Bisset Berry

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Sir William Bisset Berry
Wm Bisset Berry - Cape Speaker of Parliament - Photo Duffus CT.jpg
4th Speaker of the Cape House of Assembly
In office
Monarch Queen Victoria
Edward VII
Prime Minister William Philip Schreiner
John Gordon Sprigg
Preceded by Henry Juta
Succeeded by James Molteno
Personal details
Born 26 July 1839
Aberdeen, Scotland
Died 8 June 1922
Queenstown, Eastern Cape
Occupation Politician
Profession Surgeon

Sir William Bisset Berry (26 July 1839 – 8 June 1922) was a South African politician and the fourth Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of the Cape Colony.

Early life[edit]

Born in Aberdeen, Scotland, and educated at that University,[1] Bisset Berry came to the Cape Colony in 1864 as a ship's surgeon and settled in Queenstown, Eastern Cape. His engagement to Agnes Baden-Powell was announced in The Illustrated London News of 27 April 1901,> but they never married.[1]


He later became Queenstown's mayor and was elected as its representative in the Cape Parliament in 1894.

Speaker of the Cape Parliament[edit]

Although he hated publicity, he was an engaging public speaker and a skilled debater so when there was a vacancy for the position of Speaker of Parliament, he was elected unopposed in 1898,[1] even though he had only 4 years of parliamentary experience and his command of the Afrikaans language was not great. Reclusive and humble to a fault, he lamented his inexperience and lack of qualifications, but actually fared well and showed himself to be decisive and firm when necessary.

His term in office came at a time of great instability and he presided over the votes of no confidence in Sprigg's government and the application of martial law in the Cape Colony. In 1902 he distinguished himself with his strong opposition to the attempt by the British Colonial Office to suspend the Cape constitution.

He sought re-election in 1908, but was not returned to office (only being re-elected as an ordinary member in the 1910 election). The young James Molteno was elected to replace him as Speaker. [2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Illustrated London News, 27 April 1901
  2. ^ Kilpin, Ralph (1918). "The old Cape House, being pages from the history of a legislative assembly online". Cape Town, South Africa: T. M. Miller. Retrieved 30 October 2016. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Royal Commonwealth Society: Proceedings Vol.29. London: Royal Colonial Institute, 1898.
Political offices
Preceded by
John Frost, CMG
Member of the Legislative Assembly for Queenstown
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Sir Henry Juta
Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of the Cape Colony
Succeeded by
James Molteno