Anders Stockenström, Landrost of Graaff-Reinet

In September 1781 Anders Stockenström sailed from Texel as a quarter-gunner aboard a VOC ship, ’t Zeepaard. Scurvy broke out in the fleet when it reached the Equator, and when it reached Table Bay in December 1782, 1 202 of the 2 753 passengers and crew had died, and 915 were ill. Four of the most heavily armed ships, including ’t Zeepaard, sailed for Batavia, after four weeks, to assist in the war against the British. It is not known whether Anders sailed with the fleet, but two years later he was working as an assistant in the goods office in Cape Town, where he remained for some years. He also served on a vessel carrying slaves for the VOC from Madagascar to the Cape, and was afterwards, until 1795 with the British occupation of the Cape), bookkeeper to the fleet. In March 1796 General J H Craig appointed Anders secretary to Landdrost A A Faure, of Swellendam.

Following the takeover of the Cape by the Batavian Republic, Anders was appointed landdrost of Graaff-Reinet by both Governor Jan Willem Janssens and Commissioner-General Jacob Abraham Uitenhage de Mist. The latter swore him in on 14 February 1804, at which time Graaff-Reinet had been without a permanent landdrost since 1801.

During his eight years as landdrost – under Batavian rule until 1806, and then under British rule – the district experienced Bushman raids in the north and north-west, and an unsettled frontier with the amaXhosa. Public buildings were in need of restoration following the Khoikhoi/Xhosa invasion of 1802-03 (the Third Frontier War). While commandos were sent against the Bushmen, Anders also tried to reconcile the Bushmen by having game shot for them, and periodically giving them cattle.

When steps were eventually taken against the Xhosa in December 1811, Anders, in command of the burghers of Graaff-Reinet, occupied Bruintjieshoogte to protect the area north of the Zuurberg. The commandos of George, Uitenhage and Swellendam, together with the Cape Regiment, gathered at the Sundays River mouth and after Christmas, crossed the river to drive the Xhosa from the Addo bush.

On 27 December Col John Graham of Fintry sent orders to Stockenström to join the rest of the force at Coerney, where Col J G Cuyler (landdrost of Uitenhage) was in charge. Realising that this would leave the area north of the Zuurberg vulnerable to Xhosa attack, Anders went to discuss the matter with Graham.

He set out at sunset on 29 December 1811 with 24 men. About five hours later he encountered a number of Xhosa of the Imidange clan under Kasa on Doringnek, the watershed between the White and Coerney rivers, on the Zuurberg.

Relying on his popularity as the friend and benefactor of both colonists and indigenous peoples, Anders dismounted and went to meet the war party unarmed. He spent at least half an hour endeavouring to persuade Kasa to return to their country without bloodshed. But when he returned to mount his horse, the Imidange had surrounded his party and attacked, killing eight burghers and an interpreter. Four were wounded but managed to escape.

(information dervied fromöm)


anders stockenström, landrost of graaff-reinet

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