Richard Whitfield to Frederick Chesson, 11 May 1884, C149/221

Additional information


Whitfield, Richard









Download original image


Bodleian Libraries

Call number

MSS. Brit. Emp. S. 18 / C149-221


97 Fellows Road, S. Hampstead NW

May 11 1884

Dear Sir,

I am in receipt of your letter of the 10th inst enclosing the documents forwarded by Sir J. Brand and the answer addressed by him to Sir Wilfred Lawson’s memorial bearing on the case of Samuel Moroka.

Although very much disappointed that President Brand does not see his way to making any alteration in the judgement he had before given against Moroka, yet, knowing all the facts of the case, it is only what I feared. But this answer of his and these copies of correspondence do not in the slightest shake my faith in Moroka, nor make me believe but that he has been most scandalously abused.

My family have known him for more than 20 years. My late uncle, the Revd G.T. Whitfield, rector of Pudleston in Herefordshire, was one of the gentlemen interested in the African missionaries who proposed that the chiefs’ sons should be sent to England to be educated. He subscribed largely towards that scheme and took the greatest interest in it. The four youths, Moshesh, Moroka, Toise and Kona, stayed constantly at his house. They also stayed several times at my father’s house. At both places I was much with them. Moroka therefore came back to us as an old friend.

If there had been any doubt in your own mind about him, the meeting of Feb 26 ult would have banished it. Archdeacon Glover, who received Samuel from Sir George Grey at Cape Town, was there to acknowledge him and to state that he had received him as the acknowledged heir, and Mr Watson, who had been his tutor at S. Augustine’s College, Canterbury, spoke to his having been sent there as the future chief. But in addition to these, Mr Southey and Capt [Hauel?], men who had been in Moroka’s part of Africa and know perfectly the whole state of the case, spoke, as you remember, in Moroka’s favour. When I met Capt [Hauel?] at your chambers, after the meeting, he told me that he had been to see President Brand after Sir Bartle Frere had received Moroka’s letter complaining of the treatment he had met with and asking for his intervention, but Capt [Hauel?] found that the whole matter was a foregone conclusion and one in which, considering the independence of the Free State, Sir Bartle could not interfere.

But to show that the statement I drew up was not based entirely on Moroka’s and Sekue’s narratives I must remind you that we had heard from Mr Mitchell immediately after the occurrence of all that took place, and the letter, which I sent for your perusal and of which part is printed in the statement, bore testimony to the truth of that account.

That Moroka submitted his case to the arbitration of President Brand is true, but it was to avoid bloodshed. He looked on the Barolongs as his people, as his children, and he would not bear that they should suffer for him. But at the same time he trusted in the justice and right of his cause and believed in the fairness and honest dealing of President Brand.

But Sepinare, who is a clever man, know the full value of a golden key, and the money left by old Moroka, of which he got possession, together with farms judiciously presented weighed down the scales of Boer justice, for notwithstanding the acknowledged law of inheritance among the Baralong, that only the children of the first wife should succeed, and notwithstanding the known and acknowledged fact that Sepinare was no son of the old chief Moroka, while Samuel was, and the favourite son too, yet President Brand gave his award in favour of Sepinare. But, to show what Boer justice is worth, the President declared that, his judgement once given, he would side against the first who took up arms, and yet Sepinare shot down sixteen of Moroka’s people, as is well known, and still Sir John Brand confirms him in his illegally attained chieftancy!!! See postscript.

Please remember that all this we had heard from people who were on the spot at the time, long before we ever thought to see Samuel again, and all this was confirmed by William Sekue who, as a near blood relation of Sepinare, if he had consulted his own personal interest, rather than his feelings of right, would have stuck by the usurper, instead of remaining faithful as he has done, to his poor exiled chief.

I write strongly because I feel it. I know that if Samuel had his rights he would be chief of the Baralong de facto as well as de fure, and Sepinare would be, nowhere.

But after all the bribes that had been given and taken it was almost hopeless to look for restitution. All that we can now hope for is that the Free State Boers and Sepinare well see that Moroka has some influential friends in England and will therefore refrain from visiting their anger and hatred on him. You will note that the Orange Free State waited until Moroka was away in England to make the ‘alliance’ with Sepinare. I observe that some of the documents speak of Samuel as ‘chief’ Moroka. Of what is he chief?

We will do what we can through correspondents at Bloemfontein and elsewhere to urge Samuel to keep quiet, and hope.

Thanking you again most heartily for all you did and tried to do for them.

I am dear Sir,
Yours very sincerely,
Richard O. Whitfield

F.W. Chesson, Esq


I forgot to mention that in the document giving Sir J. Brand’s award it says ‘some weeks after my dear son Samuel and his followers came into hostile collision with the chief Sepinare etc etc.’ The fact is that Samuel’s friends were returning from the funeral of a headman’s son. They were unarmed and with no intention of any hostile collision, but Sepinare attacked them because they were unarmed and it was then that he shot down 16 of Samuel’s friends. They would have run for their rifles and continued the fight, but Samuel would not allow it. The whole set of documents can be read between the lines by those who know what really took place.

Bribing has played a prominent part in the whole business, but Samuel’s well known partiality for England and the English has been greatly against him.

Richard O. Whitfield