- John Mitford remained in England while he tied up his dad's affairs and only went out to South Africa 2 years later than the rest of the family, so he was not classified as an 1820 Settler.
BOWKER, John Mitford, 1820
Written by .
National Archives, Kew, CO48/52, 58
Mr. Miles BOWKER late resident of South Newton near Salisbury in the County of Wilts with his party Embarked on board the Weymouth Store Ship the latter end of December last (1819) for the new settlement at the Cape of Good Hope sanctioned by His Majesty's Government. – John Mitford BOWKER of South Newton aforesaid aged 20 years and son of Miles BOWKER being one of the party is desirous to proceed to his Father at the Cape Settlement without delay and he most respectfully begs that Earl BATHURST His Majesty's Secretary of State for the Colonial Department will give the necessary instructions for him to proceed forthwith to the said Colony.
[Note from clerk on reverse]
Lord PEMBROKE called here to enquire whether Mr. BOWKER would be provided with a passage to the Cape. The Sir George Osborn was at Deptford on Saturday and the Navy Office say that if the passage is ordered immediately BOWKER can go on board.
Footnote from GOULBURN
Mr GOULBURN's complts and there is no longer any prospect of forwarding BOWKER.
The Lower Albany Chronicles state that John had arrived at Oliveburn on 31 December 1822.
Comment by PaulTT. It has been claimed that younger brother Bertram also stayed behind and only went to SA with John in 1822, yet the letter above has no mention of him. Bertram does feature in the Settler Returns, ie manifest, of the Weymouth as having gone to SA with his parents in 1820.
He took part in the campaign against the M'fecani in 1828 and served as Lieutenant, 1st battalion Provisional Colonial Infantry in the war of 1834-1835, being appointed Resident Agent with the Fingo Settlement near Fort Peddie. He was signatory to the Treaty with the Gaika Chiefs at King William's Town in 1836. In the war of 1846-1847 he was Commandant, Lower Koonap River Burghers and Field-Cornet, Fish River in 1847. .
He was a member of the 1828 expedition party into Kaffirland, described in Harold Edward Hockly's book, 'The Story of the British Settlers of 1820 in South Africa', on pages 117 and 118. " About the middle of the following year, 1828, news was received that Chaka's Zulus ( or the Fetcani), were again threatening to overrun Kaffirland, and once again the Kaffirs prepared for a wholesale migration into the Colony for protection. A small volunteer force of fifty men under Major Dundas was immediately despatched into Kaffirland to investigate the position, to persuade the Zulus or Fetcani, (whichever the raiders turned out to be), to retire, and if necessary, drive them back. Settlers who were members of this small expedition were J.M., W.M., and B.E. Bowker, James and John Cawood, W.Biddulph, C.Baillie, T.Foxcroft, Thomas Pullen and E.Phillips. Together with a body of friendly kaffirs, they advanced as far as the Bashee River without coming into contact with the enemy. With half a dozen of the settlers just named, Dundas then rode into Pondoland to make further reconnaissances: there they saw the ruin and desolation caused by the invaders (who turned out to be Fetcani, not Zulus), and narrowly escaped coming into conflict with them. After this small scouting party had again rejoined the main body, Dundas's force moved into Temboland, where they again saw the evidence of the terrible havoc wrought by the Fetcani. near the Umtata River, the opposing forces at last met, the Fetcani being defeated after a short but sharp encounter. On the return of the expedition to the Colony after an abscence of seven weeks, Col. Henry Somerset led a large and well equiped force into Kaffirland which overtook the Fetcani at the Kei River, defeated them in a decisive battle, and drove them back." . Distinguished himself in action in the Sixth Kaffir War in 1835, and became a Government Agent with the Fingoes after this war - Fort Peddie 1835. He died during the Seventh War.
Cape Frontier Times - June 1847:
THE LATE MR. JOHN MITFORD BOWKER
21st April 1847
To the Editor: Sir, I and two or three agriculturalists accidentally met the other day when each seemed more than another to deplore the loss of our valued countryman John Mitford BOWKER Esq.JP. We asked one another why such an eminently bold, fearless and honest advocate of colonial interests did not merit a testimonial of his countrymens’ esteem. At once we agreed that the erection of a Monument to his remains was the smallest tribute we could render to the memory of a true patriot and British subject, whose acts as a colonist must be embalmed while the history of our country exists. We have determined to enter into a Subscription to erect a Monument to record our sense of his moral worth, and we trust that the mere mention of such an intention will be sufficient to call forth general approbation among the Frontier inhabitants.
John Mitford Bowker 13 Apr 1801 - 14 Apr 1847
'.. farmer and government agent, was the eldest son of Miles Bowker, leader of a party of 1820 Settlers, and his wife, Anna maria Mitford. Bowker did not accompany the family to the Cape but remained in England to settle family affairs and joined his parents only in 1822. He saw active service in the Sixth Frontier War (1834-5) and was specially mentioned for his bravery. He was subsequently appointed government agent to the Fingo people settled in the neighbourhood of Fort Peddie and to other tribes living adjacent to the frontier. In 1839 he was removed from this office because his administrative methods met with official disapproval, and he was moreover an implacable critic of the Stockenström treaty system under which he operated. .. In 1841 he became a sheep farmer at Willow Fountain, Fish River Rand, and being like other frontier farmers subjected to raids by Xhosa tribesmen he championed the cause of the White landowners on the frontier. In a series of speeches he criticised both the philanthropic ideas of the missionaries and the frontier policy of the government, and supported White farmers in their claim for more land and protection against cattle thieving by the Xhosa. His words were bitter and incisive, and in 1844, in a speech dubbed by W. Porter the Attorney General as the 'springbok speech', he drew a comparison between the Xhosa and a mustering of springbok in time of drought. .. When the Seventh Frontier War (War of the Axe, 1846-7) broke out most of the Bowker family went into lager at Thornkloof, the farm of Miles Bowker, but were forced to withdraw. Bowker left his family in safety on his brother Robert Bowker's farm near Somerset East and joined the burgher force mustered under Sir Andries Stockenström. .. His farm was in ruins, and it was while camping in a stable on the farm of his brother Bertram at Oakwell, near Grahamstown, that he caught pneumonia and died there at the age of forty-six. .. An anthology of Bowker's Speeches, letters and selections from important papers was compiled by his widow and in 1864 published in Grahamstown. They give valuable insight into the mind of a White frontier farmer during a turbulent period of frontier history.' (Dictionary of South African biography, Vol. III, pp. 94-5.) [(Pietermaritzburg), KZN, South Africa]