Country & Coastal Touring

Captain Allen Francis Gardiner… pt3

Gardiner who originally arrived in South Africa and Durban specifically to spread the word of God, was not quite finished with his stint with the politics of the time. He promptly left the township of Durban for the Cape in order to ask Sir Benjamin D’Urban to take the area over as a colony and to appoint proper officials. After a false start which saw Gardiner having to return to Durban in order to avoid a native war, he was able to meet up with the Cape Colony Governor in Port Elizabeth on the 3rd December 1835.

Sir Benjamin D'Urban
Sir Benjamin D'Urban

Sir D’Urban was naturally pleased and flattered that the new township of Durban was to take his name and happily confirmed the treaty with Dingane and promised to send an official to govern the settlers. He would not however annex Natal. Gardiner decided then that he needed to return to London in order to settle the problem. By February 20, 1836 he was back in Falmouth.

Gardiners timing was pretty good and within a short space of time he’d managed to convince the Select Committee of the House of Commons to extend the “Cape of Good Hope Punishment Act” to include Durban. He mostly did this by painting a scandalous and immoral picture of settler life in the new township, and with no-one from the township to disagree, the act went through unhindered. It’s interesting to note that although ‘The Church Missionary Society’ continued to support Gardiner, they certainly weren’t please with his entry into politics.

In the year that followed, Gardiner remarried and wrote a book of his experiences thus far, and with his customary impatience, was back in Durban by May 1837 with his new wife and three children in tow. Gardiner’s arrival back in Durban was a sad one as on route his eldest child Julia had died, prompting his first act on arrival being the digging of a grave.

Gardiner's Book
Gardiner's Book

Gardiner’s reputation in Durban had suffered somewhat as word had reached the settlement of his description of the townsfolk and the “immoral” and “scandalous” life they were supposedly leading. Further to that, an incident had occurred that painted Gardiner in a bad light whereby Dingane had named Gardiner as the originator of a policy to deny entry of the settlers into Zululand.

Gardiner called a town meeting on 1st June announcing that under the the Punishment Act, he had been appointed a Justice of the Peace, acting with authority over the Europeans but not the natives. His first proclamation was to prohibit gun-running, which was perfectly legal at the time and naturally caused an uproar. This was the final straw for the settlers and Gardiner was forced to leave Durban and settle some 20 miles to the north of the settlement. Here he could do little but write Cape Town on what he considered to be the scandalous conduct of the Durban settlers.

 

Part 4 to follow.