Arthur Douglass

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The Hon Arthur Douglass, of Heatherton Towers, Grahamstown, C.C. and of the Civil Service (C.T.) and rand Clubs, was born at Market Harborough, Leicestershire, Jan 1843, the 5th son of James Ley Hegar Douglass, Solicitor, Market Harborough.

He was was educated at Leicester Collegiate School and served as midshipman in the Royal Navy. He went to the Cape as a land surveyor in 1864 and started farming and the domestication of ostriches. He was one of the first commercial Ostrich farmers at Heatherton Towers, near Grahamstown.

He was elected in 1875 as a non residential fellow of the Royal Colonial Institute, Strand, London.

A Captain of the "Rovers" in the 'K war' of 1878(1), he was present at the Peri Bush engagement(2). In the Morosi campaign of 1879(3), he was a Captain in the 1st Cape Yeomanry Regiment and served in the Boer War as Major and O.C. the Mounted Albany Troops.

He entered the Cape Assembly as member for Grahamstown, at the general election in 1884, and represented that constituency with slight intermission from that time until, in Feb 1904, the Progressives rejected him at general election. He is a moderate in politics and was associated with the Anti-Suspensionist party. He joined Sir Gordon Sprigg's Cabinet as Minister for Railways and Commisioner of Public Works. He was was M.L.A. for Graham's Town for 20 years

Arthur Douglass, the Commissioner of Public Works in Sprigg's cabinet, contested Woodstock as an 'Independent Progressive' after being defeated by Dr. Jameson and R.H. Wood in his constituency of Grahamstown. Prior to his nomination, the Political Labour League had fielded two candidates, Andrew. Corley and Thomas Gibson, but the League asked Gibson to withdraw in favour of Douglass so as to avoid splitting the 'Anti-Progressive' vote between three candidates. Gibson refused to comply and he was accused of 'ratting' to the Progressives, but his refusal was understandable as Douglass had not been noted for his sympathy towards the urban working man.

Douglass was actually a farmer and tended to throw in his lot wjth the Bondsmen when the commission voted on specific proposals.

During Sir Gordon's absence in England, in the summer of 1902, he acted as Premier of the Colony.

Arthur Douglass married in 1867, Martha Emily, 2nd daughter of Joseph Perkins of Laughton, Leicestershire. Their children were: Francis Wingfield Douglass, Clara Emily Douglass, James Hilton Douglass, Edward Wingfield Douglass, Percy Archibald Douglass, Charles Heatherton Douglass and Arthur Wingfield Douglass.

He died on 11th October 1905 in Wynberg, Western Cape, South Africa and is buried at Heatherton Towers.

Francis Wingfield Douglass: On leaving (St Andrews) served two years in the Customs Office, since that a farmer. Major, Scots Fusiliers (21st Foot) 1891. Served six months at Lieutenant in Gorringe's Flying Column 1901, first in E Squadron and then in the Scouts, and afterwards as private in the Fort Brown Troop of the C.D.F. Possible son>>>?
Percy A. Douglass, Esq., School of Mines, Kimberley: (At St Andrews College) Jan 1889 - June 1895. Passed Elem. Exam 1891, Sch. Higher 1893, Matric. 1895. Joined the School of Mines.
Edward Wingfield Douglass K.C. who was appointed Attorney- General of the Cape Province in December last (1915), had his origins in the Eastern Districts of that province. He was born in 1873 at the farm "Hilton" near Grahamstown, the first real ostrich farm. His father was the Hon Arthur Douglass M.L.A. His mother Mrs M.E. (Martha Emily) Douglass is now living in Wynberg. One of a family of eight children, young Douglass spent his boyhood at "Heatherton Towers" on great Fish River, to which farm the family moved in 1875. At the age of 12 he went to St Andrew's College, Grahamstown, where he remained until he was nineteen. In June 1892, he went to England, and entered Keble College, Oxford, with the object of reading law, and being called to the Bar, graduating in June 1895 with honours.
James H. Douglass, Esq., Heatherton Towers, Grahamstown
(attended St Andrews College) April 1890 to June 1899. Passed Elem. Exam. 1893, Scg. Higher 1895, Matric. 1896, Survey (Theoretical) 1899, Practical 1901. Government Surveyor. trooper in Co;. Def Force, with Scouts of Gorringe's Flying Column, Severely wounded. Zamenkomst, 3 July 1901.
Charles Heatherton Douglass Esq, born about 1875 in Grahamstown, South Africa; Heatherton Towers, Grahamstown: (At St Andrews College) April 1890 to June 1897. Passed Elem. Exam. 1893, Sch. Higher 1894, Matric. 1897, Law Cerif. June 1900, Final Law and Conveyancers' Exam, Aug. 1900. Articled to Messrs. van Zyl and Buuissinne (Cape Town) 1897 to 1900. Register to Hon. Justice Jones. Col Def. Force 1901: Lieut. Nesbitt's Horse, with Gorringe's Flying Column(4).
Arthur Wingfield Douglass was the eldest son. No biographical details have been located.

1.  Nine so-called "Kaffir Wars" which took place on the eastern border of the Cape. They are now referred to as The Frontier Wars (1779-1878).
2.  Anglo-Pedi War (1878-1879) (2nd Sekhukhune War)
After the British annexation of the Transvaal the Pedi again began to act independently. British operations against him were delayed by the Zulu conflict but in November 1879 British troops stormed Sekhukhune's stronghold and deposed him.
3.  Morosi (or Moorosi; died 20 November 1879) was a Baphuthi chief in the wild southern part of Basutoland. He led a revolt against the Cape Colony government in 1879, in defence of his independence south of the Orange River.
Three Victoria Crosses were won in the battle to dislodge him from his lair in the Drackensberg Mountains, where he and many of his family and supporters were killed.
4.  Gorringe's Flying Column were raised by Lt Col G F Gorringe in 1901 and served in Cape Colony against numerous Boer Commandos.


See also:
•  Heatherton Towers



Sources for this article include:
  • The Anglo African Who's Who. Walter H Willis, T.J Barrett, 1905
  • Ostrich Farming in South Africa, by Arthur Douglass, 1881
  • Images:  Illustrated London News

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