Alfred Taylor (soldier)

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Captain Alfred James "Bulala" Taylor (1862–1941) was a soldier and farmer who fought and settled in Southern Rhodesia

Early life[edit]

Alfred Taylor was born in Dublin on 14 November 1861, the son of William Taylor, a Dublin lawyer and Charlotte Bennett, the daughter of a Dublin auctioneer and land agent. His father died in Texas in 1877 and his mother in 1879 and at the age of 17 he had to make his own way in the world. According to his unpublished memoirs that are retained with the Pioneer Association in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, he was a ship's engineer that sailed to India, and on his second trip from India stopped in Cape Town, where he disembarked and disappeared. It is also reported that he arrived as a youth in South Africa in 1886, and took up a post assembling machinery at the goldmines in Tati, Bechuanaland. It is also reported that he preceded the Pioneer Column to Rhodesia where he befriended Lobengula, the son of Mzilikazi.[1] In 1889, he witnessed the Rudd Concession signed between Lobengula and the British South Africa Company.[2]

Military career[edit]

During the First Matabele War of 1893, he acted as a guide to Cecil Rhodes and, according to his unpublished memoirs and the "Plumtree Papers" by Mrs. Clarke, he had an argument with Rhodes whilst escorting him secretly to Bulawayo, threatening to abandon him. Fortunately, the argument was settled and the trip proceeded. In the Matabele Rebellion of 1896, he was the Commanding Officer of a portion of Colonel Plumer's Column.[3]

Captain Taylor served as an intelligence officer during the Second Boer War and assisted in the Relief of Mafeking. He was deeply involved in the Breaker Morant saga, as he served alongside the Bushveldt Carbineers and was lucky to escape joining Morant and Handcock in front of a firing squad. During the First World War, he served in France and received The British War medal and Victory medal.. It is reported in the "Plumtree Papers" that he modestly said that he was awarded the King and Queen's medals which refers to the Boer War and he did receive the Queens and Kings South African medals for services in the Boer War. He did farm Avoca Farm near Plumtree but there is no evidence this was granted to him by Queen Victoria.

Taylor died in 1941 and is buried in Bulawayo cemetery.


  1. ^ Uys, Ian (1992). South African Military Who's Who 1452-1992. Cape Town: Galvin & Sales. p. 135. 
  2. ^ Uys, Ian (1992). South African Military Who's Who 1452-1992. Cape Town: Galvin & Sales. p. 136. 
  3. ^ Uys, Ian (1992). South African Military Who's Who 1452-1992. Cape Town: Galvin & Sales. p. 183 & 234. 
  • Breaker Morant, Union Films, Australia, 1961.
  • Clarke, Mary, (1986) The Plumtree Papers, Belmont Press, Bulawayo in association with Plumtree High School
  • Rosenthal, Eric, (1961) Encyclopaedia of Southern Africa, Frederick Warne & Co Ltd. London.
  • Uys, Ian, (1992) South African Military Who's Who 1452-1992, Galvin & Sales, Cape Town