Fonds BC293 - Stanford Papers

Reference code



Stanford Papers


  • 1877-1933 (Creation)

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Extent and medium

2604 items, 27 boxes

Name of creator


Biographical history

Sir Walter Ernest Mortimer Stanford, (1850-1933) was born in Alice and educated at Lovedale. He married Alice Sarah Walker in 1883 and there were 3 sons and 4 daughters. Stanford worked as a clerk with his uncle, J C Warner, who was agent with the Thembu, then in the civil service where he was stationed at Queenstown, East London and Glen Grey. In April 1876 he was appointed magistrate to the Qwathi chief, Dalasile, and settled at Engcobo. In 1885 he was promoted to chief magistrate of Griqualand East at Kokstad. Stanford was involved in negotiations with the Mpondo and in December 1886 reached an agreement with them which settled all outstanding issues and provided for future relations. He was awarded the C.M.G. in 1891 and then became responsible for the administration of eastern Pondoland. In 1897 Stanford was appointed under-secretary for native affairs, where his min concern was the administration and amendment of the Glen Grey Act (1894). He became the first chief magistrate of the Transkeian territories in 1902. In 1904 Stanford was reappointed under-secretary for native affairs without relinquishing his chief magistracy. Special duties during this period included his attendance as an adviser at the inter-state customs conference, 1903, membership of the native affairs commission, 1903-1905, and acting as adviser to Lord Selborne on Swazi affairs in 1906. Illhealth compelled Stanford's retirement in 1907, but did not end his public life, as he entered the Cape Legislative Assembly in 1908 as an independent member for Tembuland. From 1910-1929, Stanford served in the Senate, being nominated on the grounds of his thorough acquaintance with the needs of the coloured races in South Africa. In 1924 he was appointed a K.B.E. and an honorary LL.D. was conferred on him by the University of Cape Town in 1927.

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Scope and content

The Sir W E M Stanford Papers were donated to the University of Cape Town Libraries in 1956 and 1979 by his family and number 2 604 items. The Papers consist of correspondence, diaries, articles, official publications, pamphlets, photographs and newspaper clippings. The diaries, kept from 1876 to 1933 are of particular importance and describe in detail all the events in which Stanford was involved. Also of great interest is Stanford's correspondence, which has now been rearranged alphabetically so that all letters from one person are together. The letters from Rev Peter Hargreaves and W G Cumming contain much detail about Pondoland affairs and are an extremely important source for the history of Pondoland. The letters from Major H G Elliott, W P Leary, John H Scott and others also contain a wealth of information. The Papers contain much material for research in the fields of history, native affairs and administration, race relations, law and ethnology in Pondoland, Tembuland, East Griqualand and the Transkei generally. There are no restrictions on the use of the Papers, 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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