The Remarkable Mr Peppercorne

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Seminar Date
December 7, 2011
George Ryder Peppercorne, one of a family of London stockbrokers, business men and engineers, was Secretary to the Vauxhall Water Works until he resigned in 1842 after a merger struggle between competing water companies. He took up the post of magistrate in Natal in 1850 bringing a range of legal and administrative skills and a liberal attitude to the Mpofana location over which he had been appointed. This brought him into conflict first with Natal’s Diplomatic Agent Theophilus Shepstone, who was in the process of imposing his patriarchal views of colonial government, and then with Benjamin Pine the Lieutenant- Governor, who was attempting to enforce policies that would provide Natal’s settlers with the African labour they believed was necessary for colonial prosperity. Peppercorne, using arguments in keeping with the demands of political economy, opposed both men, and as a result lost his job and his means of support, but left behind a remarkable record of his struggle against the ideologies that came to dominate colonial Natal.
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