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The Meikle Brothers - Rhodesian Pioneers.

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The Meikle Brothers - Rhodesian Pioneers.

The Meikle brothers, Thomas, John (Jack) and Stewart, are not mentioned in “Many Treks Made Rhodesia: by SJ Olivier. They travelled to Rhodesia as traders, probably accompanied by Cecil and his brother John Wallace. There have been references to a Trek led by the brothers, but this seems unlikely, and to date is unsubstantiated.

The object of this project is to research the Meikle brothers' story as fully as possible, linking them to others on GENi.

The Meikle brothers established the financial giant Meikles in Southern Rhodesia. They arrived at Fort Victoria on 7th May 1891 and subsequently set up stores, built hotels, established mines and staked ranches in the territory.

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Please contact June Barnes if you can add to the information we have.

See a scan of the entry from Encyclopaedia Rhodesia (1973) kindly sent by Robin Griffiths.

From "The Guide to the Historical Manuscripts in the National archives of Rhodesia" by Baxter & Burke. Kindly sent to me by Nikki Sedgefield - CJB)

"The three Meikle Brothers Thomas, Stewart and John (Jack), were the sons of Scottish parents brought up on a farm near Greytown in Natal. Their father, and grandfather before him, had been master-builders at Strathhaven, Lancashire, until the former emigrated to South Africa in 1869.

The farm could not provide scope for the brothers and in 189? [1893 is after the date that the following events are said to have taken place] the eldest, Thomas, went to the alluvial diggings at Barberton but he found transport riding more successful than mining. His business was a success and he was joined by Stewart and John until, in 1891, a slump set in and it was necessary to move elsewhere.

In February 1892 the three started north to Fort Victoria with a speculative five wagons of general merchandise and three of liquor. The venture was an immediate success for supplies were low and prices high in Mashonaland. Headquarters were established in Fort Victoria and from there the brothers spread out to repeat the enterprise, Stewart to Salisbury in 1893, Thomas to Bulawayo in 1894 and John to Umtali in 1896.........."

Thomas Meikle took a party of people to Southern Rhodesia using ox-wagons. One reference by Yvonne Siggery suggests "Thomas Meikle and Rhodes Trek in 1890."

  • Cecil and his brother John Wallace apparently travelled to Rhodesia via the Vaal, as scouts, in the Thomas Meikle and Rhodes Trek in 1890.

It does not look as if there was a formal trek led by the brothers, but a trading expedition made up of -

Thomas Meikle 1862-1939

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eGGSA - Gravestones Project

John (Jack) Meikle

Stewart Meikle

Cecil and his brother John Wallace


"In 1915, a charming hotel opened its doors in an elegant colonial building
at the centre of the thriving city that is now Harare. The visionary who built and developed this hotel was businessman Thomas Meikle, whose name the hotel still proudly bears. The original Meikles, with its spacious, open verandas, courteous service, excellent menus and comfortable accommodation, became synonymous with quality and friendship."

The following people have connections to the Meikle name - it has not been established whether some of the family members joined their brothers later or accompanied them initially. Some probably travelled up to Rhodesia using the Meikle wagons that took goods up to Rhodesia for the Meikle stores.

  • Charles Frederick Browning, and his wife Jessie Lindsay Meikle (sister of the Meikle brothers). Trekked up by ox wagon with her husband and family from Natal. Lived for many years at "Rockey Lodge,” Salisbury, and is still living at Plettenberg Bay with her daughter Mrs Speyer. (1960).
  • Arthur Newby Wetherall Strickland, and his wife Jeannie Valance Graham Meikle (sister of the Meikle brothers). Eldest daughter of the well known Meikle family, trekked up with her husband from Natal and lived first for two years at Charter. They then moved to "Inodzi “Near Penhalonga, where they remained until Mrs Strickland's death in 1957. Information from Mr Ian Wilson, through Mrs Rosen, Bulawayo.
  • Mrs Hawkins, 1895. Formerly Mrs Hill, nee Emily Wilson. Arrived in June, 1895 with her daughter, travelling in one of Mr Tom Meikle's wagons. She opened the first baby linen shop in Bulawayo and died in that town in 1925. Information by telephone from Mrs Roland Smith, Bulawayo. On Roll of Women Pioneers.
  • Mrs Roland Smith, 1895, nee Florence Kate Hill. Came up in one of Mr Tom Meikle's wagons with her mother and a baby of six months old, from Barberton; lived in Bulawayo until her death in 1947. Information from Mrs R. Smith, by telephone.

Lynn McLeod kindly supplied the following information:

From the book Rhodesian Genesis by Neville Jones for the Rhodesia Pioneers' & Early Settlers' Society

Sons of Members Transferred to Full Membership

  • Douglas Meikle
  • Alan James Meikle
  • Cyril Stewart Meikle
  • David Morell Meikle
  • Evian Campbell Meikle
  • Gordon Stewart Campbell Meikle
  • John Morell Meikle
  • Ian Campbell Meikle

The Meikle Snrs are listed as members is in 1892 - John Meikle and Thomas Meikle

Page 66

'Another settler whose reminiscences have been bound into a volume which reposes on the shelves of the Archives was Mr John Meikle. From it I have made the following abstracts:

'We arrive at Fort Victoria on the 7th May 1891. The original site of Fort Victoria consisted of a few wattle and daub buildings and a roughly thrown up ground fort surmounted by sacks filled with sand. Ours was the first consignment of fresh stocks of general merchandise to arrive in the country since its occupation. Our plans for the future were very indefinite. We decided, if we could sell out, that we would do so and return for a further lot of goods. But things were in a very bad way - there was no money in the place, very little outside capital having up to then come in to develop the mines. The pioneers were for the most part scattered over the country prospecting and pegging farms, earning next to nothing. The store-keepers very much resented out advent: they had been making huge profits, selling the BSA's old stocks. After Tom arrived it was decided that there was nothing for it but to open a store and retail the goods we had brought with us.
Consequently a very rough shelter was run up, using the whiskey cases for a wall and bucksail for a roof. We were soon ready to start business. Sugar was selling at 1/6d. per lb. and we reduced it to 6d., and other things in proportion, the result being that whatever little business was done came to us. Our fresh stocks were an additional attraction. Flour was unprocurable until then.
Stewart remained behind to run the business while Tom and I returned for more goods. These were ordered from Durban to be a Pretoria ready for our arrival at that point. This is the story of the start of the firm of Meikle Brothers. Little did we think at the time that business would grow and develop as it has done, that the firm would eventually take a leading part in the commercial life of the country. Most things have small beginnings and our venture was one of them......."

Other Meikle references

  • Jane Patricia Meikle 1923-1990 - married Redrup. eGGSA Grave
  • Died East London 4 July 1945 - Margaret AULD, born MEIKLE (in Scotland). She was a widow & was aged 94 years & 8 months. The family search reference is image 992 in East London - 1945.
  • Marjorie Jean Sarah Meikle 1909-2002 - married Moxon. eGGSA Grave
  • Jessie Lindsay Meikle, 1894. (Mrs Browning). Trekked up by ox wagon with her husband and family from Natal. Lived for many years at "Rockey Lodge,”Salisbury, and is still living at Plettenberg Bay with her daughter Mrs Speyer. (1960).

Zim Death Notices

  • Anna Cocher Meikle 1104/64
  • Bertha Gilbert Sanderson Meikle 381/64 19020
  • CS & EN Marriage settlement ADM 1/53 and 3/53 (Not sure where to use these references)
  • Cyril Stewart Meikle 42/107 4730
  • Douglas John Campbell Meikle 1840/75 27219
  • Douglas Matthew P Meikle 676/57
  • Euphemia Mary Meikle 203/63 18399
  • J E Meikle 6/179
  • James Stewart H Meikle 14/160 970
  • Jessie Ada Meikle 1375/70
  • John Meikle 84/200/25
  • John Meikle 80/223
  • John Hay Meikle 453/59
  • John Morrell Meikle 679/66 20180
  • Kenneth Meikle 4/24
  • Lilian Maria Meikle 85/109 11950
  • Meikle marriage settlement KB 722
  • N B C Meikle (Minors) G F (W) 8/59
  • Sarah Meikle 37/49
  • Sarah Meikle 17/18 1179 * Thomas Meikle 53/234 6448
  • Born Strathaven British,
  • Father John, mother Sarah.
  • Age 66y 2 m.
  • Wife Winifred Helen - m. 27 April 1908 Bulawayo
  • Died * Feb 1939, Hillside Bulawayo
  • Children - Marjorie Jean Sarah; Joan Winifred; Margaret (Peggy) Helen
  • Child of different marriage - Jane Patricia 1 March 1923
  • Informant W H Meikle, wife

// this project is in History Link