How did the British establish themselves at the Cape?

How did the British establish themselves at the Cape?

  • When the French invaded the Netherlands in 1793 during the Napoleonic wars, William V, king of Holland asked Britain to protect the Dutch colonies including the cape.
  • The British occupation of South Africa was by force in order to break the Dutch resistance.

  • On 11th/June/1795, the British expedition under Sir George Heith Elphistone captured and occupied the cape.
  • The British troops were under the command of Major General Sir James Henry Craig.
  • Sir George presented a document to the cape governor which had a former order of acceptance of the British occupation.
  • On 17th/Aug/1795 the British continued to attack the Boer troops at Muizenberg as they retreated to Weisberg.
  • The British General Clarke attacked Weisberg with 3000 troops and disorganized the Dutch forces.
  • By 14th/Sept, the British had occupied nearly the whole of the cape.
  • The cape governor sent two representatives to sign the treaty

  • to end the war. This treaty was signed on 16th/Sept/1795.
  • By the treaty the British flag replaced the Dutch Flag at the cape.
  • But this first occupation was short lived and no serious reforms were introduced by the British.
  • In 1802, France and Britain restored peace among themselves by signing the treaty of Amiens of 17th/03/1802.
  • By the terms of the treaty, Britain was to withdraw from the cape and the French to leave Holland.
  • From 1803 – 1805, the cape was thus under the Batavian republic a new name Holland had assumed after the change of government
  • In 1806, France violated the treaty of Amiens by reoccupying Netherlands. This put the British interest at cape in danger.
  • In 1806 the British administration sent 61 worships under the command of General David Bairds and re-occupied the cape.

  • Although the troops occupied the cape in 1806, Britain did into acquire it formally not until 1814.
  • Therefore the Vienna settlement of 1815 clearly documented and gave Britain a go ahead to officially occupy the cape.


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