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By Ralph Kilpin. 






'first, an' it like you, the 
house is a respected house.' 

Measure for Measure 
Act II. : Scene 1. 

RT. HON. J. X. MERRIMAN. P.C., L.L.D. (b . 1841) 

Member of the old Cape House from 1869 to '910. He 
served in five out of the twelve Cape Ministries and was 
Prime Minister at the date of Union. 

photograph hy E. Peters (" Hood's St 

") Captr Town. 

The Old Cape House 

Being pages from the 
History of a Legislative 
Assembly. 5* 3* *? & 

By Ralph Kilpin, 

Second Clerk- Assist ant of the 
Union House of Assembly. 

with a foreword by 





.-* .'; ' M 
-. ^ .. j fc .^ 



P.C., LL.D., M.L.A. 

AS one who has for fifty years occupied a seat 
as a Member, first of the Parliament of the 
Cape of Good Hope, and then of the Parlia- 
ment of the Union of South Africa, I hail with pleasure 
Mr. Kilpin's attempt to give a connected sketch of 
the history of the body that was the founder of all 
legislative traditions in South Africa. 

Parliamentary history began in 1854 at, or shortly 
after, the time when the wisdom of Lord Elgin and 
of the Whig statesmen of Early Victorian days hit upon 
the most successful experiment in the government 
of dependencies, by entrusting to the people the 
management of their own affairs, the disposal of their 
own Crown lands and the responsibility for their ow r n 
financial vagaries. 

In the Cape of Good Hope for the first period these 
gifts were circumscribed by an Executive appointed 
by and responsible to the mother country. This regime 
lasted from 1854 to 1872. It was a period of profound 
peace and of great educational value. 


Speaking generally, the representative assembly was 
hostile to, and jealous of, the appointed Executive. In 
consequence there was a far more rigid scrutiny of 
the finances and a greater reluctance to incur loans 
than has been manifested under the boon of party 
government, when power and place depend upon 
placating the electorate. But whether this is post hoc 
or prop/er hoc it is not for me to say. 

In 1872 the full benefits of cabinet, with party, 
government was granted. In judging of the results 
three points may be noted : Great Britain was slowly 
emerging from the cold fit, when eminent statesmen 
could talk of '"those horrid colonies"; the era of 
Lord Carnarvon's federation proposals which led up 
to the annexation of the Transvaal ; the appointment 
of Sir Bartle Frere that unflinching advocate of a 
forward policy both in territorial extension and in 
native affairs which paved the way not only for the 
era of native wars which lasted till 1883, but for the 
genesis of anti-British feeling of which perhaps the 
end is not yet in sight. The cold fit in Great Britain 
has been succeeded, with a brief interval of lower 
temperature, during the term of office of Lord Derby, 
to which we owe the presence of Germany on our 
borders, by the flamboyant imperialism of Mr. Joseph 
Chamberlain and the succession of dire events which 
\vere moderated, but not terminated, by the odyssey 
of that distinguished pilgrim to the illimitable veld. 


In 1872, or thereabouts, the British moneylender 
discovered the colonies and began to oblige them with 
capital on easy terms, which created a more or less 
fictitious prosperity and shed a lustre over the period, 
while it has piled up burdens for which a grateful 
posterity will no doubt rise up and call them blessed. 

In 1872 the noble and distinguished order of St. 
Michael and St. George burgeoned forth for the grati- 
fication of colonial statesmen and those whom they 
delight to honour, until the dominions are adorned 
with a twinkling splendour and one star calleth 
another to promote the true imperial feeling. 

In all these movements the Cape Parliament has 
borne a not undistinguished part, verifying the 
predictions of that astute statesman, Lord Elgin. 
Synchronising as it did with the discovery of the 
Diamond Fields, the new Government in the Cape, 
under the prudent guidance of Mr. Molteno, felt itself 
justified in entering on a large project of railway 
communication, which has been continued and expanded 
until the line which in 1872 had its terminus at 
Wellington, some fifty miles from Table Mountain, 
has reached the Congo and ramified over the whole 
sub-continent, making possible the vast expansion of 
enterprise and trade which have made South Africa 
the treasure house of the world. Some day tardy 
justice will be done to the first Premier under responsible 
government in South Africa, who, by the confidence 


that he inspired, both in the commercial classes and 
the conservative land-holders, enabled the first not 
inconsiderable steps to be taken in railway construction, 
and, by so doing, laid the substantial foundation of 
the successful enterprise that adds so much to our 

Possibly, however, the most distinguishing mark 
of the Cape Parliament in its second period was the 
appearance of Cecil Rhodes, and the opportunity that 
it gave him for putting into practice that discovery of 
the practical application of vast wealth to political ends, 
which for good or evil is destined in the hands of 
imitators to go far. 

That great man always said that South Africa was 
the most interesting part of the British Dominions, and 
certainly he did his fair share in verifying the truth of 
his obiter dictum. 

On the whole the Cape Parliament did not play an 
unworthy part. It was always decorous to the verge 
of dulness, and if, in its inordinate love for legislation, 
and its fondness for shuffling off awkward questions 
to the interminable investigation of commissions, it 
displayed a somewhat laissez alter indifference to its 
duties as a check upon administration, in these respects 
it was no worse than similar bodies elsewhere. 

In the Cape, as in other Parliamentary countries, 
the Caucus, the Machine, the Press and the Platform 
came as rival forces, and, as their influence and power 


waxed, those of Parliament waned. But it merged its 
existence in that of the Union before the lamentable 
example of the British Parliament had made it clear 
that some radical change is wanted if Parliaments in 
future are to retain their position in the minds and 
hearts of free peoples. 

If one had to choose an epitaph for the Cape Parlia- 
ment now merged in the Union splendour, perhaps it 
would not be inappropriate to write the hackneyed 


" Beneath the good how far, 

How far above the great." 

Introductory Note. 

Old Cape House is not offered to the public as a 
manual of procedure or as a political treatise. The desire of 
the writer having been rather to interest than to inform, it has 
been his endeavour to keep his reader and himself well in touch 
with the customary atmosphere of the House, without losing 
sight of its honourable traditions, or unnecessarily obtruding its 
official and technical elements. 

In the form of articles ^Uhe Old Cape House first appeared 
m "TT/ie Cape ^,4rgus and "TT/ie Cape ^imes, and by the kind 
permission of the Editors of those journals they are now re- 
printed with some additions which seemed to be called for, as 
well as with annexures containing facts and figures which may 
be useful to readers who take more than a passing interest in 
the Parliamentary history of this country. 

Thanks are due to many friends, who have supplied inform- 
ation and illustrations; to members of Parliament for their 
encouragement especially to the "Father of the House" who 
writes the Foreword ; and to my father (who sat for thirty 
years at the Table) for permission to make use of his note- 
books and his Cape Cioil Service List. 

R K 

House of Assembly, 
Cape Town 

llth Mav, 1918. 

Table of Contents. 



M.L.A. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . vii 



I. In the Goede Hoop Lodge 854- 1 884) .. 25 

II. The Building of the " New " Houses of Parliament . . 53 

III. In the "New" Houses of Parliament (1885-1910) .. 61 


I. The Hon. Sir Christoffel Brand, Kt., D.C.L., LL.D. 

(1854-1874) 97 

II. The Hon. Sir David Tennant, K.C.M.G. (1874-1896) 115 

III. The Hon. Sir Henry Juta, Kt., K.C., B.A., LL.B. 

(1896-1898) 131 

IV. The Hon. Sir Wm. Bisset Berry, Kt., M.A., M.D., LL.D., 

(1898-1908) 145 

V. The Hon. Sir James Molteno, Kt., K.C., B.A., LL.B. 

(1908-1910) 159 


A. Executive Councillors, 1854-1872 .. ..169 

B. Cape Ministries, 1872-1910 170 

C. Members' Length of Service .. .. .. ..175 

D. Additional Representation Acts .. .. .. ..176 

E. Constitution Ordinance Amendment Acts, 1854-1910.. 177 

F. Duration of Sessions and Payment of Members, 

1854-1910 .. .. ' 181 

G. Parliaments and Sessions. 1854-1910 182 

INDEX 187 

List of Illustrations. 

RT. HON. J. X. MERRIMAN Frontispiece 




OLD SUPREME COURT BUILDINGS, 1832 . . . . . . . . 6 


LETTERS PATENT, 1850 ..10 




HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY, 1854-1884 .... ..25 








THE "NEW" HOUSES OF PARLIAMENT, 1885-1910 .. .. 61 

HON. SIR THOMAS UPINGTON . . . . . . . . . . 66 



RT. HON. C. J. RHODFS .. 72 






HON. SIR WM. BISSET BERRY .. .. ..145 



The Story of the Cape Constitution. 



The three upper window? facing into the courtyard belong to the 
" Record Room in which the Legislative Councils held their meetings 
from 1834 until the "New" Houses of Parliament were completed 
in 188-4. 


Gordon Pilkington 

The Story of the Cape Constitution. 


SIR BENJAMIN D'URBAN, the new Governor, 
had been expected at the Cape for some days. 
On Thursday, the 16th of January, 1834, his 
ship a handsome teak-built sailing vessel of 611 
tons burthen, with " elegant accommodation " for 
passengers was sighted, and Cape Town, ordinarily 
so calm, was soon bustling with excitement. Rustling 
skirts fluttered towards the jetty near the Castle, 
while gentlemen, wearing swallow-tails of blue, buff 
or brown, hurried to and fro in the shade of the 
Heeregracht, or Adderley Street, as it is now called, 
and by half-past one, when Sir Benjamin, his wife, 
his daughter and his suite drove up to Government 
House, troops had lined Grave Street and the Parade, 
and guns were booming a salute from the Castle. 

Having been sworn in by the Chief Justice, Sir 
John Wylde, His Excellency was introduced to a large 
number of those present and his commission was read 
aloud. So far the proceedings had been more or less 
of a social character, but in days gone by the 
constitution was developed or confirmed by the instruc- 
tions issued to the Governor, and with the reading 
of the commission it was soon realised that the dawn 
of a new era in the government of the Cape had begun. 


Under the short period of British government from 
1795 to 1803 the Governor alone had wielded all 
executive and legislative power, and this system had 
been restored in 1806 when Cape Town capitulated 
to General Baird. For a time things had gone fairly 
well and the inhabitants of the settlement had 
made no effective protest until Lord Charles Somerset, 
choleric and sometimes vindictive, had shown what 
a headstrong Governor in a wayward mood could do. 
Then, owing to the complaints of the British settlers, 
a commission of enquiry had been sent to investigate 
matters, and two years later (in 1825) a council of six 
official members had been established to " advise and 
assist in the administration of the Government." 
Bureaucracy, however, had given little more satisfaction 
than autocracy, and up to the time when Sir Benjamin's 
commission was read three well-supported movements 
had been made to obtain a form of government in 
which the people themselves might share. 

The commission, after appointing Sir Benjamin 
Governor of the Cape and its dependencies, went on 
to provide that the settlement was henceforth to be 
administered by a Governor with a Legislative Council 
as well as with an Executive Council. This, at all 
events, was something achieved. The Legislative 
Council was to consist of the Governor, the officer 
next in command of the forces, the Secretary to the 
Government, the Treasurer-General, the Auditor- 


1. Colonial Office in which Coun- < 
a! of Advjce me[ in 18Z5 Li. 

? / eai<slxttvf> Cn/inr/I*. l# t \4-'R4'~t 

cil ofAdv/ce met: in 

egJJ/a tive Coun c//j, 
old Sureme C. 


3.<5i{e of Hs of A^tmbty \ 

((joede Hoop Lodge), Jffif -31 .+ i u 

f Site of ~Ne.v Houses of ( 1 '_]"] 

~PArhfimrnt IRR^- /Q//1 " ' 

' '..^ | I . ef ^ j f | 

| *-L*iX 

Keizer*gra.chl \^ r 

rrr^rrrd^ F^ 

showma; the sites of the various buildings occupied 


General and the Attorney-General, together with not 
fewer than five nor more than seven leading inhabi- 
tants, to be selected by the Governor. 

" All men will view this as an important boon," 
wrote John Fairbairn in the Commercial jtfdoertiser 
two days later. ' It may not come up to, or it may 
exceed, the expectations of some ; but we repeat that 
it will yield satisfaction if for no other reason than it 
furnishes a pleasing and unerring proof .... 
that the barrier which has hitherto stood between us 
and the exercise of the proudest privileges of British 
subjects is soon to be thrown down and that the Eye 
of the Community is about to be admitted into the 
hitherto darkened chamber of Cape legislation." 

The old " Council of Advice," appointed in 1825, 
had totally excluded the " Eye of the Community." 
None of its members were 'chosen to represent the 
people, and, with closed doors, it had met in the old 
" Colonial Office " buildings that used to stand in 
the north-east corner of Government House gardens, 
where, instructed by Lord Charles Somerset, it had 
been sworn to the strictest secrecy. The House of 
Commons itself had, and still has, semi-obsolete 
orders* declaring it to be a gross breach of privilege 
to publish anything occurring in the House ; but 

' These orders are now acknowledged to apply only to mala fide reports 
and although the public and the press may be excluded it was considered 
necessary in 1916 to provide for the prohibition of reports of secret sessions by 
means of an Order in Council under the Defence o' the Realm Act, 1914. 


these orders were drafted in the dark days, when 
conflicts between the Crown and the Commons often 
resulted in the sudden death of a member, and the 
idea then was to keep the proceedings from the ears 
of the King. 

In the new Legislative Council, of which certain 
leading inhabitants were to form a part, the King's 
representative (Sir Benjamin D'Urban) was himself 
to preside, and it was hoped that the doors would be 
thrown open to the public and the Press. But when 
the Council first met on the 2nd of April, 1834, in 
the Old Supreme Court Buildings (the Slave Lodge 
of the Dutch East India Company !), its doors, too, 
were closed, and nothing more than the colourless 
' Votes and Proceedings " were made public. This, 
it is true, was in accordance with the practice in New 
South Wales and Van Diemen's Land, but it was a 
severe blow to the progressive section of the community 
of the Cape, and was the signal for a renewed effort 
to obtain a thoroughly representative assembly. 

A meeting of citizens was held in the Commercial 
Hall (where the post office stands to-day) and at one 
o'clock on the 22nd of October, 1834, three gentlemen 
(Mr. Collison, Mr. Waters and Mr. Thompson) 
knocked at the door of the Council Chamber and 
craved admission in the name of the public. Within 
the Chamber the question was keenly discussed, and 
it was not until they had heard the clock in the public 


In these buildings (formerly the Slave lodge of the Dutch Fast 
India Company) were the Supreme Court, the Government Offices 
and the Legislative Council Chamber, 1834-53 and 1854-H4. 

Pen-and-ink sketch from a lithora,,hed drawing l,\ H. C. dc Me, lion. 


buildings strike four, that Mr. Colhson and the two 
gentlemen who had accompanied him were informed 
of the result. On the Governor's recommendation 
new standing orders had been adopted, they were told, 
and in future each member of the Council would 
be entitled to admit one person to be present at its 
meetings, and each newspaper could send one reporter 
on the strict understanding that they were bound to 
withdraw on a motion made to that effect by any 

Here was one grievance removed, and from that 
time onwards a full account of the debates was published 
in the Commercial Advertiser ; but at this time 
the population consisted of about 115,000 persons, 
excluding some 34,000 slaves, and many of the 
colonists felt that on this score alone they were 
entitled to a more representative form of government. 
Appeals were again made to the British Government, 
but there was always some " insuperable obstacle " ; 
and, indeed, the colonists themselves were not united 
on every point. Those of the Western Province wanted 
the Colony undivided, but the majority of those in the 
Eastern Province desired a separate administration. 

At last, on the 2nd of November, 1846, Earl Grey, 
Secretary for the Colonies, announced in an oft-quoted 
despatch " that on a question of this nature some 
difficulties may be wisely encountered and some apparent 
risks well incurred in reliance on the resources which 


every civilised society, especially every society of British 
birth or origin, will always discover within themselves 
for obviating the danger incident to measures resting 
on any broad and solid principle of truth and justice." 

This despatch was addressed to the Governor, Sir 
Henry Pottinger, but nothing was done until Sir Harry 
Smith succeeded him. Sir Harry had been given a 
copy of the despatch before he left for the Cape, and 
on his arrival took an early opportunity of personally 
consulting Mr. Porter, the Attorney-General, as to the 
precise form of representative government likely to 
prove acceptable to the colonists. 

In Mr. Porter the country was fortunate to have the 
very man most fitted to give sound advice. In 1839 he 
had been offered the post of Attorney-General at the 
Cape, and, although only a young man practising at the 
Irish Bar, his friends were not half sure that it would be 
wise for him to accept the position, as it was felt that 
his intellectual strength and rare gift of oratory would 
win for him even greater promotion in his native 
country. He accepted the appointment, however, and 
in time took all the Cape could offer. So great was his 
love of fairness and justice, his zeal and his capacity 
for work, that at the Bar, in the Legislative Council, and 
afterwards in the House of Assembly he would often 
furnish the opposite side of a case rather than achieve an 
unmerited success. Nothing seemed to overtax his brain 
and no amount of detail clouded his power of lucid ex- 

HON. WILLIAM PORTER, C.M.G. (i>. 1803. J. I8tt 

Attorney-General from 1839 to 1866 and member for Cape 
Town from 1869 to 1873. He drafted the original 
Constitution Ordinance as well as the " Responsible 
Government Act. 
From a portrait in the possession of Mis F. A. VV.itermeyci . 


position. He never expressed an opinion without having 
made the fullest investigations and everything he under- 
took he did thoroughly. 

What Mr. Porter did was to draw up a memorandum 
which formed the basis for all future discussion. It was 
submitted to the Executive Council and three judges 
in March, 1848, and four months later, in the form of 
a draft constitution, was sent to England by Sir Harry 
Smith, who just previously had admitted that " the 
Legislative Council is regarded in this colony as a 

It is impossible to say what course events would have 
taken had it not been for the great anti-convict agitation 
which shortly afterwards shook the Colony to its founda- 
tions. On the one hand the Dutch and English were 
thrown together in a common aversion to the landing 
of criminals on their shores, but, on the other hand, 
they incurred the displeasure of the Colonial Office in 
England. The colonists, however, were encouraged by 
success and, utilising the organisation which had been 
perfected by John Fairbairn, the energetic secretary of 
the Anti-Convict Association, they redoubled their 
exertions until, on th<i 23rd of May, 1850, Letters Patent 
were issued by the Queen in Council laying down the 
main principles of a constitution on the lines of Mr. 
Porter's draft and leaving the details to be filled in by 
the Governor with the assistance of the Legislative 


The Council, however, barely existed at this time, 
as five of the unofficial members had resigned on account 
of the convict question and others had refused to be 
nominated in their places. Dislike was openly shown 
for the nominative system, and Sir Harry Smith conse- 
quently took the wise course of asking all the divisional 
road and municipal boards in the Colony to select 
members for nomination. Christoffel Brand, Sir Andnes 
Stockenstrom, Reitz and Fairbairn, who were returned 
at the top of the poll, were then nominated and in 
addition the Governor selected Mr. Godlonton from 
further down the list. 

An unusual amount of interest was shown when, on 
the 6th of September, 1850, the new Council met. 
Even before the doors were opened at one o'clock quite 
a large number of citizens had gathered outside, and the 
Chamber was soon crowded with strangers delighted 
to see Stockenstrom and Reitz sitting on the left of the 
Clerk and Fairbairn and Brand on his right. For a 
short while the business was conducted smoothly, but a 
section of the public soon began to get impatient with 
the slow progress that was being made, and a fortnight 
later Sir Andries Stockenstrom presented a petition 
from 225 residents of Cape Town, praying the Council 
to confine themselves to the framing of the constitution, 
and Mr. Montagu, the Secretary to the Government, 
having presented another petition to the opposite effect 
the proceedings became decidedly animated. Both 


By this writ of Privy Seal, dated the 23rd May, 1850, it was ordained 
that a Parliament should be constituted by an Ordinance to be passed 
by the then existing Cape Legislative Council, 

From the original document (measuring -'9 l-v 21 inches) in the Cape Archive 


parties had carefully prepared for the fray, and, after a 
heated discussion, Sir Andries Stockenstrom produced 
and dramatically held up a document containing eleven 
" reasons for dissent." One after the other, the four 
" popular " members, Stockenstrom, Brand, Fairbairn 
and Reitz, identified themselves with it, appended their 
signatures, tendered their resignations and made farewell 
speeches, after which, we are told, the meeting broke 
up with " tremendous cheering. " 

The Council being again without a quorum, Sir 
Harry Smith appointed the remaining members a 
commission to consider the constitution. A week after- 
wards they presented their report, and a few days 
later it was forwarded to England. 

But meanwhile the members who had resigned were 
requested by the Municipalities of Cape Town and 
Green Point to draw up a constitution according to their 
own views. This resulted in the famous " Sixteen 
Articles," and Mr. Fairbairn and Sir Andries Stocken- 
strom were deputed to convey them to England. 

Mr. Fairbairn had now reached the zenith of his 
fame. He had arrived at the Cape at the age of twenty- 
nine to take up a literary career with Thomas Prmgle, 
the poet, and had been foremost in every movement for 
the improvement of the country. " An accomplished 
scholar, well versed both in ethical and physical science," 
as Pringle had said of him, sincere and persevering, 
having at heart only the welfare, prosperity and 


advancement of all classes," as he himself had said, he 
had been instrumental in securing the freedom of the 
Press, trials by jury, the construction of roads and 
bridges, the development of education, and had largely 
assisted in averting disaster when the Cape was 
threatened with becoming a penal settlement. Regardless 
of financial loss, he had for many years battled un- 
flinchingly against overwhelming odds. He had made 
many public enemies, especially in the Eastern Province, 
but in private he never spoke ill of any man nor harboured 
bitter feelings. His intention, as he had expressed it, 
was to soothe the minds of the people, at that time 
highly exasperated by the oppressions of the local 
Government, and to convince them that institutions 
similar to those of England would protect them against 
the recurrence of the many evils they had endured. 
In appearance he looked the ardent reformer he was. 
His upper lip was firm and his thick hair was brushed 
straight across a thoughtful brow, while his eyes, grey- 
blue, deep-set and piercing, rather suggested the 
" second sight " he was supposed to have. 

This was the man in whose hands the greater portion 
of the Cape unhesitatingly placed their hopes and 
aspirations. Sir Andnes Stockenstrom was in bad 
health and unable to proceed at once to England, but 
Fairbairn was soon ready to make his departure, and 
on the 26th of October, 1850, between two and three 
thousand inhabitants assembled in and around the 

MR. JOHN FAIR BAIRN: (;,., 1794. ,/i:-,/ !%4). 

The Father of the South African Press " whose pertinacity 
and unflinching zeal were important factor? in the struggle 

for representative government. .Member of the Legislative 
Council, 1850. and of the House of Assembly. 1854-1863. 
From an autographed drawing in the City Hall, Cape Town. 


Town House to bid him good-bye. A box was handed 
to him containing the " Sixteen Articles," engrossed on 
a scroll over eight feet long (now in possession of his 
grandson), duly signed and sealed by the Commissioners 
of the Municipality of the City of Cape Town, together 
with supporting petitions and resolutions. Amidst 
enthusiastic cheering he rose to reply in his broad 
Scotch dialect to the speeches that had been made, and 
when he had ended, says an eye-witness, he stood 
silent for a moment, overcome with emotion. " Gentle- 
men," he said, " for a short time I bid you farewell. 
God bless you." " God bless you," shouted the excited 
multitude, and down to the wharf they trooped to 
witness his embarkation. The Madagascar, the ship 
he was to sail in, was swinging at anchor some little 
way out, but nearly fifty sailing boats gaily decorated 
provided an escort, and when the time came to bid a 
final farewell a band played " Rule Britannia," the 
little boats put back to land, and cheer after cheer was 
raised until the blue-coated figure standing on the 
quarter-deck grew dim in the distance. 

The proceedings were almost unparalleled in the 
Colony, and showed the intense interest in public affairs 
lhat Fairbairn himself had awakened. But even among 
the onlookers there were a few staunch Government 
supporters who viewed the wooden casket containing 
the " Sixteen Articles " as a kind of Pandora's box 
filled with all manner of evil things, and on the other 


side of the water his official reception was by no means 
cordial. Public interest had not moved so fast as it had 
at the Cape, and in the letters they wrote to the Cape 
both Fairbairn and Stockenstrom sometimes expressed 
high expectations but more often showed a deep des- 
pondency. They saw and wrote to everyone who could 
advance their cause, but in the middle of it all came a 
Kafir war, and although interest in South African affairs 
was quickened, the realisation of the colonists' dream 
was deferred for a time. Among the useful things they 
did in England was to give evidence before a Select 
Committee of the House of Commons and, moreover, they 
were able to get a legal opinion on a constitutional point 
of considerable importance. The Governor, unable to 
fill the vacancies in the Legislative Council occasioned 
by the resignation of the four " popular " members, 
had again found himself in a quandary, from which 
Earl Grey had sought to extricate him by " additional 
instructions " declaring the competency of the Legis- 
lative Council to act with its reduced membership. 
' Was this constitutional ? Would the acts of such a 
Council be valid? " were questions Fairbairn and 
Stockenstrom put to three eminent lawyers, Sir Fitzroy 
Kelly, Spencer Walpole and J. R. Kenyon. 

' We are of opinion," was the answer, " that the 
instructions . . are . . . altogether invalid and void. 
It is clearly established that by the law of England a 
legislative constitution once granted by the Crown to 


a Colony is irrevocable, except by the authority of the 
Imperial Parliament or by the act of the local legislature 
with the consent of the Crown." 

Sir John Russell disagreed with the opinion, but a 
conflict was averted by the Governor being instructed 
to fill the vacancies to the best of his ability and to 
proceed with the draft Ordinance, which was returned 
to the Cape in a more complete form. 

On the 27th of November, 1851, Fairbairn and 
Stockenstrom returned, and on the same day, by 
a curious coincidence, the draft Ordinance and 
the covering letter were published in the Government 
Gazette. Again there were innumerable delays, due 
this time to two official members of the Council, Mr. 
Montagu (the Secretary to the Government) and Mr. 
Rivers (the Treasurer-General), having changed their 
minds as to the advisability of having a representative 
assembly, but at last the draft was considered, passed 
and sent to England for the last time. 

Eagerly the expectant colonists awaited an Order 
in Council ratifying the constitution, but the only news 
they got was bad. It was rumoured that extensive 
alterations were to be made and that by the time the 
constitution was returned it would not be worth having. 
Uncertainty gave rise to mistrust ; public meetings were 
again started and the British Government was inundated 
with petitions, addresses and resolutions. 

A change in the Government brought relief, and. 


with the Duke of Newcastle as Secretary for the 
Colonies,* the fears of the colonists were set at rest. 
The few alterations that were made were not very 

It only remains for me now," wrote Newcastle, 
" to assure you that in transmitting to the Colony of the 
Cape of Good Hope Ordinances which confer one of 
the most liberal constitutions enjoyed by any of the 
British possessions, Her Majesty's Government are 
actuated by an earnest desire to lay the foundation of 
institutions which may carry the blessings and privileges 
as well as the wealth and power of the British nation 
into South Africa ; and whilst appeasing the jealousies 
of sometimes conflicting races, to promote the security 
and prosperity, not only of those of British origin, 
but of all the Queen's subjects so that they may combine 
for the great common object the peace and progress 
of the Colony." 

The ship that carried the constitution in its final 
form was the Lady Jocelyn. She dropped anchor in 
Table Bay as the sun rose on the 21st of April, 1853, 
after a passage of thirty-seven days from Plymouth 
and in herself showed the progress the world had made 

Die delays which occurred when Earl Grey was Secretary for the Colonies 
1846-52) gave rise to the following epigram quoted in the "Life of Sir C. 
Napier " : 

This point was long disputed at the Cape, 
What was the devil's colour and his shape? 
The Hottentots, of course, declared him white, 
1 he Englishmen declared him black as night ; 
But now they split the difference and say. 
Beyond all question that Old Nick is Grey. 


which earned the Constitution Ordinance in it? 
final form to the Cape in 1853. The ship is 
depicted in a hurricane in the Ray of Bengal ten 
years later. 


since Sir Benjamin D'Urban had landed with the 
commission containing the germs of a free constitution. 
Square-rigged on all three masts, a sailing ship at first 
glance, she was, according to the company's advertise- 
ment, in reality "an iron ship of 1,800 tons propelled 
by the screw," carrying sixty-seven passengers for the 
Cape, Mauritius, Ceylon, Madras and Calcutta a 
veritable leviathan compared with the ships of 1834 ! 
A fine ship well suited to carry a fine constitution. 

The constitution provided for a Parliament to consist 
of the Governor, an elective Legislative Council of 
fifteen members and an elective House of Assembly 
of forty-six members, and took effect from the 1st of 
July, 1853. The old Council held its last meeting on 
the 14th of October, 1853. On the 16th of November 
a proclamation was issued calling upon the registered 
constituencies to elect members for the new Legislative 
Council and on that date the old Council expired. 

After the elections for the House of Assembly Cape 
Town was the scene of general festivities. Balls, levees, 
dinners and receptions were given, and members of the 
new Parliament, including those from the Eastern 
Province who had arrived by H.M.S. Dee, were feted 
by all. 

It had been intended to hold the opening ceremony 
in the little room (afterwards known as the " Record 
Room ") which had been occupied by the old Legislative 
Council in the Supreme Court buildings, and was to be 


the temporary Chamber of the new Council, but at the 
last moment this plan was abandoned and it was decided 
to use the State Room in Government House. 

A throne was set at the south end of the room under 
a rich canopy of scarlet cloth, the music gallery at the 
opposite end was prepared for ladies, and various other 
arrangements were completed only just in time. At 
half-past ten on the morning of the 1st of July, 1854, 
the gates leading into Government House gardens from 
the Avenue were thrown open and a large crowd flocked 
on to the lawn outside the State Chamber. A moment 
or two later the steady tramp of soldiers was heard, 
and with band playing and colours waving, in marched a 
guard-of-honour from the 73rd Foot Regiment, halted, 
formed up in a line alongside the stoep, and ordered 
arms with a crash. Never before had there been such 
a brilliant state function in the Cape. There were judges 
in their crimson gowns ; bishop and clergy ; naval, 
military and Indian officers ; the corps diplomatique, 
and a Turk with a fez. 

At a quarter to twelve the President and members of 
the Legislative Council arrived and took their seats on 
the right-hand side of the empty throne. Precisely at 
twelve His Honour the Lieut. -Governor, Mr. (afterwards 
Sir Charles) Darling, made his appearance ; a salute 
of nineteen guns was fired from the Castle, the guard- 
of-honour presented arms and the band struck up 
God Save the Queen." 



showing the exterior of the State Chamber m which the 
first Cape Parliament wa= opened in 1854. 

From a lithographed drawing by H. C. de MeiMon. 


All being in readiness, the House of Assembly was 
summoned from the Goede Hoop Lodge, was bowed 
in by its newly elected Speaker and took its place on the 
left of the throne. The opening speech was read and 
the Parliament, so often within reach and so often 
snatched away, was a real living institution. 

But it would be a mistake to suppose that all the 
colonists were content with what they had got. The 
constitution was what is known as " representative," 
but the officers who comprised the Government were 
debarred by the Constitution Ordinance from becoming 
members of Parliament. Sitting and speaking in either 
House solely by virtue of their permanent Downing 
Street appointments they were independent of political 
parties ; and requiring no parliamentary support they 
could view an attack on their policy or administration 
with composure. If Parliament differed from them it 
could be dissolved, but they went on for ever. " Repre- 
sentative " government was, in fact, only a stepping 
stone from which the Colony might pass either forward 
to full " responsible " government under which ministers, 
by being made eligible for election to either House, 
would be answerable to Parliament for their conduct, 
or back again, as some colonies did, to " Crown Colonv" 

Discussions on the subject were raised in both 
Houses almost at once and continued until Governor 
Wodehouse, after making three reactionary attempts to 



amend the constitution, brought matters to a head by 
dissolving the House of Assembly in 1869 and submitting 
to the electorate a draft Reform Bill under which it was 
proposed to revert to a system not unlike the old by 
reducing the two Houses of Parliament into one. This 
Bill was introduced into the new House of Assembly 
in 1870; but, much to the delight of the majority in 
the House of Assembly, it was defeated by thirty-four 
votes to twenty-six. The anti-reform party shook hands 
all round, even the gallery cheered, and, according to 
an imaginative reporter, " Mr. Ziervogel skipped down 
Grave Street like a young lamb, and Mr. Solomon 
popped into his carriage like an industrious flea." 

Next year, Mr. (afterwards Sir John) Molteno 
carried a motion in favour of " responsible " government, 
and in the year following (1872), when a remarkably 
short Act giving effect to the resolution was passed, he 
was called upon to form a Cabinet under a constitution 
that had taken nearly three-quarters of a century to 

The Old Cape House. 


In the 

Goede Hoop 

Che Banqueting Hall of the GOEDE HOOF LODGE 


1*54 1884. 

^ith the exception of the session held in Grahamstown in 1864, this 
hall was occupied until the "New" Houses of Parliament were 
completed. It war situated at the top cf Grave (now Parliament) 
Street, and was destroyed by fire on the 21st February. 1892. On its 
site was built (lie present Good Hope Hall 
! ii.iwn from a pliotoeraph in the possession of A Flliott. 


In the Goede Hoop Lodge, 


THERE is no getting away from the fact that the 
building occupied by the Cape House of Assem- 
bly during its first thirty years of existence was 
far from what it should have been. Originally it had 
been proposed that the Supreme Court should be 
used by the House of Assembly until other arrangements 
could be made, but the Banqueting Hall of the Goede 
Hoop Lodge was used instead, and whatever attractions 
the hall may have had by reason of its surroundings, 
it was certainly more suitable for the entertainment 
of convivial brethren of the Lodge than for the housing 
of colonial statesmen. The gardens attached to it 
were irreproachable. A fountain tinkled in the centre 
all day long and spreading oaks tempered the heat 
of summer. Nor was the exterior of the building 
unattractive. Besides the mam entrance, it had two 
pillared doorways leading into the garden, while its 
dull green slate roof harmonised with the foliage. 

Lack of accommodation was its chief sin. The 
whole building, offices included, was not much bigger 
than the dining-room of the Union Houses of Parliament, 


while the Debating Chamber measured only twenty 
feet across. It is true that there were only forty-six 
members in 1854, but, divided into two rows on each 
side of the House, there remained an aisle of barely 
four feet between the two front benches ! 

Yet, even in its cramped surroundings, the House 
had a dignified appearance. It is unlikely that the most 
critical member of the Mother of Parliaments would 
have found anything to smile at, and, notwithstanding 
the disheartening sentiments of the London Times, 
it required only a few sessions to show that, in its 
composition, the Cape House would bear comparison 
with any in the world. On its eighteen inch flooring 
boards scenes were enacted, oratory displayed and 
statesmanship revealed of which any Parliament might 
be proud. 

In 1854 the public gained admittance through 
the main entrance facing down Grave Street, and, 
after passing into a narrow passage, visitors were 
ushered into what was called the " public gallery " 
a few seats arranged in rows and separated from 
the ' House " by a rail of rough unpamted pine 
and a green baize curtain. At two o'clock a great 
hand-bell was rung, and when prayers* had been 

On the 4th of July, 1854, the fourth sitting clay ol the first session, Dr. 
Abercrombie called attention to the fact that so far no prayers had been read, and 
the House unanimously resolved "That the business of this House be commenced 
iy prayer to Almighty God." The prayer used by the old Legislative Council 
Irom 1834 to I8';>3 was then adopted with slight modifications, and was substan- 
tially the saint' r.s that now used by the Union House of Assembly. 








ASSEMBLY, 1854 '84. 

The drawing is dated 1875, and shows the arrangements as finally 
adopted. The " member's entrance" shown here was originally used 

a public entrance, and th 
om a plan in the I'nlon Ho 

Speaker's Cha 

of As 


read the curtain was drawn aside and the House, 
its members, its officers, and the Press gallery were 
exposed to view. 

At the upper end of the hall facing the sea sat 
the stern-visaged Speaker (Sir Christoffel Brand) on 
an old-fashioned Dutch chair mounted on a small 
platform about two feet high. Immediately below 
him were the Clerk and the Clerk-Assistant seated 
at a deal table covered with green baize (even then the 
predominating colour), and piled high with books. 
The bearded Clerk, Mr. H. J. P. le Sueur, was the 
nephew of the then Postmaster-General, and the 
Clerk-Assistant, Mr. C. J. Brand, Jun., was a son 
of the Speaker. Close to the bar of the House, Major 
Longmore, the Sergeant-at-Arms, had a raised seat 
from which he would constantly descend to announce 
in a loud voice " a Messenger from His Excellency 
the Governor," or " Messengers from the Honourable 
the Legislative Council." 

These were the officials of the House, but just 
behind and to either side of the Speaker's Chair, 
half-hidden by a screen, were the representatives 
of the Press : William Buchanan and his son James 
(afterwards a Judge of the High Court of Griqualand 
West) representing the Commercial jldoertiser and 
ZKCail on the one side, and R. W. Murray, Sen. ("Lim- 
ner "), representing the ^Conitor on the other. 
The Commercial Advertiser and <J$ail printed by 


far the better reports of what took place, but Murray's 
pen was never still, and it is largely due to his sketches 
of members and reminiscences of early Cape days 
that it has been possible to reconstruct the House 
as it was. It should be remarked, however, that 
he was by no means impartial. A close examination 
of the articles he wrote, and the periods at which 
he wrote them, unfortunately exposes a strong political 
and even personal bias. One of his duties as editor 
of the -JXConitor was to oppose Fairbairn, and Fairbairn, 
according to the ^Tom/or, never uttered a wise word 
in the House. Speaker Brand he soon fell foul of, 
and henceforth Brand was transformed from an able, 
impartial, fearless Speaker to a doddering old red-faced 
man whom " it was high time should be pensioned." 
Saul Solomon, whom he lauded to the skies in 1854, 
was ten years later, when Murray edited an Eastern 
paper, nothing less than narrow-minded, ungenerous 
and spiteful ! 

But to return to the House as visitors saw it in 1854. 
On the front benches on the Speaker's right sat the four 
executive officers, W. Hope (Auditor-General), H. 
Rivers (Treasurer-General), W. Porter (Attorney-General) 
and Rawson W. Rawson (Colonial Secretary), followed 
by Fairbairn, Watermeyer, Ziervogel, Molteno, Memtjes 
and Laws. On the left front benches were, to mention 
only a few, Arderne, Fairbridge, Tancred, Wiggins 
and White, while in a back bench behind Wiggins 

MR. SAUL SOLOMON: (b 1817. ./.v.f 1892) 

A dwarf in stature and a giant in intellect. He is seen in his 
back bench seat in the Goede Hoop Lodge. He represented 
Cape Town from 1854 to 1868 and from 1870 to 1883 

From a portrait by 

\V> H Schroder, 1883 in the Union House 


sat Saul Solomon, the brainiest man in the House. 
Advocate J. H. Brand, another of the Speaker's sons, 
who in 1863 became President of the Orange Free 
State, was absent on circuit during the early part 
of the session, but he took his seat in time to show 
his abilities in discussions on some of the most important 
matters of the session. Could anyone wish to see 
a collection more brilliant than this in a colony which 
at that time could boast of not more than 140,000 
white inhabitants ? 

The Legislative Council consisted of only fifteen 
members. Presided over by the Chief Justice, Sir 
John Wylde, they sat round a horse-shoe shaped table 
(recently broken up) in the upper room in the Old 
Supreme Court Buildings that formerly had been 
used by the Council of 1834-'53. There seems to have 
been a plentiful supply of green baize in those days, 
for this table, too, was covered with that material. 

Numerically, the Council was thus far weaker 
than the Assembly, but among its members were such 
sterling men as H. E. Rutherford, F. W. Reitz, J. B. 
Ebden and J. de Wet for the West, and Sir Andries 
Stockenstrom, R. Godlonton, G. Wood and H. 
Blame for the East ; and that they appreciated their 
functions and valued their opinions as much as did 
the House of Assembly is seen from the innumerable 
disagreements between the two Houses. 

Troubles over money bills began in the first 


session and ended rather curiously. The Constitution 
Ordinance expressly permitted the Council to amend 
Bills appropriating money for the service of the Crown 
or imposing taxation, and no sooner had the House 
of Assembly sent the first Appropriation Bill to the 
Council for concurrence than that august body became 
inordinately inquisitive. It wanted to know why the 
Speaker's salary was fixed at 800, why the Governor 
did not want more money for Road Boards, and several 
other things besides. Conferences were held between 
the two Houses, and eventually the Council decided 
to give the Governor money for Road Board officials 
whether he wanted it or not. 

The Assembly was up in arms. The Council amend 
a money bill ? Never ! According to the letter of 
the law it certainly had the right to do so, but what 
of that ? The time-honoured constitutional practice 
of the Imperial Parliament was good enough for them, 
and so they rejected the amendment. The Council 
insisted on the amendment, but instead of being content 
with saying so, they decided to inform the House 
of Assembly that ' the Bill is consequently lost." 
The bearers of the message were duly announced, 
walked up the floor of the House, and were on the point 
of handing it to the Speaker, when that astute custodian 
of the Assembly's privileges spied the accompanying 
The message he would receive, but not the Bill, 
lor, said he, if the Bill were lost in the Council the 


bearers of the message could not possibly have it in 
their possession. But the bearers seemed to think 
it had been found again. They persisted in handing 
over the Bill and firmly placed it on the Speaker's 
desk. The Speaker just as firmly picked it up and 
dropped it on the floor, and there it expired the 
first Appropriation Bill and the first bill to " drop " 
in every sense of the term. 

The Governor was thus left without funds, but 
he soon found a way out of the difficulty by embodying 
such of his requirements as were non-contentious in 
a supplementary Appropriation Bill. This Bill was 
passed by both Houses, and at the prorogation ceremony 
His Excellency took the opportunity of asking them 
to think over their troubles more calmly during the 
recess. But from that day to this the two Houses 
have continued to wrangle, and R. W. Murray tells 
us that when a few years later they attended the cere- 
mony connected with the laying of the foundation 
stone of the patent slip at Simonstown, they were 
so much at loggerheads that the band struck up, " Oh, 
dear, what can the matter be? " much to the amusement 
of Sir George Grey and the guests. 

Messages between the Upper and Lower Houses, 
by the way, were at first conveyed by two members 
specially deputed on each occasion, and one can under- 
stand the feeling that prompted the House of Assembly 
to abandon this practice after a three years' trial 


It was then (1857) proposed that one of the officers 
of the House should be empowered to carry messages 
to the Council, but no one appears to have been par- 
ticularly anxious constantly to tramp Grave Street 
and climb the twisting staircase to the Council room. 
When the Clerk of the House was suggested he looked 
down his nose, and when the Clerk- Assistant was 
mentioned he looked out of the window to see what 
the weather was like. The Clerk of the Papers had 
his turn, but when the qualifications of the doorkeeper 
had been discussed the doubtful honour was thrust 
upon the chief officer as the most suitable to be trusted 
with the dignity of the House. 

The distance which separated the Colonial Lords 
from the Commons was, however, even greater than 
that which separated their Imperial prototypes from 
one another in the days of old when the Commons 
resorted to the Chapter House in Westminster Abbey 
and left the Lords in possession of the Parliament 
buildings over the way, and the result was that the 
Clerk of the House had often to dash to and fro more 
like a professional sprinter than a sedate official. Under 
these circumstances it is not difficult to understand 
how it came about that before the two Houses were 
brought under one roof the Clerk-Assistant was also 
deemed to be a person worthy of the dignity of carrying 

No legislative body could have been more jealous 


of its dignity, but the most austere assembly in the 
world is subject to the frailties of the flesh. It is said, 
for instance, that in the English House of Commons, 
at the end of the seventeenth century, it was not 
thought peculiar for a party of Cabinet Ministers, 
stripped to their shirts and riotously intoxicated, 
to climb the nearest signpost in order to drink the 
King's health from a suitable point of vantage. Al- 
though the Cape House never got quite so far as that, 
there is one notorious instance of intemperance. A 
member (who shall be nameless), after giving cause 
for comment during the whole afternoon of the 9th 
of June, 1857, reached an unmistakable stage after 
dinner. He wanted pen and ink and paper, and 
insisted that the Clerk of the House should supply 
him from the drawer in the Clerk's desk. As the 
drawer was locked, the key was angrily demanded, 
and it looked as though an unseemly altercation was 
about to take place, until Mr. Molteno made a timely 
interference and asked the House, through the Speaker, 
to order the withdrawal of the member. 

The House was more than willing, but the member 
demurred. Then a bright idea struck him. Why 
should he be bullied ? Why had the House suddenly 
decided to get rid of him ? He appealed for protection 
and peace, as well as for pen and ink. ' Ve-ry well," 
he said, when this was refused. ' I will seek my 
own protection, Mr. Speaker [he pronounced it 


' Shpeaker '] . I have allowed this to go on too long ! 
Am I to give up an opinion when I have a self-con- 
viction ? For what reason is all this brought forward ? " 

" Be at peace," interjected Mr. Fairbairn. ' Take 
the advice of friends and quit the Chamber." 

' Well, well," continued the fuddled member, 
there is my hand and my word of honour. If you 
are satisfied I am for peace, I will sit down." 
' Will you withdraw P " asked the Speaker." 

"NO," came the stentorian reply ; " I throw myself 
on the hands of gentlemen." The question was put 
that the offender be placed in the custody of the Ser- 
geant-at-Arms, and was carried by acclamation. The 
Sergeant-at-Arms approached his prisoner, and for 
a moment they looked at one another. Then, turning 
about, the Sergeant-at-Arms headed for the exit, 
followed by the delinquent, who, with one eye cocked 
on the shining mace, strutted out, singing " Rich 
and rare were the Gems she wore." 

I know of only one other instance of a member 
being placed in custody. ' While Mr. Shepperson 
was addressing the House," read the Journals dated 
the 22nd of May, 1856, "Dr. Tancred repeatedly 
interrupted the proceedings." Mr. Speaker called 
him to order, but Dr. Tancred not only persisted 
in ' vexatiously interrupting the House," but refused 
to leave the Debating Chamber until conducted out by 
the Sergeant-at-Arms. 


Left alone, the House quickly resolved that Tancred 
" had made himself guilty of contempt of this House, 
and that he, therefore, be committed to the custody 
of the Sergeant-at-Arms until he shall have satisfied 
the House." Tancred was brought to the bar, informed 
of the decision, and again removed in charge. He 
appears, however, to have been an unwilling guest, 
for no sooner was his fate determined than he seized 
a sheet of foolscap and hastily scrawled in letters an 
inch big : " Dr. Tancred for Clanwilliam, seeing that 
the Chair and Speaker must be upheld, gives his un- 
conditional apology to the Speaker and this Honourable 
House." But this Honourable House was in no hurry 
to see Dr. Tancred for Clanwilliam, and by postponing 
the consideration of his belated retraction; allowed 
him to remain in the company of the Sergeant-at-Arms 
for five days. 

One of the first things the House had done on 
its meeting in 1854 was to appoint a Select Committee, 
comprising Porter, Fairbairn, Fairbridge, Watermeyer, 
and Ziervogel, to frame Standing Rules and Orders. 
These were drafted with the greatest care, and, with 
only a few alterations, were adopted by the House 
in the same session. They numbered only 173, and 
by enunciating sound principles without entering into 
many details, remained in use, with a few additions, 
for twenty-nine years. 

Dr. Tancred was the first to test them, and this 


is the most charitable light in which that insufferable, 
thick-skinned nuisance may be remembered. At first 
he shocked the House, then by turns he angered and 
amused it, until finally Speaker and members decided 
to disregard his antics. One day he would mimic 
a member, another day he would defy the authority 
of the Chair, but on the 24th of April, 1856, he exceeded 
all Parliamentary bounds. 

The House was in committee on the report of a 
Select Committee, when Dr. Tancred, who favoured 
the separation of East from West, interrupted Mr. 
Ziervogel by shouting out, " Separate, separate," 
to which Mr. Ziervogel retorted with some warmth : 
' Perhaps the House would be glad to separate from 
Clanwilliam and its honourable member too and the 
sooner the better." The afterthought was the 
finishing touch. 

' What's that you say ? " roared Tancred, red-hot 
with rage. " One member is as good as another." 
' Yes," replied Ziervogel, " and perhaps a little 

This was too much for Tancred. Inarticulate, 
he sprang from his seat, threw his pocket-handkerchief 
in Ziervogel's face, and significantly walked outside. 

Ziervogel was sensible enough not to follow him. 
Nothing, he assured the outraged House, that was 
done by Dr. Tancred could offend him. When the 
committee had reported, and the insult was brought 


to the Speaker's notice, Tancred was summoned 
to his seat and, after he had offered a very poor apology 
to the House, it was deemed expedient to let the matter 

Failing separation from the Western Province 
the Easterns naturally urged that Parliament should 
sometimes hold its meetings in their part of thecountry. 
The Governor was empowered by the Constitution 
Ordinance to summon Parliament to meet anywhere 
in the Colony, but notwithstanding growls from the 
East, Parliament was only once summoned to meet 
outside Cape Town. In 1855 an Eastern moved 
' That the just claims of the Eastern Province require 
that the next session of Parliament be held in some 
suitable town in the Eastern Province . . . but 
there were many obstacles, such as the transference 
of the Parliamentary records, and Dr. Tancred, in a 
facetious mood, moved as an amendment, in words 
curiously resembling those of the original motion, 
that the Governor be requested to instruct the Colonial 
Secretary (Rawson W. Rawson) to carry the Cape 
Archives on his back to the town selected, and further, 
to instruct a medical officer ' to attend the Colonial 
Secretary and support him in his bodily and mental 
exertions." The amendment, needless to say, was 
not seconded, and the original motion was negatived. 

But in 1863 a similar motion was carried, and, 
although it was defeated in the Council, the Governor 


decided, owing to his inability to pass certain measures 
in Cape Town, to hold the next session in Grahamstown. 
At the prorogation ceremony he announced his intention. 
The Western members were thunderstruck and strongly 
protested, but their protestations were in vain, and 
held in Grahamstown the next session was. 

The Sergeant-at-Arms lugubriously packed up the 
mace* and, pestered by reporters, curious to see his 
precious charge, travelled by sea and land to the City 
of Saints. The Speaker drove overland, and found 
the jolting he got on the journey extremely disagreeable. 
Grahamstown, on the other hand, was delighted, 
and the hotel proprietors beamed at the prospect of 
unusual profits. 

As the buildings in the Drostdy grounds had just 
been vacated by the garrison, the old military hospital 
(now used as a botany room by the Rhodes University 
College) was prepared for the House of Assembly, 
and three wooden Crimea-huts (subsequently destroyed 
by fire), which stood close by, were allotted to the 
Legislative Council. The services of a local carpenter 
were requisitioned to make the interior of these buildings 
resemble the two Houses in the Cape, and, so successful 
were his efforts, that before Parliament met, the Cape 

I In* mace is now used in the Union House of Assembly, and is a replica of 
that which Kas been in use in the House of Commons since the Restoration. Cost- 
ing 100 enini-as, it was ordered from England in 1854, and arrived the following 
year in a French-polished oak case. In 1892 a new case was made from the wood 
" \ an Riebeek's Thorne," a mimosa tree some 320 years old which was blov>-n 
down ui^t outside the Houses of Parliament in that vear. 


The troops are seen presenting arms as the Governor s carnage draws 
up at the entrance to the building in High Street. The building is 
now used for various purposes, and the facade has been entirely rebuilt. 

Fiom a wet plate negative in the possession of A. Flliott 


Town House of Assembly and the one in Grahamstown 
were, in the words of a man who knew both places, 
" as like as two peas." There were the same four 
rows of seats covered with sham morocco, the same 
square table with mahogany brackets for the mace, 
and the same desks, screens and glass ink-stands. 

Amid great rejoicings of the inhabitants, the opening 
ceremony took place in the Shaw College in High 
Street on the 28th of April, 1864. Members of Par- 
liament foregathered in houses just opposite the college, 
and the Westerns noted with amusement the " Separ- 
ationist " inscriptions on some of the streamers that 
adorned the street. " Look out for squalls," read 
one ; " Shall you remain ? " bluntly queried another ; 
and " Shall we keep company ? " was the strange 
device of a third. When the ceremony was over members 
of both Houses returned to their respective buildings, 
and West prepared to tackle East in its own stronghold. 

During the session a peculiar informality was 
disclosed which resulted in a notice being served on 
the Speaker by a firm of Cape Town attorneys. 
Preceding the session, there had been a general election, 
and the Constitution Ordinance provided that when 
all the results had been proclaimed in the Qazettz 
the Governor might summon Parliament by procla- 
mation. Now not only was this proclamation issued 
a few hours before the publication of the Clanwilliam 
election results, but it was known that on the date 


on which the proclamation purported to be signed in 
Cape Town the Governor was actually in the Eastern 
Province and that he, therefore, could not possibly 
have affixed his name to the proclamation as by law 

The two members for Clanwilham (Mr. Boyes and 
Mr. Steele) expressed themselves highly aggrieved. 
They drew up a " solemn declaration and protest," 
and through their attorneys called upon Sir Christoffel 
Brand, the Speaker, to show cause why the proclamation 
summoning Parliament to meet, as well as the whole 
proceedings at Grahamstown, should not be declared 
" null and void, illegal and of no effect." 

The document was considered by a Select Committee 
which reported to the House, and the House, to the 
credit of the Western members, told the Speaker not 
to take any notice of it. 

After sitting for three months in Grahamstown, 
both Houses met once more in the Shaw College 
this time for the prorogation ceremony and heard 
that the Governor regarded the session as a success. 
The Westerns, however, took a different view, and those 
who still remained lost no time in getting back to theii 

The next session (1865) was the longest in the history 
of the Cape Parliament, and one of the liveliest that 
took place in the Goede Hoop Lodge. By an Act 
of its own the Imperial Parliament attempted to force 


View of the old military hospital in the Drostdy grounds. The 
members' entrance to the debating chamber has Keen converted into 
the window shown on the extreme right. The steps which led to the 
entrance have been removed, and the trees hav bet n lately cut t.own 
From a recent photograph i-v Lt.-Col. H. Greener. 


the Cape Legislature to annex British Kaffraria, and 
Saul Solomon promptly moved a resolution that 
took three pages of printed foolscap, roundly denouncing 
the Imperial Parliament for " violating our Constitu- 
tional rights " by attempting to force the hand of 
the Cape Parliament and censuring the Governor for 
carrying out his instructions. At a quarter to one on 
a chill morning of the 24th of May the Queen's 
Birthday of all days the motion was agreed to without 
a division, and, having thus disposed of the Imperial 
Parliament, and the Governor, Westerns and Easterns 
joined issue on the additional number of seats to be 
allocated upon the annexation of Kaffraria. 

Parnell had not yet shown how to employ " the 
sacred right of obstruction," but the Easterns managed 
fairly well for themselves. They read pages and pages 
from blue-books, quoted extensively from Webster's 
Dictionary, and, not unnaturally, showed a predilection 
for excerpts from ,/J T^ow at the Oxford ^/Jrms. The 
Westerns put in an appearance as little as possible, 
and the Easterns took advantage of the fact by arranging 
with three or four members to read extracts to empty 
benches, and at regular intervals to draw attention 
to the want of a quorum (twelve members). The 
bell would then be rung as in a division, and the Westerns 
would be obliged to muster in sufficient force to form 
a quorum and so prevent the count-out which would 
have meant that the Bill before the House would 


lapse and have to be revived by a fresh motion involving 
fresh discussion. On one day alone there were fifty- 
eight counts, and, before the Bill was passed, there 
were over four hundred, five of which did result in 
the House being counted out. 

The Bill had hardly been read a third time when 
both parties put their quarrel on one side in order to 
honour a man to whom honour was due. William 
Porter was about to retire from the office of Attorney- 
General and the House unanimously decided to pass 
a vote of thanks for the exceptional services he had 
rendered. During his term of office he had done as 
much as any to create the proper tone in the House 
and to mould its character. He had prepared, and 
written in his own hand, almost every bill introduced, 
and was admired as much for his oratory and brain- 
power as for his downright honesty, his regard for 
the feelings of others, his manliness and his modesty. 

He was now sixty years of age, and grey-bearded, 
but his tall figure was as erect as ever, and when he 
strode into the House just before the Orders of the 
Day were read on the 21st of August, 1865, there 
was an expectant silence. A few days before, when 
a vote of thanks had been passed, it had been resolved 
that the Speaker should communicate the resolution 
to Mr. Porter in the House, and the galleries were 
crowded in anticipation of the event. Members and 
the public rose as he entered, and when Mr. Speaker 

a QD oaa 

a an p GOOD 



Slight structural alterations have mce been made. 


after an appropriate address handed to him a scroll 
on which was engrossed as many words of heartfelt 
thanks as could be worked into formal phraseology, 
Mr. Porter held an admiring audience spellbound 
by a speech that was as eloquent as it was humble. 
And when he finished speaking there was a spontaneous 
burst of cheering, in which the strangers in the gallery 
lustily joined, despite the remonstrances of the Sergeant- 

Mr. Porter, even when a member of a conservative 
Executive, had been in favour of party government, 
and sitting as a private member for Cape Town in 
1872 he had the satisfaction of seeing the " Responsible 
Government Bill," which he had been called upon 
to draft, pass through the Assembly after a hard fight 
and scrape through the Council by the casting vote 
of the Chairman of Committees. 

In this year (1872) the House consisted of sixty-six 
instead of the original forty-six members, and of these 
only five who had sat in the first House remained to 
hand on its traditions. They were Molteno, Porter, 
Solomon, Ziervogel, and the Speaker, Sir Christoffel 
Brand. But there had been added at least five new 
members of note to transmit the unwritten laws to 
the younger generation, namely, J. X. Merriman, 
T. C. Scanlen, G. Sprigg, Tennant (afterwards Speaker) 
and J. H. de Vilhers (afterwards Lord de Villiers), 
and with such members to show the way the House 


entered into a period of transformation that lasted 
until the old buildings were forsaken. The introduction 
of responsible government meant an organic change, 
but it was not revolutionary, and the process of develop- 
ment was far slower than might be expected. Many 
responsibilities properly attaching to the Government 
but filched by a House envious of executive control 
continued to be undertaken by the House ; the old 
rules still obtained, and Ministers were at first prone 
to forget that they depended on the good-will of Parlia- 
ment for their existence. 

In 1874, however, when Sir DavidTennant was elected 
Speaker, the character of the House, from the arrange- 
ment of the Debating Chamber to the form of its 
proceedings, underwent a noticeable change. Like all 
new brooms he made a clean sweep. The Speaker's 
Chair, which, in 1866, had been moved from the upper 
end of the Chamber to a position facing across the 
floor, was placed at the lower end of the Chamber, 
a proper Press gallery was built, and the attendants 
were smartened up with new uniforms. 

Sir David had read the signs of the times aright. 
He recognised the spirit of evolution that was at work, 
and, as Speaker, took far more upon his shoulders 
than had his predecessor, who, in accordance with 
ancient custom, had regarded himself merely as the 
mouthpiece of the House, and had frequently referred 
back to the House, or the Select Committee on Standing 


Rules and Orders, questions that he had been asked 
to decide. In some cases Sir David followed this 
practice, but with the accumulated precedents that 
had been established and a good conception of the 
sense of the House, he generally stated exactly what 
should or should not be done. He discountenanced 
frivolous motions of the Tancred type, and drafted 
revised rules. 

Simultaneously the status of the Chairman of 
Committees was greatly improved. Hitherto each 
Committee of the Whole House had chosen its own 
Chairman, and sometimes as many as twenty members 
were selected during one session. Some were good 
but others were indifferent, and even bad, and as 
none had the advantage of continuous experience, a 
feeling had been growing that only one member should 
be elected for all Committees. Among the most success- 
ful Chairmen had been Mr. W. Walter, and on him, 
in 1875, was conferred the distinction of being appointed 
first permanent Chairman of Committees of the Cape 
House. Elected for George in 1859, firm, upright 
and impartial, he was much respected by both sides 
of the House, and invested the new office with the 
authority to which it was entitled. 

In 1872 a blow was struck at the old party divisions 
of East and West by passing an Act establishing seven 
circles instead of the Eastern and Western Provinces 
for the Council elections. In 1882, at the instance ol 


J. H. Hofmeyr, an Act was passed (without a division 
in the House of Assembly) permitting the use of the 
Dutch language in debates. In 1883 both Houses 
surrendered to the Supreme Court their exclusive 
right of determining the validity of elections, and 
in the same year passed the Powers and Privileges 
of Parliament Act, which at last enabled them to 
stretch an arm beyond their walls and put an end to 
insults which they had previously allowed to pass 

These were some of the more important changes 
that took place during the period 1872-1884, but 
there were many others. Although replies to the 
Governor's opening speech had long been discarded, 
the opening ceremony was as much as ever a public 
entertainment, but from 1881 the grand finale, the 
prorogation ceremony in Government House, was 
discontinued, and only revived on three later occasions. 
In 1882 the Governor virtually abandoned the practice 
of sending messages to the House by one of his household 
staff and communicated with the House through 
his Ministers. In every direction there was a tightening 
up of procedure and economising of time. The leisurely 
old days when it took five hours to print a page of 
foolscap, when the House adjourned for a Government 
House ball, and when a member sought to postpone 
a discussion because the Speaker had influenza, were 
fast disappearing. 

HON. SIR JOHN MOLTENO. K.C M.G. (b. 1814. ,/. 1886). 

Sir John, or "The Lion of Beaufort" as he was called, headed 
the movement for Responsible Government, and was the first 
Prime Minister. He represented Beaufort West from 1854 to 
1878 and Victoria West from 1880 to 1883. 
From n rlrawimj by W. H. Schroder in " Hct Volksblad," 1884. 


Meanwhile three Ministries rose and fell. When 
the new constitution came into force on the 29th of 
November, 1872, the Governor asked Mr. (afterwards 
Sir Richard) Southey to form a Ministry. On his 
declining, Mr. Porter, who had drafted the Bill, was 
approached, but he, too, refused, as also did Mr. 
Solomon, and so it came about that " Molteno, 
the lion of Beaufort, the alpha and omega of every 
question, the great Sir Oracle of the Assembly," formed 
the first Ministry. 

Of his trials and tribulations the reader will get 
a full account in The Life and Times of Sir John 
Charles Molteno, which gives * a minute description 
of the trouble beginning with a native squabble at 
a drunken feast, centreing round the resultant Kafir 
war that set all the frontier ablaze, and ending with 
the dismissal of the Molteno Ministry on one of the 
biggest constitutional issues the Colony ever knew. 

The crisis arose in connection with the use of Imperial 
troops and the control of Colonial forces, but of the 
forces themselves there could be nothing but praise, 
and the House showed its feeling in a manner even 
more elaborate than when it paid its tribute to Mr. 
Porter. Sprigg, who, without a general election, 
had formed a new Ministry, moved, and Molteno, 
who now sat on the Opposition benches, seconded, 
a resolution that a vote of thanks be accorded the 
successful commanders. Political differences were laid 


aside, the resolution was agreed to, and on the 3rd of 
July, 1878, the heroes of the hour, General Thesiger 
and Commodore Sullivan, appeared in person to receive 
the gracious thanks of the House through Mr. Speaker 
Tennant. The whole House was specially prepared 
for the occasion. Outside the building the Cape Town 
Artillery had drawn up their guns, while inside tables 
and blue-books had been removed, and two crimson 
easy chairs placed within the bar. As the Speaker's 
gallery behind the bar was apportioned to the blue 
and scarlet-coated officers, distinguished strangers were 
placed on either side of the Speaker's Chair. 

At two o'clock Sir David Tennant, robed in state 
gown of black and gold, took the Chair, and having 
read prayers, invited the General and the Commodore, 
who waited without the bar, to take their seats on 
the floor of the House. The Sergeant-at-Arms bearing 
the mace took up his position on the General's right 
and the Speaker proceeded in appropriate terms to 
convey to the Imperial and Colonial forces the highest 
compliment Parliament can offer. Two soldierly 
replies, and the hall emptied. The Artillery fired a 
salute that shivered a pane of glass, and the proceedings 
were at an end. 

Thereafter the Opposition settled down in earnest 
to oust the Government. Sprigg fell to Scanlen, and 
just before Scanlen succumbed to Upmgton the House 
moved over to the buildings now occupied by the 


Union Parliament. No guns proclaimed the event. 
The change from old quarters to new marked the 
end of a distinct period in the development of the 
Cape House; but when, during the recess of 1884, 
Messrs. Bull and Son, the contractors for the new 
buildings, had handed over the keys of the new 
quarters, the Speaker and his staff moved silently 
down Grave Street without ostentation of any kind. 
For a short time the Native Affairs Department 
made use of the old Lodge, but in 1892 it was destroyed 
by fire, and after being rebuilt was used for almost 
every purpose under the sun. To-day, however, 
as the office of the Cape Town branch of the Government 
Printing and Stationery Department, it is once more 
the home of blue-books blue-books that contain the 
history of every question that exercised the ingenuity 
of our early legislators. Buried away, they are the 
dead bones of the past, but the spirits of their authors 
still meet one at every turn. 



of the 
Houses of 


By Charles Freeman, as modified and approved by a special 
commission in 1874. The corner-stone war laid in the following year, 
but the building was never completed. 

t-raph on invitation lards issued for the ropvr- stone 


The Building of the "New" Houses 
of Parliament. 


DO you think that the public and strangers can 
have any respect for the Parliament of this 
country when they see the members of the 
two houses in the two different places* which they 
now occupy ? " 

The question was put by a member of a Select Com- 
mittee of the " Upper House " to Major Longmore in 

Major Longmore must have smiled. He was Sergeant- 
at-Arms of the " Lower House," but he was also a poet 
and a philosopher. " As to gaining more respect," 
he answered, " their acts will be the source of respect 
shown to them." 

The Select Committee, however, was sensitive 
about visitors commenting on the " pig-sty places in 
which discussions were held," and seriously contem- 
templated appropriating the Public Library buildings, 
then being erected, for the Houses of Parliament. 

* Hie Record Room of I lie Old Supreme Court Buddings and the Goede Ho^p 

I .odge. 


Mr. Scott Tucker, the. Civil Engineer, urged the 
committee to construct new quarters on the site that 
was eventually adopted, but the Parade, Caledon Square, 
Greenmarket Square, the Paddock half-way up Govern- 
ment Avenue, and a space at the top of the Avenue were 
also mooted, and had their supporters. 

Captain George Pilkington, R.E., the first Colonial 
Engineer, had previously submitted a design for the 
buildings, but in the end the Committee decided that 
Mr. Scott Tucker should draft fresh plans, and that the 
site should be determined later. By " later " the Com- 
mittee meant " soon," but it was not until the 23rd of 
September, 1874, that the present position was finally 
settled upon by a Commission. 

Meanwhile Scott Tucker's plans met the same fate 
as Pilkington's. They were laid aside, and in 1873 three 
prizes were offered for the best designs for the new 
Houses of Parliament. Seven were received, and the 
Commission that selected the site decided that the first 
prize of two hundred and fifty guineas should be awarded 
to Mr. Charles Freeman, an officer in the Public Works 

When Mr. Freeman's design, " Spes Bona," after 
some modification, was officially adopted, he must have 
counted himself a lucky man, yet in only a few months 
he was, for a time, to rue the day he ever set pencil to 
paper in the competition. 

Great preparations were made for the 12th of May, 


1875, the day on which the foundation-stone was to be 
laid. Miniature photographs of the new buildings (see 
illustration) were pasted on elaborate invitation cards, 
the day was proclaimed a public holiday, and crowds 
gathered from far and wide to witness the event. 

Bunting, flags, sunshine and colour made the proper 
background, and in the foreground stood a tripod from 
which hung the foundation-stone, a massive block of 
granite engraved in letters of gold, " A.D. 1875." Near 
the stone sat His Excellency the Governor, Sir Henry 
Barkly, and when all was ready and speeches had been 
made the real ceremony began. 

In a cavity of the stone were placed a glass tube 
containing specimens of the coins of the realm, together 
with a parchment scroll, engrossed with the names of 
eminent persons present, at the foot of which was the 
name of Mr. Charles Freeman, architect. 

Corn, wine and oil were poured on the stone by three 
Masters of Masonic Lodges, and thereafter the Dean 
prayed that " God Almighty might grant that the 
building thus begun in His name might be happily 
carried on to its complete termination without injury or 
accident, and that when completed it might be used for 
the good of this Colony, to the honour of our Queen and 
to the happiness and good government of our people." 

A silk flag bearing the newly designed Cape Arms* 

* The Cape Arms were not formally granted by the Queen until 29th May, 1876. 
For Royal Warrant see Cape Gazette, 1st Sept., 1876. 


was hoisted over the stone, but the building thus begun 
was never completed, and the corner-stone itself has 

Mr. Freeman was appointed Resident Architect to 
supervise the work and the unexpected happened. The 
foundations had to be sunk deeper than had been 
anticipated, water had to be drained off, and the probable 
expenditure was found to be far greater than had been 

In submitting his design, Freeman had roughly 
calculated that the cost of building would not exceed 
50,000 (the maximum fixed by the terms of the compe- 
tition), and the Public Works Department had checked 
his figures. But now it was found that with the modifi- 
cations that had been made the cost would be quite 
double that amount. 

Someone had to suffer, and Freeman suffered acutely 
for a time. It was pointedly remarked that his designs 
were very similar to a building in Illinois, and that they 
had many points in common with Scott Tucker's. 

Mr. Freeman was openly accused of neglecting his 
duty by concealing information as to the increased cost, 
and ten months after the foundation-stone had been 
laid he was dismissed from office. 

Then followed a period of doubt and uncertainty. 
The House of Assembly decided to appropriate the 
Commercial Exchange, which stood on the Parade. A 
Bill was introduced for this purpose, but the Council 


threw it out. During the suspense the foundations 
which had been laid were found to be faulty, and at last 
Mr. Greaves, of the Public Works Department, who 
had been brought out from England in connection with 
the building that had been started, was entrusted with 
the preparation of entirely new designs. 

In rebuilding the foundations, the corner-stone which 
had been so reverently laid was surreptitiously removed, 
and left to lie neglected among the refuse that surrounds 
all new buildings. The coins and parchment scroll, 
however, were rescued, soldered up in a tin box, and 
quietly placed in a secret place made for it in the pro- 
jecting foundations of the entrance to the Parliamentary 

Even after the fresh start had been made there was 
much wavering. Those who were to inhabit the buildings 
became uneasy lest red-brick would have a meretricious 
appearance, and wondered whether there were not too 
many ornamentations. 

Were the outlines all that might be desired, was 
Doric the most suitable style after all, and would it not 
be better to face the building with granite ? were questions 
that assailed their doubting minds. More resolutions, 
more correspondence, and another Select Committee, 
and it was resolved that the building should proceed 
as Mr. Greaves had planned it. 

And so at last in 1884, after thirty years of uncer- 
tainty, the Houses of Parliament were finished at a cost 


of 220,000. There was no dome, there were no statues 
on the parapets, and there were no fountains as originally 
provided by Mr. Freeman, but then his design would 
have exceeded the 50,000 limit prescribed by the 
competition ! 

How Mr. Freeman must have chuckled afterwards. 
As a builder and designer he started business on his 
own, and before he died, a few years ago, could point 
in Cape Town alone to the Wesleyan Church, the 
Standard Bank, and a host of other buildings, including 
his own premises in Strand Street, as monuments to his 
success and architectural ability. 


In the 
Houses of 


^ith the addition of a new wing on the further side, these 
buildings arc now used Ky the Union Parliament. 
From a phonograph hy K. Peters (" Hood's Studio "), Cape Tow,, 


In the i4 New" Houses of Parliament, 


FROM the raised throne in the Legislative Council 
Chamber of the " new " Houses of Parliament 
His Excellency the Governor, Sir Hercules Robin- 
son (afterwards Lord Rosmead) bowed twice. ' Mr. 
President and Gentlemen of the Legislative Council," 
said he, and there was a ring of satisfaction in his voice, 
" Mr. Speaker and Gentlemen of the House of Assembly, 
in meeting you for the first time in this Chamber, I 
desire to offer you my congratulations on being able to 
assemble in a building worthy of the Legislature of the 
Colony, and to express a hope that the erection of this 
handsome and convenient structure indicates an in- 
tention on your part to proceed in the future in that 
course of progressive and useful legislation which has 
been pursued in the past." 

Outside the " handsome and convenient structure " 
horse and foot regiments made as brave a show as wet 
great-coats and a raw and gusty day in the month of 
May, 1885, would allow, but within the building there 
was seldom a more spectacular opening ceremony. 


Hitherto these ceremonies had been held at Government 
House whither both Houses of Parliament had proceeded, 
but now that Parliament was properly housed the 
position was reversed. Now the Governor, amid all the 
pageantry befitting the occasion, could come to Parliament, 
and men and women tricked themselves to show their 
appreciation of the removal of the legislature from barn 
to palace. Sir Thomas Scanlen wore the star of the 
K.C.M.G., the Speaker's train was carried by his little 
grandson attired in Highland costume, the Clerk and 
Clerk-Assistant for the first time donned bob-tail wigs 
and wore uniforms beneath their gowns, while the 
judges looked as grave as when twelve years later they, 
with General Goodenough, were themselves commis- 
sioned to open Parliament during the absence of the 

" Palatial," ' magnificent," and even " stunning " 
were words one might have heard as, the ceremony over, 
members of the House of Assembly wended their way 
back to their own side of the building. But the smell 
of fresh paint and varnish in ornate surroundings did 
not appeal to them all, and there were some faces, 
tanned with the fresh air of the veld, that during both 
the opening ceremony and the brilliant reception given 
by President and Speaker the same night, betrayed the 
sadness that comes in parting with an old home, be it 
even a barn. In the Goede Hoop Lodge the garden 
had been the lobby, and intercourse was governed by 


the freedom that the garden inspires. Now pillars of 
marble with Corinthian capitals, tesselated floors, and a 
Debating Chamber only a few feet smaller than that of 
the House of Commons gave rise to a new feeling of 
formality. The draughts were abominable, the light 
was trying, the acoustic properties bad, and poor Mr. 
Greaves, of the Public Works Department, was kept 
busy for many a year later trying to remedy the defects. 
There was only a small refreshment room, but a handsome 
library and a comfortable billiard room made up for a 
good deal. And then there were the division lobbies. 

Now thereby hangs a tale, for the history of divisions 
in the Cape House is peculiar. For the first five years 
of its existence the Cape House thought it necessary to 
preclude strangers from witnessing it divide, and when 
a division was called the Speaker ordered the Sergeant- 
at-Arms to clear the gallery ; but in 1859 democracy 
gained a point and strangers were allowed the privilege 
of hearing Mr. Speaker direct the Ayes to take their 
seats on the right of the Chair and the Noes on the left. 
In 1866, however, when the Speaker's Chair from facing 
down the length of the hall was moved so as to face 
across the floor, it had a long bench opposite it, and 
only an imaginary line divided the right of the House 
from the left. The Standing Rules and Orders Com- 
mittee, fearing complications a member might easily 
have been cut in twain recommended that the Speaker's 
library and the Clerk's offices should be used as lobbies; 


but although the report was adopted and the arrangement 
of the House was not altered for some time, there is good 
reason for believing that lobbies after being given one 
trial were never again used in the Goede Hoop Lodge. 

And so it came to pass that when members saw 
lobbies with tellers' boxes opening into the Debating 
Chamber in the new building they looked askance at 
one another. The rules sanctioned this method of 
dividing, but members did not like it. It was hinted 
that stock farmers objected to being counted in the 
same way as their sheep ; but, be this as it may, the 
new lobbies were only twice used, and the doors leading 
into them from the House were shortly afterwards 
covered with oak panelling. 

Whatever doubts there may have been as to the 
quality of the buildings, there were none as to the 
excellence of the members, except in respect of the 
growing number of lawyers a section of the House 
that probably sacrificed more than any other in ac- 
cepting election. It has ever been the lawyers' lot to be 
misunderstood in Parliament. In the reign of Edward 
III. "gentlemen of the long robe" were actually 
excluded from the House of Commons, and when 
they were admitted Pitt spoke of them as " the bloated 
spiders of Westminster Hall ! " The old objection 
was that these gentlemen were inclined to pursue 
their own interests rather than those of the State, 
but the more modern view probably arose out of the 


difficulty some lawyers found in distinguishing matters 
of public policy from matters of law. 

In the Cape House it was much the same, and 
in 1886 we find Sir James Rose Innes, then a brilliant 
" legal ' member, and now Chief Justice, complaining 
that the Colonial Secretary ' talked like a lawyer." 
For his own part he vowed that he sloughed off his 
lawyer's skin before he left his chambers, and consigned 
his legal precedents and methods to his wig-box before 
he turned his face towards the Houses of Parliament. 
The lawyer, he contended, who did not pro hoc vice 
cease to be a lawyer could not aspire to statesmanship. 
Lawyers, moreover, would naturally excel in 
laying down the law," and nobody dislikes being 
lectured more than a member of Parliament. Perhaps 
it was this feeling that stifled the picturesque practice of 
hearing counsel at the bar of the House in opposition 
to private bills. Four times the House suffered itself 
to be thus lectured. The Sergeant-at-Arms carried 
the mace beyond the bar, Mr. Speaker put on his 
three-cornered black hat, and counsel, wigged and 
gowned, held forth with invariable eloquence and 
skill. But as a rule members slipped out one by one 
to the tea room, and left poor counsel labouring away at 
empty benches. Only once did pleading at the bar 
produce a tangible result, and as the successful barrister 
was Mr. Advocate Rose Innes, his obiter dictum on 
the subject of lawyers in Parliament has added weight. 


It is hard to say whether lawyer or layman was 
the Demosthenes of the House. Opinions on the subject 
vary, and as the standard of eloquence changed 
considerably during the existence of the Cape Parliament 
it is difficult to make comparisons. Porter and 
Upmgton, for instance, were products of different 
days, and consequently differed vastly in their style ; 
yet who shall say that the one was greater than the 
other ? In Porter's day an audience asked first that 
its ear should be pleased and then its mind ; it adored 
an apt quotation and revelled in a drawn-out 
peroration full of flights and flourishes. Upmgton, 
on the other hand, lived at a time when appeal to 
reason was beginning to be the first requisite, and 
men, intolerant of affectation, took fright at flamboyant 
effects. Short speeches, rich in figurative language 
and historical allusion, delivered earnestly in a musical 
voice, however, were always the most impressive. 
Such were Mr. Merriman's speeches, of which his 
oration on women's suffrage in 1907 was a good 

But if any attempt were made to catalogue all the 
speakers of the Cape House, Sir Gordon Spngg's 
rhetoric, Saul Solomon's logic, Sauer's searing 
criticism, Sir Thomas Fuller's and Sir Bisset Berry's 
diction, and Sir Thomas Smartt's fluency would have 
to be mentioned, and still the list would be far very 
far from exhaustive, for, according to a magnanimous 

HON. SIR THOMAS UPINGTON, K.C.M.G., Q.C. <.. IN-I. rf. 1898) 

Mr. Porter, Mr. Mcrnman and Sir Thomas ranked as the three 
greatest orators in the House. With only a short interval, whilst a 
judge he sat continuously from 1878 until his death. He served in 
four Ministries and was once Premier. 

From a drawing hv \V. H Schroder in " Het VolU.iati." 1835 


assertion by Judge Cole, " we are all fluent speakers 
in this country." 

As a matter of fact, however, some of the greatest 
statesmen the Cape produced were not great speakers. 
Rhodes' speeches were not polished, and J. H. Hofmeyr, 
the Maker of Ministries who, by his skilful leadership 
of the Afrikander Bond, changed the whole political 
complexion of the House after the general election 
of 1884 in spite of his careful choice of words, was 
always, in Mr. Sauer's words, " the most misunderstood 
public man in South Africa." 

The truth is, of course, that the greatest thinkers 
are not always the greatest speakers. The man of 
few ideas who persistently hammers away at a subject 
from one angle will often make a better impression 
than the man with a flood of ideas who attacks the 
subject from every point of view. 

And then there were the members who hardly 
spoke at all. Since the word " Parliament " is derived 
from the French " to talk " Parliamentary government 
is of course synonymous with government by discussion, 
and from the earliest days there were members who 
could talk for hours on end. T. H. Bowker in 1861 
spoke on the Separation Bill for an hour on a Saturday 
night and took breath as Sunday drew near, only to 
continue from 2 p.m. until 7.20 p.m. on the following 
Monday. Utterly exhausted, he ended by saying 
that he would rather die on the floor of the House 


than surrender his cause, but there were many who 
realised that even in Parliament silence is sometimes 
golden. Who in recent times will forget the self- 
enforced silence of Dr. Jameson during the whole 
of the 1900 session ? Or the effect produced by certain 
members who spoke only when their acknowledged 
grasp of a subject warranted the attention of the 
entire House ? Some were silent because they preferred 
to listen and to think, and others because they realised 
that debating m Parliament, where most are practised 
speakers, is a very different matter from speaking on 
a public platform. 

One member in particular was so nervous that 
he is said never to have produced a single speech, 
although he made copious notes for several, and was 
a member for twenty years. Once he certainly rose 
and caught the Speaker's eye, but before the Speaker 
could call upon him he gasped, snatched up his notes 
and left the House ! Better such a fate, nevertheless, 
than that of the " woodcutter " member, who spoke 
on woodcutters only and at all times, no matter what 
was under discussion ; his grief was so painfully 
apparent when it was made clear by Speaker or 
Chairman that woodcutting was not a universal topic 
or a central problem around which higher politics 
revolved, and his foible was so easily the sport of 
those jesters with which the high court of Parliament 
always abounds. 

HON. JAN HENDRIK HOFMEYR (6..,,, 1845. dM iw> 

" On/e Jan,' by his leadership of the Bond, chanced the whole political 
complexion of the House after the general election of 1883. Me was a 
member from 1879 to 1895. and Minister without Portfolio in 1881. 

From a hitherto unpublished drawing l,y I. M. Solomon. 


To be a Merry Andrew was, indeed, the secret 
ambition of many a member, and after Dr. Tancred 
died in 1866 there were several who sought and wore 
the cap and bells. Colonel Schermbrucker was a 
Bavarian by birth, had fought in the trenches of 
Sebastopol, was large of build, wise, and, when the 
House entered the new buildings, held Cabinet rank, 
but when freed from the responsibilities of office, 
he tried on the cap, and found it fitted. His wit was 
not nimble. His success in his new role lay rather 
in drollery and ponderous loquacity, which, combined 
with his knowledge of the rules of debate, made him 
at once a prince of obstructionists, the torment of 
Speakers and the idol of the gallery. With an eye on 
the gallery and his hand on his heart he vowed that 
he was the ardent admirer and champion of the fair 
sex, and in the same breath demanded that there was 
only one right for women : the right to contribute 
to the comfort of man. At a moment's notice he 
would gladly undertake to hold up the House for an 
afternoon. He angrily hurled back the ' base 
insinuation that he was a fool and jester " and airily 
told a Minister to " shut up " yet when he died of 
dropsy in 1904 he left no enemies. Would that all 
jesters might have that epitaph. 

These were a few individual types that went to 
make up the House of Assembly, but it is not to 
individuals that we refer in speaking of " the House." 


' The House " had an individuality of its own, and 
required no legal fiction to prove it a distinct entity. 
Out of the clash of political ideals, personal ambitions, 
and points of view there had early been evolved a 
collective personality that was a being apart from 
members, yet comprised them all, and reacted upon 
their personalities. ' The House smiled " does not 
necessarily mean that every member smiled, any 
more than the familiar phrase, " This House is of 
opinion " means that every member is of the stated 
opinion. This probably applies to most representative 
assemblies, but it was particularly true of the Cape 

That it was an essentially human " House " was 
apparent to all who saw it under varying conditions, 
and one illustration will be enough to show its depth 
of feeling. In 1898 the death of Sir Gordon Sprigg's 
old friend, Sir Thomas Upington, was announced. 
The Premier, Mr. W. P. Schreiner, in moving a motion 
of condolence, made a fitting speech, and Mr. Merriman 
paid an eloquent and generous tribute to his old 
opponent ; but it was Sir Gordon who accidentally 
showed the real feeling of the House. He, a champion 
who was accustomed to take as many hard knocks 
as he gave, who had been dubbed " the Apostle of 
Vigour," rose slowly to his feet. " Mr. Speaker," he 
began, in an uncertain voice, and again, " Mr. Speaker, 
I beg to second the motion." He got no further. 


RT. HON. SIR GORDON SPR1GG, P.C., G.C.M.G. (b. mo, ./. 1<>13). 
" The Apostle of Vigour," who was for 36 years a member of the 

House. He served in s 
From a portrait bv u .. Rowortli 

.Ministries, and was four times Prime 

tl-c L' 


For a moment he stood, and then, overcome with 
emotion, sank back into his seat. Eyes sought the 
pattern of the carpet, and to many the highly polished 
desk- tops seemed blurred. A hoarse sob broke the 
absolute stillness, and once more there was silence, 
until Major Tamplin rose to the occasion and spoke 
manfully " on behalf of the Bar." Sir Gordon was 
not given to joking ; but the next day he joked, and 
the House laughed a laugh that was sadder to hear 
than the gayest air played by a band after military 

Nor does the illustration end here, for when, ten 
years later, after being absent from the House for 
several years, Sir Gordon, bent with age, reappeared 
and made a speech that betrayed only too plainly how 
weak his mind had grown, the House cheered 
encouragingly, and Mr. Sauer voiced the pleasure 
with which it had listened. And when still later Sir 
Gordon passed away, those who had been with him 
in the days of his strength overlooked the shortcomings 
time had produced, and remembered only the strong 
man, who, through Gurney's reporting staff, had 
fought his way from a shipbuilder's yard until he 
himself, covered with honours, had four times steered 
the Ship of State. 

Complaints were sometimes made that the House 
had grown stiff and formal since it had occupied the 
new buildings, but as a matter of fact, it was always 


homely in regard to its own affairs. Only in such a 
House would the Speaker have continued to read 
from the Chair letters inviting members to luncheons, 
dinners, dances, sea-trips, and similar frivolities, and 
only such a House would have paid the attention it 
did to these matters. As late as 1897 we find that it 
so enjoyed a short voyage on the flagship at Simon's 
Bay that it actually passed a vote of thanks to Rear- 
Admiral Sir Harry Rawson for his invitation and 
courtesy. And so pleased was Sir Harry with the 
coveted distinction that during the next session he 
invited the House to another trip, and added a luncheon 
and an exhibition of torpedo and gun -firing. The 
House promptly accepted the invitation, and adjourned 
for the whole sitting day ! 

In matters sartorial the House was even less formal 
than it had been in the Goede Hoop Lodge. R. W. 
Murray tells us that Rawson W. Rawson, Colonial 
Secretary during the first Cape Parliament, for several 
sessions attended the House in his official dress of 
blue and silver, with glittering buttons, silver-lace 
cuffs, and silver-lace collar, and for many years it was 
the fashion for members to wear their best-go-to- 
meetings as an outward and visible sign of respectability. 
But at about the time the House changed its quarters 
it also changed its tailor, Mr. Rhodes remarking that 
he believed he could legislate as well in a suit of 
Oxford tweeds as in anything else. The change was 

RT. HON. C J. RHODES. P.C.. D.C.L. (/, 1855 ./. 1902) 

Mr. Rhodes was twice Premier and represented Barkly \Xest from 
1880 until his death. 

'Dreamer devout, by vision led 

Beyond our guess or reach, 

The travail of his spirit bred 

Cities- in place of speech." 



not instantaneous, and during the ninth Parliament 
(1894-1898) a large number of members were still 
to be seen wearing their silk hats while sitting in the 
House, but frock coats were gradually put away by 
members for opening ceremonies and by the Treasurer 
for budget-speech day, until, by and by, there came 
a time when it was not considered a breach of etiquette 
for legislators to discard their waistcoats on a hot 
summer's day. 

Were further proof required of this having been a 
human House, one had only to hear it laugh. It 
laughed heartily, although there was really nothing 
much to laugh at, and incidentally supported the 
theory that the mainsprings of laughter are incongruity 
and surprise. When Mr. Rose Innes, one of its most 
esteemed and learned members, unconsciously placed 
on his head a silk hat to which a gigantic official 
envelope adhered, the House shouted with laughter ; 
whenever the electric light failed at night the House 
tittered at the expense of the member speaking in the 
dark, and the member himself would stop, giggle, 
begin again, and sit down amidst " loud laughter " ; 
and when Sir Pieter Faure suggested that certain 
members would benefit their health by a trip to Robben 
Island, the veracious reporter once more recorded, in 
parenthesis, " loud laughter." 

But by far the greatest characteristics of the House 
were its decorum and constant endeavour to act up 


to its title of " honourable." If ever the House 
responded as one man, it was on this question. Loose 
charges of corruption were strongly deprecated, and 
he was a brave man or a fool who would lightly impute 
improper motives to the Cape Legislature. In 1888 a 
hue and cry was raised over a newspaper article which 
appeared to reflect on the integrity of members of 
a Select Committee, and the House as with one voice 
denounced the imputation ; while in 1898, when a 
young and inexperienced member in a rash moment 
charged another member with improperly influencing 
a Select Committee, the House was so disgusted with 
the flimsy grounds for his accusation that it ordered 
the entries in the Journals to be expunged. 

An important ruling showing how closely the 
House guarded its honour was given four years later. 
The conduct of certain members of Parliament had 
been impugned on account of alleged irregularities of 
the political party (the Afrikander Bond) to which 
they belonged. As was usual in such circumstances, 
members of the party at once pressed for an enquiry 
to clear their honour, and on a question being raised 
as to the competency of the House to deal with a 
matter which might be contested in a court of law, 
Mr. Speaker Berry ruled that where the honour of 
members of the House was at stake the House reserved 
to itself the right to deal fully with the question. 

It might be expected from these precedents that 


the House would be so anxious to place the purity of 
its proceedings beyond suspicion that it would welcome 
an Act that would remove a possibility of a member's 
honour being impugned. On the contrary, it seems 
that a number of members resented the very suggestion 
that there could be such a possibility, and when a bill 
was introduced in 1897 to debar members from being 
Government contractors, one member stated ' that 
such legislation was uncalled for, and was an undue 
reflection upon the integrity of members of Parliament, 
and also upon the people who sent them there. 
Members were altogether above any suspicion of 
corruption." Although passed by the Council, it was 
found impossible to push the bill through the House 
of Assembly, and in the matter of contracts our 
legislators consequently remain freer to this day than 
members at Westminster. 

Had these been all its characteristics the Cape 
House might have been one of those visionary assemblies 
of which a harassed Speaker might dream during the 
recess. But being a human House and no vision, it 
had its faults like ordinary mortals. Let it be admitted 
at once that with age it became quick-tempered. 

It was always the custom, as Sir Edgar Walton 
once remarked, " for both sides of the House to extend 
the utmost courtesy to new members," and chivalrously 
to refrain from taking an unfair advantage of those 
who could not be present to defend themselves, but 


m times of suppressed excitement an aggravating 
laugh, a supercilious smile, a jibe, or a saucy retort, 
and swords, had they been allowed in the Chamber, 
would have leapt from their scabbards. This is no 
exaggeration, and accounts for the practice which 
prevented Mr. Rothman from entering the House 
with an umbrella, and Sir Thomas Upington with a 
stick, to lean their frail bodies upon, without having 
first obtained leave. 

As it was, blood was only spilled upon the 
floor of the House by accident. In 1892 Colonel 
Schermbrucker, after remarking in the course of a 
speech that ' there seemed to be a certain spirit 
aroused which made the most ordinary action a matter 
of the deepest pain," suited the action to the word by 
knocking a glass of water over the leader of the Oppo- 
sition and badly cutting his own hand. Schermbrucker, 
being a gallant soldier, continued his speech with an 
angry exclamation and undimmished gesticulations, 
and it was only at the Speaker's urgent request that 
he suffered his bleeding hand to be bandaged. 

Deeds of violence, such as a disgraceful bout of 
fisticuffs that once took place in the passage of the 
Goede Hoop Lodge, were fortunately almost unheard 
of, but words of heat were common enough. 

Now the somewhat bewildering rules of procedure 
are, after all, simple in their aim, for, while protecting 
the minority against the majority, they have for the 


most part the same objects as the rules which individuals 
consciously or subconsciously observe in coming to 
a fixed resolve without undue haste, and in speaking 
and behaving with propriety. 

The unwritten rules of good behaviour were simply 
the code of gentlemen, but some of those which 
appeared among the Standing Orders are worth 
examining. First of all, by a rule adopted in 1854, 
the House attempted to discourage improper language 
by placing the offender in a Parliamentary pillory and 
exposing him to public obloquy. " All imputations 
of improper motives," read the rule, " shall be con- 
sidered as highly disorderly ; and such conduct shall 
be minuted in the Journals if it shall appear to 
a majority of the House to be necessary." 

This rule continued in force until 1883, when the 
mere minuting of improper behaviour was deemed 
inadequate, and was superseded by a House of 
Commons rule that had been designed in the good 
old days to prevent duelling by demanding what 
amounted to an immediate public apology from the 
delinquent. Duelling, however, had grown out of 
date when the rule was adopted in the Cape. Members 
rarely carried their quarrels outside the Debating 
Chamber itself ; besides which, " sending a challenge 
to fight to a member " became an offence punishable 
by fine and fee under the Powers and Privileges of 
Parliament Act of 1883. 


What was wanted was a quick method of preventing 
scenes and checking words of heat as they arose. The 
House of Commons rule which had been adopted was, 
however, cumbersome and circumscribed. Objection 
had to be taken immediately the offensive words were 
used not an instant later and, on motion made, 
the Speaker or Chairman, if he thought the occasion 
warranted it, ordered the Clerk to take down the 
words, and the Speaker ordered their withdrawal if he 
considered them unparliamentary. Debate was not 
only allowed as to whether the words should be taken 
down but, after this had been agreed to, further 
discussion was allowed as to whether the words taken 
down were those actually used, and in the Cape it 
happened once at least that members' memories were 
so at variance that no decision was arrived at, and a 
great deal of time was wasted in angry argument. 

The rule has now become a dead letter in the 
House of Commons, and was form all v applied on 
only five occasions m the Cape, but from these it 
will be seen how exacting the House always was. 

On the first occasion (1886) Mr. Merriman objected 
to the imputation contained in the statement that he 
was expected to " reply to the specific charges made 
.... as to what became of the ten thousand 
pounds given by a certain company to secure the 
passing of a certain bill." 

In 1888 Sir Thomas Upington, Attorney-General, 


objected to the statement " that he held a brief for 
the other side." 

In 1890 Sir Thomas Upington, again, objected to 
the statement " that he would vote against anything, 
even if originally introduced by himself, in case it were 
supported by Mr. Sauer," then Colonial Secretary. 

In 1899 Mr. Sampson objected to it being said 
" that he made a false statement in the House, being 
in the employ of De Beers' Company." 

And in 1902 Mr. Merriman objected to the 
accusation "' that he did not condemn men in the 
Intelligence Department of the enemy with whom he 
was cheek by jowl, day by day, in Cape Town." 

On each of these occasions the words were with- 
drawn after more or less commotion ; but after 1902 
the Speaker, when appealed to at the proper time 
found it far more efficacious to demand a withdrawal 
less formally. Sometimes he would invite ar expression 
of regret in the guise of a personal explanation and 
sometimes when not appealed to he even found it 
advisable to be a little deaf. Did he hear Sir James 
Sivewnght declare that he was sick of a certain 
member's drivel ? Did he hear a certain member, 
after being continually interrupted on points of order, 
exclaim to his tormentor, " Oh, sit down, you damn 
fool " ? Or did he hear Colonel Schermbrucker say 
to a Minister, " If there is any fool in the House, it 
is you " ? The records are silent. 


During the period of stress and storm from 1899 
to 1902, when shots echoed across the veld, many 
epithets were exchanged in wordy warfare that it 
would have been futile to try to check ; but this 
much was ever clear, that the Speaker was constantly 
on the alert to protect a member's personal honour 
and the proceedings of the House from attack, a task 
in which he was always aided by members scrupulously 
observing the unwritten rule that the word of a 
member is the word of a gentleman, and must be 
accepted without dispute. 

This rule for " taking down words," like another 
which became obsolete, was never discarded. A rule to 
enforce the attendance of members by a " call of the 
House," which Hatsell in the eighteenth century 
regarded as a relic of the dark ages, was adopted in 
1854. Moved only four times, it was either defeated 
or withdrawn, and was never invoked while the House 
sat in the new buildings. Yet it appeared in each 
edition* of the Standing Rules and Orders. 

Herein lay a further characteristic of the House : 
its conservatism, no matter what political party held 
the reins of government. Rules that emerged from 
the mists of antiquity, fashioned from experience, 

* The original rules printed in 1854 were reprinted ;n 1861, together with a 
few additions that had been made and some House of Commons rules that applied 
to the Cape House ; in 1864 the Cape rules were again reprinted, and it was not 
until 1883 that they were rc::ised. In 1896 they were reprinted with a few more 
additions; in 1900 they were again revised, and in 1906 the last edition of 
the rules was printed with, slight alterations. 


COL. THE HON. F. SCHERMBRUCKER (h. njjj,. J. iw-n 

In early life he distinguished himself a.-, a fret- lance in politics 
and a brave soldier. He was a member of the House in 1868. 
of the Legislative Council from 1882 to 1888 and again o ( the 
Hou'-e of Assembly from 1889 until his death. He was an adroit 
speaker with a fund of good humour (sec p. 69). 

From a caricature hv W H. SchroiVr in " T\,t C'a r <- Lantern." 1S.S7. 


tempered with cold calculation and tested by practice, 
were particularly venerated, and when a change was 
suggested, the necessity for the change rather than 
the utility of the new rule had first to be proved. 
Thus when in 1889 it was proposed that there should 
be a committee of selection to nominate the members 
of select committees, the motion was negatived, and 
when in 1895 it was proposed that proceedings on 
public bills should not be terminated by prorogation, 
the motion met the same fate. Yet both of these rules 
might have been useful, as their recent adoption by 
the Union House has shown. 

Stability of procedure was always the watchword. 
It is almost better that the law of Parliament should 
be certain than that it should be sound," William 
Porter had once remarked, and for the tradition that 
prevented unnecessary tinkering with the rules members 
had much to be thankful, since even the best of them 
sometimes showed that, stable as the procedure was, 
they had some difficulty in remembering it. So old 
a Parliamentary hand as Mr. Sauer (who, in 1896, 
was whispered to be a candidate for the Chair) once 
insisted that he had a perfect right to " name a 
member for disorder that dreaded right which is 
vested in the Speaker alone ; and even Sir Gordon 
Sprigg so far forgot that " the House " was just as 
much an individual as himself, as to move that " This 
House agrees by a majority " to a certain course of 


action, and, what is more, the motion was adopted 
by the House ! 

Another old rule to which the Cape House rarely 
had recourse related to the exclusion from its precincts 
of all and sundry who were not members. Centuries 
ago Elsygne, the Clerk of the House of Commons in 
the Long Parliament, who resigned before Cromwell 
carried off the mace, wrote on the exclusion of 
strangers that " the House often runs into great heats 
on this subject," and added that " it is a necessary 
but unpleasant part of the Speaker's duty to determine 
whether individual applications for admission come 
within the customary exceptions." 

The Cape House seldom ran " into great heats 
on this subject " ; but in 1888 there was a notable 
exception. A certain newspaper in Cape Town had 
long nursed a grievance against the officials of the 
House, and freely indulged in gibes and jeers at their 
expense. When Mr. Sauer accidentally brushed off 
the Clerk's (Mr. Noble's) wig, this newspaper went 
into ecstasies of delight and chuckled in print. It 
was for ever teasing the Speaker, and towards the end 
of the session took full advantage of an unfortunate 
escapade of one of its journalists. 

The journalist, while in the Press gallery behind 
the Speaker's Chair, espied a friend sitting in the 
Speaker's gallery at the opposite end of the House, 
and with the coolest effrontery in the world broke 


every rule of the Press gallery by calmly strolling 
through the side galleries private secretaries, heads 
of departments, distinguished strangers, and Govern- 
ment House in full view of the House, in order that 
he might have a chat with him ! 

A messenger was sent in pursuit, and a policeman 
told to turn him out in case of trouble. The journalist 
was furious. ' Whose House is it ? " he screamed 
(again in print) almost every day during the following 
week. Was not a member of the Press gallery as good 
as a member of the House ? Who were the flunkeys 
who dared tell him where his proper place was ? How 
came it that the Speaker only could issue tickets ? 
and a hundred other questions. A few members 
backed up his complaint in the House, and the matter 
was referred to the Select Committee on Internal 
Arrangements ; but all this pother had only the effect 
of placing a room at the disposal of the Press gallery, 
in which the -members of the " Fourth Estate" might 
make themselves tea and transcribe their notes and this 
on the suggestion mildly made by another journal ! 

Speaker and Clerk were so viciously lampooned 
for what, at the worst, was only a crude application of 
a time-honoured rule, that it is rather a pity that the 
following verses, from a long manuscript poem sent 
by an anonymous author to the Clerk of the House, 
are only now published. The verses are addressed to 
the journalist who caused the commotion : 


And think, although you may be somewhat late, 
That you, a " member of the Fourth Estate," 
Were best employed in backing up the laws 
Than breaking them yourself without a cause, 
Attacking those who with an easy grace 
Just push you back into your proper place. 

Don't enter where you have no right to be, 
No stranger you, but an habituee 
And un-" distinguished " but for idle " gas," 
Which only helps to show you are an as- 
Sailant to wholesome rules by wise men made 
Not to be broken, but to be obeyed. 

As to the work of the House, most people know 
that for many years country members were paid for 
ninety days' absence from home and that it was not 
often that they were away for a longer period. In 
the Goede Hoop Lodge, however, when country 
members were paid for only fifty days and local 
members were not paid at all, sessions often lasted 
longer than three months, and once (in 1863) extended 
to five and a half months. After responsible government 
was granted in 1872 there was a noticeable drop m 
the length of the sessions, but once the House settled 
down it always worked in earnest. Private members 
had far more initiative than the pressure of Govern- 
ment work allows them now, and notwithstanding 
the constitutional principle that Ministers should be 


responsible for the good government of the country, 
the tendency for private members to introduce public 
bills was, if anything, on the increase in the later 
days of the Cape House. The " Innes " Liquor Act, 
the " Beck " Election Act and the " Juta " Irrigation 
Act are among the well-known statutes introduced 
by private members, and one member (Mr. Jagger) 
alone introduced as many as six public bills in five 
years and succeeded in passing half of them. 

No doubt it was the small amount of time 
specifically allotted to the Government under the 
rules that accounted for the artistry of the Order 
Paper. So as to get the greatest amount of work done 
in the shortest time, days were as carefully planned 
out as a traveller maps his course. In consultation 
with the Clerk of the House the Prime Minister would 
daily plot to pass his measures by dangling a " plum ' 
just within, or sometimes just beyond, the reach of 
members. The plum was some subject which the 
House was anxious to handle, and the path which led 
to it lay over thorny little questions that the Govern- 
ment wanted to see out of the way. And thus it often 
came about that members with pockets bulging with 
notes for the big affair actively helped to clear the 

Yet even this House was sometimes justly accused 
of hasty legislation. There was, for instance, the 
remarkable case in 1894 when the Paarl Tramways 


Private Bill was hurried through its stages at such 
a pace that only after it had been passed by both 
Houses was it discovered that a clause imposing a 
penalty had not had the amount of the penalty filled 
in. Fortunately the mistake was found before the 
Governor had given his assent to the measure. It 
happened in the last week of the session, but there 
was just time for the Governor to exercise his right 
of returning the Bill with the necessary amendment, 
and to have it adopted before Parliament was pro- 
rogued. The Speaker (Sir David Tennant) was much 
perturbed at the slur cast on the House, and spoke 
his mind freely, but this did not prevent several other 
bills from being passed in a hurry or similar lapses 
from occurring. 

From being the official masters of the House before 
responsible government was introduced, the Govern- 
ment, after the introduction of the system in 1872, 
became, in theory, only the agents of Parliament, but 
virtually they remained the masters with this 
difference : that being no longer permanent officials 
they depended for their existence on the confidence 
placed in their proposals. It is true that in the Cape, 
even after responsible government was granted, it was 
not necessary for a Minister to be a member of 
Parliament. Mr. Stockenstrom and Sir Richard 
Solomon were Attorneys-General for a short time 
without having seats in either House, just as Mr. 


Gladstone was once Secretary of State without being 
a member of Parliament. But such a position was 
recognised as unsound, and when it came to passing 
a contentious measure Ministers became at times 
only too glad to. regard themselves as ordinary 
members of the House, if the House would let them, 
pleading that this or that was really a matter for 
Parliament to decide. 

Thus Sir Gordon Sprigg in 1890, when Prime 
Minister, introduced a railway scheme involving over 
seven and a half millions, and submitted to several 
defeats on the various items before the House made 
it clear that the Government must hold definite 
opinions on such important matters of policy, and 
must stand or fall by its opinions. Sir Gordon Sprigg 
resigned and Rhodes took office, but in 1898 there 
was a far more extraordinary case. 

After the general election in 1898 Sir Gordon 
Sprigg, once more Prime Minister, finding his party, 
returned by some fifty thousand electors, practically 
equal to the Opposition, which was returned by only 
thirty-five thousand electors, decided to bring in a 
bill to provide for a more proportionate representation. 
This he did on the second day of the ensuing session, 
but before he got any further with the bill he was 
defeated on a motion of no confidence, and Mr. 
Schremer took office. Now Mr. Schremer maintained 
that numbers were of little significance and held, 


with Pliny, that it was the ownership of land that 
counted. " Look at the land that we on the Govern- 
ment side represent," he exclaimed, and then proposed 
that Sprigg's bill should be shelved and the whole 
matter gone into during the recess. 

The debate waxed warm, and the two parties being 
almost evenly matched, a deadlock arose. What was 
to be done ? Mr. D. C. de Waal, a Bondsman and a 
supporter of the Government, fearing that a very 
desirable Railway Bill before the House would be 
dropped if the deadlock continued, took a course 
which was as singular as it is difficult to reconcile with 
the principles of responsible government. He moved 
that a suggestion thrown out by Mr. Rhodes early 
in the debate should be formally endorsed by the 
House : that the Premier (Mr. Schreiner) and the 
leader of the Opposition (Sir Gordon Sprigg), together 
with a few members to be nominated by them should 
form a conference to devise a compromise. The move 
was made with dramatic suddenness, the party whips 
cracked, and Ministers at once gathered together in 
an impromptu Cabinet meeting, while one of them 
scoured the buildings to see what damage had been 
done. Mr. Schreiner admitted frankly to the House 
that he did not like the proposal it was not practical 
politics for one thing and if it were agreed to he 
would have to " consider the position. Mr. Theron, 
the President of the Bond, and Sir Frederic de Waal, 


then the Secretary, strongly opposed the motion, but 
the adverse vote of one member of the party was 
enough to nullify the Government majority. 

On Friday, the 4th of November, 1898, the House 
came to a division. Every member was present, and 
when the tellers handed in their division lists, Mr. 
Speaker Berry announced that thirty-nine were for 
the conference and thirty-nine against, and that to 
keep the question open he would give his casting vote 
for the conference. The Opposition cheered loud and 
long at their victory, and shortly afterwards the House 
adjourned. The Government used the week-end in 
which to ruminate, and when the House re-assembled 
on the Monday, Mr. Schremer was able to say that 
he had, as promised, ' considered the position, " and 
had decided to appoint the conference. 

It was a conference unique in the history of 
responsible government, to be sure, but the result 
was satisfactorv to both parties. Mr. Schremer, Mr. 
Sauer and Dr. te Water, for the Government, and 
Sir Gordon Sprigg, Mr. Rhodes and Sir James Rose 
Innes for the Opposition, hammered out a compromise. 
The old bill was withdrawn, and a new one introduced 
and passed. 

In England, where Ministries as a rule resign 
after defeats of any political significance, the authority 
of Parliament over the Government is implied more 
clearly than in the colonies where, owing to the 


comparatively small legislatures, defeats are more 
likely to occur from the defection of a few members. 
Until 1868 it was even considered necessary in 
England for a Government defeated at the polls to 
admit its subservience by finally accepting defeat in 

Twice a semblance of this old doctrine found its 
way into the Parliamentary history of the Cape, but 
on both occasions it was uncertain whether the 
Government had actually been beaten at the polls. 
The first instance was rather curious. Scanlen was 
Prime Minister and accepted defeat in 1884 over so 
small a thing as a " bug " an insect pest that had 
made its appearance in the Colony although the real 
cause of defeat was a notice of motion given by the 
Premier the previous day, in which it was proposed 
to cut ofl certain portions of the Transkeian Territories 
from the Cape ; while the second instance was Spngg's 
defeat by Schreiner after the general election of 1898. 

Altogether twelve Ministries sought the confidence 
of the Cape Parliament ; all were its virtual masters 
and all felt its lash. High hopes had been entertained 
for its success, and when the end came with the advent 
of Union, Mr. Merriman, the last Premier, was able 
to proclaim with a clear conscience that these hopes 
had not been in vain. 

Its legislation had been liberal, and its control of 
finance had never flagged ; its character was undefiled 


On the Speaker s neht Mr. Mernrnan and several members of 

his Ministry may be distinguished. 

From a photograph by K Pfers (" Hood's Stvdio "\ Cape Town 


and its little faults had only endeared it to members. 
In it men had " found their own level," had loved and 
hated, had bitten the dust or achieved renown. Some 
had learned for the first time how to take defeat v/ith 
a smile and hope to win another day. Historical 
friendships had been formed and Death had claimed 
its toll. Hence there was a note of sadness rather than 
of boastfulness in the valedictory speeches made 
when Parliament broke up on the 9th of April, 1910. 
I do think," said Mr. Mernman, who had done as 
much for the House during the second half of its 
existence as William Porter had done during the first 
half ' I do think that we may be proud of the 
character that this Cape Parliament has obtained. We 
have had many years of stress and strain, but we have 
had no unseemly scenes, and there has not been the 
slightest reflection on the purity of the House in any 
degree. ... I hope that those of us who are 
fortunate enough to obtain seats in the Union Parlia- 
ment will carry into it the high traditions of the 
Parliament which is now breaking up, and by so doing 
build up the future character of the Parliament of 
South Africa." 

Much of the lustre that was shed by the Old Cape 
House was undoubtedly due to the brilliancy of some 
of its members of whom only a few have been 
mentioned the soundness of its rules, and the influence 
of a clean Executive Government. But experience in 


other Parliaments has shown that under one Speaker 
the same House may be at least as orderly as it was 
disorderly under another, and if one seeks for an 
explanation of all that " the Old Cape House " came 
to mean it is principally to its own Speakers that one 
must turn. 

The Speakers of the Cape House. 



Sir Christoffel 
Brand, Kt., 
D.C.L., LL.D. 


Speaker of the HOIHL- of Assembly, 1 854-! 874. 
Drawn from photographs. 


The Hon. Sir Christoffel Brand, 

Kt., DC.L., LL.D. 

TO us who live in the turmoil of the twentieth 
century it is a far cry to the days when Captain 
Cook, in the reign of King George the Third, 
ploughed the seas to Australia by way of the Cape. 
Yet the grandfather of the first Speaker of the House of 
Assembly (of whom many South Africans still have 
a personal recollection) was a great friend of this illus- 
trious captain, and we learn from an old number of the 
Cape Monthly Magazine that on the visit of the last 
expedition to Simon's Bay on its way home after 
Captain Cook had met his death, Mr. Brand, then 
the Resident at Simonstown, was much affected at 
the sight of the ships returning without their old 

Old Mr. Brand, who was still Resident in 1795 
when the English fleet arrived in Simon's Bay to take 
possession of the Colony on behalf of the Prince of 
Orange, received and passed on nearly all the communi- 
cations leading up to the landing of General Craig and 
the fight at Muizenberg. The Colony changed hands, 


but he remembered his friends, and when his grandson, 
the future Speaker, was born at Simonstown on the 21st 
of June, 1797, it was on account of a lasting affection 
for Sir Joseph Banks, the naturalist who accompanied 
Captain Cook, that Chnstoffel Joseph Brand was 
given his second Christian name. 

Like his father, Mr. J. H. Brand, who was appointed 
a member of the old Court of Justice, Chnstoffel soon 
manifested a leaning towards the study of law, and 
on leaving school, at the age of sixteen, he entered 
the office of a well-known Cape Town attorney, Mr. 
J. S. Mernngton. Two years afterwards he proceeded 
to the University of Leyden, where he took his degree 
of Doctor of Civil Law and also that of Doctor in 
Literature. His thesis for the former degree was 
entitled De Jure Coloniarum, and so boldly demanded 
a more responsible position for the colonies that it is 
not surprising to find that on his return to the Cape 
at the age of twenty-four he intimately associated 
himself with the leading questions ot the day. He 
identified himself with the Press, and, through the 
columns of the Zuid j4frikaan, became the vehement 
opponent of the Government and a keen antagonist to 
Mr. John Fairbairn, then the leader of the Press, 
until events connected with the anti-convict agitation 
and the movement lor representative government 
led to a partial reconciliation. 

But Mr. Brand did not neglect the career upon 


which he had originally embarked. Gifted with a 
retentive memory and studying law, " not as a man 
does who regards it only as a means of his own livelihood 
but as a student who loves his subject for its own 
sake," he by degrees built up a great reputation for 
himself as a profound lawyer and a fearless advocate. 
He was more than once offered a seat on the Bench, 
but fearing the possibility of having to don the black 
cap on the finding of an incompetent jury, never 
accepted it. 

In 1850 he was appointed a member of the Legis- 
lative Council, but resigned a few days later, when it 
was stated by the Government that the Council would 
be required to consider several matters besides the 
draft of the new constitution then before it. And 
when the constitution came into force three years 
later and elections were held for the first Parliament 
in the Cape Mr. Brand, who was by that time at the 
head of his profession, was, without a contest, elected 
a member of the House of Assembly for Stellenbosch. 

The House met in the Banqueting Hall of the 
Goede Hoop Lodge on the 30th of June, 1854, and 
it was at once evident that the choice of Speaker lay 
between Mr. Brand and his eld rival, Mr. Fairbairn. 
Mr. Barry moved that " Mr. John Fairbairn do take 
the Chair of this House as Speaker," while Mr. 
Memtjes, seconded by Mr. C. A. Fairbridge, moved 
that " Mr. ChristofTel Joseph Brand do take the 


Chair of this House as Speaker." Mr. Fairbairn could 
not have expected much support from the Eastern 
Party, and when both candidates had addressed the 
House and retired, the first motion was put and nega- 
tived by twenty-four votes to nineteen. On the other 
mot'ion being put, the voting was reversed, and Mr. 
Brand was declared elected by a majority of five. 
" Mr. Brand," the Journals state, " was then conducted 
to the Chair by his mover and seconder and, having 
expressed his humble acknowledgments to the House, 
took the Chair." 

Mr. Fairbairn, be it said, was the first to congratulate 
the Speaker and the House upon its choice. He bore 
his rival no grudge, and at the end of the session, 
in true parliamentary spirit, took the opportunity 
of formally moving " That this House cannot separate 
without expressing the obligation the members feel 
themselves under to the Speaker of this House for 
his judicious, able, patient, and courteous conduct 
during the session." 

At this time Mr. Brand lived in Boom Street (now 
called Commercial Street), which at one time had been 
a fashionable quarter of Caoe Town, and one can 
picture him, a short man in antiquated surtout and 
stock, sitting on the high stoep placidly helping himself 
to liberal pinches of snuff while receiving the con- 
gratulations of his friends. House and stoep have 
since disappeared. They have made way for a modern 


cabinet factory and the typical Dutch buildings of 
his neighbours, shorn of their surroundings and sadly 
neglected have, for the most part, been converted 
into registered boarding-houses for the coloured com- 
munity ! Mr. Brand never lived long in one house, 
but much of his time was spent in his chambers (one 
of the rooms now occupied by the Police Court) in 
Wale Street, for, although he bestowed incessant care 
on his work in the House during the session, like Thomas 
Richardson, a Speaker in the reign of James the First, 
he continued to practise as a barrister. 

For several reisons his term of office was fraught 
with singular difficulties. He had to bear the brunt 
of his political utterances prior to his election, he 
was without Cape precedents to guide him, and there 
were many members who little realised their responsi- 
bilities. Strength of character, however, coupled 
with the advantages derived from his legal training 
and knowledge of constitutional law, enabled him 
from the outset to exhibit a sound conception of the 
functions of his office. Occasionally he would corres- 
pond with Sir Erskine May on points of procedure 
and assimilating the practice of the House of Commons 
by methodically entering excerpts from standard 
works of reference in note books kept for that purpose 
he was able to enforce his authority in a manner which 
surprised many of his intimate friends. 

Thus in 1855, when the House was in Committee 


on the Report of the Select Committee on the Burgher 
Force Bill, Dr. Tancred having " made himself guilty 
of interruption in the due proceedings of the Committee 
and of improper and disorderly conduct and disobedience 
to the decision of the Chairman," Mr. Speaker did 
not hesitate to save the dignity of the House by acting 
on the precedents established in the House of Commons 
on one or two rare occasions. He immediately resumed 
the Chair, called the attention of Dr. Tancred to the 
charges preferred against him, and told him that if he 
desired to explain he might do so in his place, but if he 
intended to answer the charges brought against him 
he should do so at the bar of the House. 

Dr. Tancred said he thought he would like to 
explain ; but he did so in such a manner that the 
Speaker again called him to order, and rising from 
his seat, pointed out to Dr. Tancred in particular 
and the House in general the error of their ways. " Let 
not the members of this House forget," he said in 
measured terms, ' that we are here assembled for 
the good of the country. On the subjects which are 
submitted for our consideration various opinions are 
entertained, and strongly too ; but if a majority have 
come to a certain decision, let the minority submit." 
Dr. Tancred thereupon promised to behave himself 
better in future, but no sooner had he been forgiven 
and the committee was once more at work, than he 
forgot all his good intentions and made things so lively 


that the Chairman declared he could no longer go on 
with the business and the Speaker once more took 
the Chair. The jovial doctor was placed at the bar 
of the House, and after he had made a statement 
was marched off by the Sergeant-at-Arms only to be 
brought back and once more forgiven on the same day 
upon his stating that if he had given offence it was 
quite unintentional and he regretted it. 

The firm attitude taken up by the Speaker on all 
such occasions* was greatly appreciated by the House, 
and at the close of the first Parliament, in 1858, Mr. 
Fairbairn again took the opportunity to place on 
record the high sense it entertained of the ' faithful, 
judicious, firm and temperate conduct of Mr. Speaker 
and of the indefatigable devotion of his talents and 
learning to the regulation of its proceedings and of 
the uniform courtesy which he has manifested towards 
the members of this House." The motion reflected 
the feeling of the House, and was carried by acclamation 
all the members rising. 

At the meeting of the second Parliament on the 
16th of March, 1859, Mr. Brand was unanimously 
re-elected Speaker of the House of Assembly. Amongst 
other important work transacted by this Parliament 
the motion in favour of responsible government attracted 

* During a scene of great excitement on Molteno s motion for Responsible 
Government on 4th June, 1863, Sir ChnstofTel Brand declared the sitting sus- 
pended until 8 p.m. and left the Chair. At the request of Mr. Walter, however, 
he resumed the Chair and the debate was formally adjourned. 


a good deal of attention and gave rise to a rather amusing 

The motion was down for Tuesday, the 22nd 
of May, 1860, and the Speaker's gallery, such as it 
was in the Goede Hoop Lodge, was filled with ladies, 
while the public gallery was overflowing. The occasion 
was regarded with particular solemnity, and the Speaker 
after reading prayers, exhorted all who were to engage 
in the coming struggle to remember the rules and not 
to do anything out of time or place. Suddenly there 
was a rat-a-tat-tat on the green baize screen which 
divided the House from the public, and Mr. Josias 
Rivers, the Governor's Aide-de-Camp, dashed up 
to the Table without the slightest announcement to 
deliver a message on the contemplated visit of His 
Royal Highness Prince Alfred. The Speaker was 
aghast. " Mr. Speaker," say the Journals, " called 
the Sergeant-at-Arms to the Table, and directed 
him if in future a messenger come to the House, to 
inform him that he is desired on his entrance to the 
House to observe towards the House due obeisance, 
according to the Rules of the House ; " " and the 
Sergeant," was the less sober comment of the jQjgus 
a few days later, " placed his hand on his sword- 
handle and looked as if he would just like to see that 
white choker and silk facings try it on again ! " 

About two months after this incident the Colonial 
Aide-de-Camp brought over to the House a message 


which more nearly affected the Speaker. It was to 
say that it was the intention of his Grace .the Duke 
of Newcastle to recommend Mr. C. J. Brand to Her 
Majesty for the dignity of knighthood by letters patent ; 
and on the next day, the last of that session, the House 
recommended that the fees attendant on the issue 
of the letters patent should be met out of the public 
revenue. Mr. Speaker, so doughty on other occasions, 
was deeply touched by this graceful act, and could 
only say : ' The House will allow me to express to 
the House my humble thanks." 

But the Speaker's path was not strewn with roses, 
and his words were not idle when on being re-elected 
in 1859 he had appealed to members for their full 
confidence and co-operation. For the part he had 
played in politics before his election had been important 
and there was always a sprinkling of members who 
were inclined to attribute his actions to political motives, 
It should be remembered, too, that in those days 
the issues before the country were far less complicated 
than they are to-day, and underlying all was the 
provincial question of East versus West. With few 
exceptions members dropped automatically into the 
one camp or the other. The Speaker scrupu- 
lously avoided coming into contact with either of the 
parties, but he did not escape criticism. His casting 
vote was consequently an unending source of trouble, 
and on at least one occasion necessitated a long ex- 


planation to the House. On the 15th of July, 1862, 
a thin House could not make up its mind whether 
it truly represented the country, and whether or no 
the Governor should be requested by address to dissolve 
Parliament in order to take the sense of the country 
on certain questions. 

Thirteen that unlucky number ! were of one 
opinion, and thirteen of the other. The Speaker gave 
his casting vote for the address, and the fat was in 
the fire. He explained his reasons at the time, but 
this was not enough. The resolution was shortly 
afterwards rescinded by twenty votes to fifteen, and 
both in and out of the House unpleasant things were 
said. The Speaker's feelings, although well hidden 
by his mask-like face, were known to lie with a certain 
section of the House, and with that section he had 
given his vote ; and gossips out of doors pointed to 
the fact that the Speaker's son, Mr. (afterwards 
President) J. H. Brand, had also voted for the 

So, before beginning the business of the next day, 
the Speaker entered into a lengthy exposition of the 
grounds upon which he gave his casting vote, and 
warmly disclaimed having been influenced in his decision 
by any desire to further the objects of any clique 
or party, and after defending the vote on legal and 
constitutional grounds he added for the information 
of the gossips that he and his son never discussed 


matters connected with their parliamentary or pro- 
fessional work. 

The leaders of the House were quick to reassure 
its venerable Speaker that he was above suspicion, 
and that he had done more for the House than they 
could possibly say, but on his re-election for the third 
time, at Grahamstown, in 1864, he once more empha- 
sised how necessary it was for him to have the unbounded 
confidence of the entire House. 

In that same year (1864), however, there took 
place what was probably the most unpleasant incident 
in his career an incident which grew out of all pro- 
portion to its importance and even threatened to under- 
mine that confidence he had sacrificed so much to 

The whole matter began by two members, Mr. 
Chabaud, that ' hairbramed, mad-cap, excitable 
fellow," and Mr. Aspelmg betting at a Grahamstown 
club table one Friday evening. Mr. Chabaud for 
some unearthly reason wagered that at three o'clock 
on the following Monday afternoon he would no longer 
be a member. Aspelmg having accepted the bet 
Chabaud straightway wrote a letter of resignation 
to the Speaker, handed it to a messenger and then 
straightway changed his mind. But the letter had 
by this time reached the Speaker, who was dining 
not far off. Now it happened that the Speaker, as 
he afterwards stated, was not well, and was on the 


point of going to bed, so after glancing cursorily at 
the letter he gave it to Mr. Neethling, who was dining 
with him, and remarking that it looked as if Mr. 
Ghabaud was going to resign, asked Mr. Neethling to 
show it to Mr. Molteno. With the letter once more 
in his possession the Speaker then went to bed and half 
an hour later Mr. Molteno called on him and said he 
was authorised by Mr. Chabaud to ask that it might 
be returned. 

The Speaker handed the letter back, and when 
the House met at two o'clock the next day stated 
the facts. The Constitution Ordinance provided, 
however, that " it shall be lawful for any member 
of the House, by writing under his hand addressed 
to the Speaker of the House of Assembly, to resign 
his seat ; and upon such resignation the seat of such 
member shall become vacant." Then arose a conun- 
drum : When is a member not a member ? Had 
Mr. Chabaud the right to withdraw his resignation 
once it had been sent to the Speaker ? 

A Select Committee was appointed to find the 
answer, but after sitting for four days and cross-ex- 
amining the Speaker, the President and the Attorney- 
General, as well as others who were concerned, it could 
only report that it was unable to solve the riddle or 
even express an opinion. 

The report was considered on the 28th of June, 
and Mr. Scanlen moved that it was not in the discretion 


of the House to reinstate Mr. Chabaud. But matters 
had now taken a new turn, and the Speaker's conduct 
was seriously criticised. Mr. Solomon, ever the 
Speaker's champion, tried his utmost to keep the debate 
within its proper limits, but many hard things were 
said against the veteran in the Chair. At last the 
House divided, and it was found that nineteen were 
for the motion and nineteen against, so that once more 
the Speaker was called upon to give his casting vote. 
He carried out the painful duty with the utmost fear- 
lessness. He saw no means of keeping the question 
open and so, according to the rules not rules of the 
House, but rules of action which Speakers usually 
adopt he gave his honest and conscientious personal 
opinion, which was with the " Noes." Shortly after 
the decision had been given Mr. Chabaud resumed 
his seat amidst the cheers of a few of the Western 

But in reality things had gone from bad to worse, 
and two days later Mr. Painter, seconded by Mr. 
Scanlen, moved a substantive motion to the effect 
that the Speaker had failed in his duty to the House. 
The House went into Committee on the motion, and 
the Speaker, exercising his undoubted right, attended 
the Committee in his capacity of a member and made 
a most powerful speech in defence of his conduct. 
It was said by his contemporaries that Sir Chnstoffel 
was not a polished orator, and that he was at all times 


placed at a disadvantage when he spoke in English, 
but on this occasion he totally eclipsed the speakers 
who had arrayed themselves against him. He handled 
the case as only a lawyer could, deprecated the un- 
mannerly tone of the attacks made against him, and 
concluded by declaring that if the House adopted 
the resolution he would resign on the following morning. 
I thank the Committee," he said, " for allowing 
me to say this much in vindication of my character 
a character which, whatever may be the result of 
this discussion, I have maintained unblemished during 
the ten years that I have faithfully, honestly and 
fearlessly served the House." The result was that the 
motion before the House was negatived and a vote 
of confidence, proposed by Mr. Solomon, was carried. 

There can be no doubt that by the efforts of a 
few members, aided by the Editor of the Qreal pastern 
(R. W. Murray), a mountain had been made out of 
a molehill, and when his first wife died suddenly four 
years later the House showed both respect and sympathy 
by adjourning for two days directly it received the 
sad intelligence. 

And there was no doubt as to his fourth, and, 
alas, his last election to the Chair in 1874. Mr. Fair- 
bridge, who had seconded his election twenty years 
before, referred in glowing terms to the services he 
had rendered the House, and Mr. P. J. A. Watermeyer, 
who had been in the House for sixteen years, bore 


testimony to the regard in which they always held that 
" much respected gentleman." 

But Sir ChristofTel was not long to preside over their 
deliberations. He looked well enough when Parliament 
met, but his hearing had lately been growing bad, 
and now, nearly seventy-eight years old, his health 
failed him. On the 15th of June of the same year he 
wrote that he was prevented by illness from attending 
the House, and two days later he wrote from Madeira 
House resigning his office. A vote of thanks for his 
great services was almost immediately proposed and 
passed amidst mingled feelings of pride in the Speaker, 
that had so long upheld the reputation of the House, 
and regret at the loss sustained. 

Parliament also marked its sense of appreciation 
of his valued services by passing an Act bestow- 
ing on him a pension of 1,000 a year, which 
was equal to the salary he had been drawing. 
Well wrapped up he was able before the close of the 
session to attend in his place as a member and express 
his grateful acknowledgments, but he enjoyed the 
pension for less than a year. 

He grew weaker every day, and while the House 
was sitting on the 19th of May, 1875, news was received 
that he had " departed this life at a quarter past 
four ' that afternoon in his rooms at Madeira House. 
Both Houses of Parliament adjourned for the day of 
the funeral, when his remains, followed by a procession 


over a mile long, were conveyed to the underground 
family vault (since plundered by godless thieves) 
in the Dutch Reformed burial grounds in Somerset 

Sir Christoffel Brand was the highest Mason in 
South Africa, and it is reported that he held this position 
in greater pride than any other he had occupied, but 
there are many who will remember him not for this 
position or because he was a great lawyer, or because 
of his many covert acts of kindness, or even because 
he was the first Speaker of the Cape House, but because, 
as Speaker, he laid the foundation of the great repu- 
tation for orderliness and decorum which the House 
always maintained. 




Sir David 





Speaker of the House of Assembly, 1874 -1896. 

IV.iwn from pWciKiaphs. 


The Honourable Sir David Tennant, 


IN the Hofmeyr collection there is a curious old draw- 
ing, entitled " De Kaapstad of Tafel Valey." It 
shows the upper part of Cape Town as it was a 
hundred years ago : a handful of whitewashed houses, 
sheltered by clusters of foliage. Under the houses are 
the names of the owners many of them well-known 
Cape families, such as Brand, Hofmeyr, de Kock, 
Brink, Dempers, Smuts, and van Breda and on the 
extreme left of the picture, under the homestead known 
as " Zonnebloem," the name 'Tennant' is easily 

It was here, on the slopes of the Devil's Peak, 
overlooking the little town and the broad sweep of 
Table Bay, with its tall East Indiamen, that Alexander 
Tennant, the " Singing Sannock " of Burns' " Epistle 
to James Tait of Glenconnor,"" settled down at the 
close of the eighteenth century. Generous and warm- 
hearted, with left eyebrow slightly raised, he was a 

" And, Lord, remember Singing Sannock. 
Wi' hale breeks. saxprnce and a bannock. " 


Tennant all over one of those Tennants of Glenconnor 
among whose descendants are numbered the late Sir 
Charles Tennant and his daughter Mrs. Asquith. 

Alexander Tennant was on his way to India, but, 
like a wise man, altered his plans. He remained at the 
Cape, married, and had eight children. His second 
son, Hercules, sometime Civil Commissioner and 
Resident Magistrate at Uitenhage, married Sir 
Chnstoffel Brand's sister, and it was their son David 
who eventually became Speaker. 

Although there was some talk of his entering the 
Church, David Tennant was one of the four out of 
five Cape Speakers who adopted law as a profession. 
He was born in Cape Town on the 10th of January, 
1829, and, having been articled to Mr. John Reid 
("Honest Johnny"), was at the age of twenty admitted 
to practise as an attorney of the Supreme Court. 

As a boy he had been industrious ; as a man he 
now showed himself to be indefatigable. 'Deus dabit 
vela (God will fill the sails) was the family motto, 
and by dint of sheer industry David Tennant made his 
own sails and then trimmed them to catch the breeze. 
Combining office and residence under one roof in 
Grave Street, he literally lived with his work, while 
in addition to his profession he was, among other 
things, confidential and legal adviser to the Bishop 
of Cape Town, Registrar of the Diocese as well as 
Registrar of the Province of South Africa, a member 

Q UALIF1CA TIONfi. 1 1 7 

of the University Council, and chairman of the South 
African College Council. He carefully edited the 
valuable " Notary's Manual," compiled by his father, 
and in 1866 was elected a member of the House of 
Assembly for the electoral division of Piquetberg, a 
constituency which he continued to represent until his 
retirement from Parliament thirty years later. 

Before 1875 a Chairman of Committees was 
appointed each time the House went into Committee, 
but in the eight years during which Mr. Tennant sat 
in the House under the Speakership of his uncle, Sir 
Chnstoflel Brand, he came to be appointed to that 
position far oftener than any other member ; moreover, 
when on a holiday in Europe in 1872, he had been able 
to study the manners and customs of several European 
Parliaments. Consequently, when Sir Chnstoffel wrote 
in 1874 to say that he was prevented by illness from 
attending the House, Mr. Tennant was appointed 
Acting Speaker without opposition, and when a few 
days later Sir Chnstoffel resigned, David Tennant 
was unanimously elected to fill his place. 

The sails he had so carefully trimmed were now 
well filled, but still he allowed himself no rest. 
Immediately severing his connection with his old work, 
he devoted the whole of his time to the work of the 
House, even going so far as to keep, in his own neat 
hand, records that might easily have been delegated 
to others, and soon became, as Mr. Porter had said 


of his predecessor, " as familiar with May and Gushing 
as with van der Linden and Voet." 

Sir ChristoffeFs long term of office had covered 
only two years of responsible government, and the 
practice of the House had still to be adapted to the 
new conditions, while the growth of business further 
demanded modifications and additions to the rules. 
With great zeal Mr. Tennant set about revising the 
existing rules, and at the beginning of the next year 
(1875) was able to lay the result of his labours on the 
Table. In 1881 he drew up rules for the guidance of 
Select Committees. In 1883 he filled a long felt want 
by framing rules for the Committee of Ways and 
Means as well as suggesting further additions to the 
Standing Rules and Orders. In 1885, when the office 
of the Parliamentary Draftsman was transferred from 
the department of the Attorney-General, he drafted 
rules to be observed by that officer, and three years 
later laid down others for the guidance of the Sergeant- 

So careful was the House not to make any rash 
innovation, however, that eight years elapsed before 
the revised rules he had laid on the Table were 
adopted. One of these rules dealing with the presenta- 
tion of petitions cut a great slice out of the daily 
routine of the House. Until that year every petition 
was read at length, and that much time was wasted 
before it finally reached a resting place on the Table 


is well shown by the following extract from some lines 
published in the Poet's Corner of the ^rgus in 1857 : 

The question was put, " Are there any petitions? " 

(They come down by post from the country divisions) 

" Mr. Speaker," says someone, " I've one to present, 

From such a division to me it was sent ; 

'Tis icspectfully worded and signed, and the prayer 

For relief of some sort, that the House will take care 

Of him and his interests and that he alway, 

As a matter of course, will continually pray " ; 

I move it be read ' ' Who seconds the motion ? " 
Half a dozen here rise without any notion 
Of what it's about ; however, 'tis reckoned 
As good as a speech to get up and second ; 
So like Jacks out of boxes they jump up m rows, 
But for why or for wherefore there's none of them knows : 
' Those who are in favour of petition say aye ? 
Those who are against it please to say nay V 
The House gives its gracious consent and permission, 
" Ayes " have it." The member brings up the petition. 

[Here the Clerk reads the petition at length.] 

The member then rises and moves that it be 
Received ; then to second again two or three 
Rise up while the member sits down. 

After the adoption of the revised rules only the most 
important petitions were read, while by a further 
addition in 1896 petitions that were out of order were 


rejected by the Speaker without ever having an oppor- 
tunity of disturbing the calm deliberations of the House. 

At the time of his election the House still held its 
meetings in the Goede Hoop Lodge, but steps had 
been taken to provide more suitable accommodation 
and one glorious day in May of the following year 
Mr. Speaker, resplendent in state gown and full- 
bottomed wig, surmounted by his three-cornered black 
hat, preceded by the Sergeant-at-Arms, bearing the 
mace of his office and followed by members, proceeded 
down Government Avenue to witness Sir Henry 
Barkly laying the foundation-stone of the much needed 
buildings that all hoped soon to occupy. But for reasons 
already given (see pp. 55-5^) several years were to elapse 
and many things of importance were to happen before 
the House could take up its new quarters. Two events 
were of peculiar interest to the Speaker. 

One was the knighthood with which his labours 
were rewarded. The honour had been conferred during 
the recess, and when the House met in 1878 some 
particularly gratifying remarks were made by the 
Premier and the leader of the Opposition, who with 
the Speaker were cheered not loudly, it is said, but 
with that peculiar sound that indicates the satisfaction 
of the House.* The other event which took place 
a little later in the same session was not so pleasant. 

* On the Queen's birthday, 1892, Sir David and Mr. Abbot, the Canadian 
Premier, were created Knights Commanders of the Most Distinguished Order of 
St. Michael and St. George. 


The Molteno ministry had been dismissed by Sir 
Bartle Frere, and Mr. Mernman, in a house so crowded 
that members of the Legislative Council found their 
allotted seats confiscated by the gentler sex, moved a 
motion, the second and third paragraphs of which 
conveyed a direct censure on the Governor. Mr. 
Speaker permitted the debate to continue for several 
days and then ruled that as Ministers under a system 
of responsible government were responsible for the 
action of a Governor, the paragraphs in question were 
out of order and should be discharged. The ruling 
came like a bolt from the blue and several prominent 
members declared they felt staggered. One expressed 
pardonable surprise that the discussion had been 
allowed to continue for so long, and another thought 
he had a precedent that would put the Speaker in a 
quandary. But Sir David, who remained calm through- 
out the storm, pointed out that there was no analogy 
between the case quoted and the question before them, 
and reminded the House that a ruling from the Chair 
admitted of no argument. If a member disagreed with 
it he could put a notice on the paper to bring the 
decision under review. The adjournment of the House 
was moved, and criticisms came without intermission 
until Mr. Solomon poured oil on the troubled waters. 

Mr. Solomon was so diminutive that he had to 
stand on a stool in order that his head might be above 
the level of his desk, but his magnificent brain made 

122 .1/7?. SPEAKER TENNANT. 

up for his physical shortcomings. He now suggested 
that the motion should be amended and considered in 
another form at a later date. One member had given 
notice, at the Speaker's own instance, that the ruling 
should be considered by the House, but after Mr. 
Solomon's intervention the whole discussion fizzled out 
and with a sigh of relief the Clerk read the next order. 
Sir David naturally took a great interest in the 
building of the new Houses of Parliament, and it was 
with intense satisfaction that in December, 1884, he 
was able, with his staff, to move into the red-brick 
structure that has since become the home of the Union 
Parliament. While the new buildings were being con- 
structed. Sir David had been appointed one of a 
committee to keep an eye on their progress, and when 
the buildings were finished he continued to study the 
requirements of the House. A " Suggestion Book " 
was kept for members with grievances, and Sir David, 
as Chairman of the Internal Arrangements Committee, 
did all he could for their comfort. Matters ranging 
from the steward's pantry-window and the supply of 
nail-brushes to the erection of an imposing Press gallery 
behind the Speaker's Chair received equal attention, 
and in 1889 he was able to announce that the acoustic 
properties of the House would be improved by the 
addition of a flat ceiling suspended some ten feet below 
the original domed roof.* 

* The Debating Chamber is now used as a Dining Ror>m by the Union 
Parliament, but the improvised ceiling still remains. 


Sir David, indeed, by his thoughtfulness for others, 
came to be regarded with much of the feeling a schoolboy 
is supposed to have for his headmaster, and it must have 
given him as much pain as it did Mr. Wolf when he 
had to admonish that member for publishing in a 
newspaper a manuscript return laid on the Table of the 
House. Shortly after the offence had been committed, 
Mr. Wolf absented himself on urgent private affairs ; 
but the culprit was not forgotten. On his return Mr. 
Speaker bade him stand up and explain himself. Mr. 
Wolf said he really had not meant to do anything wrong, 
that he was an ignoramus and knew nought of the 
rules, so he was requested to withdraw, and Mr. 
Upington suggested that an admonition might meet the 
case. The duty, of course, was the Speaker's, and 
Mr. Wolf being recalled, Sir David donned his three- 
cornered hat and warned the member by name that he 
was skating on very thin ice. A few years later he had 
occasion to call the attention of the House to a sirmlar 
disregard of its rules, but this time he spared the 

The consideration he afforded members was always 
apparent. When, for instance, Mr. le Roex in 1891 was 
the subject of a motion based on an ungrounded 
suspicion, Mr. Speaker asked him beforehand not to 
reply to the charge, and on the following day, the 
mover having expressed his regret that anything in the 
motion submitted by him and adopted by the House 


conveyed an imputation injurious to the character of the 
gentleman concerned, Mr. Speaker said that he thought 
a member displayed a proper Christian spirit when, 
feeling he had wronged a fellow-member, he imme- 
diately retracted the statement and asked that his 
retraction should appear in the Journals of the House. 
Beyond that, he added, the House could scarcely go, 
but he suggested that the offensive words be expunged 
from the Journals. Mr. Rhodes was quick to carry the 
suggestion into effect, and when others rose to speak 
Sir David tactfully remarked that further discussion 
was unnecessary ; the matter would drop, and he hoped 
that the good feeling which had hitherto characterised 
the conduct of business would be maintained. 

That his conduct in the Chair was fully appreciated 
is one of those happy exceptions to the world's usual 
ingratitude. He was elected Speaker five times, in 
1874, 1879, 1884, 1889 and 1894, and each time had 
praises showered upon him by the statesmen of the 
day in an abundance that would have turned the head 
of a man less experienced in the affairs of the world. 
Sprigg, Merriman, Sauer, Solomon, Scanlen, Hofmeyr, 
Rhodes and Fuller names to conjure with added 
their meed of praise, and in 1893, when Sir David had 
occupied the Chair for twenty years, tributes were paid 
that gave him more pleasure than had anything before. 
Mr. Rhodes, who rose amid cheers to move a vote of 
thanks to the Speaker, praised Sir David's tact, 


discretion and courtesy : Mr. Sauer extolled his talents, 
and Mr. Hofmeyr lauded his impartiality. 

Sir David modestly disclaimed the merits attributed 
to him. They had overlooked his many failings, he 
said, and had spoken only of that which they believed 
to be of the best. " But," he added, " I have sought 
to keep aloof from political parties. I have tried ever 
to keep the balance steady, and, though mixing freely 
with parties on both sides, never to commit myself to 
either (cheers). If an honour is to be conferred upon 
the Speaker, there can be none greater than that which 
has just been conferred upon me." And in conclusion 
he was able to say that it had never been necessary for 
him to speak a harsh word to a single member a 
record which spoke well not only for the orderliness of 
the House, as a contemporary remarked, but for the 
Speaker's urbanity. His reply was recorded in the 
Journals, but his rich voice, which penetrated every 
nook and cranny of the House, could only be appreciated 
by those who were fortunate enough to be present. 

Sir David was an intrepid guardian of those privileges 
of the House which he himself had been instrumental 
in placing on the Statute Book in 1883. Sometimes, 
it is true, he was inclined to be a trifle pedagogic in 
drawing members' attention to the rules, but he also 
had the rare gift of being witty without detracting from 
the respect due to his high office. The story has often 
been told of how he corrected the member who, on 


the motion that the House do now resolve itself into 
Committee and that Mr. Speaker leave the Chair, moved 
an amendment that Mr. Speaker leave the Chair this 
day six months. ' I trust that the honourable member 
will not insist upon moving his amendment in the form 
proposed," said Mr. Speaker gravely, " for if it were 
agreed to the consequences to the Speaker might be 
extremely inconvenient ! 

His uncle, Sir Christoffel Brand, had also a sense of 
humour, although his grim features rarely betrayed his 
amusement. When Mr. Painter, in a discussion on the 
Frontier question, complained that the state of insecurity 
on the frontier was such that " he and other settlers 
had often gone to their daily vocations ... to return 
in the evening to find their houses burnt over their 
heads, their wives widows and their children fatherless," 
Sir Christoffel looked almost bored. Sir David's 
features were more flexible and he was once caught off 
his guard by a horrible pun concocted by Mr. Maasdorp. 
A very earnest member had times out of number referred 
to the wicked acts of a notorious Kafir chief named 
Oba. It was Oba this and Oba that until members 
were nearly frantic, and one day, when the sins of Oba 
had been expatiated on with unusual vehemence, Mr. 
Maasdorp jumped up. ' Mr. Speaker," he expostulated 
with dramatic gravity and then after a pause for effect, 
' Mr. Speakah, is this operah obah ? " The House 
shouted with laughter. " Order, order," said the 


Speaker, but it was with obvious difficulty that he checked 
a smile that threatened to become a broad grin. 

In establishing new precedents for the guidance of 
the House sound knowledge of procedure in other 
colonies was as indispensable as a thorough acquaintance 
with the practice, both ancient and modern, of the House 
of Commons, and some of the archaic precedents Sir 
David applied were peculiarly apt. When, for instance, 
in 1877 and again in 1894 he was disturbed by the un- 
seemly rush for the door which took place at 6 p.m. and 
1 1 p.m., the usual hours of adjournment, he told the 
House that its behaviour was not what it should be, and 
quoted for their benefit the rule of Parliament, adopted 
some four hundred years before, that " The House do 
alway at its rising depart and come forth in comely and 
civil sort for the reverence of the House, in turning about 
with a low courtesie as they make at their coming into 
the House and not unseemly to thrust and throng 

On the 26th of February, 1896, on Mr. Rhodes' 
suggestion, Sir David assumed the position of Agent- 
General in London, and at the opening of the next 
session, on the 30th of April, 1896, the Clerk read to 
the House a touching letter, in which the Speaker 
resigned his office. ' In bidding farewell," ran one 
paragraph, " I desire to express to members my firm 
and unalterable attachment to the system of Constitu- 
tional and Parliamentary Government ; and bee to 


assure them that I shall always take a deep and fervent 
interest in all that concerns the proceedings of Parlia- 
ment . . . To yourselves and the officers of the 
House I tender the best thanks for the faithful discharge 
of the duties you have so zealously rendered the House." 

The next day Sir Gordon Sprigg, in a voice that 
was husky from the effects of the misty day or was it 
from emotion ? moved a motion which placed on 
record the thanks of the House for the skilful manner 
in which Sir David had invariably applied his compre- 
hensive knowledge to the solution of difficult questions. 

Sir David had been Speaker for nearly twenty-two 
years, a period that, with the exception of Sir Arthur 
Onslow's remarkable term of thirty-three years, was 
unsurpassed by any Speaker in the British Empire, 
and on his resignation an Act was passed settling on 
him a pension of 1,200 when his term of office as 
Agent-General should expire. Sir David, who was 
a Speaker born, was not so successful in his new 
capacity, but on his retirement in 1901, when at last 
he furled his weather-beaten sails, he was presented 
with an appreciative address by his staff, and when he 
died in London on the 29th of March, 1905, at 39, 
Hyde Park Gardens, the House once more placed on 
record its sense of his long and faithful services by 
immediately adjourning and passing on the following 
day a resolution of sympathy with the deceased Speaker's 



Sir Henry 
Juta, Kt., 

K.C., B.A., 




Speaker of the House of Assembly, 1896 1898. 

From full-length portrait l,v P Tennyson-Cole, in the Union Hnusc^ 


The Honourable Sir Henry Juta, 

Kt. K.C., B.A. LL.B. 

GREY hairs are generally recognised as a necessary 
qualification for the Speakership. Sir Chnstof- 
fel Brand was fifty-eight and Sir David Ten- 
nant was forty-six when elected, while Sir John Tiptoft, 
who was Speaker in the English House of Commons 
so far back as 1406, protested that he was altogether 
too young for the position, and, being only about thirty- 
one, lacked sense. 

Sir Henry was only thirty-eight when elected, 
but he lacked neither the sense nor the caution 
associated with riper years. 

He was born on the 12th of August, 1857. and 
was the son of Jan Carel Juta, who came from Holland. 
At the South African College, where he was educated, 
he did well, passing, at the age of seventeen, eighth 
on the list in the matriculation in the same year as 
his predecessor, Sir David Tennant, was elected 
Speaker. Two years later he took his degree and then 
proceeded to London, where he took his LL.B. After 
being admitted as a barrister to the Inner Temple 


and called to the Bar, he returned to Cape Town in 
1880 and was admitted as an advocate of the Supreme 
Court. He soon built up a big practice, and in 1893, 
standing for Parliament, was elected a member of 
the House of Assembly for Oudtshoorn. In the same 
year he took silk and was appointed Attorney-General 
in the second Rhodes Ministry. 

He had thus had only three years' Parliamentary 
experience when the resignation of Sir David Tennant 
was read to the House on its meeting in 1896. He 
had, however, acted as Judge of the High Court of 
Griqualand West, and Sir Gordon Spngg, who was 
then Prime Minister, had no hesitation in proposing 
that he should become Speaker in Sir David's place. 
Sir Gordon had delved deep into Parliamentary prece- 
dents and told the House that both those renowned 
Speakers, Onslow and Manners Sutton, were even 
younger than the present candidate for the Chair 
when they had been elected. There was, moreover, 
this advantage, that if a young man was put in the 
Chair he would be able to occupy the position 
for many years and would thus gam the experience 
it was so great an advantage to possess. His nominee 
had a perfect knowledge of the two languages, and 
it was to be hoped that he would have as long 
a tenure of the Chair as had young Speaker Onslow. 
W. P. Schreiner and Juta had been at school together, 
and it was with great pleasure that the former was 


able to tell the House of his schoolfellow's merits. 
He, too, however, felt that, coming after Sir David 
(who was sixty-eight when he resigned), to be only 
thirty-eight was to be a trifle young, but that, he 
assured the House, was a defect which Time would 

Mr. Juta thanked his proposer and seconder in 
a few well-balanced sentences, and on being conducted 
to the Chair, addressed the House once more in ac- 
cordance with the time-honoured custom. In the 
drawing-room of Government House His Excellency 
the Governor, Sir Hercules Robinson, confirmed the 
election, and Mr. Speaker Juta, debonair and alert, 
returned to the House to receive its benediction at 
the hands of Mr. Merriman and Mr. Theron. 

That was on Thursday, the 30th of April, 1896, 
and on the following day, before the Speaker had had 
time to get accustomed to his wig or his conspicuous 
position, he was called upon to give a ruling ! The 
House had attended the opening ceremony in the 
Legislative Council, and, having returned, was dis- 
posing of some preliminary work when up sprang 
two front-bench members of the Opposition and wanted 
to know what on earth the House was doing : Mr. 
Speaker was permitting matters to be dealt with before 
the Governor's Speech had been communicated to 
the House. From that moment the Speaker's wig 
seemed to fit, and the Chair assumed the right pro- 


portions. ' It is in entire accordance with precedent, 
remarked the newly-elected Speaker in almost a kindly 
voice, " it is in entire accordance with precedent 
for business of an informal nature to be disposed of 
before Mr. Speaker communicates His Excellency's 
speech," and once more the machinery of the House 
was set in motion. 

As Speaker he had a " short life, but a gay one." 
Political feeling ran high, and questions of the day 
were often discussed with the greatest acrimony ; 
so, although he was not frequently called upon to 
decide really knotty points, he had always to exercise 
the greatest tact and vigilance. ' That is a deliberate 
falsehood," or " That is a he " was often substituted 
by members in the heat of the moment for the Par- 
liamentary expression ' That is not true," and the 
Speaker had to explain the difference as delicately 
as he could. It is remarkable that in times such as 
these the Speaker's ruling was never questioned, 
but when a daring member did occasionally indulge 
in a passage at arms with the Chair it was invariably 
the Speaker that pinked his man. 

Add to these circumstances the fact that there 
was, in some quarters, a certain amount of feeling 
against his election and it will be seen that it required 
more than the ordinary qualifications to give satisfaction. 
The unwritten rule that any member about to raise 
a question^ for Mr. Speaker's decision should give 


the Chair due notice was often disregarded and points 
were sprung upon the new occupant without warning. 
But here again lunge was met by parry and counter 
lunge. To guard himself against being unprepared 
he would carefully go through the Order Paper for 
the day and try to anticipate any points that might 
be raised. These would be looked up and rulings 
written with surprising success ; surprising to his 
antagonists, for, with the quick eye of the duellist, 
he frequently foresaw their methods of attack and 
on one day alone was able to make use of three out 
of four rulings he had prepared. And so, ever watchful, 
ever alert and at all times courteous, he, by degrees, 
won over his adversaries and came to be duly notified 
of any points to be raised. 

He was indifferent as to the person against whom 
his decisions were directed, and in his first year greatly 
delighted the Opposition by ruling that a notice of 
motion placed at the head of the Order Paper by the 
Prime Minister on a Government " Order Day ' 
was out of its place, and could not be taken until the 
Orders of the Day had been disposed of. Both on 
this occasion and in 1898, when Sir Gordon tried to 
turn the tables on Mr. Schremer on a somewhat similar 
matter, the Speaker considerably enlightened the 
House as to its procedure. Members had often entered 
the Debating Chamber primed to the hilt with knowledge 
gleaned from the latest edition of ' May," only to 


find that they were wrong after all. This the Speaker 
explained was due to the fact that the rule providing 
that resort should be had to the usage and practice of 
the Imperial Parliament was last adopted in 1883, and 
that changes made in the Imperial Parliament after 
that date did not affect the Cape House. The statement 
may make dull reading now, as the Union rules accept 
a later edition of " May " (the eleventh) as the standard 
of reference, but to those who were interested in the 
proceedings of the House at that time it was a matter 
of the first importance. 

His first year of office was largely bound up with 
the Parliamentary enquiry into the Jameson Raid. 
He was not only entrusted with the nomination of 
the members of that historical Select Committee, but 
was called upon to give two important rulings, affecting 
the privilege of the House, which arose out of the 
Committee's investigations. 

The personnel of the Committee gave the greatest 
satisfaction. It included several distinguished lawyers, 
yet when only three meetings had been held they 
found themselves in difficulties upon doubts being 
raised as to whether the head of the Telegraph De- 
partment could be called upon to produce telegrams 
which had passed between Rhodes and others. The 
Powers and Privileges of Parliament Act provided 
generally that the House could order the production 
of any documents, but the Telegraph Act stated specifi- 


cally that the contents of a telegram could be divulged 
only before a Court of Justice. The sacred rights 
of Parliament were at stake. What was to be done ? 
The Speaker was asked to decide the point, and on 
the 4th of June, 1896, he appeared personally before 
the Select Committee. After exhaustively treating 
the whole question of the production of papers before 
a colonial legislature he ruled that in view of the specific 
provision of the Telegraph Act it was not competent 
for the Select Committee to demand the coveted 
telegrams, and the end of the matter was that Parliament 
had to show its supreme authority by passing a special 
Act to invest the Select Committee with the requisite 

But before long there arose another question. Sir 
David Tennant in 1883 had drawn the attention of 
the House to the fact that it could not deal with matters 
in which members themselves were not the culprits, 
and at his instance Parliament had passed the Powers 
and Privileges Act to invest itself with the desired 
authority over those who were not members. Hence, 
when on the 24th of June, 1896, a Cape Town newspaper 
printed a paragraph in reference to the proceedings 
of the Select Committee on the Jameson Raid, Sir 
Henry did not let the offence pass unnoticed, but pointed 
out that this was a breach of privilege now punishable 
with fine or imprisonment, and hinted darkly at what 
the House would do if it happened again. 


In those good days the House sat for only three 
months in the year. A recess, however, has never been 
the holiday it is popularly supposed to be. Questions 
that have arisen as well as questions that may arise 
have to be dealt with, and in order that he might not 
be hampered by decisions that had been given in the 
past, Mr. Speaker Juta improved the shining hour 
by looking up, analysing and annotating all the rulings 
given by Brand and Tennant, and by the time he had 
completed his self-appointed task, members were once 
more streaming into the building, and his second year 
had begun. 

The Opposition had become more powerful, and 
on the 30th of April, 1897, tried a fall with Sprigg's 
third Ministry. The motion over which members 
came to grips was simply " that the Government does 
not -possess the confidence of the House." All that 
day and well into the night the House swayed back- 
wards and forwards in fierce encounter, and at twenty 
minutes to eleven, when the question had been put 
and a division had taken place, Mr. Speaker informed 
the House that the tussle had ended in a tie thirty- 
six were for the motion and thirty-six against, so, in 
order to keep the question open, he gave his casting 
vote against the motion in accordance with the usual 
practice. The House then adjourned, and the Speaker, 
who had kept one eye on the clock for some time, 
hurried off to catch his train. To him the casting vote 


had been a detail, but to Sir Gordon it meant a new 
lease of life, and often afterwards his Government 
was twitted with being the " Speaker's Ministry." 

In the small list of Diamond Jubilee honours that 
year the Speaker's name figured as one upon whom 
Her Majesty had been pleased to confer a knighthood, 
and the House immediately took the opportunity of 
congratulating Sir Henry. The agreeable duty fell to 
Sir James Sivewnght, the acting Prime Minister, and 
Mr. Merriman, in a speech punctuated with cheers, 
expressed the hearty concurrence of those who sat on 
his side of the House. The speeches were short and to 
the point, but had in them that spontaneity which 
clearly indicated how genuine the feeling was. That 
Sir Henry was much impressed with the confidence 
and goodwill he had won in so short a time was manifest 
from his reply, which left members under the impression 
that after all their congratulations were perhaps the 
greater honour of the two. 

In comparison with his predecessors, Sir Henry 
did not give many rulings he was not long enough in 
office but all of them had that unmistakable ring of 
simplicity which is the sign of clear judgment, and 
there were several to which reference has frequently 
been made by his successors. Particular attention was 
paid to the principle that the House should not in any 
way be deprived of its power over the purse. When, 
for example, a customs convention with a tariff annexed 


was sought to be approved without due opportunity 
being given to members to reduce or expunge items 
in the tariff, Sir Henry refused to allow the rights of the 
House to be so curtailed. It had, moreover, been a 
growing practice of the Government to present 
Estimates of Expenditure containing an item of, say, 
10,000, less 9,999 receipts, leaving only 1 to be 
voted by the House, and Speaker Juta, holding that 
this was unconstitutional as it deprived the House of 
its power of reducing the 10,000 in any way it pleased, 
gave notice to the Premier and the leader of the 
Opposition that he could not allow the Estimates to 
be presented in that form. He ceased to be Speaker 
before he could give practical effect to his views, but 
the means which he intended to adopt are given in his 
evidence before the Select Committee on Public 
Accounts in August, 1906, and a ruling based on his 
evidence was delivered in the House in 1907. 

These were legacies for which private members were 
duly grateful, but their wives and the wives of members 
to-day also owe a great deal to his protection. In Sir 
David Tennant's time a Government House party had 
occupied nearly all the principal seats at the spectacular, 
if not highly exciting, opening ceremonies, but Sir 
Henry held that the wives of men who were administering 
and legislating for the country were just as much 
entitled to recognition. After Sir Henry Juta had 
decided upon the course to adopt, Lord de Villiers, 


then President of the Legislative Council, was struck 
with the idea and arranged for an interview with the 
Speaker and the Clerk of the House. That there should 
be a change in the plan hitherto adopted was soon 
agreed to. Permanent arrangements were made for future 
ceremonies and the wives of members and prominent 
officials lived happily ever after. 

His third session, which terminated abruptly after a 
few weeks, was his last. The Opposition again 
challenged the Government by once more moving in 
those simple but potent words : " That the Government 
does not possess the confidence of the House." This 
time the Speaker's casting vote was not required. The 
motion was carried by forty-one votes to thirty-six, 
and Sir Gordon Sprigg announced that, after he had 
been granted enough money to carry on with, the 
Governor would dissolve the House. 

But Sir Gordon did not forget the services of the 
Speaker, and before the dissolution he rose to record 
in eulogistic terms how deeply sensible the House was of 
the " able, fearless and impartial " manner in which 
Sir Henry had performed his duties. Mr. Mernman, 
Mr. Schremer, and Mr. Theron, following Sir Gordon, 
showed how united the feeling was, and Sir Henry 
" suitably replied." ' I know," he said, " that during 
the last few years feeling has run very high, and 1 
think there can be no greater honour which I can send 
down to my posterity than that in spite of all the high 


feeling I still retain your confidence and esteem." 
He went on to remind the House that at the general 
elections about to take place he would have to fight 
for his seat like the rest of them and might make remarks 
that ought not to be made. Should this happen he 
asked the House " to bear with him and regard it with 
all softness, remembering the difficulties of the position, 
and not in any way set down aught in malice but some- 
thing extenuate, believing that as far as he could he would 
always do the impartial duty of the Speaker." 

Sir Henry, however, was not re-elected, and when 
Parliament reassembled on the 7th of October, 1898, 
a new Speaker had to be chosen. How Sir Henry once 
more built up his extensive practice at the Bar ; how he 
once more entered Parliament; and how, in 1914, he 
was appointed Judge-President of the Cape Provincial 
Division of the Supreme Court of South Africa and 
Additional Judge of Appeal in the Appellate Division, 
are matters which fall outside the scope of this sketch. 
Suffice it to say that he has never lost the popularity 
he won and held as the third Speaker of a critical 



Sir Wm. 
Bisset Berry, 
Kt., M.A., 
M.D., LL.D., 


Speaker of the House of Assembly. 1898-1908. 
i-'rom a photograph by Duffus, Cape Town 

M.D. LL.D. 

The Hon. Sir Wm. Bisset Berry, 

Kt., M.A., M.D., LL.D. 

SIR BISSET BERRY looked and acted the part 
of Speaker to perfection. No one could have 
appeared more at ease in that imposing little 
procession which daily wound its way from the Speaker's 
Chambers, through lobby and corridor, to the Speaker's 
Chair in the House of Assembly. First came the 
Sergeant~at-Arms in court dress, bearing the glittering 
mace which had known every procession and state 
ceremony since the days when Brand was Speaker in 
the Goede Hoop Lodge. Then came the Speaker 
himself in grey wig and sombre gown, inclining his head 
in stately fashion to members and officials on this side 
and that. Bringing up the rear of the procession, also 
bewigged and begowned, were the Clerk and Clerk- 
Assistant, although the Clerk and the Speaker were 
often to be seen walking side by side, earnestly discussing 
some point of procedure. On one person at least who 
witnessed this scene every day during the session an 
impression has been made that time will not efface. 
Even the smile that accompanied the Speaker's bow 


seemed to have about it just that old-world dignity 
which distinguishes his high office from the common- 

Sir Bisset had not the advantage of being a lawyer, 
but he had the highly trained mind of the scientist 
perfected by lifelong study of men and books. So far 
as books went every branch of literature was his special 
delight, and his early proclivities had soon shown that 
science was his forte. He was born in Aberdeen on 
the 26th of July, 1839, and after attending the Grammar 
School in that city proceeded to the Marischal College. 
Having won several bursaries open to the sons of the 
Guildry of the city he entered the Aberdeen University, 
and graduated M.A. at the age of twenty and M.D. 
two years later. 

At about this time the Mail Company decided to 
carry surgeons on their liners, and Dr. Berry was among 
the first to be taken. His appointment was on the 
Athens, which now lies a wreck on the Green Point 
rocks, a victim of the great gale of 'sixty-five. A 
year before the disaster, however, he decided to settle 
in South Africa, married and obtaining an appointment 
as District Surgeon in Queenstown, practised in that 
neighbourhood with increasing success. 

There being no railway to Queenstown in those 
days, there were no visiting theatre companies, and the 
inhabitants made up for the lack of amusement by 
holding what they called public meetings. A hand-bell 


was loudly rung and almost the whole town would 
attend what usually turned out to be a very rowdy 
entertainment. Shortly after his arrival Dr. Berry 
was asked to take the chair at one of these meetings 
and the result probably had a great deal to do with his 
subsequent career. He had been president of his 
college debating society, and, thanks to his past 
experience, succeeded in turning what threatened to 
be an unusually uproarious evening into one of com- 
parative tranquillity. The new comer, who, in one 
evening, had been able to raise the level of a form of 
recreation which had existed for years, was regarded 
with a curiosity that soon developed into appreciation 
when it was found how great an interest he took in the 
local government of the town. 

By familiarising himself with South African problems 
he came to be a recognised authority on education and 
native affairs, but it was only after he had been in the 
Colony for thirty years, and had been elected Mayor 
of Queenstown, that he entered Parliamentary life by 
being elected a member for the Queenstown constituency 
in the general election of 1894. 

Being elected Speaker in 1898 he had only four 
years' experience as a private member, but, notwith- 
standing an innate aversion to publicity, he had in less 
than that time made his mark in the House. His services 
were first sought on the subjects he had specialised in, 
and afterwards in an ever widening circle. His speeches 


were eloquent, able and learned, and, having an incisive 
delivery, he was always listened to with the greatest 
attention. In the committee rooms, too, he had gained 
distinction as Chairman of the Select Committees on 
the Glen Grey Allotments, the Cape Town Municipal 
Amendment Bill, and Agricultural Schools ; but four 
years is after all a short time in which to acquaint 
oneself thoroughly with the intricacies of Parliamentary 
procedure, and until less than twenty-four hours of 
his election he had no notion that he would be called 
upon to adjudicate from the Chair upon questions 
concerning the law and usage of a legislative assembly. 

After the general election of 1898 it was arranged 
between the Prime Minister (Sir Gordon Sprigg) and 
the Opposition that the Government, which had been 
returned in almost the same strength as the Opposition, 
should nominate a member for the Speakership from 
its own ranks. A caucus of the party was held the day 
before the House met, and it is now an open secret that 
when the Speakership was discussed only two names 
were put forward. Dr. Berry arrived late, and learnt 
with surprise that the choice lay between himself and 
Mr. Hockly. It was left to the Cabinet to decide between 
the two, and the same afternoon Dr. Berry was sent 
for by the Prime Minister and asked whether he would 
accept nomination on the morrow. By those who knew 
the lucrative practice he had established on the eastern 
frontier, it was realised that acceptance would mean 


a considerable financial sacrifice, but he yielded to 
persuasion and decided to withdraw from practice if 

And so when the House met on the following day 
(7th of October, 1898), and members rushed to secure 
seats for the session, Dr. Berry was not among their 
number. Silent and expectant he sat the solitary occupant 
of the Government cross-benches, until his proposer, 
Sir Gordon Sprigg, and his seconder, Mr. Rose Innes, 
conducted him to the Chair. Having made up his 
mind he did not resist with physical force, as had been 
the habit of bygone Speakers-elect in the English House 
of Commons, but his reply was remarkably like the 
" disabling speeches " which used to be the fashion in 
those days. He lamented his short Parliamentary 
experience, and deplored the fact that, being unaware 
of what the future had in store for him, he had never 
consciously endeavoured to acquire the gifts and graces 
considered to be indispensable to a Speaker. It is 
impossible to reproduce his eloquent periods here. 
It is enough to say that, like the Speakers of yore, by 
endeavouring to " deject and abase himself and his 
deserts he had discovered and made known his worthiness 
and sufficiency to discharge the place he was called to." 

A few days after his election a motion of " no 
confidence " in the Government was passed by a narrow 
majority, and supporters of the defeated party grew 
bitter in their anxiety to have Dr. Berry back among 


their ranks to strengthen their vote, but, whatever his 
personal inclination may have been, it was quite clear 
that it was as impossible for immortals to return to 
live with mortals as one of the newspapers put it as 
it was undesirable for a Speaker to play battledore and 
shuttlecock with his exalted office. 

In the Chair Dr. Berry showed the same character- 
istics as he had in private life. In private he never 
monopolised the conversation, and would only expound 
when asked to do so. Although able to split hairs with 
any schoolman, he would always lend an attentive ear 
to the other view and keep an open mind until the last. 
And so in the Chair, while still new to the position, he 
would listen closely to arguments on points of order, 
taking all in good part, and just when his would-be 
coaches were beginning to think they had got it all 
their own way, with an upward movement of his head 
he would often deliver a ruling quite independent of 
anything that had been advanced. 

From the day of his election Mr. Speaker Berry 
lived the life of an official recluse. In his Chambers 
from an early hour in the morning he was ready at any 
moment to place his services at the disposal of members 
who found themselves in difficulties. Here, too, before 
the House met, he would, like his predecessor, consider 
questions which were likely to arise in the course of the 
afternoon's proceedings, conferring with the Clerk on 
intricate points and sending for Ministers when 


necessary. Only once a year he would mix with members 
on their own level, and that was when he entertained 
them at the customary Speaker's dinner in the vestibule, 
afterwards known as the Queen's Hall, where, soothed 
by carefully selected music, they forgot the forum and 
pledged their political foes. 

At the close of the first year of his Speakership Dr. 
Berry was called upon to perform a duty which is worth 
recording, if only because it was connected with the 
divinity that doth hedge a Parliament : the powers and 
privileges of the highest court. 

It had come to the notice of the House that certain 
wine merchants in Cape Town had attempted to bribe 
a member. The case was fully established by a Select 
Committee, and on being once more brought before 
the House it was resolved that the Speaker should 
reprimand the delinquents at the bar. Sir David 
Tennant had once admonished a member, and so, less 
formally, had Sir Chnstoffel Brand, but this was the 
first time that the House had occasion to enforce its 
authority outside its own walls. 

Denison clearly distinguished a reprimand from an 
admonition In his Diary he wrote that " in order to be 
reprimanded a person at the bar must be in custody 
of the Serjeant-at-Arms. When not in custody he 
can only be admonished. When a person is at the bar, 
and the Serjeant by his side with the mace, then no 
member may speak, only the Speaker." 


This being a reprimand the Sergeant announced 
when prayers had been read that the culprits were 
present. A summons had been served on them and they 
now waited without. " Let them be admitted," said the 
Speaker, and the Sergeant, shouldering the mace, stalked 
out. All eyes were fixed on the bar. The consuls, who 
had mustered in full force, nearly tumbled out of the 
gallery in their anxiety to see everything, and even 
the Archbishop, who was wedged in among the 
private secretaries, showed unmistakable signs of 

It is remarkable what an unnerving effect the bar of 
the House has. Even the sturdy Samuel Pepys tells 
us in his diary that he had to fortify himself with a 
half-pint of mulled sack and a dram of brandy before 
he could face the ordeal, and the prisoners now at the 
bar showed no sign of their previous hght-heartedness. 
They there were two of them appeared alongside the 
Sergeant with bowed heads. A member attempted to 
speak, but was promptly suppressed. Then Mr. Speaker, 
donning his low-crowned beaver hat, delivered a lecture 
in well-chosen words on the enormity of their offence, 
charitably assuming, however, that " neither did with 
forethought and deliberation enter upon any device 
corruptly to influence a member in his Parliamentary 
duties." An attempt by the culprits to get in the last 
word was instantly checked, and the incident was closed 
by Mr. Speaker calling for petitions. 


Sir Bisset's term of office was crowded with dramatic 
incidents. He had to hold the balance between parties 
narrowly divided in numerical strength, to restrain 
impetuosity, and at all times to preserve the dignity of 
the House under trying circumstances ; but from a 
Speaker's point of view his intervention in the Additional 
Representation debate of 1904 was by far the most 

One memorable day towards the end of March, 
1904, Dr. Jameson, the Prime Minister at that time, 
hinted that it was the intention of the Government to 
pass the second reading of the Additional Representation 
Bill before the House rose, and it was soon plain that 
there was going to be trouble. One member of the 
Opposition frankly declared that if the Government 
insisted on carrying the Bill by " a kind of martial law " 
they on the other side would have to see what they 
could make of the rules to hold up the House, while, 
later in the evening, pointing a warning finger to the 
windows facing the east, he foretold that honourable 
members would still be sitting when the sunlight 
streamed through. And so it happened, although many 
members were not there to see it. Huddled together in 
rooms adjoining the Debating Chamber, in the Library, 
its galleries, and on every couch which offered rest, 
they lay in uneasy slumber. Twice they leapt to their 
feet at the harsh sound of the division bells, only to 
find that the divisions were on motions for the adjourn- 


ment, and, muttering strange things, crept glumly back 
to their uninviting beds. 

When at last the rays of dawn did steal through 
the windows, mingling oddly with the yellow glare of 
the electric light, the House presented a weird spectacle. 
Unshaven and unkempt Ministerialists who were not 
snoring glared sullenly at the unrelenting features of 
members opposite, and when the prophet of the previous 
evening once more pointed to the windows and foretold 
that the House would yet see the moon rise, their 
despondency sank to the lowest depths. Meanwhile, 
the Speaker, who had given some score of rulings on 
minor points of order, had determined to take a step 
unprecedented in the Cape Colony. Speaker Brand, 
in the English House of Commons in 1881, had closured 
a debate under much the same circumstances, and 
Sir Bisset at 2.30 p.m., after the House had sat con- 
tinuously for over twenty-four hours, " on his own 
responsibility and to save the House from itself," 
decided to follow his example. 

It is said that when Mr. Speaker Brand read his 
decision to the House he trembled violently, and that his 
hand shook to such an extent that he could hardly read 
the ruling he had prepared. Sir Bisset, on the contrary, 
remained calm and self-possessed. In his usual clear 
voice he intimated that he clearly saw the duty that 
lay before him. It was a duty, he said, that he owed 
to Parliaments. ' I can only hope that the House will 


absolve me from any endeavour to curtail its privileges 
or to do anything that is not demanded of me. 1 
proceed to put the question that this Bill be now read a 
second time." The scene that followed can be better 
imagined than described if one takes into account the 
overwrought nerves of members, who had spoken for 
hours on end. But the Speaker was adamant. The 
Bill was read a second time and the House adjourned. 
Some day more will be known about this affair, but for 
the present one can only ask what would have happened 
if the Speaker had not intervened ? Goodness only 
knows. Had it not been that members were elected 
for only five years perhaps the House would still be 
sitting ! 

In contrast to this unpleasant situation there were 
several agreeable occasions when the House paused in 
its struggles to show its appreciation of the man who 
saw there was fair play. In 1900, for instance, it took 
great pleasure in congratulating Sir Bisset on his 
knighthood, and in 1904, on his re-election to the Chair, 
Dr. Jameson and Mr. Theron unreservedly praised 
his actions in the past and the trouble he had taken to 
acquaint himself more thoroughly with the taal ; while 
at the end of the last session he presided over the House, 
in 1907, the leaders of both parties united in expressing 
their thanks for the services he had rendered Parliament. 
Sir Bisset's replies, as might be expected, were extra- 
ordinarily neat. Indeed, it seems impossible that they 


could have been anything else, for he possessed in a 
high degree the qualifications which make the Speaker 
" the first commoner in the land." 

Harry Graham, in an interesting book, ^he Mother 
of 'Parliaments, urges that an ideal Speaker should 
combine intellectual ability with those qualities of 
character which are the mark of what is called a 
" gentleman." If anyone had these characteristics 
Sir Bisset had. But he had others besides. He had a 
habit of thought which never accepted half solutions 
and a power of generalising that was more than serviceable 
in interpreting the rules. Precedents that seemed to 
conflict were analysed, combined and harmonised with 
scientific precision and presented to the House in 
language that revealed the mind of the litterateur. 

His library in Queenstown being one of the finest 
private collections of books in South Africa, his mind 
was kept bright with reading, and his tastes being 
catholic he was never liable to become one sided in his 

He sought re-election in 1908, but to the disappoint- 
ment of his followers was not returned. At the 1910 
and 1915 elections, however, he was more successful, 
and was elected a member of the Union House of 
Assembly by his old constituency. 



Sir James 
Molteno, Kt, 
K.C., B.A., 


Speaker of the House of Assembly, 1908-1910 
From a photograph by E. Peters (" Hood's Studio"), Cape Town. 

The Honourable Sir James Molteno, 

Kt, K.C., B.A., LL.B. 

DESTINY could hardly have arranged a more 
fitting tableau than that on which the curtain 
was rung up during the last days of the Old 
Cape House. When responsible government was granted 
in 1872, Sir John Molteno, who had played a leading 
part in the struggle for that form of government, was 
appointed first Prime Minister, while his great friend, 
Sir ChristofTel Brand, the first Speaker, still occupied 
the Chair. In the closing scene, some four decades 
later, Mr. Merriman, who had held office under Sir 
John Molteno, figured as Prime Minister, while in the 
Chair, holding the pulse of the expiring House, sat 
Sir John's fourth son. 

The Molteno family is almost as old as the Italian 
hills it came from. An ancient chronicler, quoted in 
T?he Life and ^imes of Sir John Charles Molteno. 
thus explains the origin of the name : ' The noble 


signers, after the destruction of Milan by Uraja, who 
had retired among the surrounding villas, seeing the 
danger of their situation, turned to Milan, and, that they 
might be distinguished family from family, preserved, 
every one of them, as a distinctive name, the name of the 
district or villa from whence they came. And in this 
manner many of the Milanese families had their origin 
from the Brianza : such names are the Pirovano, the 
Brevio, the Osnago . . . the Molteno ... all noble 
families whose names occur in our most ancient charters 
and historical documents, and all now extant." 

James Tennant Molteno was born at Claremont, 
in the Cape Peninsula, on the 5th of January, 1865. He 
was educated at the Diocesan College, Rondebosch, 
and after graduating with " honours " in literature and 
philosophy, he proceeded to Trinity College, Cambridge, 
where he again graduated. After going through his 
legal course, he was called to the Bar, and shortly 
afterwards, at the age of twenty-six, took his seat in the 
House as member for Namaqualand. Sir David Tennant 
was Speaker, and under his tutorage the young member 
learnt much that was to help him in later years, but, 
being returned to Parliament without a break until he 
himself was elected Speaker on the 22nd of April, 
1908, he also owed a great deal to his more immediate 
predecessors in the Chair. 

The actual " Chair," by the way, to which Sir 
James was conducted on his election as Speaker was by 

1854- -1867 

1868- 1884 

1885"- 1910 



no means the same as that occupied by Sir Christoffel 
Brand. The well-padded Chair in which Sir James 
reclined (and in which he afterwards sat for five years 
as the first Speaker of the Union House of Assembly) 
did not exist in those days. There were altogether 
three Chairs occupied by the Cape Speakers. The first- 
unpretentious but not uncomfortable was one of those 
old Dutch armchairs that curio-hunters nowadays seek 
so eagerly. In the Goede Hoop Lodge it was raised 
on a small platform with a screen behind it of a green 
watered silk surmounted by Her Majesty s coat of arms, 
and a small desk in front of it covered with green baize. 
It had a cane seat, provided with a horse-hair cushion, 
and at present, with one leg rather rickety, but otherwise 
sound, leads a life of seclusion in Mr. Speaker's Library. 
The next was installed in the Goede Hoop Lodge in 
1868. This was much more elaborate ; but when the 
House moved into the new buildings in 1885 it was 
discarded for the one now in the LInion House, and 
after years of idleness was placed in the Conference 
Room upstairs. 

But to return to the occupant. On being withdrawn 
from the political fray, Sir James, himself a skilled 
debater with a ready wit, must have found some 
difficulty at first in repressing the quips and sallies with 
which he had for so long amused the House, but in his 
new role one could hardly perceive the same person, 
so completely did he sink his former self. As a young 


member he had been an adept at starting hares, while 
in "drawing members" a game he began a year 
after he had been returned to Parliament he had few 
equals. A favourite ruse of his had been to intervene 
in a heated discussion and, with a great show of serious 
concern for the personal honour of the combatants, to 
make things livelier than ever by setting one member 
against the other on a new issue. 

On his election to the Chair, all this ringcraft was 
abandoned, or at all events used only to detect the 
devices of others. In the Chair he was as solemn as 
the proverbial judge. " Order, order," he once 
exclaimed when in the course of a debate a member 
burst out laughing at a joke whispered to him by his 
next-door neighbour, " the honourable member must 
endeavour to restrain himself." He could not and 
would not countenance undue levity, yet rumour has it 
that when the member he had rebuked passed the Chair 
on his way out of the House the Speaker leant over and 
remarked, solto coce, ' You might tell me the joke 
afterwards ! " But rumour is a lying jade. 

Owing to the rapid march of events towards 
unification, the storms the House had recently passed 
through had abated, but it must not be supposed 
that the last occupant of the Chair during his 
somewhat brief tenure had merely to supervise a daily 

Many of the trials and tribulations which make 


the life of a Speaker anything but an easy one were 
still present, and in comparing the difficulties that beset 
the path of the Cape Speakers it should not be forgotten 
that the House at this time consisted of a hundred and 
seven members, while when Sir ChristofTel Brand was 
elected there were only forty-six. This number had 
been increased to sixty-six when Sir David Tennant 
was elected, to seventy-nine when Sir Henry Juta was 
elected, and to ninety when Sir Bisset Berry was 
elected ; so that the last Speaker had more than twice 
as many members to control as the first a factor 
that naturally added to the responsibilities of the 

Moreover, the calm that followed the storms of 
the previous Parliaments was more or less superficial. 
The House, to change the metaphor, was carrying on 
its work on the crust of a volcano. Ominous rumblings 
were sometimes heard, and in 1909, Sir James' second 
year, there was an eruption which rivalled the scene 
that took place on the Additional Representation 

The circumstances, in fact, were almost identical. 
A debate on the Light Wine Licences Bill had con- 
tinued for some days, and was likely to continue in- 
definitely, so for the first and only time in the annals 
of the Cape Parliament Mr. Speaker decided to apply 
the closure rule the House of Commons had adopted in 
1882. Apparently none of the members were aware 


that such a rule existed. It was read and applied at 
ten o'clock in the evening of the 15th of November, 
1909, and for fully five minutes thereafter the House 
was a pandemonium. Loud cries of " Order, order ! " 
from the Government supporters were drowned in 
fierce cheers and counter-cheers. The front bench 
of the Opposition were on their feet in a twinkling, 
but could at first find no words to express their feelings. 
When at last the leader of the Opposition obtained 
Mr. Speaker's permission to ask whether there was 
" any remedy," Mr. Speaker must have felt inclined 
to rule, as Mr. Lowther once did, " that the honour- 
able member must not look at Mr. Speaker like that." 
But, having never been addicted to half measures, 
his answer was much more direct. ' It is a very simple 
matter," he replied, " you have no remedy ; the 
Speaker is the ultimate judge of this rule. I now put 
the question that the Speaker leave the Chair." The 
" Ayes " had it, and the Speaker vanished through the 
swing door behind the dais. 

This was the last ordinary session of the Cape 
House, and at its close the Prime Minister, seconded 
by the leader of the Opposition, moved a vote of thanks, 
which included the hope that it would not be the last 
time the Speaker would preside over the deliberations 
of Parliament in South Africa. 

Parliament was summoned to meet once more on 
the 9th of April, 1910, but its business was as formal 


as it was pleasant. It had met to repeal the Civil 
Servants Retrenchment Act, and after sitting for only 
an hour and a quarter a record session it adjourned 
never to meet again. 

With Sir James ended the procession of Cape 
Speakers. Could the veil of time be drawn aside, and 
the years which separated their terms of office fade 
away as in a magic crystal, what an arresting procession 
it would be ! Sir Christoffel Brand, small only so far 
as inches count, with hands clasped behind his back, 
would pass before us with short, firm step ; Sir David 
Tennant, bland and imperturbable, would follow with 
unaffected dignity ; Sir Henry Juta, with head thrown 
well back, would seem to be welcoming a challenge 
on a point of order ; while Sir Bisset Berry, like some 
scholar of the Renaissance, would half turn his shoulders 
to incline his head in courtly recognition, and Sir James 
Molteno, seeing before him the august men whose repu- 
tation he was upholding, would appear bolder and 
more self-reliant than ever. 

A small procession, it is true, but one which, by 
its very smallness, was a credit to the House which, 
during its fifty-six years of existence, ever took the 
Mother of Parliaments for its guide. For at Westminster 
no principle in late years has been more strictly 
observed than the continuity of Speakership : the 
re-election in a new Parliament of the last occupant 
of the Chair. Sir Christoffel Brand and Sir David 



Tennant resigned after long service. Sir Henry Juta 
and Sir Bisset Berry were, unfortunately, absent when 
the roll of newly elected members was read by the 
Clerk, and Sir James Molteno ceased to hold office 
when the Union Constitution came into force on the 
31st of May, 1910. 



GOVERNMENT, 1854-187?. 

Under 79 of the Constitution Ordinance, 1852, (he undermentioned officers 
weie entitled to sit and to speak in bo'h Houses of Parliament. They had no 
votes and were debarred hy 33 and 47 from being elected members of either 

Office and Name. From I n Cause of Chanrr. 


SirRawsonW.Rawson, 9 May, 1854 21 July. 1864 Promoted Governor of 

K.C.M.G., C.B. Bahamas. 

Sir Richard Southey, 22 July, 1864 30 Nov., 1872 Retired on introduction of 

K.C.M.G. Responsible Government. 


W. Porter, CMC. 16 Sept., 1839 17 Mar., 1866 Retired at age of sixty on 

full pension. 
W. D. Griffith .. 18 Mar., 1866 30 Nov. .1872 Retired on introduction of 

Responsible Government. 


H. Rivers .. .. 21 June, 1842 6 Dec., 1861 Died. 

Sir Richard Southey, 6 Dec., 1861, 1864 Promoted Colonial Secre- 

K.C.M.G. tarv. 

J. C Davidson . . 28 Nov , 1864 30 Nov., 1872 Retired OP introduction of 

Responsible ( jovernment. 

W.Hope .. .. 1 Sept. ,1849 3 Oct. ,1858 D.e<l 

E. M. G'le .. .. 19 Apr. ,1859 19 July, 1875* Retired at ace of <,xt\ -four 

* After the passing of the " Responsible Government Act, 1872, the Auditor had 
no seat in Pailiament and was not eligible for election as a member of either House of 

I hO 


GOVERNMENT, 1872-1910. 

Under 3 of Act No 1 of 1872 ("Responsible Government " Act) Ministers 
were made eligible for election as members of either House of Parliament. If not so 
elected they could not, under 5, sit or speak in either House. If elected they 
had the right, under 4, to sit and speak in both Houses but could vote only in 
the House of which they were members. 

(1 DEC.. 1872-5 FFB., 1878.) 



Premier and Colonial Secretary '*J. C. Molteno . . 
Treasurer of the Colony . . tH. White 

f';*J. H. deVilliers 
Attorneys-General . . ;*S. Jacobs 

' !*A. Stockenstrom 

Commissioners of Crown \ *C. Aberc. Smith 
Lands and Public Works / ,*J. X. Merriman 
Secretary for Native Affairs . . *C. Brownlee 

Circumstances and proximate cause of change. 

During recess. 

Dismissed by Governor owing to policy pur- 
sued in regard to use of Imperial troops and 
control of Colonial forces. 

No appeal to country. 


(6 Frn.. 18788 MAY, 1881 ) 

Name. Circumstances and proximate cause of changf 

Premier and Colonial Secretary 
Treasurers of the Colonv 

Commissioner of Crown Lands 

and Pubhc Works. 
Secretary for Native Affairs . . 
Minister without portfolio 

*J. Gordon Sprigg During session. 

+ J. Miller .. Native administration including disarmament 

*H. W. Pearson of Basutos. Attorney-General disagreed 

*Thos. Upington with native policy and left ministry with bare 

*! W Leonard maionty. Spngg, unable to meet demands 

*J. Lain<; .. lor Kimberley Railway, would not face 
proposed motion of no confidence l>v 

*\X . Avliff . . Scanlen and resigned. 

+ j. Miller . . No appeal to country. 

Member of the House ol 
Member of the Legislati 

e Council. 


(9 MAY, 1881 12 MAY. 1884) 

Office. Name. Circumstances and proximate cause of change. 

Premier and Attorney-General *+T. C. Scanlen . . During session following general election. 

\ *J. C. Molteno .. Ostensibly on account of defeat by thirty-seven 

Colonial Secretaries . . / *T. C. Scanlen votes on motion for repeal of proclamation 

\ tC. W. Hutton . . on phylloxera but defeat was inevitable on 

Treasurers of the Colony I *C. J. Rhodes . . pending motion by Scanlen which proposed 

... r I \ * F. C. Scanlen .. to cede portions of Transkeian Territories 

Attorneys-*-jeneral .. , *i w i i i i r 

i J. w. Leonard .. to Imperial Uovernment. 

Commissioner of Crown Lands *J. X. Mernman No appeal to country. 

and Public Works. 

Secretary for Native Affairs . . *J W. Saner 

Minister without portfolio .. * |. H. Hofmcvr 

(13 MAY. 1884-2-4 Nov., 1886.) 

Office. Name. Circumstances and proximate cause of change. 

Premier and Attorney-General *Thos. Upington During recess. 

. . . c . \ *[. AylifT .. Sprigs, the Treasurer, took Lpingtons place 
/ *).Tudhope .. as' Premier and Upington became Attorney- 
Treasurer of the Colony .. *J. Gordon Sprigg General only. On being formally questioned 
Commissioner of Crown Lands *F Schermbrucker Sprigg declined to give reasons for chane. 

and Public Works. but Upington afterwards stated that i! 

Secretary for Native AfTnirs .. *J. A. de Wet .. made on account of his ill-health. 

i No appeal to -.-rvintry. 

(25 Nov.. 188616 Jn.Y. 1890.) 

Office. Name. Circumstances and proximate cause ; 

. ope .. 

Colonial Secretaries .. / *H. \V. Pearson pounds for railway construction 

Attorney-General .. . . *Thos. I'pinsrton No appeal to countr\ . 

Commissioner of Crown Lands P . Schermbrucker 

and Public Works. 
Secretary for Native Affivrs . . *J. A. de Wet 



. (17 JULY, 1890-3 MAY, 1893.) 



Circumstances and proximate cause of change. 

Premier . . . . . . *Cecil J. Rhodes 

Colonial Secretary . . . . *J. W. Sauer 

Treasurer of the Colony . . *J X. Mernman 
Attorney-General . . . . *J. Rose Innes . 

Commissioners of Crown \ *Cecil J. Rhodes 
. Lands and Public Works ' '*J. Sivewright . 
Secretary for Native Affairs . . *P. H. Faure 

During recess. 

Change of ministers owing to cabinet dis- 
agreement on granting of Railway refresh- 
ment contract to J. D. Logan. 

No appeal to country. 

(4 MAY, 189312 JAN., 1896.) 



Circumstances and proximate cause of change. 

During recess. 

Jameson Raid. Rhodes resigned, and his 

Premier *Cccil J. Rhodes 

Colonial Secretan . . . . *P. H. Faure 

Treasurer . . . . . . *J. Gordon Sprigg Treasurer, Sprigg, formed a ministry. 

i *W. P. Schreiner No appeal to country 
Attorneys-General . . *H. H. Juta 

' *W. P. Schreiner 

Commissioner cl Public \( orks *J. Laing 
Secretary for Native Affairs *J. Frost 
Secretary for Agriculture . . *J. Frost 

(13 JAN., 189613 OCT , 18%.) 


Premier and Treasurer 
Colonial Secretaries . . 


Name. , Circumstances and proximate cause of change. 

/ *T W. Smartt 

\ *T. Upington 

' tT. L. Graham 

Commissioner of Public Works *J. Sivewright 

Secretary for Agriculture *P. H. Faure 

J. Gordon Spngg j During session following genera! election 
T. Te Water . . Motion of no confidence by Schreiner carried 

by forty-one vctes to thirty-six. 
No appeal to country, but in previous session 

Sprigg had been defeated on a motion ot 

no-confidence and had then appealed to 


* Member of the House of Assembly. 
t Member of the Legislative Council. 





(14 OCT., I89R-17 JI-NF. 1900.} 


Circumstances and proximate cause of change. 

Premier and Colonial Secrdar\ *W. P. Schreiner During recess. 

Treasurer . . . . . . *J. X. Mernman Cabinet disagreement on compensation (or 

Attorney-General . . . . *R. Solomon . . \var losses and punishment of those engaeed 

Commissioner of Public Work* *J. W. Sauer . . in rebellion. 

Secretary for Agriculture . . tA. .1. Herholdt . . No appeal to country. 
Minister without portfolio . . *T. Te Water 

(18 JUNE. 1900-21 FFB . 1904.) 



Circumstances and proximate cause of change. 

Premier and I reasurer 
Colonial Secretaries . . 

Commissioners of PuHic 

Secretaries for Agriculture 
Minister without portfolio 

*J. Gordon Sprigg During recess following general election. 

:tT. L. Graham . . Defeat by ten votes on motion by Burton 

*A. Douglass . . for revision of martial law sentence*. 

*P. H. Taure . . (By not supporting movement for sns- 

*J. Rose Innes . . pension of constitution Spnge had 

*T. L. Graham . . previously been left in minority and 

*T. W. Smartt .. had to rely alternately on Bond an 1 

*A. Douglass Progressive support.) 

*P. H. Faure . . Appeal to country (without obtaining supplies) 

*.'. Frost . . i a few days before expiration of House of 

*J. Frost . . j Assembly by effluxion of time. 


(22 FEB., 1904-2 FEB.. 190*.) 

Circumstances and proximate cause of chan?t 

Premier . . . . . . *L. S. Jameson . . 

r i i c . ( *C. P. Crewe 

Lolomal oecretane? * n i , ,- 

' P. H. f-aure 

Treasurer . . . . . . *F. H. Walton . . 

Attorney-Genera! . . . . *\ ictor Sampson 

Commissioner of Public \\ or's's *T. \V . Smartt .. 

f A ,, *A. I. Fuller .. 

secretaries tor Agriculture l *p p /-> 

... . , ,,. > *L L. Michcil '. 

.Ministers without portfolio ( f . , , r ,j f 

During recess following general election. 
Deadlock in Legislative Council in Coi 

mittee of Supply on Fstimates. 
Appral to countrv 

Member of t!-c House of AsseinbK 
Member ol the Legislative Council. 



(3 FFB., 1908-30 MAY, !9IO.) 

Office. Name Circumstances and proximate cause of chanse. 

Premier and Treasurer . . *J. X. Mernman 

Colonial Secretary . . . . *N. F. de Waal . . During recess. 

Attorney-General .. .. *H. Burton .. The 31st May, 1910, was fixed by Royal 

Commissioner of Public Works *J. W. Sauer .. proclamation as date of Union. 

Secretary for Agriculture . . *F. S. Malan 

.... ff ,. (' fD.P.deV.Graaff 

Ministers without portfolio f *TJ i ^ 

* Member ot the House of Assembly. 

* Member of the Legislative Council 



During the 56 years' existence of the Cape House of Assembly (1854- 1910) 
there were altogether 560 members. Their average service in the House was srven 
years. The following members sat for more than 20 years : 



1 ,ast : 





Hou- t 


Merriman.Rt. Hon. J. X. 



Aliual North, Work-house, .. 

42* i 

Namaqualand, \ ictoria \\ ( ! 

Sauer, Hon. J. \V. 



Aliwal North, (Jcorer 


Sprigg. Rt. Hon. Sir J.C.. 



East London . . 


Frost, Hon. Sir J. 





Proctor, J. j 





Tennant, Hon. Sir D. .. 



Piquetbere . 


Molteno, Hon. Sir J C. 



Beaufort West & Victoria \VcM 


Solomon, S. 



Cape 1 own 


Manuel, C J. 



Cape Division . . 


Brabant, Sir E. Y. 



East London . . 


Hockly, W. H 



Somerset East & f'ort Beaufort 


Lamp, Hon. J. . . 



Fort Beaufort . . 


Marais, IS. 



Paarl .. .. .. 


Warren, 'Col. W. J. . 



Kmc William s 1 own 


Scanlen, Hon. Sir T. C. 





Theron, T. P. . . 





Keyter, B. 1. . 



Oudtshoorn . . 


Ayliff, Hon.' W. 



f'ort Beaufort . . 


Louw, M. J 



Cape Town iv Cape Disti'K t .. 


Pearson, Hon. H. W. . 



Port Elizabeth 


Brand, Hon. Sir C.J. .. 





Fuller, Sir T. E . ' 



Cape Town 


Barn, T. D 





Du Plessis, A. S. 



Albert . . 


V'intcent, L. A. 



Gcoree . . 


Rhodes, Rt Hon. C.J. 



Barkly West . . 


De Wet, Hon. J. A. .. 



Somerset East . . 


Joubert, J. 



Albert .. 


* Unbroken service. 

A Fifty years, including service m Union House up to 1918. 

* The year 1901, in which there was no session, has not been (leJuct- ! 



In 1910 the House of Assembly consisted of 107 members. The following 
table shows the increase of members since the establishment of Parliament, giving 
the .^ct, the name of the electoral division, and the number of members added: 

Constitution Ordinance 
Act 3 of 1865 

Aliwal Noilh . . 




Queenstown . . 



Victoria Wtst . . 

King Williams to-.Mi 

East London 
Act 7 of 1872 

Vt 39 of 1877- 


Bark'.v ". . 
Act 13 otl 882 


An 30 of 1887 

Gnqualand lias! 
Ac; 41 of 1895- 
Yryhurt: . . 

'ct 19 of 1898 

Humansdorp . . 

Carried forwarc 


Brought forward 
Act 19 of 1898 (continued.} 







Cape Town 


Griqualand East 



Por* Elizabeth . . 
Act 5 of 1904 

East London 

George . , 

Kingwilliamstown . . 

Pa rl 


Port EH/aberh . 





Cape Town 



The actual number was forty-six, but tins inc'uded two members for the Cape 
Division. By the ooeiation of Att 19 ot 1898 this electoral division erased to exist, 
r nc member !>?mg allotted to Wynberg and the other to Woodstock. 

* Reprinted from the " Cape Civil Service List. 




Freedom of Speech and Debate Act . . ... . . No. I of 1854. 

To secure freedom of speech and debates or proceedings 
in Parliament, and to ive summary protection to persons 
employed in th? publication of Parliamentary paper . 

Registration of Voters Act N->. 1 6 of 1856. 

To amend the law relative to the registration ot voters and 
to the taking of polls 

Corrupt Practices Prevention Act .. .. .. N-J. 21 of 1859. 

To prevent bribery, treaunp, and undue influence at rie-'tions 
of members of Parliament. 

British Kaffrana Incorporation and Parliamentary 

Representation Amendment Act . . . . N;>. 3 of 1865 

To make provision for the incorporation of British KafTrana 
with the Colony of the Cape of Good I~sope in two electoral 
divisions, [King William's Town and Eist London], each 
of which divisions is to be ent'tleo to send two n, embers 
to the House of Assembly and foi the purposes of repre- 
sentation in the Legislative Council to be comprised in 
the Eastern Districts ; also to establish the following 
electoral divisions, each to return two members to the 
House of Assemblv, viz., Aliwal North. Namaqualand, 
Oudtshoorn, Piquetbersr, Qucenstown, Richmond, Rivers- 
dale and Victoria Wft. 

Constitution Ordinance Amendment Act [Responsible 

Government] . . . . .... . . . . No. 1 of 1872 

To establish the offices ct Con-.tnissicner of Crown Lands 
ind Public Works and of Secretary for N.itue .Affairs ; to 
render all Ministers eligible for election as members ol 
Parliament, and to fix their salaries. 

^odehouse Representation Act. . . . . . . . No. 7 of 1 

To constitute the fiscal division H Wodehouse an electoral 
division entitled to elect two members of t':e House t_f 

Reorinted from the '' Cape Civil Service List. 


Election Law Amendment Act No. 14 of 1874. 

To amend the law relating to the registration and qualification 
of voters, and to the election of members of Parliament. 

Constitution Ordinance Amendment Act .. .. No. 18 of 1874. 
To repeal Act No 6 of 1859, and to amend the Constitution 
Ordinance and Act No. 3 of 1865 by dividing the Colony 
into seven electoral provinces for the election of members 
of the Legislative Council, each province to return three 
members ; to render vacant the seat of any members of 
Parliament accepting offices of profit under Government, 
except the office of a Minister of the Crown, or becoming 
insolvent, and to make provision for vacancies occurring in 
the interval between a general election and the then next 
meeting of Parliament. 

Griqualand West Annexation Act No. 39 of 1877. 

To make provision for the annexation to the Colony of 
the province of Griqualand West, returning one member 
to the Legislative Council ; and for the purposes of repre- 
sentation in the House of Assembly to be divided into two 
electoral divisions [Kimberley and Barkly], each division 
returning two member". 

Payment of Members' Expenses Act .. .. .. No. 6 of 1879. 

To increase the number of days for which members are 
entitled to an allowance, under Section ninety of the Con- 
stitution Ordinance, Irom fifty to ninety. 

Ministers' Salaries Act No. 32 of 1879. 

To increase the salaries payable to the five Ministers of the 
Crown to 1,500 per annum each, and an additional sum of 
250 per annum to the Prime Minister. [By Act No. 2 of 
1886 the salary of the Attorney-General was reduced to 
1 ,000 p.a., and the salaries of the other Ministers to 1 ,200 ; 
this continued in force from the 1st July, 1886, to the 30th 
June, 1887, when it w-s repeale 1 by Act No 28 01 1887.] 

Constitution Ordinance Amendment Act . . . . No. ! of 1882. 
To authorise the use of the Dutch language in debates and 
discussions in Parliament. 

Kimherley Increased Representation Act . . . . No. 13 of 1882. 
To amend Act No. 39, 1877, by increasing the members for 
th" electoral dnision of Kimberley from two to four. 

President of Council Allowance Act . . . . . . No. 36 of 1882. 

To remove doubts as to the legality of the payment of an 
annual allowance to the Chief Justice as President of the 
Legislative Council. 

Telegraphic Messages Act (3) No. 41 of 1882. 

To authorise a member of Parliament to transmit hi? 
resignation by telegraph. 

Interpretation Act No. 5 of 1883. 

To interpret and shorten the language of Acts of Parhamen' 

ACTK AMEXDIXd ( '()\ST/Tl'T/O\ . 

Parliamentary Election Act .. No. 9 of 1883. 

To amend the lavs relating to election petitions and to the 
prevention of corrupt practices at Parliamentary elections. 

Powers and Privileges of Parliament Act .. .. No. 1 3 of 1883. 
To define and declare the powers and privileges of Parliament 
and to amend the Audit Act of 1875 by substituting a 
Speaker's audit of tl.e House of Assembly accounts. 

Public Bodies' Private Bill Act. . . . No. 35 of 1885. 

To authorise certain public bodies to introduce, prom<>le, or 
oppose certain private bills, and to legalise expenses so 

Parliamentary Costs Taxation Act .. .. .. No. 6 of IR87. 

To provide for tin- taxation of Cost of Private Bill? in Parlia- 

Parliamentary Voters' Registration Act .. No. 1 4 of 1887. 

To make better provision for the registration ol persons en- 
titled to the electoral franchise under the Constitution 

Transkeian Territories Representation Act .. No. 30 ol 1887. 

To create and define the electoral divisions of I embuland 
and Gnqualand East, each to return one member to the 
House of Assembly ; also to include the 1 ranskeian Terri- 
tories, for representation in the Legislative Counc:!, in 
the Eastern Electoral Province. 

Native Registered Voters Relief Act .. .. No. 39 of 1887. 

To exempt native registered voters from the operation of 
certain disqualifying Acts of Parliament. 

Members of Parliament Allowance Act . . No. 1 6 of 1888 

To amend the !a\v in regard to the ["ravelling and Personal 

Expenses of Members. 
Audit Act Amendment Act (12 and 15) . . . . No. 32 of 1888 

To place audit of joint Parliamentary Expenses under 

Section 16 of Act 13 of 1883 ; also to authorise i^ue of 

money on Speaker's requisi'mns 
Oaths and Declarations Act (4 and 5) .. .. No. 18 of 1891. 

To amend the Oath of Allegiance required to be taken 

under the 61st Section o! the Constitution Ordinance. 

Franchise and Ballot Act .. No. 9 of 1892. 

To amend the Law \sith regard to the Qualifica'ion of \ otcr? 
for Members of Parliament, and to make pro\ision for 
taking Vr>tes by Ballot M Parliamentary. l"le<Jinns 

Minister of Agriculture Act .. ^ No. 14 of 

To create the office of a Minister of Agriculture, to abolish 
the office of Secretary tor Naliv.- Atbirs. air! to jrnend the 
designation of and provide for the assignment { duties 
to certain Ministerial officers. 


Cumulative Vote Abolition Act (Cape Town) .. No. 16 of 1893. 

To abolish the cumulative vote at House of Assembly 
elections, Cape Town. 

Glen Gray Act . . No. 25 of 1894. 

Part III. To revise voters lists. 

British Bechuanaland Annexation Act .. .. No. 41 of 1895. 

To annex the territory, and to provide for one member of 
the Legislative Council, and three members of the House 
of Assembly, viz. : Vryburg 2, Mafeking 1. 

Legislative Council Dissolution Act .. .. .. No. 9 of 1897. 

To empower the Governor to dissolve the existing Legisla- 
tive Council, without dissolving the House cf Assembly, 
after the 31st December, 1897. 

Parliamentary Representation Act . . . . . . No. 19 of 1898. 

To add sixteen members to the House of Assembly. 

Registration of Pailiamentary Voters Amendment Act No. 48 of 1899. 
To amend the law relating to the registration oi Parlia- 
mentarv Voters. 

Illegal Practices Prevention Act No. 26 of 1902. 

To amend the Corrupt Practices at Elections Prevention 
Act, 1859," and the Parliamentary Elections Act, 1885. 

Additional Parliamentary Representation Act. . . . No. 5 of 1904. 
To add three members to tlie Legislative Council, and 
twelve to the House of Assembly. 

Private Bill Documents Deposit Act No. 3 of 190^ 

To provide for Depositories for Private Bill Documents 
required to be deposited in accordance with the Standing 
Rules and Orders of either House of Parliament. 



1 he following table indicates the duration of sessions of Parliament and 
the number of days on which the House of Assembly and legislative Council 
sat in each session : 


Duration Number of Sittings. Duration Number o Sitting. 

Year. ] ol Session Ycnr. >( Session - 

in(la > s - Assomhlv. Guincil.i '" (!iivs ' ..Wm!>K . 


























































1 1 1 

























































' 62 





































5 f > 








































c w . 





' 906 























; r J(\s 
















1 Q09 






i i 




MEMBERS' ALLOWANCES. (1) 1854: Constitution Ordinance, Section 90 

Members: If residence.- hey.'mi ten miles (rum pu,Cf of siltinst. ill i,-r .very .lay ,,; 
honu- tor pri ioil not <-xci-i-<l.;:i; t,lty ci.i\: plus :: iM-.ii:i ;-!!.. w.nice u! Is. per m.l. 
Member: No renrineiation. (2) 1879: Act 6 :.'o'.int: \ f .i-mix-is p nJ for n.n- 
,.f fifty da-.s as above. i McmLei*: V, i- mun, it...n. (3) 1888 : Act 16- 
Men-.bers: if rcsiuc-no- b<'V..iK: !:ft,vp. nv.!t > ti.-ni ,, a, , o: !n.;*. 1 los. f..r.-v-r. 
from home lor period not i-xcoed.r.g'. ,:.iys. plus t ivi-nmtf rxpcns.-s. I .' c. 
!{ residence within fifteen miles of place uf ittinH. i ! ' f,- each ,l.-.y .-.f actual a 

4; II U J 

. = > _c _c 

s * 

"w O 3 

^ ff C -I 

w-g g 

I S i c 

.1 ! c ^. 

a (_) 

-5_>- o 


-^ u ._._ *-- 


C ? 
^ - 


"* " w 

"I. < 













^ u 





























1 J 












^r ^ 







' ^f 















: - 







-5 ^ * -5 


v a 
~O o 

'^> '. 



Q Jf 

m . 

2.3 c 


! C 4) 

-a u 

lO U 

00 C 




u JU 

r^i ^ 

a 3 a 

2?. ^> 




>, >- <u 

1 i O C 


~ .2' 

! ""S O 


r-j ! 

| "I 

41 -C 

c E 

O t 


1 | I 

O oU 



So ' C 



-. o c 



a c 

"3 o 

C to ~ Of. 



, - so ey. 






0^ ^ 





GO -r ^ 

*~ . c 




'- ' 



-a oo "^~ 

r^t ,.2 ~ 

o r-j 

O- x 





2 S. 


<0 10 


O w >, 

- tO CO 


-r -t-'T i-" 

"^ f 5 


o ,_ 

~ V 
*- r^ 


~ C 

-E g 

c. ' 



(NOTE : Particulars are arranged in chronological order as far as practicable. 

Acoustic properties of debating chamber, 63, 122. 
Additional Representation B ; lls : 1865, obstruction. 41 ; 1898, 
deadlock, 88 ; 1904, closure applied, 153-155. (See also Annexurc 


Adjournment of House : By Speaker Brand owing to disorder, 103 
note ; for Government House ball, 46 ; on death of Lady Brand, 
110; on death of Sir David Tennant, 128; and of both Houses 
on death of Sir Christoffel Brand, 111; rush for doors at usual 
hours of adjournment, 127. 

Admonition and reprimand. Difference between, 151. 

Admonitions of members, 102, 123. 

Anti-convict association a factor in the struggle for representative 
government, 9. 

Arderne, R. H., Member of first House, 28. 

Arms of Cape Colony, 55 and note. 

Aspeling, D. J., Bet with Mr. Chabaud, 107. 

Barkly, Sir Henry, Governor, lays foundation stone of new Houses 

of Parliament, 55, 120. 
Bar of the House : Dr. Tancred committed to custody of Sergeant- 

at-Arms, 35 ; Dr. Tancred's apology, 103 ; Counsel m opposition 

to private bills, 65 ; merchant reprimanded for attempted bribery, 

152; unnerving effect of, 152. 

Barry, J., moves that Mr. Fairbairn be elected Speaker, 99. 
" Beck Election Act," 85. 
Berry, Hon. Sir Wm. Bisset, Speaker (1898-1908): School and 

University career, 146; settles in Queenstown, 146; interest in 

native affairs and education, 147 ; elected member of House, 147 ; 

diction, 66, 147; ruling on enquiry into conduct of members, 74 ; 

Chairman of Select Committees, 148; elected Speaker, 148-149; 

casting vote, 89; character and appearance, 145, 150, 165; dinners, 

151 ; admonishes merchant for attempting to bribe member, 151. 

152; applies closure, 153-155; knighthood, 155; re-elected 

Speaker, 155; vote of thanks, 155; defeated at general election 

156; elected member of Union House, 156. 

i88 INDEX. 

Bills, Proposal to revive after prorogation, 81 ; introduction by private 
members, 85 ; passed without blanks filled up, 86. 

Elaine, H, Member of Legislative Council, 1854, 29. 

Bond, Afrikander, 67, 74. 

Bowker, T. H., Long speech by, 67. 

Brand, C., Speaker Brand's grandfather, " Resident " at Simonstown, 97. 

Brand, C. J., Speaker Brand's son, First Clerk-Assistant, 27. 

Brand, H. B. W. (Viscount Hampden), Speaker of House of Com- 
mons, 154. 

Brand, Hon. Sir Christoffel, Speaker of Cape House (1854-74) : Birth 
and early career, 98 ; connection with Press, 98 ; appointed member 
of Legislative Council, and resigns, 10, 99; elected member of 
House, 99, and Speaker, 1 00 ; continues to practice as barrister, 
101 ; throws bill on floor, 31 ; resumes Chair and admonishes 
member, 102; adjourns House owing to disorder, 103 note; 
knighthood, 105 ; casting votes, 106, 109 ; notice served on as to 
validity of Grahamstown proceedings, 40 ; Chabaud's resignation, 
107; defends conduct, 109; last election, 110; votes of thanks, 
100, 103, 111 ; appearance, 100, 126, 165; resignation, 1 1 1 ; Free 
Masonry, 112; death, 1 1 1 ; influence, 43, 112. 

Brand, J. H., Speaker Brand's father, 98. 

Brand, Sir John, Speaker Brand's son, member of first House, 29 ; 

votes for dissolution of Parliament, 106; President of Orange 

Free State, 29. 

Bribery and corruption, 74, 151. 
British KafTraria Annexation Bill, 40-42. 
Buchanan, William and James, reporters, 27. 
Bull and Son, Messrs., contractors for " new " buildings, 49. 

Call of House, 80. 

Casting Votes of Speaker Brand on motion for dissolution of Parlia- 
ment, 106, and on resignation of Mr. Chabaud, 109; of Speaker 
Juta on motion of no confidence in Government, 138; oi Speaker 
Berry on conference between government and opposition, 89. 

Censure, Vote of, on Speaker Brand, defeated, 110; on Governor 
before responsible government, 41 ; on Governor, disallowed, 
after responsible government, 121. 

Chabaud, G. L., Resignation of, 107-1 10. 

INDEX. 189 

Chairman of Committees, Permanent, 45, 117. 

Clerks at the Table : First appointments. 27 ; wigs, 62, 82 

Closure applied by Speaker Berry, 154, and by Speaker Molteno, 163. 

" Commercial Advertiser " publishes debates of Legislative Council 
in 1834, 7; and of House of Assembly in 1854, 27. 

Commercial Exchange, Meeting of citizens in, 6 ; proposed appro- 
priation for Houses of Parliament, 56. 

Committee of Selection, Proposal for, negatived, 81. 

Committee of Whole House : Speaker Brand resumes Chair owing 
to disorder, 102, and speaks in Committee in defence of his conduct, 
109; permanent Chairman appointed, 45, 117. 

Condolence, Motion of, on death of Sir Thomas Upington, 70 ; and on 
death of Speaker Tennant, 128. 

Conference between Legislative Council and House of Assembly, 30, 
and between Government and Opposition, 88-89. 

Confidence, Vote of, in Speaker Brand, 1 10. 

Confidence, Vote of Want of, m Government : Before Responsible 
Government, 19; Speaker's casting vote, 138; against third 
Sprigg Ministry, 141, 87, 149. 

Constitution : HISTORY OF ORDINANCE : Agitation for representative 
government, 4 ; Earl Grey's acquiescence, 7 ; Porter's draft des- 
patched to England, 9 ; Letters patent issued by Queen in Council 
laying down main principles, 9 ; considered by Legislative Council 
and, after resignation of " popular members, by commission 
consisting of remainder of Council, 10, 11 ; despatched to England 
a second time, 11; " Sixteen articles " drafted and conveyed to 
England by Fairbairn and Stockenstrom, 11, 13; draft constitu- 
tion returned to Cape in more complete form, 15 ; despatched to 
England for third and last time, 15 ; returned to Cape in " Lady 
Jocelyn," 16; PROVISIONS OF ORDINANCE: As to number of 
members of Parliament, 17 : officers of Government before respon- 
sible government, 19, 169; money bills, 30; seat of Parliament, 
37; summoning of Parliament, 39; resignation of members, 108; 
term of membership, 182. (For amendments to Constitution 
Ordinance see Annexures D and E.) 

Constitutions, Colonial, Alteration of, 3, 14. 

Contracts between members and Government, 75. 

Convicts, Agitation against landing of, 9. 

Cook. Captain, Friendship with Speaker Brand's grandfather, $ 


Council of Advice (1825-1834) : Constituted, 4 ; meets in old Colonial 
Office, 5 ; secret proceedings, 5 ; superseded by Legislative and 
Executive Councils, 4. 

Councils, Legislative. See " Legislative Councils." 

Counsel at tnr of House, 65. 

Counts-out, 41. 

Customs Tariff open to amendment by House, 140. 

Darling, Lt. -Governor, opens first Parliament, 18. 

Debates, Publication of, 5 and note, 6, 7. 

De Villiers, Lord, Member of House in 1872, 43 ; President of Legis- 
lative Council, 140. 

De Waal, D. C., recommends conference between Government and 
opposition, 88. 

De Waal, Sir Frederic, when Secretary of Bond, opposes conference 
between Government and opposition, 88. 

De Wet, J., Member of Legislative Council, 1854, 29. 

" Disabling Speeches," 149. 

Disagreements between two Houses of Parliament, 29-31. 

Disorder : When in Committee of Whole House, Speaker resumes 
Chair, 102 ; and when in House, Speaker suspends sitting, 103 note. 

Dissolution of Parliament, Motion for, 106 ; (for dates and reasons 
for, see Annexure G.) 

Dress, 72. 

Duelling and challenges to fight, 36, 76, 77. 

D'Urban, Sir Benjamin, arrival in Cape Town, and establishment of 
Legislative and Executive Councils, 3, 4. 

Dutch language allowed in debates, 46. 

East versus West, Provincial question of, 105 ; attempt to abolish 45. 

Ebden, J. B., Member of Legislative Council, 1854, 29. 

Election petitions, 46. 

Electric light, Failure of, 73. 

Eloquence, 66. 

Elsygne, Clerk of the House of Commons, 82. 

Executive Council constituted, 4. 

Executive Councillors, 1854-1872. See Annexure A. 

INDEX. 191 

Expenditure : Disagreement with Legislative Council, 30 ; amend- 
ments to inter-colonial customs tariff allowed, 140 ; " 1 vote 
system " in Estimates condemned, 140. 

Fairbairn, John : Secretary of Anti-convict Association, 9 ; appointed 
member of Legislative Council, 1850, 10; resigns, II ; character 
and work, 1 1 ; deputed to convey " Sixteen Articles " to England, 
1 1 ; activity in England, 14 ; return to Cape, 15 ; leader of Press, 
98 ; member of first House, 28 ; candidate for Chair, 99 ; attacked 
by " Monitor," 28 ; helps to draft Standing Rules, 35; moves vote 
of thanks to Speaker, 100, 103. 

Fairbndge, C. A. : Member of first House, 28 ; seconds motion for 
election of Sir Christoffel Brand as Speaker, 99 ; helps to draft 
Standing Rules, 35 ; seconds motion, last election of Speaker Brand, 

Freeman, Charles, awarded first prize for design for new Houses of 
Parliament, 54 ; appointed resident architect, 56 ; dismissed, 56 ; 
subsequent success, 58. 

Frere, Sir Bartle, Dismissal of Molteno Ministry, 47 121 ; vote of 
censure on, disallowed, 121. 

Frivolous motions : By Dr. Tancred, not seconded, 37 ; discounten- 
anced, 45 ; 
Fuller, Sir Thomas, diction, 66. 

Godlonton, R., appointed member of Legislative Council in 1850, 
10, and elected in 1854, 29. 

Goede Hoop Lodge: Occupation by House of Assembly, 19, 99; 
appearance, 25, 26 ; alterations, 44, 63 ; vacated, 49, 1 22 ; garden 
used as lobby, 62 ; division lobbies, 63 ; destroyed by fire, 49 ; 
rebuilt, 49. 

Government defeats : Scanlen Ministry, 1884, on " bug question, 
90; Sprigg's Second Ministry, 1890, on railway scheme, 87: 
Sprigg's Third Ministry, 1898, on votes of no confidence, 87, 14! ; 
averted by Speaker's casting vote, 138, and by conference, ( 
(See also Annexure B.) 

Government House, Opening Ceremonies held in, from 1854 until 

1884, 18, 62. 

Government responsibility, 19, 44, 86-90, 121. 

Government, Votes of Want of Confidence in. See Confidence 

192 INDEX. 

Governor : Early authority of, 4 ; messages from, 27, 1 04 ; practice 
of sending messengers abandoned, 46 ; returns bills with amend- 
ments, 86; confirmation of Speaker's election, 133; signature of, 
40; dismisses Molteno Ministry, 47, 121 ; votes of censure on, 
41, 121. 

Governor's Opening Speech : When communicated to House, 134 ; 
address in reply to, discontinued, 46. 

Grahamstown, Meeting of Parliament in, 3S\ 107 ; validity of proceed- 
ings questioned, 40. 

Greaves, H. S., architect of new Houses of Parliament 57 ; attempts 
to remedy defects in building, 63. 

Grey, Earl, accedes to demand for representative government, 7 ; 
epigram on delay in granting constitution, 16 note. 

Hatsell, Clerk of House of Commons, on " Call of House," 80. 

Hockly, W. H., suggested for Speakership, 14S. 

Hofmeyr, Hon. J. H.. introduces bill to. allow use of Dutch language 
in debates, 46 ; influence, 67. 

Hope, Hon. W., Auditor-General, seat in House, 28. 

Houses of Parliament, new buildings : Need for, 53 ; sites and build- 
ings proposed, 53, 54 ; Freeman's design accepted, 54 ; foundation 
stone laid, 55, 120; building discontinued, 56; new buildings 
commenced, 57; completed, 57; entered, 61, 122; division 
lobbies, 63. 

Innes, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rose, on lawyers in Parliament, 65; success 
as counsel at bar of House, 65 ; provokes laughter, 73 ; " Innes 
Liquor Act," 85 ; seconds motion for election of Sir Bisset Berry 
as Speaker, 149; member of conference between Government 
and opposition, 89. 

Intemperance, 33. 

Invitations, 72. 

Jagger, J. W., Public bills introduced by, 85. 

Jameson, Rt. Hon. Sir Leander Starr. Bart. : Select Committee on 

Raid, 136; silent during whole of 1900 session, 68 ; congratulates 

Speaker Berry on knighthood, 155. 
Jesters, 69. 
Journals, Offensive words expunged from, 74, 124. 

INDEX. 103 

Juta, Hon. Sir Henry, Speaker (1896-'98): College career, 131 ; elected 
member of House, 132; "Juta Irrigation Act," 85; appointed 
Attorney-General, 132; elected Speaker, 132; preparation of 
rulings, 135 ; rules Prime Minister out of order, 135 ; ruling on 
production of papers, 137, and on disclosure of Select Committee 
proceedings, 137 ; casting vote on motion of no confidence in 
Government, 138; knighthood, 139; insists on control by mem- 
bers of expenditure, 139; seating of members' wives at opening 
ceremonies, 140; vote of thanks, 141 ; appearance, 133, 165; 
defeat at general election and subsequent career, 142. 

Kaffrarian Annexation Bill, Discussion on, 40-42. 

Kelly, Sir Fitzroy, Spencer Walpole and J. R. Kenyon, legal opinion 

on alteration of colonial constitutions, 14. 
Kenyon, J. R. See " Kelly.' 

' Lady Jocelyn," S.S., conveys Cape constitution in 1853, 16. 

Laughter, 73. 

Lawyers in Parliament, 64. 

Legislation, Hasty, 85-86. 

Legislative Council (1834-'53) supersedes Council of Advice, 4 ; sat 
in old Supreme Court Buildings, 6, 17; doors opened to public. 
7 ; admitted a failure, 9 ; appointment and resignation of " popular 
members, 10, 11 ; legal opinion on proposal to reduce quorum. 
14; last meeting and expiration, 17. 

Legislative Council (1854-1910) constituted, 17; sat in old Supreme 
Court Buildings until 1884, 18, 29; disagreements with House of 
Assembly, 29-31 ; messages, 30, 31 ; Select Committee on Parlia- 
mentary Buildings, 53. 

Le Sueur, H. J. P., First Clerk of the House, 27. 

Library Buildings, Public, proposed appropriation of, for Houses 
of Parliament, 53. 

" Limner." See " Murray, R. W." 

Longmore, Major G., First Sergcant-at-Arms, 27 ; gives evideno 
before Select Committee of Legislative Council, 53. 

Maasdorp's pun. 126. 
Mace, History of, 38 note. 

Manners-Sutton, Charles (Viscount Canterbury), Speaker ot 1 
of Commons, 132. 

i 9 4 INDEX. 

May, Sir Erskine, corresponds with Sir Christoffel Brand, 101 ; 
" Parliamentary Practice," 136. 

Meintjes, J. J., Member of first House, 28 ; moves that Sir 
Christoffel Brand be elected Speaker, 99. 

Merriman, Rt. Hon. J. X., preserves unwritten laws of Parliament, 
43 ; oratory, 66 ; moves vote of censure on Governor, 121; moves 
that words be taken down, 78, 79 ; congratulates Sir Henry Juta 
on election as Speaker, 133, on knighthood, 139, and on his ser- 
vices to Parliament, 141 ; tribute to Sir Thomas Upington, 70; 
Prime Minister at date of Union, 90, 159; moves vote of thanks 
to Speaker Molteno, 164; valedictory speech, 91. 

Meeting of Parliament before proper time, 39. 

Membership, Term of, 182. 

Members, Number of, 17, 26, 43, 163. (See also Annexures C and D.) 

Members, Payment of, 84. (See also Annexure F.) 

Messages to and from Legislative Council, 30, 31 ; from Governor, 
27, 104, 46. 

Ministerial responsibility, 19, 44. 86-90, 121. 

Ministers not necessarily members, 86 ; right to sit and speak in both 
Houses, 170. 

Ministries under Responsible Government. See Annexure B. 

Molteno, Hon. Sir James, Speaker (1908-1910): Ancestors, 159-160; 
school and university career, 160 ; elected member of House, 160 ; 
elected Speaker, 160; deportment in the Chair, 162; increased 
responsibilities, 163; applies closure; 163; vote of thanks, 164; 
appearance, 165 : expiry of office on date of Union, 166. 

Molteno, Hon. Sir John, Speaker Molteno's father : Member of first 
House, 28 ; persuades Mr. Chabaud to withdraw resignation, 108 ; 
advocates responsible government, 20 ; appointed first Prime 
Minister, 20, 47, 159 ; ministry dismissed, 47. 121 ; seconds vote of 
thanks to Gen. Thesiger and Commodore Sullivan, 47. 

Money bills, Disagreement between two Houses of Parliament. 29-31. 
Monitor " reports debates, 28 ; attacks on Fairbairn, 28. 

Montagu, Hon. J., Secretary to Government, 10, 15. 

Murray, R. W. (Sen.): "Limner," reporter in 1854, 27; bias, 28; 
attacks on Speaker Brand, 110. 

Naming a member, 81, 123. 

Newcastle, Duke of, Despatch transmitting Constitution Ordinance, 16 

INDEX. n;5 

Night sitting, \53. 

" No confidence " motions. See " Confidence." 

Oba, Kaffir Chief, 126. 

Obstruction, 41, 69, 102, 153, 163. 

Onslow, Arthur, Speaker of House of Commons, 128, 132. 

Opening ceremonies: At Government House in 1854, 18; at Gra- 
hamstown in 1864, 39 ; in new buildings, 1885, 61 ; by judges and 
general during absence of Governor, 62 ; seating arraneements, 140. 

Oratory, 66. 

Order List : Planning of, 85 ; notices of motions on Government 
order day, 135. 

Painter, R J., moves vote of censure on Speaker Brand, 109 ; speech 

on frontier question, 126. 
Papers, Publication by newspaper of MSS. returns, 123; production 

of, before a colonial legislature, 136. 
Parliamentary Allowances, 84. See also Annexure F 
Parliamentary Draftsman, 1 18. 

Parliaments and sessions, Duration of. See Annexure G. 
Pension for Speaker Brand, 111, and for Speaker Tennant, 128. 
Petitions, Presentation of, 118, 119. 
Pilkington, Captain George, First Colonial Engineer : Plans for new 

Houses of Parliament, 54. 
Population in 1834, 7; in 1854, 29. 
Porter, Hon. W. : Character, 8 ; drafts constitution, 9, and Responsible 

Government Bill, 43 ; seat in House, 28 ; helps to draft Standing 

Rules, 35 ; Vote of thanks. 42 ; hands on old traditions of House. 

43 ; declines to form ministry, 47 ; oratory, 66 ; on stability of 

procedure, 81. 
Powers and Privileges of Parliament Act : Recommended by Sir David 

Tennant, 125, 137; passed in 1883, 46, 137; pro\ision as to 

challenges to fight, 77. 
Prayers, 26 note. 
Press gains admittance to Legislative Council in 1834, 7; attack 

Speaker, 110, and on Select Committee. 74; breach of rule 

journalist, 82; publication of MSS. return:;, 123. and 

Committee proceedings, 137. 

iq6 INDEX. 

Press Gallery : In Goede Hoop Lodge, 27, 44 ; in " new " buildings, 
83, 122. 

Private Bills, Counsel at bar in opposition to, 65. 

Privilege, Breaches of: Publication of manuscript returns, 123; dis- 
closure of proceedings of select committee, 137; bribery, 151 ; 
reflection by newspaper on integrity of Select Committee, 74. 

Prorogation ceremonies discontinued, 46. 

Purity of Proceedings, 74, 123-124, 151. 

Quorum of House, 41, and of Council, 10, 11, 14. 

Rawson, Hon. Sir R. W., Colonial Secretary : Seat in House, 28 ; 
official dress worn in House, 72. 

Rawson, Rear-Admiral Sir Harry, Vote of thanks to, 72. 

Recess, 138. 

Reform Bill of 1870, 20. 

Reitz, F. W., appointed member of Legislative Council, 1850, 10; 
resigns, 11 ; member of Legislative Council, 1854, 29. 

Reporters. See " Press " and " Press Gallery." 

Reprimand and admonition, F^ifference between, 151. 

Reprimand for bribery, 151. 

Resignation of G. L. Chabaud, 107-110. 

Resolution rescinded, 106. 

Responsible Government, Introduction of, 19, 20, 43, 44, 47, 86, 103 
note, 104; effect on length of sessions, 84. (For ministries under 
Responsible Government see Annexure B.) 

Rhodes, Rt. Hon. C. J. : Speeches, 67 ; moves that offensive words 
be expunged from journals, 1 24 ; dress, 72 ; succeeds Spngg as 
Prime Minister in 1890, 87 ; suggests conference between Govern- 
ment and opposition, 88, and is member of conference, 89 ; moves 
vote of thanks to Speaker Tennant, 124. 

Richardson, Thomas, Speaker of House of Commons, practises as 
barrister, 101. 

Rivers, Hen. H., Treasurer-General, 15, 28. 

Robinson, Sir Hercules (Lord Rosmead), opens Parliament in new 
buildings, 61 . 

Rothman, J. N., leave to enter House with umbrella, 76. 

Rutherford. H. E., member of Legislative Council, 1854, 29. 

INDEX. 197 

Sampson, Hon. V., moves that words be taken down, 79. 

Sauer, Hon. J. W., faculty for criticism, 66 ; praises senile speech 
by Sir Gordon Sprigg, 71 ; claims right to name member, 81 ; 
brushes off Clerk's wig, 82 ; member of conference between Gov- 
ernment and opposition, 89. 

Scanlen, C., seconds vote of censure on Speaker Brand, 109. 

Scanlen, Sir T. C., preserves unwritten laws of Parliament, 43 ; Ministry 
defeated on " bug " question, 90. 

Schermbrucker, Hon. Col. F., character, 69 ; injures his hand, 76 ; 
improper expression, 79 ; death, 69. 

Schremer, Rt. Hon. W. P., seconds motion for election of Sir Henry 
Juta as Speaker, 132; Prime Minister on defeat of Third Sprigg 
Ministry, 87 ; moves resolution of condolence on death of Upington, 
70 ; agrees to conference with opposition, 89. 

Secret Sessions, 5. 

Select Committee on Chabaud's resignation, 108; on Jameson Raid, 
136; on Afrikander Bond, 74. 

Select Committees: Rules for guidance of, 118; production of tele- 
grams before, 137; publication of proceedings, 137; integrity 
questioned, 74. 

Separation of Eastern and Western Provinces, 7, 37, 39, 45, 67. 

Sergeant-at-Arms : Removes member from House, 103 ; takes mem- 
bers in custody, 34; gives evidence before Council Select Com- 
mittee, 53 ; formerly cleared gallery when House divided, 63 ; 
introduces messengers from Governor, 27, 104; attends Counsel 
at bar, 65, and persons to be reprimanded, 151, 152; rules drafted 
for guidance, 1 18. 

Session lasting five and a half months, 84 ; lasting only an hour and a 
quarter, 165. (For length of sessions, see Annexures F. and (.j.) 

Sessions, Secret, 5. 

Shaw College, Grahamstown, Opening of Parliament in, 39; Proro- 
gation ceremony, 40. 

Simonstown, Members of Parliament attend entertainments at. 

Sivewright, Hon. Sir James, congratulates Speaker Juta on knui 
139; improper expression, 7 

" Sixteen Articles " drafted and conveyed to England, 

Smartt, Hon. Sir Thomas, fluency, 66. 

ig8 INDEX. 

Smith, Sir Harry, admits Legislative Council (1834-'53) to be a failure, 
9 ; consults Attorney-General as to form of proposed constitution, 
8 ; asks divisional road and municipal boards to elect members 
for Legislative Council, 10. 

Solomon, Saul, member of first House, 29 ; opposes Reform Bill, 20 ; 

motion of censure on Governor, 41 ; hands on old traditions of 

House, 43 ; declines to form ministry, 47 ; logic, 66 ; supports 

the Speaker, 109, 121 ; appearance, 121. 

Solomon, Sir Richard, Attorney-General when not a member, 86. 
Somerset, Lord Charles, Council appointed to advise and assist, 4. 
Southey, Hon. Sir Richard, declines to form Ministry, 47. 
Speakers' Chairs, 27, 44, 63, 161 ; dinners, 151 ; hat, 120, 123, 152; 

procession, 145 ; qualifications, 156. 
Speakership, Continuity of, 165. 
Speaker's Ministry," 139. 

Speaker's rulings : Prepared in advance, 1 35 ; analysed and anno- 
tated, 138 ; questioned by House, 121, 134 ; on vote of censure on 
Governor, 121 ; on time for communicating Governor's speech, 
134; on Order List, 135; on production of telegrams, 137; on 
publication of proceedings of Select Committee, 137; on control 
of expenditure, 139-140; on right of House to inquire into mem- 
bers' conduct, 74. 

Speeches, length, etc., 67. 

Spirit of the House, 70. 

Sprigg, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon, preserves unwritten laws of Parliament, 
43 ; rhetoric, 66 ; forgets parliamentary practice, 81 ; forms his 
first ministry, 47 ; moves vote of thanks to Gen. Thesiger and 
Commodore Sullivan, 47 ; second ministry defeated, 87 ; moves 
vote of thanks to Speaker Tennant, 128 ; moves that Sir Henry Juta 
be elected Speaker, 132 ; third ministry saved by casting vote, 138, 
but afterwards defeated, 141 ; moves vote of thanks to Speaker 
Juta, 141 ; moves that Sir Bisset Berry be elected Speaker, 149; 
third ministry again defeated, 87, 149 ; attempts to speak on death 
of Sir Thomas Upmgton, 70 ; as leader of opposition is member of 
conference between Government and opposition, 89; death, 71. 

Standing Rules and Orders : Drafting of oiiginal rules, 35 ; subse- 
quent editions, 80 note; revised by Speaker Tennant, 45, 118; 
aim of, 76; interpretation of, 156; stability, 80, 81, 118; as to 
words of heat, 77-79 ; call of House, 80. 



Sticks and umbrellas not allowed in House, 76. 
Stockenstrom, A., Attorney-General, when not a member, 86. 
Stockenstrom, Sir Andnes, Bart., appointed member of Legislative 

Council, 1850, 10; resigns, 11; deputed to convey "Sixteen 

Articles " to England, 1 1 ; activity in England, 14 ; return to Cap-, 

15 ; member of Legislative Council, 1854, 29. 
Strangers : Exclusion of, 5 and note, 82-84 ; at one time precluded 

from witnessing divisions, 63. 
Sullivan, Commodore, Vote of thanks to, 48. 
Supreme Court Buildings (Old), meeting of Legislative Councils in, 

6, 17, 29; proposed use for House of Assembly, 25. 

Tamplin, Ma)or, speaks on death of Upington, 71. 

Tancred, Dr., member of first House, 28 ; committed to custody of 
Sergeant-at-Arms, 34 ; challenges member to fight, 36 ; moves 
frivolous amendment, 37 ; admonished by Speaker, 102 ; death, 69. 

Telegrams, production of, before Select Committee, 137. 

Tennant, Alexander (" Singing Sannock "), Speaker Tennant's grand- 
father, settles in Cape Town, 115. 

Tennant, Hercules, Speaker Tennant's father, compiler of ' - Notary's 
Manual," 117. 

Tennant, Hon. Sir David, Speaker (1874-96): Parentage and youth, 
115-116; elected member of House, 117; preserves unwritten 
laws of Parliament, 43; Chairman of Committees, 117, and 
Speaker, 117; drafts standing rules and orders, 45, 118; conveys 
vote of thanks to Gen. Thesiger and Commodore Sullivan, 48 ; 
honours, 120 and note ; connection with building of new houses 
of Parliament, 120, 122; a belated ruling, 121 ; admonishes member, 
123; protects member, 123; recommends act to define powers 
and privileges of Parliament, 125, 137; attacked by newspaper 
82; deprecates hasty legislation, 86; sense of humour, 125; 
decorum, 127; resignation, 127; appointed Agent-General, 127 : 
appearance, 126, 165; votes of thanks, 124, 128; death. 12J- 

Te Water, Hon. Dr. T., member of conference between government 
and opposition, 89. 

Thanks, Votes of : To Wm. Porter, 42 : to Gen. Fhesiger and ( om- 
modore Sullivan, 48 ; to Rear-Admiral Sir Harry Rawson. 
to Speaker Brand, 100, 103, 111 ; to Speaker Tennant, 
to Speaker Juta 141 ; to Speaker Berry, 155; to Speaker > 

200 INDEX. 

Theron, T. P. (President of Bond and Chairman of Committees) : 
Congratulates Sir Henry Juta on election as Speaker, 133, and 
on his services, 141 ; opposes conference between government 
and opposition, 88 ; congratulates Speaker Berry on knighthood, 155. 

Thesiger, General, Vote of thanks to, 48. 

Tiptoft, Sir John, Speaker of House of Commons, in 1406, 131. 

Tucker, Mr. Scott, Civil Engineer, plans for new Houses of Parlia- 
ment discarded, 54. 

Umbrellas and sticks not allowed in House, 76. 
Upmgton, Hon. Sir Thomas : Oratory, 66 ; leave to enter House with 
stick, 76 ; moves that words be taken down, 79 ; death, 70. 

Walpole, Spencer, Legal opinion on alteration of Colonial constitutions, 

Walter, W., First permanent Chairman of Committees, 45. 

Watermeyer, E. B., LL.D., Member of first House. 28 ; helps to frame 
rules, 35. 

Watermeyer, P. J. A., seconds motion, last election of Speaker Brand, 1 10. 

Walton, Hon. Sir Edgar, on courtesy of House, 75. 

Ways and Means, Committee of, Rules for guidance of, 1 18. 

Wigs, first worn by Clerks at Table, 62 ; Clerk's wig brushed off by 
"Mr. Sauer, 82. 

Wodehouse, Sir Philip, Governor, reactionary attempts to amend 
constitution, 19, 20 ; summons Parliament to meet in Grahams- 
town, 39 ; vote of censure on, 41. 

Wolf, G. G., admonished by Speaker, 123. 

Wood G., member of Legislative Council, 1854, 29. 

Words of heat, 78, 79, 80, 134. 

Work of the House, 84. 

Wylde, Hon. Sir John, Chief Justice, swears in Governor, 1834, 3 ; 
President of Legislative Council, 1854, 29. 

Ziervogel, J. F., member of first House, 28; helps to frame rules, 35 ; 

opposes Reform Bill, 20 ; challenged to fight by Dr. Tancred, 36 ; 

hands on traditions of House, 43. 

Zonnebloem, Residence of Speaker Tennant's grandfather, 115. 
" Zuid Afrikaan " newspaper, Connection of Speaker Brand with, 98. 




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