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South African Settlers - Quakers

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  • Ibrahim de Haan, b1 (c.1699 - c.1735)
    Abram de Haan is mentioned in the book "Hedge of Wild Almonds South Africa, the 'Pro-Boers' & the Quaker Conscience' by Hope Hay Hewison - In a letter from John George Holtz dated 20 March 1728 to Ba...
  • Public Domain,
    Richard Gush, SV/PROG (1789 - 1858)
    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. ...
  • Rev. Thomas Laidman Hodgson (1787 - 1850)
    Memoir of the Rev. Thomas Laidman Hodgson , Wesleyan missionary in South Africa. With copious extracts from his journals (1875) - e-Book The Grahamstown Journal transcription at ...

Early Quakers in South Africa

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"Quakers" is the name most generally used for members of the Religious Society of Friends - the full name is only used for formal or official purposes.

"The Society arose in England during the 1650's when Oliver Cromwell governed the country after executing King Charles and overthrowing the established political and religious order. It was a time of great unrest, not only in public life but also in terms of people's values and beliefs. New and radical ideas were being floated - some of them surprisingly advanced even by today's standards. Out of this atmosphere of enquiry and uncertainty emerged a Leicestershire man - George Fox - who received a direct experience of the presence of God, and realised that this was something which anyone could share, without the need for priests, Churches or theological systems"... ... see full article (


The first Quaker presence in South Africa goes back to 1728. There are 2 letters in friends House Library in London addressed to Benjamin Holme (1682-1750) who was a British Friend who appears to be in correspondence with two Dutch Quakers who were at in Cape Town in the service of the Dutch East India Company.

The first letter dated 20th Mar 1728 is from John George Holtz in which h refers to the difficulties of meeting because they were in the service, but that they did from time to time meet at the chamber of Peter Drewe who was another Friend. Other names mentioned in the letter as being people interested, in conversation with and or convinced by the Quaker beliefs are


  • Abram de Haan
  • Philip Brutten a black man
  • Pan Hertog (son of Philip Britten)
  • Flores Brand

In VOC service

  • Philip Schols

The 2nd letter written in August of 1728 is from someone who signed himself as 'Casimir, thanking Benjamin Holme for books received.

The first Quaker Settlers s in South Africa were Nantucket whalers based in Cape Town in the 19th century. Richard Gush was an early Quaker settler in the Cape, an 1820 Settler, who lived his peace testimony remaining unarmed and making peace with his Xhosa neighbours.

James Backhouse, who was a noted botanist and travelled widely, and George washington Walker, joined the Quaker meeting in Cape Town and established a school for Coloured children in Cape Town under the care of Friends.

Backhouse and Walker arrived in Cape Town on 27 June 1838 and were met by Thomas Laidman Hodgson, a Friend who was in charge of the Wesleyan missions at the Cape.

Another notable Friend living in Cape Town at the time was William Henry Harvey FRS who was a botanist and the colonial treasurer. James Backhouse who was a nurseryman by profession, was a close friend of Harvey.

Around 1870 Isaac Sharp spent many months travelling around to encourage missionaries and Christian workers of all denominations. After his visit British Friends opposed the imperialistic role of Britain in South Africa from 1899 on. Individual Quakers such as Guy Enoch, an engineer in Johannesburg, attempted to avoid the war by discussions with Kruger, Smuts and Reitz; and Francis Fox, a leading British Quaker, visited the Dutch Prime Minister in an attempt to get him to mediate between the British and the Boers, and thereby played a significant role in the chain of events that led to peace negotiations.

Quakers in Britain opposed the Boer war and supported the work of Emily Hobhouse in her work with Boer women and children in the British concentration camps. After the war the Quakers helped collect family bibles that had been looted by British soldiers and taken back home as trophies, and returned them to the original owners when they could be traced.

Quakers supported liberal causes, education, and the general improvement in race relations in South Africa. They set up Quaker Service projects in Johannesburg, Natal and the Cape. In the apartheid years they campaigned against detention without trial, removals, conscription, and supported conscientious objection and non-violence. Quakers in Botswana set up a refugee centre (Kagisong Centre) and initiated the rebuilding of an ANC house destroyed by the South African security forces. The Centre is now a conference centre and they have initiated the building of a women’s shelter.

Quakers in Cape Town supported the work of Steve Biko through an organisation, Friends of the Ciskei, and later supported a peace worker resisting forced removals which eventually led to the formation of the Quaker Peace Centre.


Quakers of Note connected to South African

Cadbury, George 1839 – 1922.

Chocolate maker and entrepreneur; businessman and social reformer, applying the principals of his Quaker faith in business, politics, and his personal life. George Cadbury and his brother Richard introduced a private social security program and improved working conditions (in Bournville) much in advance of their time ... it has been a model for other “garden cities” and “garden suburbs” ... from 1901 he acquired the London Daily News and other newspapers (to express the Liberal Party view.) Member of the South African Conciliation Committee. [ [1 page 25

George Francis Rayner Ellis, FRS, (born August 11, 1939) is the Emeritus Distinguished Professor of Complex Systems in the Department of Mathematics and Applied Mathematics at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. He co-authored The Large Scale Structure of Space-Time with University of Cambridge physicist Stephen Hawking, published in 1973, and is considered one of the world's leading theorists in cosmology.

Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge (born 29 June 1952) is a South African politician who was South Africa's Deputy Minister of Defence from 1999 to April 2004 and Deputy Minister of Health from April 2004 to August 2007.

Professor Hendrik W. (H.W.) van der Merwe (1929-2001) was a South African academic, Quaker, and a pioneer of conflict resolution. He founded the Centre for Intergroup Studies (1968-1990) at the University of Cape Town in South Africa.


The Quakers in South Africa A Social Witness by Tonsing, Betty K.

I have seen copies available but very expensive - CJB

This is an account of the Quakers and their activities in South Africa up through the 20th century. After an overview of early Quaker history in South Africa, it examines their responses to segregation, apartheid, the defiance and resistance campaigns, and their position on sanctions and reconciliation.