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1820 Settlers

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Title: 1820 Settlers  
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1820 Settlers

The frontier with allotted farms, c. 1835

The 1820 Settlers were several groups or parties of white British colonists settled by the British government and the Cape authorities in the South African Eastern Cape in 1820.

Origins

After the Napoleonic wars, Britain experienced a serious unemployment problem, so many of the 1820 Settlers were poor and encouraged to settle in an attempt by the Cape government to close, consolidate and defend the eastern frontier against the neighbouring Xhosa peoples, and to provide a boost to the English-speaking population. It led to the establishment of Albany, a centre of the British diaspora in the region. For many years, Albany remained an "Anglo-Saxon island" in a predominantly Xhosa and Afrikaans-speaking country - with its own distinctive local culture.

Colonisation

Of the 90,000 applicants, about 4,000 were approved, so that many 1820 Settlers initially arrived in the Cape in around 60 different parties between April and June 1820. The 1820 Settlers were granted farms near the village of Bathurst and supplied equipment and food against their deposits, but their lack of agricultural experience led many of them to abandon agriculture and withdraw to Bathurst and other settlements like Grahamstown, East London and Port Elizabeth, where they typically reverted to their trades.

A group of the 1820 Settlers continued on to Natal, then a part of Zululand, home of the Zulu people. At the time, King Shaka ruled the territory with highly trained warriors. Leaders of the Natal settlers requested permission from Shaka to stay on the land. When the king witnessed the settlers' technological advances, permission was granted in return for access to firearm technology.[1] According to genealogist Shelagh O'Byrne Spencer, among 1820 Settlers who moved to Natal were "John Bailie, the founder of East London, and Charles Kestell, after whose son, the Revd John Daniel Kestell of Anglo-Boer War fame, the Free State town of Kestell is named".[1]

Memorial

They are commemorated in Grahamstown by the 1820 Settlers National Monument

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