Pennyfather One Name Study

In search of the father of all Pennyfathers

Pennefather, Edward Graham

Male 1850 - 1919  (69 years)


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  • Name Pennefather, Edward Graham 
    Born 21 Feb 1850 
    Gender Male 
    Attribute R093 
    ONS ID R093 
    Died 29 Apr 1919  South Africa Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I1681  Pennyfather
    Last Modified 3 Mar 2014 

    Father Pennefather, William,   b. 1811 
    Mother Broderick, Anne,   b. Cal 1813, Bracknell, Berkshire Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1898, Barton R. 6a 4 - 1898 1st qtr Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 85 years) 
    Married 1846  Chelsea 3 55 Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Family ID F533  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Crompton, Mary,   b. Cal 1865, Natal, South Africa Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Married 19 Nov 1885  Pinetown, Natal, South Africa Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Children 
     1. Pennefather, John Broderick,   b. 1892, Natal, South Africa Find all individuals with events at this location
     2. Pennefather, Edward Mathew,   b. 1895, Clifton, Gloucester Find all individuals with events at this location
    Last Modified 31 Mar 2014 
    Family ID F534  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Notes 
    • Extract From The Men Who made Rhodesia . The British South Africa Company’s Police
      By Col. A.S. Hickman 1960
      Page 116
      Officer Commanding and Headquarters Staff
      Lieutenant-Colonel Edward Graham Pennefather
      Born on 21/2/1850, nothing is known of his early days, but he was promoted to lieutenant in the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons on 23/4/1873; presumably he had previous army service. He was posted to South Africa with his regiment and saw active service in the Zulu campaign of 1879 and the Boer war of 1880-1881, for which he received medals. On 18/6/1881 he was promoted to captain, on 25/7/1888 to major, and in the same year served in Zululand, when he was honourably and promoted to brevet lieutenant-colonel on 18/10/1888. All his foreign service was with the 6th(Iniskilling) Dragoons. During the Warren expedition to Bechuanaland in 1885 the body of Commander Bethell, R.N., was exhumed at Rooigrond, where it had been buried after he had been killed by the Boers. The body was taken to Mafeking, and there re-buried with great ceremony, Pennefather, then a captain, being in charge of the firing party of 200 men of the Inniskillings.
      He was appointed to command the Company’s police, for which recruiting had commenced as early as November, 1889, on 1/3/1890, after the British High Commissioner had ruled that the Pioneer Expedition to Mashonaland should be accompanied by an armed escort. Pennefather was placed in supreme military command of the whole column, including the 180 men of the Pioneer Corps under Major Frank Johnson, who was by no means pleased with the arrangement.
      Recruiting continued, and in the meantime training camps were established in Bechuanaland; that of the Company’s Police was at Macloutsie on the right of the road leading north and about half a mile from the Matlaputlastream, from which water was drawn. In May, 1890, when Capt. A.G. Leonard arrived, training was in full blast under Pennefather. On the left of the road were three troops of Bechuanaland Border Police under Major Raleigh Grey. Between the two camps was a fort capable of holding 200 men. The camp of the Pioneer Corps was about 25 miles distant, and farther east towards what was to become Fort Tuli.
      About this time Pennefather addressed a sharp letter to frank Johnson urging him to have his men fit to pass the inspection of General Methuen, Adjutant-general of the British forces in South Africa; he did not seem very happy about the Pioneer Corps discipline.
      In the middle of May,1890, General Methuen carried out his inspection at Macloutsie, and pronounced the Company’s Police as efficient. The men were first inspected by troops, then on outpost duty, and finally there was a big field-day with the B.B. Police defending the east face of the camp and the Company’s Police attacking. Leonard in “How we made Rhodesia” remarked “ the men moved steadily, and everything going off quietly owing to the absence of the C.O.” And a little further on he compares compares Methuen with Pennefather: “A leader for whom one would sacrifice anything, and such a contrast to Pennefather, who is noisy, discourteous, and loses the little head he has on every possible occasion, and when he has lost it, it takes him all his time to find it again.”
      Throughout Leonard’s book, on which I have had to rely largely for information, the writer exhibits a strong and apparently unreasonable dislike of pennefather for which I have been unable to trace a real reason.
      On 4/7/1890 Pennefather wrote from what he called Matlaputla Camp to frank Johnson at Fort Tuli, criticizing the arrangements he had made in laying out the fort and its adjacent establishments. He goes on to advise Johnson to employ the police for the construction of the fort, as it would be occupied by police when the advance was made. This obviously refers to A Troop of the Company’s Police under Capt. H.M. Heyman, which left Macloutsie for Tuili on 27/6/1890, whereas B and C Troops moved on 6/7/1890, leaving D and E Troops at Macloutsie
      The Pioneer Column with Pennefather in command, crossed the Shashi River at Fort Tuli on 11/7/1890 , and thus began their historic march to Mashonaland. This was accomplished without one single fatal casualty, but weather was good and the Matabele, although they were reported on the left flank, made no attack.
      This immunity from attack is generally ascribed to the use by night of a searchlight carried on one of the wagons. To Pennefather must be given the greatest credit for commanding such an expedition and leading it safely to its destination.
      During the march, King Lobegula of the Matabele sent John Colenbrander to Pennefather with the following message, having first demanded that the column should make its way through Bulawayo so that he could see for himself the nature of the force.
      “ Who are you and where are you going? What do you want and by whose orders are you here? Whither are you leading your young men like so many sheep? Do you think they will ever return? Go back or I will not be responsible for the consequences. White blood can flow as well as black”
      To this threat Pennefather replied “ I am an officer of the Queen of England and my orders are to go to Mashonaland, and there I am going. We do not want to fight, we only want to dig for gold, and are taking this road to avoid your young men; but if they attack us we know how to defend ourselves.”
      This exchange of courtesies took place in the low country, and there was thereafter considerable anxiety that Lobegula would carry out his threat but “Providential Pass” was found by F.C. Selous, the guide, and the column reached the top of that pass on 13/8/1890. Here Pennefather established a fort named Fort Victoria, and left Capt. C. Keith-Falconer and C troop of the Company’s Police to man it. He issued very detailed instructions to its commander on 18/8/1890 beginning” You will put the fort, which has been traced out, in defensible condition without delay.”
      Here, before the column moved on, Colenbrander once more approached Pennefather from Lobengula to announce that his warriors were out of hand, had defied their king, and were intent on destroying all the white men. It is true that Matabele impis moved parallel to the column, but no attack was made, and Fort Salisbury was reached, where on 13/9/1890 a ceremonial parade was held at what is now Cecil Square to mark the successful occupation of Mashonaland.
      On the way from Fort Victoria, Pennefather established another fort, Fort Charter, to guard the lines of communication, leaving A Troop of the Company’s Police under Capt. H.M. Heyman, as its garrison, so apart from the Pioneer Corps, it was only B.Troop of the Company’s Police under Capt. P.W. Forbes, and the Headquarters Staff, which took part in the Occupation Day ceremony at Fort Salisbury on 13/9/1890.
      On 30/10/1890 Pennefather arrived at Macloutsie, where he met Cecil Rhodes , and next morning travelled with him in his Cape-cart to Fort Tuli en route to the Cape via the Transvaal; the purpose of this journey is not disclosed, but may simply have been leave. It is obvious that he must have kept in touch with the situation to some extent during his absence, and it appears that he saw some of the new officers, such as Capt. T. Jones, who had been commissioned by Rhodes.
      In December,1890, when he reached Palapye on his way back, he sent signals to leonard at Fort Tuli to carry out certain instructions which led to speculation as to whether an attack by the Matabele was anticipated or whether trouble might be expected from the Portuguese.
      He arrived at fort Tuli himself on 29/12/1890, and Leonard comments on arumour that he and A.R. Colquhoun, the Administrator of Mashonaland, did not hit it off, remarking that to a certain extent it was not surprising as Pennefather had been away for so long. Apparently Pennefather was quite free in his criticism of Colquhoun in the mess, considered he tried to assume too much power, and tried to command the Corps.
      I now quote Leonard “ Whatever Colquhoun’s faults it is excessively bad form of the Commandant of the force to openly criticise the Administrator, but I am not surprised at this, as a man who will speak to his officers as I have heard him, and publicly censure them before their own men, is not fit to command a regiment, no matter what his other qualifications may be. The less said about Pennefather the better. Of course Colquhoun has no business to interfere in the interior working of the police, but as Administrator he has every right to move the troops about where he considers necessary….. Certainly a comparison between the two would be incontestably in favour of Colquhoun, who has brains and tact, while the most noticeable features in the other are entire absence of tact and a furious temper.”
      From other sources I have been told that Pennefather was really a fine character.
      Anyhow, Pennefather remained at Fort Tuli for the time to supervise the training of the police recruits in equitation. Apparently no less than half of the last batch had absolutely no idea how to ride; Rhodes being so inundated with letters of introduction on behalf of men seeking enlistment merely sent the bearers on to Dr. Rutherford Harris, the Company’s Cape secretary, to take them on – regardless of their qualifications. They were “all sorts and conditions of men”.
      The Pennefather went down with dysentery, and reached a very low condition, which led him to take a gloomy view of things. It appears however, that he attended to certain correspondence whilst sick, and issued orders. He must have been treated by Dr. E. Goody and nursed by Mother Patrick and her Dominican Sisters. He left Fort Tuli on his way to Salisbury on 14/2/1891, but at about this time was reported to have died at Fort Tuli, and I relate the circumstances from Marshall Hole’s “Old Rhodesian Days”
      “ During that wet season communication with the south was only maintained by relays of mounted dispatch-riders, and even this method was unavailing in January and February when the rivers became impassable. The result was that all sorts of baseless rumours gained credence as to events in the newly occupied territory. Monty Bowden, who before joining the pioneer force had been a well-known and popular member of an English County cricket team, was one of several whose death was reported and cabled to his relatives at home. But he was by no means dead and afterwards took morbid pleasure in reading his obituary notices, and especially the accounts of a memorial service in his native county. An even stranger experience befell Colonel Pennefather, the Commander of the Police. He had gone down the line on some duty or other and was cut off by flooded rivers from returning. At one of the largest rivers –the Lundi- two dispatch-riders, unable to cross, hailed each other from opposite banks. “Any news from the south?” shouted the one from the Salisbury side. “Yes” was the answer “ Colonel Pennefather is delayed at Fort Tuli.” But the roar of the torrent caused this item to be misunderstood, and in a few days word reached Salisbury that the Colonel had died at Tuli. The flag on the fort was lowered to the half-mast,and, after a decent interval, the colonel’s kit,camp furniture and so forth, in accordance with time honoured custom, was put up to auction, and eagerly snapped up by the junior officers. A few days later when the floods subsided the colonel started on his return journey, but before reaching Salisbury encountered one of his subalterns proceeding southward on leave. This young gentleman was so staggered at beholding what at first he thought must be a ghost that he forgot for the moment that he was wearing an excellent pair of field-boots bought at the above-mentioned auction. He partially pulled himself together and attempted a salute. But the Colonel’s eyes were sharp/ “What the devil do you mean, sir,” he thundered out. “You’ve got my boots on!”. Nor would he listen to explanations until his trembling junior had taken them off and restored them humbly to their lawful owner.”
      There is some indication that Pennfather behaved unreasonably on several occasions. There is the case of Lieut. E.E. Dunne, the transport officer, whom he put under arrest following the death of Sgt. H Hackwell on 16/4/1891 when their wagons were held up by the flooded Lundi River. Dunne was arrested on an allegation of neglect until towards the end of July, when he was released by Dr. L.S. Jameson and compensated. There is nothing to show that any proper enquiry was undertaken by Pennefather.
      Again when he met Cpl. C.H.F. Divine and Tpr. R.C.Smith on the Pioneer road looking for lost horses he made no enquiry as to whether they were themselves responsible but “ At this he let himself go, and I got such a telling-off – it was no good telling him that I had not lost the horses, so I suffered in silence. He said we were not to be trusted with goats, let alone such valuable animals as horses. When the Colonel had completely exhausted his vocabulary he rode off” ( Divine)
      On 3/6/1891 Dr. L.S. Jameson, the Administrator, arrived at Fort Tuli ( where he met Dr. Rutherfoord Harris who had travelled via Macloutsie), by the coach from Pietersberg, and after some days went on to the Limpopo drifts on account of the impending Boer incursion under Col. Ignatius Ferreira. Then on the 19th Pennefather, accompanied by his staff officer, Lieut. M.D. Graham, arrived unexpectedly from the north. It appeared from what Graham told Leonard that Pennefather was most anxious to see Jameson with a view to his resignation “ on account of the way in which the Company have been treating him by bringing in Barnett, Flower and White.”
      Apparently there was also friction amongst some of the officers, and on his way south Pennefather had met Capt. Sir John Willoughby, who was on his way to Manicaland. He then gave him orders not to go beyond Fort Victoria, and as he rode away shouted after him: “ if you go I will put you under arrest. I have left orders with Heyman that he is on no account to take orders from you.”
      Willoughby had been charged with the duty under General Sir Frederick Carrington, of organising the defences of the Limpopo, but was said to have spoken unadvisedly to President Kruger about the Boer trek, and was therefore detailed for manicaland to put him out of the way.
      Anyhow, Leonard showed Pennefather Willoughby’s scheme for the defence of Fort Tuli, and was told at once to stop it – to Leonard’s unconcealed joy.
      In the event the Boer trek was frustrated at Middle Drift on 24/6/1891, the only officer present being Dr. E. Goody.
      It is not clear whether Pennefather had his interview with Dr Jameson or when he returned to Salisbury, but he must have wasted no time, for he is next heard of at Umtali ( Penhalonga) in July,1891, in a much more benevolent role. Sister Rose Blennerhassett, Sister Lucy Sleeman, and Sister B. Welby had recently arrived there on foot from Beira and were anxious to establish a hospital. I quote from Sister Blennerhassett’s “Adventires in Mashonaland”: “ just at that time Col. Pennefather of the Inniskillings, who was commanding the Chartered Company’s Police, came from Salisbury to Umtali, and made a pilgrimage to our camp on Sabi Ophir hill. We found him delightful to deal with. With the prompt decision of a soldier he had the vexed question settled in a day, and it was resolved that we should occupy a small encampment close to the Police lines. Hospital huts would be built near it, and in 2 or 3 weeks we should be able to receive patients.
      He was back at (Old) Umtali in December,1891, after the move had been made from Penhalonga, and paid another visit to the nursing sisters.
      And then came the crash. I quote again from “Adventures in mashonaland” “ On the 2nd of January,1892, Colonel Pennefather rode into the camp. Everyone rejoiced to see him. He told us he projected spending the rainy season in Manica, and set to work at once to make his hut comfortable. Great, therefore was the general surprise when, on the 4th of January, a runner brought him a dispatch informing him that the Military Police were to be disbanded and a Civil police created. The colonel’s services would therefore be no longer required. He could rejoin his regiment when he pleased…..The announcement was too sudden not to be unpleasant, but the colonel took the affair very calmly, “I’ve received the Order of the Sack Sister”. That was all he said about it. We were very sorry indeed to say good-bye to him.”
      He must have left soon afterwards. I cannot find out whether he returned to Salisbury first, but for a commanding officer he seems to have spent long periods away from his headquarters throughout his tour of service with the Company’s Police.
      He retired from the Army on 6/5/1895 to become Inspector-General of police in the Straits Settlements, and lived at Penang.
      He died on 29/4/1928 in Natal. In the Central African archives at Salisbury is his sword, and there is also collection of interesting letters he wrote home to his mother during the occupation of Mashonaland; these will repay research”

      Provided by Nikki



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