Capt Joshua Walmsley – again!

Capt Joshua Walmsley – again!

In a recent Curiosity which analyses a rather complicated June 1864 pass, because part pass and also part letter, the name of J. Walmsley came to attention. Walmsley’s name and signature appear on this pass/letter as a Government Agent with the authority to write such a document. Subsequently a hunt revealed him to be a former army captain, the eldest son of Sir Joshua Walmsley MP of Liverpool, born 1819 and died 1892, and in 1864 the head of a border post at the Tugela river with a company of Zulu police attached to the post. As Government Agent, Walmsley jnr was responsible for monitoring trade/traffic and collecting dues as legislated by the prevailing ordinances of Natal, a British colony which at that point had not long (1856) achieved self-government. All this was investigated a week ago over a weekend of monumental gales and rain downpour. The roof leaked but books, pdfs, the router and Wi-Fi worked fine!

Such is the way of things, Walmsley has yesterday re/appeared in the course of looking at something different. Thinking forward about letter databases that need finishing, the letters of Henry Francis Fynn [see WWW Collections] have been on my conscience. Idly looking through the work that has been done to date, when scanning a list of people to whom Fynn had written and also who had written to him, the name of Walmsley shouted out from the page. This was irresistible, and the reference was followed up into the bowels of FileMaker databases and collections of research JPEGs of documents. His name appears as the signatory of a letter with an earlier date than the 1864 pass, in January 1857. When looked at closely and the various in-passing references in its content pursued, Walmsley‘s letter concerns some monumental events within Zulu society and their spillage over into the concerns of the colonial presence. It’s fascinating, that this humble everyday obscurely located document concerns something immensely consequential. Want to know more? Then please read the new Trace concerned with this – it can be accessed here.

Last updated: 20 February 2020


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