oa Fundamina : A Journal of Legal History - Land "jobbing" by British officials in the Orange River sovereignty, 1848-1854

Volume 17, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1021-545X
  • E-ISSN: 2411-7870



On 3 February 1848 Sir Harry Smith, British High Commissioner and Governor of the Cape, proclaimed British sovereignty over the area between the Orange River and the Vaal River. Almost immediately after the declaration of sovereignty, brisk trade and speculation in land ensued. The principal participants in the speculation were members of the Cape settler elite, some of whom acquired truly vast tracts of land. British officials in the region also participated in the speculation and some of them acquired very large holdings of land. The conduct of the officials elicited strong disapproval from senior British officialdom. The focus of this article is on the response to the conduct of the British officials in the Sovereignty by the Duke of Newcastle, Secretary of State for Colonies, by Sir George Cathcart who succeeded Sir Harry Smith as Governor of the Cape and by Sir George Clerk who had been appointed special commissioner to oversee the British withdrawal from the Sovereignty.

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