About Henry Ogle
Henry Ogle was born in Yorkshire in 1800. He was a mason by trade, and came to South Africa as an unmarried man, aboard the ship 'John' as a member of Charles Mouncey's party of 1820 settlers. They left Liverpool on the 13th January 1820 and arrived, via Cape Town, in Algoa Bay on the 1st May 1820.
Ogle did not settle down, and eventually arrived at Port Natal in May 1824 as a member of the advance party under Henry Francis Fynn, aboard the vessel 'Julia' and were exploring the possibility of trade within the interior for the newly founded Farewell Trading Company - set up by Lt. F. G. Farewell. Ogle was one of the signatories of Shaka's deed of cession of August 1824 which granted the territory round Port Natal to Lt. F. G. Farewell. Ogle established himself as a trader at Port Natal, and in 1835 he assisted Capt. A. F. Gardiner, the naval officer turned missionary to establish a mission on the Berea.
Because of the cruelty of Shaka and Dingane, many of their subjects fled to Port Natal for protection. These refugees attached themselves to some of the white men, whom they then regarded as their chief. In this way Ogle became the chief of the Tholane refugees under the amaThuli chiefdom of Chief Mnini.
Although Henry Ogle married an Englishwoman, named Jane, and had one son whom they named Henry, he fathered many coloured children with the African concubines at his Kraal north of the Umzimkulu river near modern day Umkomaas.
He became a Captain in the defence force organised at the bay in 1837, although he did not take part in the attacks on the Zulus in 1838. He then had a very colourful few years, holding peace talks with Dingane, jailed by the Voortrekkers at Pietermaritzburg in 1839 and again in 1842.
He accompanied Commissioner H. Cloete on his mission to Mpande in 1843, when on October 5th, the boundary between British Natal and Zululand was settled. Ogle and Fynn were the only original settlers who remained to see Natal become a British colony in 1844.
Once the British were firmly settled in Natal, Ogle retired to his Kraal near Umkomaas. He died at Pietermaritzburg on 20th February 1860.
One of Henry Ogles 'coloured' children was Benjamin Ogle, born in 1855, although we have no information regarding the mother, or the actual date of birth.
H. F. FYNN'S diary describes Ogle as a 'mechanic'-one of three who arrived on the Julia in May l. This party organised by Francis Farewell consisted ofsome HottentN servants and Cl crew of about 20. The mechanics were to build a 'factory' in readiness for the later arrival of Farewell and other members of the party. At thi~, time Ogle was 20 years old and one of the only three Englishmen in the party. the others being Fynn and Cane. Ogle had come to the Cape as an 1820 settler of the Mouncy party.
Fynn tells the story of the first night's camp in the rain, when in spite of a smoky fire, they were attacked by 'wolves" and Ogle had to fight to recover from the enemy al! but one leg of his leather trousers with a Dutch 60 dollar note in the pocket; thereafter he helped to beguile the tedium of the long night with his singing. They built a l2-foot 'factory' of wattle and daub where the Durban Post Office now stands. Ogle's and Cane's huts being close by.
After the July 1824 attempt on the life of Shaka and Fynn's share in his recovery. Fynn urged the llewly arrived Farewell to visit Shaka to congratulate him on his recovery. Ogle was one of the party who visited the royal capital near the Mhlatuzi. They perslILtded Shaka to grant them the land called 'Bubolango' about the port, extending LOO miles inland and 25 miles along the coast. A copy of this grant, signed on 71h August 1824. can be seen in the Local History Museum in Durban.
Gradually Ogle and lhe others built up protected refugee areas on the Bluff and around the Bay --from being empty territory it had by 1827 an estimated population of 4000.
When Gardinerarrived in 1835, Ogle lIrgedhim to start the Berca mission overlooking the Bay. He was a member of the first Christian congregation at the Port. Together with Gardiller, James Collis. F. J. Berkin and John Cane he was elected to the first town committee of what was named D'Urban, but as they kept no records we do !lot know the extent of their work. Ogle was also a signatory of the petition of 30 residents of the Port, to request the British to annex the area between the Umzimkulu and Tugela Rivers as 'Victoria Colony'. Ogle accompanied Gardiner on the interesting journey to the Cape in 1835, together with Dick King. George Cyrus. John Wyngart and their servants. As the route along the coast was cut off beyond Faku's country by the generally disturbed conditions resulting from the frontier war of 1834-5, Gardiner's party initially tried unsuccessfully to cross the Drakensberg. After traversing the area now known as U nderberg and then striking southwards they returned to the Mpondo country of Faku. and finding that the hostilities had ceased followed the recognised route.
Back at the Port. Ogle was a signatory to the welcome address to Piet Retief, approving of Trekker settlement in Natal.
After the murder of the Retief party in February 1838, Ogle accompanied Cane's Locusts on a commando expedition of 2000 Durban natives to march against Dingane. Instead they raided a minor chief to retrieve stolen cattle and there was no fighting. Later in the year Ogle refused to participate in Alexander Biggars' second commando expedition though he had been created 'captain' over a contingent of 700 friendly Tuli warriors of Chief Umnini on the Bluff. Without his leadership they defected before the disastrous battle which resulted.
Tmmediately afterwards Dingane's impis attacked the Port in April 1838, occupied it and for nine days spread destruction while the settlers sought refuge on ships or on Salisbury Island in the Bay. When the Comet Icft for Delagoa Bay on the 11th May, only eight or nine men remained to build lip the settlement again. One of them was Henry Ogle. Soon they were reinforced by groups or refugee Trekkers who under Kare1 Landman established three laagcrs around the Bay.
When a small British force under Major Charters briefly occupied Natal in 1838-9 to endeavour to restore peace between the T rekkers and Dingane, and perhaps prevent the formation of a separate Trekker government, Captain Jervis who was left in charge succeeded, through Ogle, in opening negotiations with Dingane. An agreement was reached that the Tugela was to be the recognised boundary between the Zulu and the Trekkers, but the arrangement was never effective because of the Battle of Blood River and the subsequent withdrawal of the British force. Ogle would have met thc young Theophilus Shepstone who was a member of the expedition.
The rest of Ogle's life was quieter and less eventful. He was destined to become the oldest white settler in Natal-the only one of the original settlers to make a permanent home in Natal. Hc died on February 20th, 1860, the anniversary of the day on which he first set foot on Natal soil.
R. E. GORDON
- FYNN, H. E, The Diary of Henry Francis Fynn, ed. by lames Stuart and D.
- McK. Malcolm. Pietermaritzburg, 1969. LUGG, H. C., Historical Natal and Zululand. Pietermaritzburg, 1949. SHIELDS, C., Young South Africa. RUSSELL, R., Natal. The Land and its Story. Pietcrmaritzburg, 1911. BROOKES, E. H. and
- WEBB, C. de B., A History of Natal. Pietermaritzburg, 1965