Burying the Union Jack: British Loyalists In Transvaal During The First Anglo-Boer War, 1880-1881
Keywords:History, John Laband, HIC, 2004
English-speaking South Africans are marked by multiple identities, but until recently they were united by strong feelings of Britishness and loyalty to the Crown, symbolized by the fervent flying of the Union Jack. This study analyzes the nature of the "English" community which settled in the Transvaal after Britain annexed the Boer Republic in 1877, and investigates its response when the British government restored Transvaal independence after the Boer uprising (the First Anglo-Boer War) of 1880-1. Since the security and prosperity of the Transvaal English depended upon maintenance of British rule, the alternative to fashioning a new colonial identity was to assert Britishness through an exaggerated loyalty to Crown and flag. "Loyal" inhabitants either fled the Transvaal during the Boer rebellion or took refuge in beleaguered towns. During the subsequent negotiations, the loyalists concluded that the Gladstone administration was sacrificing their interests, and organized to protest their allegiance and to claim compensation for losses. When the Pretoria Convention was nevertheless signed in August 1881, loyalists publicly buried the Union Jack - the very symbol of their British identity - to express their sense of outraged betrayal.