1st Class Interpreter, Intelligence Officer and Judge of the Native High Court
- South African General Service Medal with clasp 1879 to Mr. J.C.C. Chadwick, 1st Cl. Interpreter.
Chadwick’s story really begins with the marriage of his father, John Moore Knighton Chadwick, a Captain in the Militia’s marriage to Anna Maria Fisher, the daughter of John Fisher, a Commander in the Royal Navy, at St. Mary’s in Lambeth Surrey on 7 August 1839. Chadwick senior was the son of Richard Chadwick the Deputy Lieutenant for the County of Cornwall.
Seven years later, on Christmas Day 1846, Chadwick drew his first breath in Hearne Bay, Kent. He was baptised in the Parish of Herne on 20 June 1847 at which time his father was described as a Gentleman. The family decided to seek greener pastures and emigrated to the Colony of Natal in South Africa in 1850 under the Byrne emigration scheme when Chadwick was a mere 4 years old. In an interview conducted with Chadwick and now residing in the Bird Collection in South Africa he reminisced about life as it was then.
“We came from Treleigh near Redruth in Cornwall by the ship “Justina” and landed in the Colony on the 10th November 1850. For some time before leaving we had resided at Herne Bay in Kent and in London but Cornwall was our native place.
My father was a Captain in the Royal Cornwall and Devon Militia. He served with his old friend Mr. H. J. Meller late Magistrate of Durban – in Spain with the British Legion under General de Lacy Evans in the war between Queen Isabella and Don Carlos and was decorated for his service there with the Spanish Order of San Ferdinand. My mother was the eldest daughter of the late John Fisher, Commander R.N., and for some years principal Harbour Master of the Port of London.
We lived in Durban for the first two years after our arrival and then removed to a farm at the Umhlali where my father died in 1879 just after the close of the Zulu War in the 67th year of his age and the 29th of his residence in the Colony. He took an active part in politics though always a consistent conservative, and lived a very retired life. My father came to this Colony bearing a recommendation from the Secretary of State for the Colonies, Earl Grey, to the Governor Mr. Pine, afterwards Sir Benjamin as a suitable person to be appointed as a magistrate and was some little while after his arrival offered the Assistant Magistracy of Hathlamba in what is now Weenen County.
This he declined as he considered he was not justified in taking his young family so far out in the wilderness where there were no facilities for their education and still hoped to get something better offered him in some more settled part of the country. His hopes, however, were not realised, and after waiting in vain for the promised appointment for two years he settled down to a quiet life at the Umhlali where he ended his days.
My father served on two commandoes against the Natives – the first being against Huhshami the Thosa Chief. In 1855 or 56 and the second on the Zulu border scare in 1861. My mother who survived my father died at the residence of my younger brother near Estcourt in 1892 in her 80th year.”
Having arrived in Natal, Chadwick was educated privately and later in a school kept by the Rev. Mr. Bell. Further education was provided afterwards by Archdeacon McKenzie and his sisters as well as Government schools he attended.
He entered the Natal Government Service on 7 January 1868, and was appointed Clerk and Zulu Interpreter to the Magistrate’s Court of the Inanada Division at Verulam.
Life for a single man was lonely and for Chadwick this was no exception. On 30 November 1869 he appeared before his father’s friend, Henry Mellor, Magistrate, at Durban who approved his request to enter the marital state without the publication of bans. The lucky bride to a 32 year old Chadwick was 18 year old Elizabeth Anne Bishop of Pietermaritzburg. Her father, Sam Webb Bishop, consenting to the arrangement, it duly took place on 2 December 1869
In 1876 he was appointed Magistrate of the first Native High Court and Secretary of the Native Law Board before being appointed Registrar of the Native High Court on 1 November 1876.
He was also a published author, albeit of an obscure tract, having penned the “Commentaries on Native Laws, Customs, & Usages with some remarks upon Interpretation & Annexation.” Written in August 1878 it was published by Vause, Slatter, & Co. in Pietermaritzburg in 1879. Chadwick was described on the cover as “Attorney at Law, Registrar of the Native High Court, Secretary to the Board created under the Native Administration Law No. 26, 1875; and for many years clerk and Interpreter to the Court of the Resident Magistrate, Inanda Division of the County of Victoria.”
Controversially, and remembering that this tract was written in 1878 before the hostilities between Zulu and Brit began; he wrote on the subject of Annexation as follows: -
‘For years back the subject of the probable annexation of Zululand to Natal has been a favourite topic, and those who have been advocating this course probably now begin to hope that their wishes will be speedily realised. I trust however, they may be disappointed in this. We have quite enough Kafirs to govern already; and I cannot but think that such a realisation of their anticipations would be the worst thing that could possibly happen to this Colony, and for the following reasons:
1. The Natives of Natal exceed the white population in about the proximity of 20 to 1, add the Zulus to these and the population to be kept in check by the white would exceed the latter in, as I should estimate, the proportion of 35 to 1.
2. At present the Native population of Natal is estimated to exceed that of the Zulu country. Hence the Zulus, in contemplating war with Natal, would have to consider on whose side the Natal Kafirs would fight. It is not a handful of white men they would have to cope with, but a larger number of Natives than themselves, led on and encouraged by the Europeans. This makes the undertaking far more serious than at first it might appear, and keeps the Zulus in check.’
Prophetic words indeed written on the eve of battle but with an obvious understanding of the Zulu mind-set.
Not many months later war between the Zulus and the Colony of Natal broke out and, what Chadwick had predicted, did in some measure, come to pass. The Natal Natives threw in their lot with the white man against the Zulus across the river.
Most likely because of his vast experience he was appointed First Class Interpreter and Intelligence Officer on the staff of Major-General Newdigate, commanding the Second Division of the Zulu War. Apparently this position carried with it the honorary rank of Colonel on Newdigate’s staff.
Chadwick served with him until after the great battle of Ulundi, whereafter the column was broken up. He then returned to his office as Registrar of the Native High Court. In recognition of his services he was awarded the Zulu War Medal and clasp (1879). His address at the time, according to the Natal Almanac was 12 Church Street, Pietermaritzburg.
On 9 April 1880, Chadwick was appointed Administrator of Native Law and Border Agent in the Upper Tugela Division, and in 1882 he was promoted to the post of First Magistrate of the Lions River Division, making his headquarters at Howick.
On 1 September 1886 he took over a similar post at Ixopo being transferred to Howick in the same capacity in 1889. In 1892 he was appointed a commissioner to enquire into the rioting in the Bulwer district.
The year 1893 saw him admitted as a Natal advocate before returning to Lions River four years later on 8 July 1897. A year later he was appointed a Magistrate of the Umgeni Division of Pietermaritzburg. In the same year, on 21 October 1898, he was sent on special duty to Maputaland in North Zululand, via Delagoa Bay, successfully carrying out the work he was engaged in.
He acted as Magistrate of Durban from 14 March 1898 for the period of the Anglo Boer War and on 1 November 1902 was appointed Magistrate in Pietermaritzburg.
Chadwick was Acting Chief Magistrate of Durban between 20 January 1904 and 31 May 1905 before being appointed Judge of the Native High Court on 1 July 1905. He was also Chairman of the Commission to inquire into native representation on the Council.
According to the Natal Who’s Who of 1906 Chadwick had five children and was resident at 53 Prince Alfred Street, Pietermaritzburg. He was also a member of the Victoria Club.
In 1917, now at the age of 71 he was appointed the Judge President of the Native High Court for a period.
That Chadwick almost become an extremely wealthy man towards his later years was evidenced by an article that appeared in the Yorkshire Post & Leeds Intelligencer of 11 November 1926. The article quoted from the Natal Mercury and read as follows: -
‘The “Natal Mercury” state, that according to a report it may be that the large fortune will go to South Africa, and in all probability to ex- Justice Chadwick of the Native High Court. Mr Justice Chadwick, it adds, can trace his ancestry back to 1700, and believe that his family can be associated with that of Sir Andrew Chadwick, especially as the latter’s descendants all settled at points where the family of Mr Justice Chadwick afterwards settled.
Some years ago Mr Justice Chadwick was approached with a view to contesting the ownership of these idle millions, but he declined. Sir Andrew Chadwick was evidently a man with a grievance against his relatives, for in his will, which exists, he describes them as “those Lancashire kites” and alludes to “the base and cruel usage I met with from my relations when I was an orphan.”
He bequeathed the sum of £5000 to be equally divided between “such persons of my kindred who shall appear and prove their degree of consanguinity.” After certain other bequests, the residue of the estate was left to Lady Chadwick, and at her death to one Alexander Scott.”
John Chadwick passed away in Pietermaritzburg on 6 May 1932 at the age of 85 years and 4 months, survived by his wife and five children. He had retired to 53 Prince Alfred Street in Pietermaritzburg leaving behind a substantial legacy in the form of “household effect, plate, glass, linen, crockery, horse, carriage and harness and a double-barrelled hammerless gun.” The princely sum of £15 641 he bequeathed must also have been of great comfort to the family.