- James Henry Bowker, J.P., F.L.S., F.Z.S., F.R.G.S., F.S.S. James never married. He was Commandant of the Frontier Armed and Mounted Police ( F.A.M.P) and later became the High Commissioner of Basutoland. Reached the rank of Colonel, during the Seventh and Eighth Kaffir Wars. For a period was also Chief Commissioner on the diamond fields of Griqualand West. . Co-authored, with Roland Trimen, of 'South Africa Butterflies', which in 1966, was still one of the standard works on the subject. . There is a Bowker Street in Escombe, Queensburgh, named after James Henry Bowker.
DESCRIPTION BOWKER, JAMES HENRY. DEATH NOTICE.
Wikipedia article at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Henry_Bowker
DEATH OF COLONEL BOWKER
There passed away on Saturday at his residence, Malvern, at the ripe age of 74, Col. James Henry Bowker, J.P., an interesting personality and one who for many years had taken an active interest in public affairs in the Cape and Natal. The gallant gentleman had been in indifferent health for some time and for the past eighteen months he had scarcely stirred beyond his estate at Malvern Hill-dying of heart weakness, surrounded by sorrowing relatives and friends.
The late Col. Bowker was a son of Mr Miles Bowker, head of a family who came out to the Cape in the Weymouth, a scholar and a good botanist. His first residence was Oliveburn, near the coast, where James Henry Bowker was born in August 1822, being the youngest of a family of eleven. Their names are all well known in the frontier district of the Cape Colony. They all followed in their father's footsteps as farmers and agriculturalists, and took and active share in the numerous Kaffir engagements, giving their service to their country. James Henry Bowker, the ninth son, served in the war of 1846-7, and in that of 1851-2, was at the suppression of the Kat River Rebellion and the capture of Fort Armstrong in 1846-7, for which he earned a medal and clasp. In 1855 he was appointed inspector of the Frontier Armed and Mounted Police; he served in the Transkei expedition of 1858, and remained in that territory until the withdrawal in 1865. He was associated with Sir Walter Currie, the commandant of police, in locating the Fingoes in the Transkei; he served in the expedition to Basutoland in 1868, and was appointed High Commissioner's agent for that territory. He was engaged also in settling the boundaries and the formation of the different districts. In 1870 he succeeded to the command of the Frontier Armed and Mounted Police, and commanded the expedition to the Diamond Fields for their annexation to the Cape Colony. At the termination of this successful expedition he was appointed one of the three commissioners, and was for a time Chief Commissioner of the Diamond Fields. He commanded the expedition for the annexation of Tembuland, carried it out, and also selected the site for the present town of Umtata. He was later appointed Governor's Agent in Basutoland, and retired in1878 with the honorary rank of Colonel. He was appointed one of the commissioners for Natal at the Indian and Colonial Exhibition and was on two separate occasions thanked by the Secretary of State for services rendered. He was a Justice of the Peace for Durban County.
His connection with Natal began with his retirement on a pension from the Cape Service. He came here 12 or 13 years ago, and took up his residence at Dilkoosh, Northdene. He subsequently removed to the Malvern Hotel and afterwards purchased the Malvern Hill Estate, where he built a charming residence, and stocked it with the collection of a lifetime. In the Cape Colony he is known as a soldier; here his name is more closely associated with that of a student. As a naturalist he was held in high repute, and perhaps in the pursuit of nature he has contributed more to current knowledge than any other man in the country, particularly in regard to butterflies of which he made an especial study, and was instrumental in discovering more than 40 new specimens formerly unknown to science. He was a Fellow of the Linnean Society, Fellow of the Zoological Society, Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, and F.S.S. Gold Medallist.
While Commandant of the F.A.M. Police, the late Colonel submitted a scheme of Colonial Defence to the Government, which struck at the root of the long-cherished idea of Burgher Law. He maintained that to anyone who had had experience of the wars in 1846, and 1851, it was obvious that some other plan than a Burgher Law was absolutely necessary. While every effort was then being made by the Government to encourage volunteering, he argued that they could not expect volunteers, as they stood, to leave their occupations in the towns or villages to take the field for any length of time, and he suggested a permanent addition to the armed police force, and that while on a war footing a deferred war tax on all owners or occupiers of fixed property should be raised by the Civil Commissioners of the districts not under martial law. On this subject he gave evidence before the Colonial Defence Commission in September 1876 and defended the Border Mounted Police against the charges of deterioration that had been made against them. He had very strong ideas on the training of young men. He considered that in every Government aided school the pupils should be put through a course of drill instruction and that riding and shooting should be followed up in after life. As Police Commandant, he steadily avoided the introductions of military innovations, but he sought to make the force useful and popular. When asked in an official capacity to give his opinion on any suggestion by the Defence Dept., he did not scruple to stat plainly his vies. he denounced in no measure language political and intriguing missionaries, who in the Cape were doing their best to prevent the annexation of territory and referred in scathing terms to unscrupulous politicians and scare-bitten officials. His task at the head of the police was no bed of roses. Collectively the farmers looked upon the natives as their bitterest enemies, while the natives again hated the white man; with the result that troubles were frequent, and the Colonists, getting tired of paying the heavy cost of the necessary punitive expeditions, were ready to fix the blame anywhere, and were not about saying the police were anxious to create wars and foster panics in the hopes of getting distinction. However Commandant Bowker managed well to hold the balance of good opinion, and to gain the respect of all classes.
After his retirement and settlement in Natal, the Cape Government on one occasion communicated with him with a view to his proceeding to Basutoland as successor of Colonel Griffith the Governor's agent. Of singularly calm and reliable judgement, Colonel Bowker had an intimate knowledge of the native character, combined with a reputation for well-regulated firmness. He had charge of Basutoland when it was taken over by Sir Philip Wodehouse in the state of collapse and disorganisation to which it had been brought by the war with the Free State. he became very much respected at that time, which respect was not found to be diminished when he returned in 1877, and then managed to get over some very troublesome business which threatened to bring about a rupture with Morosi. He went down to the old chief's mountain with an army of loyals at his back, and succeeded in crushing the incipient rebellion with striking a single blow.
But it was as a naturalist and an observer of men and things that Colonel Bowker was known more intimately in Natal. There are few spots where the pursuit of the naturalist can be carried on with greater variety or pleasure than at and in the neighbourhood of Durban. The surrounding woods afford an inexhaustible field for the collector, and it is his own fault if he fails to meet with objects of interest. Every glade swarms with butterflies, while a step can hardly be taken without disturbing a gorgeous moth, which could put even Solomon in all his glory to the blush. He had charge of the Natural History department of the Natal section of the Indian and Colonial Exhibition of 1886, and gathered together collections of butterflies and birds of unique interest. The Durban Museum has many specimens which, but for his observation, would not lie within its walls, and even the South Kingston Museum is indebted to him for a collection of butterflies. His residence has for many years been the Mecca of the naturalist and the hunter and he had one of the most valuable collection of horns in the country. In his garden there was also everything of interest, very few specimens of plant life being absent.
The removal of such an eminently interesting character from our midst cannot but have its effect on the life of the colony and his death will be mourned by a large circle of friends and admirers.
The funeral, which took place yesterday afternoon was attended by a goodly number of neighbours and friends. The Ven. Archdeacon Hammick conducted the service and consecrated the ground, the coffin being borne to the graveside by the deceased's four servants who had been his personal attendants for the past 13 years.
(The Natal Mercury,
Monday, 29th October 1900.)