Fonds BC631 - Waterson Family Papers

Reference code



Waterson Family Papers


  • 1786-1970 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

22 archive boxes; ca.1603 items

Name of creator

Biographical history

Sidney Frank Waterson (1896‑1976), elder son of John Waterson, a Johannesburg architect, was born in Sydenham, Kent, and educated in England at St Clare, Walmer, and Westminster School (1909‑1914), where he was a Kings Scholar. After leaving school he joined the Royal Sussex Regiment in 1915 and was seconded to the Machine Gun Corps in 1917, fighting in Salonika and France. He ended the war as a lieutenant with the 63rd (Royal Naval) Division. After the war he settled at the Cape and joined a firm of wine merchants, J. Sedgewick and Co. Ltd. Ten years later he was a director of the firm. In 1924 he married Hilda Maud (Betty), daughter of Major John Alfred Eugene and Maud Markus, and born in Bloemfontein in 1893. Major Markus had been Commissioner of Police in the Orange Free State before the Anglo Boer War. Later he was manager of the Gresham Life Assurance Co. in Cape Town. During World War I the Markus' only son, Eugene, was killed in action, and Mrs Markus and her three daughters went to France to serve as nurses with the Anglo‑French Red Cross Society. S.F. Waterson entered politics in 1929 as United Party Member of Parliament for the South Peninsula constituency and in January 1939 was sent to France as South African Minister Plenipotentiary in Paris. In September 1939 he was appointed South African High Commissioner in London. In October 1939 Mrs Waterson founded the South African Voluntary Service, of which she was Chairwoman, and the Countess of Clarendon president. The SAVS had two objects ‑ to care for the needs and welfare of South African men and women serving in the Forces, and to act as a channel for the many gifts from South Africa to the people of Britain. Mrs Waterson was also the representative of the South African Red Cross in London. Smuts recalled Mr Waterson at the end of 1942 to succeed R. Stuttaford as Minister of Commerce & Industry in the War Cabinet. In 1945 Mines was added to his portfolio, as was Transport in 1948. After 1948 Waterson was the chief Opposition spokesman on financial affairs for over 20 years. His parliamentary career covered almost 40 years. He was M.P. for the following constituencies: South Peninsula 1929‑1938, Claremont 1943‑1953 and Constantia 1953‑1970. Besides working for the United Party, Mrs Waterson was president of the Invalid Children's Aid Society and the Maitland Cottage Homes, being instrumental in the move of the Home in 1959 from inadequate premises in Maitland to its present site in Newlands.
The Watersons have a son, Michael (at present living in Johannesburg), and a daughter, Priscilla (now Mrs du Toit, living in Cradock).

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Donated by Mrs Hilda Maud (Betty) Waterson, 1976-1978.

Scope and content

The Waterson Collection was presented to the University of Cape Town Libraries in 1976 and 1978 by Mrs H.M. Waterson, and numbers ca 1 597 items. The collection includes the personal papers of Sidney Frank Waterson, and his wife, Hilda Maud (Betty) Waterson, as well as papers relating to the Waterson, Paterson and Mosley families during the 18th and 19th centuries in Scotland and England. S.F. Waterson's papers consist of diaries, scrapbooks, correspondence, photograph albums and newspaper clippings relating mainly to the period 1939‑1942, when he was South African High Commissioner in London. The most important of these being the three diaries kept from 1940‑1942, which include copies of telegrams sent to and received from General J.C. Smuts. There are also documents relating to Waterson's education and army career during World War I. About half the Collection consists of the papers of Mrs Waterson. These include papers relating to the Markus family, mainly Mrs M Markus' and her three daughters' work in France with the Anglo‑French Red Cross Society during World War I. Most of Mrs Waterson's papers are connected with the South African Voluntary Service, which she founded in London in 1939. Much of her correspondence is with her co‑workers at South Africa House and with people in the many organizations assisted by the SAVS and Red Cross, with many of whom she formed lasting friendships. Among these correspondents were: Admiral Sir Edward Evans, former Commander‑in‑Chief at Simonstown and Chief Commissioner for Civil Defence in London during World War II; Lady Clarendon, wife of a former Governor‑General of South Africa; Archibald McIndoe, the plastic surgeon; the Smuts family, and the Greek royal family. There is much material dealing with the SAVS, including the printed reports from its inception to its dissolution and correspondence about the allocation of gifts from South Africa. There are also scrapbooks of the SAVS which contain many photographs showing aspects of its work, newspaper clippings from English and South African papers, and information about South African servicemen in Britain. Other scrapbooks in the Collection cover much SAVS work, but include other aspects of Mrs Waterson's life. A further album contains information about the Maitland Cottage Home, in the form of photographs, newspaper clippings, and reports. Also of interest is Mrs Waterson's account of the Royal Tour of 1947. 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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Language of material

  • English

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  • English



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  • Shelf: 64b