Robert Lester to Stafford Northcote, 27 July 1881, C140/90

Additional information


Lester, Robert








Cape Colony

Download original image


Bodleian Libraries

Call number

MSS. Brit. Emp. S. 18 / C140-90


Cradock, Cape of Good Hope
July 27 1881

Sir Stafford Northcote, [Bart?]
M.P. Leader to Opposition …
House of Commons

Dear Sir Stafford,

Your very kind letter of the 10th [ulto?] written in reply to my last on the so called Transvaal Settlement [encouraged?] me to make the following statement for your further consideration. You will have seen ere this that the men charged with the murder of poor Captain Elliot have been found not guilty by a jury of 8 Dutch and one Englishman. The papers here say comment is unnecessary and so it is here but in England it is otherwise. Now I have been 35 years in practice as a barrister and during that time I have conducted many thousand cases and I do not recollect at this time one single instance of a Boer jury finding a Boer prisoner guilty. I have heard verdicts of not guilty returned over and over again when the evidence of guilt as been most conclusive. I have heard judges indignantly order the jury back to reconsider their verdict but all to no purpose. And as a matter of fact well known here to everybody in and out of the profession, a Boer whether in the witness or jury box cares nothing for his oath. I have even heard them declare beforehand that they would acquit a prisoner, and they have done so, and this fact is so well known here that counsel on circuit always ask can we get a Boer jury when they have a Boer client to defend because they know then their client will be quite safe. The above statement will seem incredibly to you but it is the solemn truth. Moreover you will see that every other case against the Transvaal murderers, if tried by a Boer jury will result in an acquittal. As matters now state, I see revolution clearly ahead. For ignorant, to a degree beyond belief, and encouraged by the miserable policy of the present English government, the Boers actually believe that they are more powerful than all England, and say so daily, and that they can retake all South Africa, and, at no distant date, they will attempt to do so. ‘The Africander Bond’, of which you will have read in the papers, is a secret society, and the first step towards intended revolution. But if our troops had had but one victory nothing of this kind would have been heard of.

Yours Sir Stafford

Robert Lester