Swellendam in 1745 and another at Graaff Reinet in 1786, and declared the Gamtoos River as the eastern frontier of the colony, only to see the Trekboere cross it soon afterwards. In order to avoid collision with the Bantu peoples advancing south, north and west from east central Africa, the Dutch agreed in 1780 to make the Great Fish River the boundary of the colony.
In 1795, after the Battle of Muizenberg in present-day Cape Town, the British occupied the colony. Under the terms of the Peace of Amiens of 1802, Britain returned the colony to the Dutch on 1 March 1803, but as the Batavian Republic had since nationalized the Dutch East India Company (1796), the colony came under the direct rule of The Hague. Renewed Dutch control did not last long, however, as the outbreak of the Napoleonic Wars (18 May 1803) invalidated the Peace of Amiens. In January 1806, the British occupied the colony for a second time after the Battle of Blaauwberg at present-day Bloubergstrand. The Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1814 confirmed the transfer of sovereignty to Great Britain. However most of the Dutch settlers remained in the colony under new leadership of the British.Griqua people
The Griqua (; Afrikaans: Griekwa, sometimes incorrectly referred to as Korana or Koranna) are a subgroup of Southern Africa's heterogeneous and multiracial Coloured people, who have a unique origin in the early history of the Cape Colony.
Similar to the Trekboers, another Afrikaans-speaking group at the time, they originally populated the frontiers of the nascent Cape Colony (founded in 1652). The men of their semi-nomadic society were mobilised into commando units of mounted gunmen, but chose to leave Dutch society. Also like the Boers, they migrated inland from the Cape, and in the 19th century established several states in what are now South Africa and Namibia.
During the apartheid era (1948-1991), officialdom classified the Griqua people as Coloureds, as they mostly originally descended from mixed-race unions between Dutch male colonists and Khoikhoi women, in addition to some Tswana and San women. They have since mostly integrated with other mixed-race populations in South Africa and Namibia.Griqualand East
Griqualand East (Afrikaans: Griekwaland-Oos), officially known as New Griqualand (Dutch: Nieuw Griqualand), was one of four short-lived Griqua states in Southern Africa from the early 1860s until the late 1870s and was located between the Umzimkulu and Kinira Rivers, south of the Sotho Kingdom.Griqualand East's capital, Kokstad, was the final place of settlement for a people who had migrated several times on their journey from the Cape of Good Hope and over the mountains of present-day Lesotho.
The territory was occupied by the British Empire and became a colony in 1874, shortly before the death of its founder and only leader, Adam Kok III. A short while later, the small territory was incorporated into the neighbouring Cape Colony. Though for a long time overshadowed in history by the story of the Voortrekkers, the trek of the Griquas has been described as "one of the great epics of the 19th century."Griqualand West
Griqualand West is an area of central South Africa with an area of 40,000 km² that now forms part of the Northern Cape Province. It was inhabited by the Griqua people - a semi-nomadic, Afrikaans-speaking nation of mixed-race origin, who established several states outside the expanding frontier of the Cape Colony. It was also inhabited by the pre-existing Tswana and Khoisan peoples.
In 1873 it was proclaimed as a British colony, with its capital at Kimberley, and in 1880 it was annexed by the Cape Colony. When the Union of South Africa was formed in 1910, Griqualand West was part of the Cape Province but continued to have its own "provincial" sports teams.Griquas (rugby)
Griquas (known as the Tafel Lager Griquas for sponsorship reasons since February 2017) are a South African rugby union team that participates in the annual Currie Cup tournament. Their home ground is Griqua Park in Kimberley and they draw their players mostly from Northern Cape Province. They have won the Currie Cup three times – in 1899, 1911 and 1970 – and the Vodacom Cup a joint-record five times.History of the Cape Colony before 1806
The written history of the Cape Colony in what is now South Africa began when Portuguese navigator Bartolomeu Dias became the first modern European to round the Cape of Good Hope in 1488. In 1497, Vasco da Gama sailed along the whole coast of South Africa on his way to India, landed at St Helena Bay for 8 days, and made a detailed description of the area. The Portuguese, attracted by the riches of Asia, made no permanent settlement at the Cape Colony. However, the Dutch East India Company (VOC) settled the area as a location where vessels could restock water and provisions.Invasion of the Cape Colony
The Invasion of the Cape Colony was a British military expedition launched in 1795 against the Dutch Cape Colony at the Cape of Good Hope, the southern tip of Southern Africa. The Dutch colony at the Cape, established in the seventeenth century, was at the time the only viable South African port for ships making the journey from Europe to the European colonies in the East Indies. It therefore held vital strategic importance, although it was otherwise economically insignificant. In the winter of 1794, during the French Revolutionary Wars, French troops entered the Dutch Republic, which was reformed into the Batavian Republic. In response, Great Britain launched operations against the Dutch Empire to use its facilities against the French Navy.
The British expedition was led by Vice-Admiral Sir George Keith Elphinstone and sailed in April 1795, arriving off Simon's Town at the cape in June. Attempts were made to negotiate a settlement with the colony, but talks achieved nothing and an amphibious landing was made on 7 August. A short battle was fought at Muizenberg, and skirmishing between British and Dutch forces continued until September when a larger military force landed. With Cape Town under threat, Dutch governor, Abraham Josias Sluysken, surrendered the colony. Elphinstone subsequently strengthened the garrison against counterattack and stationed a Royal Navy squadron off the port. Almost a year later a Dutch reinforcement convoy reached the colony only to find that it was badly outnumbered, and surrendered without a fight. The British occupation continued until the Peace of Amiens in 1802 when it was returned to the Dutch. In 1806, during the Napoleonic Wars, a second British invasion reoccupied the colony after the Battle of Blaauwberg and it remained a British colony until the establishment of the Union of South Africa in 1910.John Charles Molteno
Sir John Charles Molteno (5 June 1814 – 1 September 1886) was a soldier, businessman, champion of responsible government and the first Prime Minister of the Cape Colony.Khoikhoi
The Khoikhoi (updated orthography Khoekhoe, from Khoekhoegowab Khoekhoen [kxʰoekxʰoen]; formerly also Hottentots) are the traditionally nomadic pastoralist non-Bantu indigenous population of southwestern Africa. They are grouped with the hunter-gatherer San under the compound term Khoisan.While it is clear that the presence of the Khoikhoi in southern Africa predates the Bantu expansion, it is not certain by how much, possibly in the Late Stone Age, or displaced by the Bantu expansion to Southeastern Africa.
The Khoikhoi maintained large herds of Nguni cattle in the Cape region at the time of
Dutch colonisation in the 17th century. Their nomadic pastoralism was mostly discontinued in the 19th to 20th century.Their Khoekhoe language is related to certain dialects spoken by foraging San peoples of the Kalahari, such as the Khwe and Tshwa, forming the Khoe language family.
The two main Khoikhoi subdivisions today are the Nama people of Namibia, Botswana and South Africa (with numerous subtribes) and the Damara of Namibia. Their total number is estimated at close to 300,000 people.The Griqua people are a mixed-raced population in South Africa, of partial Khoikhoi and partial European ancestry. They developed their own ethnic identity in the 19th century and settled in Griqualand.Khoikhoi–Dutch Wars
The Khoikhoi–Dutch Wars were a series of conflicts that took place in the last half of the 17th century in what was known then as the Cape of Good Hope (today it refers to a smaller geographic spot), in the area of present-day Cape Town, South Africa, between Dutch settlers who came from the Netherlands and the local African people, the indigenous Khoikhoi, who had lived in that part of the world for millennia.
The arrival of the permanent settlements of the Dutch, under the Dutch East India Company, at the Cape of Good Hope in 1652 brought them into the land of the local people, such as the Khoikhoi (called Hottentots by the Dutch), and the Bushmen (also known as the San). While the Dutch traded with the Khoikhoi, nevertheless serious disputes broke out over land ownership and livestock. This resulted in attacks and counter-attacks by both sides which were known as the Khoikhoi–Dutch Wars that ended in the eventual defeat of the Khoikhoi (who also succumbed to the diseases that the White settlers brought, such as measles and smallpox.) The First Khoikhoi-Dutch War took place in 1659, the second in 1673, the third 1674 - 1677.Ndwandwe
The Ndwandwe are a Bantu Nguni-speaking people who populate sections of southern Africa.
The Ndwandwe, with the Mthethwa, were a significant power in present-day Zululand at the turn of the nineteenth century. Under the leadership of King Zwide, the Ndwandwe nation destroyed the Mthethwa under their king Dingiswayo, and the power vacuum was filled by Shaka and his then small Zulu tribe. In a common front against the Ndwandwe, Shaka collected the remains of the Mthethwa and other regional tribes, and survived the first encounter of the Zulu Civil War with Zwide at the Battle of Gqokli Hill in 1818.
In 1819, Zwide made another expedition against the Zulus, but Shaka again changed his tactics, letting the Ndwandwe army penetrate his territory and responding with guerrilla warfare. Shortage of supplies caused the Ndandwe to return home, but when they were crossing the river Mhlatuze in early 1820, their forces were split and defeated at the Battle of Mhlatuze River.
This led to the disintegration of the Ndwandwe nation as Zwide's generals and sons led sections of the Ndwandwe northwards. One such group, under Soshangane, formed the Gaza Empire in present-day central Mozambique while another, under Zwangendaba, established rule as the waNgoni in present-day Malawi. Others established themselves as chiefs of note in Swaziland and Zambia to create a Ndwandwe legacy of enduring power that is scattered across Southern Africa.
They speak Nguni dialects and their nations’ official languages are English in Zambia and Zimbabwe, and Portuguese in Mozambique.Progressive Party (Cape Colony)
The Progressive Party of the Cape Colony, was a political party in the Cape Parliament that was primarily composed of and supported by British immigrants to the Cape. It supported pro-British, pro-Imperialist policies, and was in power from 1900 until 1908.Responsible government
Responsible government is a conception of a system of government that embodies the principle of parliamentary accountability, the foundation of the Westminster system of parliamentary democracy. Governments (the equivalent of the executive branch) in Westminster democracies are responsible to parliament rather than to the monarch, or, in a colonial context, to the imperial government, and in a republican context, to the president, either in full or in part. If the parliament is bicameral, then the government is responsible first to the parliament's lower house, which is more representative than the upper house, as it has more members and they are always directly elected.
Responsible government of parliamentary accountability manifests itself in several ways. Ministers account to Parliament for their decisions and for the performance of their departments. This requirement to make announcements and to answer questions in Parliament means that ministers must have the privileges of the "floor", which are only granted to those who are members of either house of Parliament. Secondly, and most importantly, although ministers are officially appointed by the authority of the head of state and can theoretically be dismissed at the pleasure of the sovereign, they concurrently retain their office subject to their holding the confidence of the lower house of Parliament. When the lower house has passed a motion of no confidence in the government, the government must immediately resign or submit itself to the electorate in a new general election.
Lastly, the head of state is in turn required to effectuate their executive power only through these responsible ministers. They must never attempt to set up a "shadow" government of executives or advisors and attempt to use them as instruments of government, or to rely upon their "unofficial" advice. They are bound to take no decision or action that is put into effect under the colour of their executive power without that action being as a result of the counsel and advisement of their responsible ministers. Their ministers are required to counsel them (i.e., explain to them and be sure they understand any issue that they will be called upon to decide) and to form and have recommendations for them (i.e., their advice or advisement) to choose from, which are the ministers' formal, reasoned, recommendations as to what course of action should be taken.
An exception to this is Israel, which operates under a simplified version of the Westminster system.South African Party (Cape Colony)
The South African Party was a political party in Cape Colony.
Other South African governments
Political history of South Africa