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Reference list

Colonial administrators and post-independence leaders in South Africa (1797–2000)

European settlement in southern Africa began in 1652, when the Dutch East India Company established the Dutch Cape Colony. The colony was occupied by Britain in 1795 but returned to the Batavian Republic in 1803. It was again occupied by the British in 1806, and officially ceded in 1814. The Afrikaner great trek of 1834 onwards resulted in the formation of many small republics, which, following the Sand River and Bloemfontein conventions of 1852 and 1854, came together to form the South African Republic (Transvaal) and the Orange Free State. Meanwhile the Afrikaner republic of Natalia became the British colony of Natal in 1843. Following the South African War, 1899–1902, the Transvaal and the Orange Free State were annexed by Britain, but were given self-government in 1907. Cape Colony, Natal, the Orange River Colony, and the Transvaal formed the Union of South Africa in 1910.

During periods of British control up to 1910 the colonies were administered by governors appointed by the crown (listed below for each territory). The governors of Cape Colony and Transvaal also acted as high commissioners for southern Africa, with responsibility for the southern African protectorates of Bechuanaland [see Botswana], Basutoland [see Lesotho], and Swaziland. Between 1910 and 1931 this role was adopted by the governors-general of South Africa, listed below, who represented the British monarch as head of state until 1961. In that year South Africa became a republic and left the Commonwealth. It rejoined the Commonwealth in 1994, following the ending of apartheid and the introduction of majority rule.

As well as lieutenant-governors and governors, the prime ministers (and in the case of the Orange Free State, presidents) of the individual colonies are listed below, followed by the governors-general, prime ministers, and presidents of the united South Africa. In the lists of political offices, party affiliations are included in contexts where there was a formal party structure.

Cape Colony (1797–1910)

Cape Colony was founded by the Dutch East India Company in 1652. It was occupied by the British in 1795 and was a British colony from 1797 to 1803 and again from 1806 onwards. It was formally ceded in 1814. From 1847 to 1901 the governors of Cape Colony also acted as high commissioners for southern Africa. Cape Colony was given representative government in 1853 and internal self-government in 1872. It formed part of the Union of South Africa in 1910.

Party allegiance was relatively slow in developing in the Cape parliament, and prime ministers up to Jameson formed administrations with the support of loose coalitions (though Schreiner is sometimes described as leader of the ‘South African Party’).
Governors of Cape Colony (1797–1910)
1797–1798George Macartney, Earl Macartney (1737–1806)
1798–1799Francis Dundas (1759?–1824); acting governor
1799–1801Sir George Yonge, fifth baronet (1732–1812)
1801–1803Francis Dundas (1759?–1824); acting governor
1806–1807Sir David Baird, first baronet (1757–1829); military governor
1807 (Jan–May)Henry George Grey (1766–1845); acting governor
1807–1811Du Pre Alexander, second earl of Caledon (1777–1839)
1811 (July–Sept)Henry George Grey (1766–1845); acting governor
1811–1813Sir John Francis Cradock (1762–1839)
1813–1814Robert Meade (1772–1852); acting governor
1814 (Jan–April)Sir John Francis Cradock (1762–1839)
1814–1820Lord Charles Henry Somerset (1767–1831)
1820–1821Sir Rufane Shaw Donkin (1773–1841); acting governor
1821–1826Lord Charles Henry Somerset (1767–1831)
1826–1828Richard Bourke (1777–1855); acting governor
1828–1833Sir (Galbraith) Lowry Cole (1772–1842)
1833–1834Thomas Francis Wade (1784?–1846); acting governor
1834–1838Sir Benjamin D'Urban (1777–1849)
1838–1844Sir George Thomas Napier (1784–1855)
1844–1847Sir Peregrine Maitland (1777–1854)
1847 (Jan–Dec)Sir Henry Pottinger, first baronet (1789–1856)
1847–1852Sir Henry George Wakelyn [Harry] Smith, baronet, of Aliwal (1787–1860)
1852–1854Sir George Cathcart (1794–1854)
1854 (May–Dec)Charles Henry Darling (1809–1870); acting governor
1854–1859Sir George Grey (1812–1898)
1859–1860Robert Henry Wynyard (1802–1864); acting governor
1860–1861Sir George Grey (1812–1898)
1861–1862Robert Henry Wynyard (1802–1864); acting governor
1862–1870Sir Philip Edmond Wodehouse (1811–1887)
1870 (May–Dec)Charles Craufurd Hay (1809–1873)
1870–1877Sir Henry Barkly (1815–1898)
1877–1880Sir (Henry) Bartle Edward Frere (1815–1884)
1880 (Sept)Sir Henry Hugh Clifford (1826–1883); acting governor
1880–1881Sir George Cumine Strahan (1838–1889); acting governor
1881–1889Sir Hercules George Robert Robinson (1824–1897)
1889 (May–Dec)Henry Augustus Smyth (1825–1906); acting governor
1889–1891Sir Henry Brougham Loch (1827–1900)
1891–1892Sir William Gordon Cameron (1827–1913); acting governor
1892–1895Sir Henry Brougham Loch (1827–1900)
1895–1897Hercules George Robert Robinson, first Baron Rosmead (1824–1897)
1897 (April–May)Sir William Howley Goodenough (1833–1898); acting governor
1897–1901Sir Alfred Milner (1854–1925)
1901–1910Sir Walter Francis Hely-Hutchinson (1849–1913)

Natal (1845–1910)

Afrikaner colonies were established in Natal from 1836 onwards. The area was annexed by the British in 1843, with Henry Cloete (1792–1870) as special commissioner. Natal was ruled directly by Cape Colony from 1844 to 1845 but then was administered by a lieutenant-governor responsible to the governor of Cape Colony until 1880, from which point it had a full governor. It was given internal self-government in 1893. In 1910 Natal became part of the Union of South Africa.
Lieutenant-governors of Natal (1845–1880)
1845–1849Martin Thomas West (1804?–1849)
1849–1855Benjamin Chilley Campbell Pine (1809–1891)
1856–1864John Scott (1814–1898)
1864–1865John Maclean (1810–1874)
1865 (July–Aug)John Wellesley Thomas (1822–1908); acting lieutenant-governor
1865–1867John Jarvis Bisset (1819–1894); acting lieutenant-governor
1867–1872Robert William Keate (1814–1873)
1872–1873Anthony Musgrave (1828–1888)
1873 (April–July)Thomas Milles; acting lieutenant-governor
1873–1875Sir Benjamin Chilley Campbell Pine (1809–1891)
1875 (March–Sept)Sir Garnet Joseph Wolseley (1833–1913); acting lieutenant-governor
1875–1880Sir Henry Ernest Gascoyne Bulwer (1836–1914)
1880 (April–May)William Bellairs (1828–1913); acting lieutenant-governor
1880 (May–July)Sir Henry Hugh Clifford (1826–1883); acting lieutenant-governor
Governors of Natal (1880–1910)
1880–1881Sir George Pomeroy Pomeroy- Colley (1835–1881)
1881 (Feb–April)Sir Henry Evelyn Wood (1838–1919); acting governor
1881 (April–Aug)Redvers Henry Buller (1839–1908); acting governor
1881–1882Charles Bullen Hugh Mitchell (1836–1899); acting governor
1882–1885Sir Henry Ernest Gascoyne Bulwer (1836–1914)
1886–1889Sir Arthur Elibank Havelock (1844–1908)
1889–1893Sir Charles Bullen Hugh Mitchell (1836–1899)
1893 (July–Sept)Francis Seymour Haden (1850–1918); acting governor
1893–1901Sir Walter Francis Hely-Hutchinson (1849–1913)
1901–1907Sir Henry Edward McCallum (1852–1919)
1907–1909Sir Matthew Nathan (1862–1939)
1910 (Jan–May)Paul Sanford Methuen, third Baron Methuen (1845–1932)
Prime ministers of Natal (1893–1910)
1893–1897Sir John Robinson (1839–1903)
1897 (Feb–Sept)Harry Escombe (1838–1899)
1897–1899Sir Henry Binns (1837–1899)
1899–1903Sir Albert Henry Hime (1842–1919)
1903–1905George Morris Sutton (1834–1913)
1905–1906Charles John Smythe (1852–1918)
1906–1910Frederick Robert Moor (1853–1927)

South African Republic or Transvaal (1852–1910)

The Sand River convention of 1852 recognized the independence of the Afrikaner Voortrekkers north of the Vaal River, who formed the South African Republic. Initially the chairman of the United Volksraad (the legislative assembly) acted as head of state; the office of state president was created in 1855. The area was annexed by the British between 1877 and 1881. It regained its independence (as the Transvaal state) in 1881, and changed its name back to the South African Republic in 1884. Following the South African War, 1899–1902, the Transvaal was reoccupied by the British. It was given internal self-government at the end of 1906, and became part of the Union of South Africa in 1910.

Governors of the Transvaal also acted as high commissioners for southern Africa between 1902 and 1910.
Chairmen and presidents of the South African Republic and Transvaal state (1852–1902)
1852–1855Willem Hendrik Jacobszoon (1804–1868); chairman of the United Volksraad
1855 (Sept–Nov)Hercules Albertus Pretorius (1803–1889); chairman of the United Volksraad
1855–1860Marthinus Wessel Pretorius (1819–1901)
1860 (Sept–Dec)Johannes Hermanus Grobler (1813–1892)
1860–1862Stephanus Schoeman (1810–1890)
1862–1864Willem Cornelis Janse van Renseburg (1818–1865)
1864–1871Marthinus Wessel Pretorius (1819–1901)
1871–1872Daniël Jacobus Erasmus van Straten (1830–1913)
1872–1877Thomas François Burgers (1834–1881)
1881–1883Petrus Jacobus Joubert (1831–1900); between 1881 and 1883 Joubert, Kruger, and Pretorius shared office
1881–1883Stephanus Johannes Paulus [Paul] Kruger (1825–1904)
1881–1883Marthinus Wessel Pretorius (1819–1901)
1883–1902Stephanus Johannes Paulus [Paul] Kruger (1825–1904)
Prime minister of the Transvaal (1906–1910)
1907–1910Louis Botha (1862–1919); Het Volk

Orange Free State, later Orange River Colony (1854–1910)

Afrikaner settlements across the Orange River from Cape Colony were established from 1834 onwards. The area was annexed by the British (as the Orange River Sovereignty) in 1848, but Britain recognized the independence of the Orange Free State in 1854. Following the South African War, 1899–1902, the area was annexed by the British (as the Orange River Colony), but became internally self-governing in 1907. The Orange River Colony became part of the Union of South Africa in 1910.
Presidents of the Orange Free State (1854–1902)
1854 (Feb–April)Josias Philippus Hoffman (1807–1879); chairman of the provisional government then of the Volksraad
1854 (April)Jacobus Groenedal (1805–1860)
1854–1855Josias Philippus Hoffman (1807–1879)
1855 (Feb–Aug)Jacobus Johannes Venter (1814–1889)
1855–1859Jacobus Nicolaas Boshof (1808–1881)
1859 (Sept–Dec)Esaias Reynier Snyman; acting president
1859–1860Jacobus Johannes Venter (1814–1889)
1860–1863Marthinus Wessel Pretorius (1819–1901)
1863–1864Jacobus Johannes Venter (1814–1889)
1864–1888Sir Johannes Henricus [Jan Hendrik] Brand (1823–1888)
1888–1889Pieter Jeremias Blignaut (1841–1909)
1889–1895Francis William Reitz (1844–1934)
1895–1896Pieter Jeremias Blignaut (1841–1909)
1896–1902Marthinus Theunis Steyn (1857–1916)
Governors of the Orange River Colony (1902–1910)
1902–1905Alfred Milner, Viscount Milner (1854–1925)
1905–1907William Waldegrave Palmer, second earl of Selborne (1859–1942)
1907–1910Sir Hamilton John Goold-Adams (1858–1920)
Prime minister of the Orange River Colony (1907–1910)
1907–1910Abraham Fischer (1850–1913); Orangie Unie

South Africa (1910–2000)

The Union of South Africa was formed in 1910 from Cape Colony, Natal, the Transvaal, and the Orange River Colony. Governors-general were appointed to represent the British monarch as head of state until 1961, when South Africa became a republic. The post of prime minister existed from 1910 until 1984 when, under the constitution of that year, it was abolished and its functions assumed by the president or by the chairmen of the ministers' councils in each of the racially segregated legislative chambers. In 1994 Nelson Mandela became the country's first black president after the ending of apartheid and the introduction of majority rule.
Governors-general of South Africa (1910–1961)
1910–1914Herbert John Gladstone, Viscount Gladstone (1854–1930)
1914–1920Sydney Charles Buxton, Earl Buxton (1853–1934)
1920 (Nov)Sir James Rose- Innes (1855–1942); acting governor-general
1920–1923Prince Arthur of Connaught (1883–1938)
1923–1924Sir James Rose- Innes (1855–1942); acting governor-general
1924–1930Alexander Augustus Frederick William Alfred George Cambridge, earl of Athlone (1874–1957)
1930–1931Jacob de Villiers (1868–1932); acting governor-general
1931–1937George Herbert Hyde Villiers, sixth earl of Clarendon (1877–1955)
1937–1943Sir Patrick Duncan (1870–1943)
1943–1946Nicolaas Jacobus de Wet (1873–1960); acting governor-general
1946–1951Gideon Brand van Zyl (1873–1956)
1951–1959Ernest George Jansen (1881–1959)
1959 (Nov–Dec)Lucas Cornelius Steyn (1903–1976); acting governor-general
1959–1961Charles Robberts Swart (1894–1982)
Prime ministers of South Africa (1910–1984)
1910–1919Louis Botha (1862–1919); South Africa Party
1919–1924Jan Christiaan Smuts (1870–1950); South Africa Party
1924–1939James Barry Munnik Hertzog (1866–1942); National Party/United Party
1939–1948Jan Christiaan Smuts (1870–1950); South Africa Party
1948–1954Daniel François Malan (1874–1959); National Party
1954 (Oct–Nov)Nicolaas Christiaan Havenga (1882–1957); National Party
1954–1958Johannes Gerhardus Strijdom (1893–1958); National Party
1958 (Aug–Sept)Charles Robberts Swart (1894–1968); National Party
1958–1966Hendrik Frensch Verwoerd (1901–1966); National Party
1966 (Sept)Theophilus E. Dönges (1898–1968); National Party
1966–1978Balthazar Johannes Vorster (1915–1983); National Party
1978–1984Pieter Willem Botha (1916–2006); National Party
Presidents of South Africa (1961–2000)
1961–1967Charles Robberts Swart (1894–1968); National Party
1967–1968Jozua François Naudé (1898–1969); acting president until Dec 1967; National Party
1968–1975Jacobus Johannes Fouché (1898–1980); National Party
1975 (April)Johannes de Klerk (1903–1979); acting president; National Party
1975–1978Nicolaas Johannes Diederichs (1903–1978); National Party
1978 (Aug–Oct)Marais Viljoen (1915–2007); acting president; National Party
1978–1979Balthazar Johannes Vorster (1915–1983); National Party
1979–1984Marais Viljoen (1915–2007); National Party
1984–1989Pieter Willem Botha (1916–2006); National Party
1989–1994Frederik Willem de Klerk (b. 1936); National Party
1994–1999Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (1918–2013); African National Congress
1999–[2008]Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki (b. 1942); African National Congress