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Many of the Settlers were very poor and encouraged to settle in an attempt by the Cape government to close, consolidate and defend the eastern frontier against the neighbouring Xhosa peoples, and to provide a boost to the English-speaking population. It was one of the largest stages of British settlement in Africa, forming the British cultural hot-spot Albany, and thus a milestone in the forming of the British diaspora. For many years, Albany remained an "Anglo-Saxon island" in a predominantly Xhosa and Afrikaans-speaking country - with its own distinctive local culture.
Initially, about 4,000 Settlers arrived in the Cape in around 60 different parties between April and June 1820. The Settlers were granted farms near the village of Bathurst and supplied equipment and food against their deposits, but their lack of agricultural experience led many of them to abandon agriculture and withdraw to Bathurst and other settlements like Grahamstown, East London and Port Elizabeth, where they typically reverted to their trades.
A group of the 1820 settlers continued on to Natal, then a part of Zululand, home of the Zulu people. At the time, King Shaka ruled the territory with highly trained warriors. Leaders of the Natal settlers requested permission from Shaka to stay on the land. When the king witnessed the settlers' technological advances, permission was granted in return for access to firearm technology. According to genealogist Shelagh O'Byrne Spencer, among 1820 Settlers who moved to Natal were "John Bailie, the founder of East London, and Charles Kestell, after whose son, the Revd John Daniel Kestell of Anglo-Boer War fame, the Free State town of Kestell is named".
They are commemorated in Grahamstown by the 1820 Settlers National Monument, which opened in 1974. A living monument, it hosts plays, musical performances and cultural events, and is supported by the 1820 Settlers Association which was founded in 1920 by Sir Walter Stanford and other descendants.
Notable 1820 Settlers
- John Burnet Biddulph
- Alexander Biggar
- Henry Hare Dugmore
- George Henry Ford
- Robert Godlonton
- Richard Gush
- William Guybon Atherstone
- Dick King
- Thomas Pringle
- Thomas Shone
- Ngubane, Jordan K. (1963), written at Natal, South Africa, An African Explains Apartheid, New York, NY: Frederick A. Praeger, Inc.
- Ivan Mitford-Barberton; Violet White (1969). Some frontier families: biographical sketches of 100 Eastern Province families before 1840. Human and Rousseau.
- Eric Rosenthal (1973). Encyclopedia of Southern Africa. Systems for Education.
- F. Whinchcombe Powell (1964). Hancock's Drift: The Story of the Great Wagon Road, by F. Whinchcombe Powell.
- L. C. P. Endemann (1978). John Parkin of Baakens River Farm and His Family, 1820-1970. Human Sciences Research Council. ISBN 978-0-86965-500-9.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to 1820 Settlers.|
- Grahamstown Foundation and 1820 Settlers National Monument
- 1820 Settlers Association
- 1820Settlers.com, a genealogy website