British Colonial Developments, 1774-1834

By Vincent Harlow; Frederick Madden | Go to book overview

Government,1 and on the other to promote the cultivation of land by means of free labourers, I have to signify to you His Majesty's pleasure that in any further grants of land which you may have occasion to make in the district of Uitenhage, or in any other settlements either to the northward of that district, or more immediately on the frontiers of Cafferland, you should make it a special condition of the several grants, that the lands so granted should be cultivated by free labourers alone, and that any employment of slaves upon them should render the lands subject to forfeiture.2 . . .


24
SIR THOMAS FOWELL BUXTON TO R. J. WILMOT HORTON, 15 April 18233

Spring Gardens Hotel.

MY DEAR SIR,

A severe indisposition is, I think, some, though a poor, apology for not having performed my promise of writing to you.

On the subject of the line I shall take about slavery, I must confess that my views are not absolutely determined, but, such as they are, I will state them. You will not, however, consider me absolutely and closely bound to them.

The subject divides itself into two parts:-the condition of the existing slaves, and the condition of their children.

With regard to the former, I wish the following improvements.

1. That the slaves should be attached to the island, and, under modifications, to the soil. 2. That they cease to be chattels in the eye of the law. 3. That their testimony be received quantum valeat. 4. That when anyone lays his claim to the services of a negro, the onus probandi should rest on the claimant. 5. That obstructions to manumission should be removed. 6. That the provisions of the

____________________

Donkin acted as Governor in the absence of Lord Charles Somerset between 1820 and 1822 and remained a thorn in Somerset's side when, on his return, he sought to win Boer support by reversing Donkin's measures.

1
In contrast to plantation slavery in the West Indies and Mauritius, observers concluded that domestic slavery at the Cape was different in kind and in degree. Governor Cradock in March I814 ( R.C.C., vol. ix, pp. 451-2) reported that it was of 'a mild nature', but conscious of the abuse of domestic authority and the partiality of the Courts to slave-owners, he recognized the urgent need to admit slaves as witnesses.
2
Somerset sought on his return to limit the operation of this ban to the new English settlers and to Albany alone, instead of allowing it to apply to the frontier districts as a whole. For cases arising from this prohibition see C.O. 48/106.
3
Memoirs of Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton, Lond. 1848, pp. 128-9. Sir T. F. Buxton, M.P., had impressed Wilberforce by his support for Macintosh's reform of the criminal laws, and had been chosen to lead the parliamentary campaign for amelioration that began in 1823. This letter was sent to the Government in readiness for the motion for the gradual abolition of slavery which he introduced on 15 May (see Hansard, vol. ix, 273).

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