1820 Settlers

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A map of the frontier districts showing Settler locations, c. 1835

The 1820 Settlers were several groups of British colonists from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, settled by the government of the United Kingdom and the Cape Colony authorities in the Eastern Cape of South Africa in 1820.


After the Napoleonic Wars, Britain experienced a serious unemployment problem. Many of the 1820 Settlers were poor and the Cape government encouraged them to settle in the Eastern Cape in an attempt to strengthen the eastern frontier against the neighbouring Xhosa peoples, and to provide a boost to the English-speaking population of South Africa. The settlement policy led to the establishment of Albany, South Africa, a centre of the British diaspora in Africa.


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

A group of the 1820 Settlers continued on to Natal, then a part of Zululand, home of the Zulu people. At the time, King Shaka ruled the territory with highly trained warriors. Leaders of the Natal settlers requested permission from Shaka to stay on the land. When the king witnessed the settlers' technological advances, permission was granted in return for access to firearm technology.[1] According to genealogist Shelagh O'Byrne Spencer, among 1820 Settlers who moved to Natal were "John Bailie, the founder of East London, and Charles Kestell, after whose son, the Rev. John Daniel Kestell of Anglo-Boer War fame, the Free State town of Kestell is named".[2]


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[edit]

Settlers coming ashore, Thomas Baines

See also[edit]



  • Ngubane, Jordan K. (1963), An African Explains Apartheid, New York: Frederick A. Praeger, Inc.
  • O'Byrne Spencer, Shelagh (n.d.). "The European Settler Population of Natal up to 1960, and their Influence Beyond the Borders of the Colony". British Settlers in Natal: 1824–1857.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]