Richard Gush, SV/PROG

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Richard Gush, SV/PROG

Birthdate: (69)
Birthplace: Beer, Devon, England, United Kingdom
Death: September 29, 1858 (69)
Woodbury, Salem, Eastern Cape, South Africa
Immediate Family:

Son of Thomas Gush and Mary Gush
Husband of Margaret Gush, SM/PROG
Father of Mary Hannah Amm, b1; Margaret Gush, b2; Richard Thomas Gush, b3; Joseph Evans Gush, b4; Joseph Gush, b5 and 5 others
Brother of John Gush; Aaron Gush; Mary Webb, SV/PROG; Elizabeth Ann Harvey; Thomas Gush and 2 others

Managed by: Patricia Ann Seaton
Last Updated:

About Richard Gush, SV/PROG

1820 British Settler

Richard Gush 30, Carpenter, together with his wife Margaret Evans 29, and their 3 children, were members of his (Gush's Party) on the Brilliant.

Party originated from London.

Departed Gravesend 15 February 1820. Arrived Simon's Bay 30 April 1820. Final Port - Algoa Bay, Port Elizabeth on 15 May 1820.

Area Allocated to the Party Assegai Bush River - Salem

Children :

  • Mary Hannah Gush 6
  • Richard Thomas Gush 2
  • Joseph Evans Gush 1 (died at sea)


During the sixth Kaffir War, Richard Gush, through his courageous conduct, single handed averted possible annihilation to the inhabitants of Salem. Against the advice of the majority of the people seeking protection in the village of Salem, and turning a deaf ear to the pleas of his family, he rode out unarmed to meet the hundreds of Kaffirs who had surrounded the Town and were all ready to make their attack. His son-in-law and two other young men, unarmed followed him at a distance. Dismounting in front of the astonished enemy, he removed his coat to show he was unarmed, and boldly called upon their leader to step forward. So astonished and impressed by his courage, that they refrained from falling upon him and killing him, and immediately called for their leader. After a lengthy council they agreed not to attack the village if Gush would ride back, collect certain gifts, and return with them to the meeting place, still alone and unarmed. These demands Gush coolly carried out in detail, whereupon the Kaffirs filled with wonder and amazement at his courage and faith in them withdrew without further trouble and Salem was saved.


From an article by Natalie da Silva - 'The Return of precious bible to South African Families'

"Among the well-known Quakers in the Eastern Cape was a Methodist lay-preacher, Richard Gush, a British Settler of 1820 who had become a Quaker. He is remembered for refusing to bear arms against the Xhosa".


Richard Gush (1789–1858) was an 1820 Settler. Originally from Beer, a village in Devon, England, he settled in Salem, near Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. He earned renown by saving Salem from Xhosa warriors. A devout Quaker, he rode to meet them unarmed. After negotiating with them, they never attacked the village again, having previously stolen cattle.

These events inspired Guy Butler to write Richard Gush of Salem, a play that was commissioned by the Cape Performing Arts Board in 1968 for performance in 1970 as part of the celebrations of 150th anniversary of the 1820 Settlers' arrival. It was subsequently made into a movie.

Gush was a carpenter and built Salem's first church. Only after building the church did he build his house: indeed he and his family lived in a cave for their first seven years in South Africa.

A sports house at Westering High School, Port Elizabeth is named in his honour.

From "Hedge of Wild Almonds" South Africa, the 'Pro-Boers' & the Quaker Conscience by Hope Hay Hewison. page 10

One of the 1820 settlers was a Devon born Wesleyan convert named Richard Gush who emigrated with his wife to the Albany district. In London he had known friend Richard Barrett, who took him to the Friends' Tract Depository to select literature to take with him. Gush Settled in Salem, near Grahamstown, and became a travelling trader and a Methodist local preacher. He lost all his cattle and possessions through flood and theft. Although he "lost the gift of preaching' he subsequently became even more deeply concerned about his fellow men and especially the slaves. Because of the success of Quakerism in respect of the slavery he became more interested in Quakerism itself, reading any works available. He became a a convinced Friend, "alone and solitary" worshipping silently and trying to put his beliefs into practice, but also trying to remain on good terms with the Methodists who were expanding at the time.

On one occasion when his cattle were stolen he did not report it to the authorities, fearing the reprisals. During the "Caffre War" he did not seek the protection of Grahamstown, although he did take his family in iduring the 1841 troubles. He stayed out minding his cattle unarmed. When a band of Xhosa threatened him he rode out to meet them unarmed, and when he became aware that their intention was to steal again he gave them some of his personal supplies.

He was against drink - seeing the effect on his fellow settlers. He objected to mourning and planned to visit Britain but died before he could do so. When he died his family did not go into mourning out of respect. He was known as Quaker Gush and a plaque in his memory was unveiled in 1959 at Salem.

London Metropolitan Archives (Non Conformist Baptisms): Mary Hannah, daughter of Richard and Margaret GUSH born 20 February 1813 in the parish of Christchurch and registered 28 March 1813 in Great Queen Street Wesleyan Chapel, Holborn Richard Thomas, son of Richard and Margaret GUSH born 22 August 1817 in St.Bartholomew's Parish and registered 30 November 1817 in Great Queen Street Wesleyan Chapel, Holborn.

Probate Record:

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Richard Gush, SV/PROG's Timeline

April 24, 1789
Beer, Devon, England, United Kingdom
February 22, 1813
Age 23
London, Middlesex, England UK
July 17, 1815
Age 26
August 21, 1817
Age 28
September 4, 1819
Age 30
March 4, 1821
Age 31
Cape, South Africa
February 10, 1824
Age 34
Cape, South Africa
Age 36
May 27, 1828
Age 39