Fonds BC643 - Joyce Newton Thompson Collection

Reference code



Joyce Newton Thompson Collection


  • 1830-1970 (Creation)

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Extent and medium

ca.4497 items

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Biographical history

Joyce Newton Thompson (nee Nettelfold) (1893-1978) was born in London. After matriculating, she studied at the London School of Economics and gained a diploma in social science and administration with distinction in 1914. She was an active suffragette at this time and was one of Mrs Pankhurst's bodyguards. After the outbreak of war, she nursed at the Endell Street Military Hospital. She married Cyril Newton Thompson (1891-1958) in February 1917 and in 1919 they made their home in Cape Town. Mrs. Newton Thompson soon became involved in civic arid social welfare work, assisting in the establishment of school feeding schemes and mothers’ clinics. In 1938 the Newton Thompsons bought Newlands House, the former residence of Dutch and British governors. During World War II Mrs Newton Thompson was one of the founders of the South African Women’s Auxiliary Services. She became a member of the Cape Town City Council in 1951, and Cape Town's first woman mayor in September 1959. While mayor, she was awarded a foreign leader grant by the United States government and visited the States in 1962, investigating civic affairs, traffic control and race relations She retired from the City Council in December 1968. She wrote two books 'Gwelo Goodman, South African artist’ (1951) and 'The story of a house" (1968), as well as numerous articles. In 1971 she was awarded an honorary LL.D. degree by the University of Cape Town.
Cyril Newton Thompson was born at Butterworth, Transkei in 1891. He was the eldest son of Newton Ogilvie Thompson (1864-1933), a Transkei magistrate. He obtained an Hons. degree in physics from Rhodes University College and won the Porter Scholarship in 1910, which enabled him to attend St. Johns College, Cambridge. There he obtained a BA LL.B. and the McMahon Law Scholarship. At Cambridge when war broke out, he joined the rifle brigade in 1915 and fought in France, ending the war as a major. In 1919 he settled in Cape Town and started practicing at the Cape Bar. His specialty was company law, the law relating to estate and succession, and income tax law. In 1938 he was appointed King's Counsel and was President of the Cape Bar Council. In 1944 he was elevated to the bench in an acting capacity and in 1946 the appointment was made permanent. He acted as judge President of the Provincial Division on several occasions. He was a keen sportsman, playing rugby at Rhodes and Cambridge, and tennis for many years. He died in 1958.
The Newton Thompsons had three sons. The eldest, Hugh Markham (1917-1942), was killed in action at Tobruk during World war II. The youngest, Oswald (1920-1974), United Party M.P. for Pinelands, died in an air crash during the 1974 election campaign. The middle son, Christopher (1913 -) lives in Johannesburg.

Archival history

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Scope and content

The Joyce Newton Thompson Collection was presented to the University of Cape Town Libraries in 1977 by Mrs. Newton Thompson and numbers ca 4497 items. The collection consists mainly of the personal papers of Joyce Newton Thompson (1893-1978), but includes papers of the Thompson and Nettlefield Families. It contains correspondence, diaries, photographs, newspaper clippings, etc. relating for example to the South African Women’s Auxiliary Services, 1939-1942 and Cape Town civic affairs, 1951-1968. There are letters, notes and photographs relating to Mrs. Newton Thompson’s books on Gwelo Goodman and Newlands House; letters from Dr Thelma Gutsche (388). Violet Markham (65), H.R.H Princess Alice, the Schreiner family and many others. Family letters include over 550 written from the front during World Wars I and II. The photograph albums and scrapbooks contain much social history in the form of photographs, newspaper clippings, invitations, programmes, etc. for the period ca 1911-1975. There are no restrictions on the use of the collection, but permission should first be obtained from the University Librarian.


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No restrictions apply

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  • English

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  • English



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  • Shelf: 65b