President Marthinus Theunis Steyn

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Marthinus Theunis Steyn, b1c8d13e3f1g4

Also Known As: "President Steyn", "President MT Steyn"
Birthdate:
Birthplace: Rietfontein, Winburg, South Africa
Death: Died in Bloemfontein, Free State, South Africa
Immediate Family:

Son of Marthinus Steyn b1c8d13e3f1 and Cecilia Johanna Wessels, b2c2d1e4f3g5
Husband of Rachel Isabella 'Tibbie' FRASER
Father of Colin Fraser Steyn, b1c8d13e3f1g4h1; Gladys Evelyn Steyn, b1c8d13e3f1g4h3; Cecilia Johanna Fichardt; Isabella Gordon Steyn, b1c8d13e3f1g4h4; Emmeline Johanna du Toit and 1 other
Brother of Pieter Gysbert Steyn, b1c8d13e3f1g1; Cecilia Johanna STEYN b1c8d13e3f1g2; Mattheus Hendricus 'Tewie' STEYN b1c8d13e3f1g3; Baba STEYN b1c8d13e3f1g5; Maria Elizabeth 'Mimmie' STEYN b1c8d13e3f1g6 and 3 others

Occupation: Lawyer, prosecutor, State President of the OFS 1896-1902
Managed by: Lodewyk Christiaan Steyn, b1c3d1...
Last Updated:

About President Marthinus Theunis Steyn

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martinus_Theunis_Steyn

Marthinus Theunis Steyn was born at Rietfontein, Winburg on 2 October 1857 and died at Bloemfontein on 28 November 1916.

His father was Marthinus Steyn and his mother Cecilia Wessels. He first attended a farm school and then went to Grey College, Bloemfontein. At the suggestion of Judge James Buchanan he continued his education at Deventer in the Netherlands 1877-1879. Before sitting for the admission examination to the University of Leyden he decided on legal training at the Inner Temple in London, where he was admitted early in the 1880's. In 1882 he was called to the bar. He now returned to Free State and soon had a flourishing practice in Bloemfontein. On 10 March 1887 he married Rachel Isabella (Tibbie) Fraser. His public career began in 1889 with his appointment as Attorney-General. He rose rapidly through the ranks and on 5 May 1892 he was promoted to first criminal judge.

When FW Reitz resigned as president in 1895 Steyn seemed to be the obvious choice for the succession. J.G. Fraser, the other candidate opposed closer cooperation with the South African Republic (ZAR), while Steyn supported it. The Jameson Raid put the result beyond any doubt. Steyn won and was sworn in as president on 4 March 1896. Although he was just 39 years old his decisions and the naturalness with which he adapted to his high position bore testimony to an already mature attitude to life. He also displayed a strong sense of mission and duty.

Closer cooperation with the South African Republic did not exclude cooperation with the rest of South Africa. Steyn believed that, after the Jameson Raid, political feeling in the Cape Colony supported the republics. Sir Alfred Milner, the new British High Commissioner soon challenged this relationship as he was an ardent imperialist. From 1896 onwards he was busy with the strengthening of the loyalty and political cohesion of the English-speaking South Africans and to channeling Uitlander discontent and opposition to Kruger's government. Steyn, however, considered British imperialism a danger to the independence of the Orange Free State. At a conference in Bloemfontein in March 1897, attended by Pres Kruger, Steyn proposed that they should extend the political alliance of 1889 by adding a clause to the effect that the two governments would consult with each other on all matters that could lead to war with Great Britain.

Steyn attempted to persuade the Transvaal government to become more flexible in their policies regarding Uitlander franchise and the dynamite monopoly. In 1899 the situation came to a head when Milner broke off talks with Kruger about the franchise question during the Bloemfontein Conference (31 May-5 June 1899) - a meeting instigated by Steyn. War was now clearly imminent. On 27 September 1899 he presented to the Free State Volksraad a clear and final report on the negotiations and concluded that he would rather lose the independence of the Free State with honour.

During the first months of the war he solved innumerable problems and visited the commandos to encourage his burghers. After the catastrophic surrender of general Piet Cronje at Paardeberg Steyn called on the demoralised burghers to make a determined stand: first at Poplar Grove (07/03/1900) and then at Abrahamskraal (10/03/1900) but without success.

On 13 March Lord Roberts entered Bloemfontein. Steyn and the government had left Bloemfontein on the 12th. At Kroonstad Steyn was chairman of a joint Council of War where Kruger and General Piet Joubert were also present. Here they decided to abolish wagons and to employ mounted commandos in future thus giving the Boers increased mobility.

The OFS government now had to fall back repeatedly before the advance of Lord Roberts. When Bethlehem fell into British hands on 7 July the seat of the government was “in the field.” Steyn and his executive council now remained with De Wet throughout the war.

Steyn often had to intervene when Transvaal wished to open negotiations with the British. In May 1900 he went to Pretoria to encourage a dejected president Kruger. When peace negotiations were mentioned Steyn remained adamant that the war was to continue. At Senekal a deeply upset Steyn heard about Botha’s negotiations with Kitchener at Middelburg (28/02/1901). Although nothing came of this, it was a clear indication that Transvaal’s resolve to continue with the war was again wavering. Steyn met with the Transvaal government at Klipdrif near Vrede and they decided to continue with the struggle. After being informed of another round of negotiation between the ZAR and Kitchener in May 1901 he forcefully protested that the OFS had not been consulted about the meeting with the Transvalers at Waterval.

On 31 October 1900 he rejoined De Wet in the Western Transvaal. and returned with him to the Orange Free State. Near Bothaville they almost fell into the enemy’s hands. In December Steyn accompanied De Wet during his first unsuccessful attempt to invade the Cape Colony. He also accompanied De Wet during his second abortive attempt to invade the Cape Colony in 10 February 1901.

When his term of office expired he insisted that they should hold a presidential election. Steyn was the only candidate and at Doornberg they solemnly administered the oath of office and reconstituted the executive council.

On 11 July 1901, Steyn, through the efforts of Ruiter, his personal servant, managed to evade capture at Reitz. His bodyguard and the members of his government however were captured and he had to reconstitute his cabinet.

Steyn’s official replies to British proclamations were legally well-reasoned, and were worded in a way that encouraged the burghers. On 19 March 1900 the President delivered his answer to Roberts’s annexation of the Free State. In this he solemnly declared that the republic of the Free State still existed, despite the so-called annexation. On 7 August 1901 there was another one of Kitchener’s threatening proclamations in which all who did not surrender before 15 September were threatened with banishment and confiscation of property. In Steyn’s reply of 15 August he pointed out to Kitchener his inadmissible methods of warfare.

After a few Republican victories towards the end of 1901, e.g. Tafelkop (20 December) and Groenkop (25 December) Steyn joined the commando of General de la Rey at Doornspruit in March 1902 to consult Dr von Rennenkampf about his eyes, which showed the first symptoms of the serious disease that subsequently afflicted him. Here Acting President Schalk Burger informed him that the first steps towards final negotiations for peace were under way. On 9 April 1902 the governments of the two republics met at Klerksdorp. Although his legs were already semi-paralysed, his will remained indomitable. His only condition for peace was the retention of independence. When the governments met Kitchener on 12 April at Pretoria it was decided to summon representatives of the burghers in the field, because only the people, according to the constitutions of the republics, could decide the question of their independence. Kitchener was extremely impressed by Steyn and said of him: “He is head and shoulders above the others, and has great influence.” On 15 May, when he arrived at Vereeniging he was almost totally paralysed. He only attended two meetings but Rev J.D. Kestell and his generals kept him informed and consulted him regularly. On 29 May, he left for Kroonstad where medical attention was available. He resigned as president and was thus spared the bitterness of signing the treaty of Vereeniging. By the time his wife joined him on 11 June 1902 he was completely helpless. With the financial aid of friends they left for Europe to seek medical aid for his condition. For the next three years Prof. C. Winkler and various other physicians treated Steyn. In 1903 he had recovered sufficiently to return home where they settled at Onze Rust.

He welcomed self-government in 1907 as the movement for a united South Africa was very dear to him. Steyn was to serve as one of the Free State delegates at the National Convention at Durban in October/November 1908, where he was elected vice-chairman. He exercised great influence both in and out of the conference hall. He was a candidate for the premiership but because of health reasons he declined and retired to his farm. He, however, was not aloof from national affairs. His door was always open and friends and leaders often sought his advice.

On 16 December 1913 the National Women’s Memorial for which he, more than anyone else, had worked, was unveiled in Bloemfontein. On 28 November 1916 he died suddenly while addressing the Oranje Vrouevereniging in the Memorial Hall in Bloemfontein. He is buried at the foot of the Women’s Memorial.

Source: http://www.anglo-boer.co.za/role-players/pres-mt-steyn.php

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Martinus (or Marthinus) Theunis Steyn (October 2, 1857 – 28 November 1916) was a South African lawyer, politician, and statesman, sixth and last president of the independent Orange Free State from 1896 to 1902.

Steyn was born at Winburg in the Orange Free State. After finishing his studies at Grey College, he went to the Netherlands were he studied law at Leiden University. Later he moved to England where he studied at the Inner Temple and was called to the English bar in November 1882. After his return to South Africa he set up practice as barrister in Bloemfontein. In 1889 Steyn was appointed state attorney of the Orange Free State. A few months afterwards he became second puisne judge, and in 1893 first puisne judge of the high court. His decisions won him a reputation for ability and sound judgment.

In 1895, upon the resignation of state president F.W. Reitz, Steyn was the candidate of the pan-Dutch party for the vacant post. The election resulted (February 1896) in a decisive victory for Steyn, and he assumed office as president. The beginning of the South African War (Second Boer War) in 1899, caused Steyn to link the fortunes of his state with those of the Transvaal, allying with them against the British Empire. While the Orange Free State was under British occupation, Steyn ran his government from the field, playing a key role in continuing Boer resistance and the coordination of guerrilla warfare that made up most of the Boer War from 1900 onwards.

Regarded as one of the most irreconcilable of the Boer leaders, he took part, however, in the preliminary peace negotiations at Klerksdorp in April 1902, but was prevented by illness from signing the Treaty of Vereeniging at Pretoria on May 31. The treaty ended the independence of the Orange Free State and Steyn's term as its president. By 1902 Steyn was suffering from myasthenia gravis brought on by his constant exertions; and in July 1902 he sailed for Europe, where he remained until the autumn of 1904.

He then took the oath of allegiance to the British crown, and returning to South Africa partially restored to health resumed an active participation in politics. In 1908-1909 he was vice-president of the Closer Union Convention, where he was distinguished for his statesmanlike and conciliatory attitude, while maintaining the rights of the Boer community. In the South African Union he was a co-founder of the South African Party which he left in 1914 with James Barry Hertzog to found the National Party.

While addressing a meeting in Bloemfontein in November 1916, he collapsed and died, only 59 years old.

Source: Wikipedia

More: http://www.dacb.org/stories/southafrica/steyn_marthinus.html

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Zuid-Afrika: Borstbeeld van Pres. Steyn.

Naar Bloemfontein is verzonden een gipsafgietsel van het borstbeeld van President Steyn, die, in marmer gehouwen, in 't Rijksmuseum te Amsterdam prijkt. Het is een geschenk van den maker Pier Pander en de Ned. Zuid-Afrikaansche Vereeniging aan het Museum in de hoofdstad van den Vrijstaat. Zooals men zich zal herinneren, werd in 1903 Pier Pander door een aantal vrienden en vereerders van President Steyn opgedragen een borstbeeld van dien grooten Afrikaner te maken. In 1904 werd het dezen te Utrecht aangeboden, waar hij voor de eerste maal sedert den vrede van Vereeniging in 't openbaar 't woord voerde. Een copie van dit beeld, dat later door de Nederl. Regeering werd aanvaard om een plaats te erlangen in het Rijksmuseum, vereerde men mevr. Steyn, de trouwe en zorgzame verpleegster, steun en bijstand van haar man. bron: Neerlandia. Jaargang 15. V/h Morks & Geuze, Dordrecht 1911 http://www.dbnl.org/tekst/_nee003191101_01/_nee003191101_01_0032.php

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The town Steynsrus was named after him. *Steynsrus (O 2727 DC). Town in the Lindley district, 44 km southeast of Kroonstad and 43 km north of Senekal. It was founded in 1910 and became a municipality in 1912. Named after Marthinus Theunis Steyn (1857-1916), last President of the Orange Free State. Source: Dictionary of South African Place Names by P.E. Raper

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From the book "Campaign Picutres of the War in South Africa 1899-1900" by A.G. Hales:

President Steyn is a man of a notable type. He is a big man physically, tall and broad, a man of immense strength, but very gentle in his manner, as so many exceptionally strong men are. He has a typical Dutch face, calm, strong, and passionless. A man not easily swayed by outside agencies; one of those persons who think long and earnestly before embarking upon a venture, but, when once started, no human agency would turn him back from the line of conduct he had mapped out for himself. He is no ignorant back-block politician, but a refined, cultured gentleman, who knows the full strength of the British Empire; and, knowing it, he has defied it in all its might, and will follow his convictions to the bitter end, no matter what that end may be. He introduced me to a couple of gentlemen whose names are very dear to the Free Staters, viz., Messrs. Fraser and Fischer, and whilst the interview lasted nothing was talked of but the war, and it struck me very forcibly that not one of those men had any hatred in their hearts towards the British people. "This," said the President, "is not a war between us and the British people on any question of principle; it is a war forced upon us by a band of capitalistic adventurers, who have hoodwinked the British public and dragged them into an unholy, an unjust struggle with a people whose only desire was to live at peace with all men. We do not hate your nation; we do not hate your soldiers, though they fight against us; but we do hate and despise the men who have brought a cruel war upon us for their own evil ends, whilst they try to cloak their designs in a mantle of righteousness and liberty." I may not have given the exact words of the President, as I am writing from memory, but I think I have given his exact sentiments; and, if I am any judge of human nature, the love of his country is the love of his life.

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/16131/16131-h/16131-h.htm

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President Marthinus Theunis Steyn's Timeline

1857
October 2, 1857
Winburg, South Africa
1858
January 24, 1858
1887
March 10, 1887
Age 29
Philippolis, Free State, South Africa
November 27, 1887
Age 30
Bloemfontein, Motheo, Free State, South Africa
1890
December 12, 1890
Age 33
Bloemfontein, Motheo, Free State, South Africa

Source: Selections from the Smuts Papers: Volume VII, August 1945 - October 1950. Page 440: Steyn, Gladys Evelyn. Lawyer and politician. Born 12 December 1890, Bloemfontein, Orange Free State, South Africa; second daughter of President M.T. Steyn (q.v. vol. iv); educated Grey University College, Bloemfontein and in teachers'....

found in Google search on 20130525 by Chris Steyn: http://books.google.nl/books?id=B9W6t3SfRgUC&pg=PA493&lpg=P...

1891
1891
Age 33
1895
1895
Age 37
1896
March 4, 1896
- May 29, 1902
Age 38
1898
January 12, 1898
Age 40
Bloemfontein, Free State, South Africa
1910
1910
Age 52
Steynsrus, Northern Free State, Free State, South Africa

Steynsrus is an agricultural town that was founded in 1910 and named after President Marthinus Theunis Steyn.

Source: Op Pad in Suid-Afrika, by BPJ Erasmus.