William Jesser Coope to Frederick Chesson, 19 April 1888, C129/31-32

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Coope, William Jesser









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MSS. Brit. Emp. S. 18 / C129-31


Walton Lodge
Hampton Hill
April 19th

My dear Mr Chesson,

As it is my earnest wish to do whatever is in my power to advance the objects of your society I have drawn up a memorandum embodying the plans of the Amatonga – Mapootaland Syndicate, which you are at liberty to put to any use you please.

Yours faithfully
Wm Jesser Coope


With regard to your question about the elimination of the land of Amatongaland. I will point out to you that it would be utterly impossible to carry out the construction of a harbour and … without a certain amount of freehold land. The land granted as for the railway does not bear any reasonable proportion to that granted by the Portuguese govt to the … railway, and that granted as for the … of the …. … the London will be formed, consists principally of swamp which must be drained. I can assure you that it is not the intention of my syndicate to acquire any further freehold land, nor to [colonize?] the country with whites. The terms of our concession …with that already granted, and if it is authorised at all it will be so ….


Six thousand pounds having been subscribed out of a nominal capital of ten thousand pounds, for the initialing development of the concession granted by the Amatonga Queen and her grand council on the 1st October 1887 to me, acting as the agent of a London syndicate, is has been arranged.

1. That I shall proceed to South Africa at once to take possession of the said grant.

2. That I shall be accompanied by an [enquirer?] of standing and influence in harbour and railway works with sufficient staff, who shall after … the country draw up a short report on the feasibility or otherwise of constructing a harbour at the [Kori?] inlet or elsewhere on the Amatonga caost. The services of Messers Ball and Henderson of 37 Lombard Street S.E. have been engaged for this purpose.

3. That should this report point to the possibility of constructing such a harbour that they shall proceed to make a … survey of the line a railway would take from the said harbour to the Umgovuma pass leading to Swaziland.

4. That on the completion of these surveys the enquirers shall return to England and report to the Syndicate verbally and in writing the result of the expedition.

5. That should this report be considered sufficiently encouraging the necessary capital shall be raised for constructing the harbour and railway.

I have been legally appointed as manager in South Africa of the affairs of the syndicate for a period of three years.

The capital of £6000 has been subscribed by South African merchants, and members of the woollen trade of … and Nottingham, representing large interests and able to influence the capital required for the completion of the undertaking.

In carrying out of the operation of the syndicate in Amatongaland the rights of the natives will be most carefully guarded and the prerogatives of the Queen and her council be strictly …. It will be the object of the company to [act in accord?] with the people, who are eagerly looking forward to my return for the announcment of industrial works as the means of obtaining in Amatongaland that employment which they are now compelled to seek at the diamond and gold fields and on the … of Cape Colony and Natal, away from their homes and families.

When this concession was granted to me by the Amatonga people I was under a promise to take their representatives with me to England who would make known to the English people their wish for British protection; but as I ha dno assurance that this would be granted it was necessary to safeguard the interests of my syndicate against the licence of a lawless European element already existing in the [Lebando?] Mountains and Swaziland, the neighbouring state, which is certain to be attracted to Amatongaland when it Is known that British capital is being expended there. … had ample proof that this will be so from what I have seen myself in Swaziland where the king’s white adviser Mr J Shepstone has ultimately found it necessary to enlist a European police to keep order amongst the white people. Certain clauses are therefore inserted in the concession which conserved to the syndicate the power to … the influx and conduct of white people and impose a check on the Queen’s granting further concessions without the consent of the syndicate. This latter will alone prevent the occurrence of such disputes by rival … as have been notable in Swaziland. These clauses have inserted not only with the full concurrence of the Amatonga Queen but at her own suggestion. It will be necessary to maintain these until the time, which we trust is not very far distant, when British protection will be extended over Amatongaland and when British Officials will take over … as the responsibility of keeping order and giving security to the British capital invested there. They are the more necessary as not only am I, as representative of the syndicate, pledged to use my best endeavors to suppress the liquor traffic in Amatongaland, but the interests of the syndicate also require that the excellent labor supply on which our works are greatly dependent should not become demoralized by the spread of this evil.

Your society may therefore rely upon it that as long as I have the direction of the office of the syndicate in Amatongaland the true interests and welfare of the natives will be jealously protected, especially because apart from my own sentiments, I have impressed upon the members of my syndicate my own conviction that the commercial success of our enterprise depends in a great measure upon the natives being kept not only contented but as much as possible uncontaminated by European vices.

I shall make it my business to report to your society the progress we make with our enterprise and to point out to you in which direction your efforts may realize one object which I have with your society in the protection and advancement of the Aborigines of Amatongaland.

Wm Jesser Coope
Walton Lodge
Hampton Hill
April 19th 1888