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The Irish in South Africa: The Police, A Case Study

by Familia Ulster Genealogical Review: No. 07, 1991


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by Donal P. McCracken

"Nineteenth-century South Africa did not attract mass Irish migration, but Irish communities were to be found in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Kimberley and Johannesburg, with smaller communities in Pretoria, Barberton, Durban and East London.

As one would expect, a fair number of those in the British colonial service in the sub-continent were Irish. A third of the Cape's governors were Irish, as were many of the judges and politicians.

Both the Cape Colony and the Colony of Natal had Irish prime ministers: Sir Thomas Upington, "the Afrikaner from Cork"; and Sir Albert Hime, from Kilcoole in County Wicklow.

Place names such as Upington, Porterville, Caledon, Cradock, Sir Lowry's Pass, the Biggarsberg Mountains, Don­nybrook and Belfast reflect the Irish impact on the development of the subcon­tinent."

This article looks at the role of the Irish in the British colonial police forces of South Africa.