A Native Commissioner’s Minute Book – Bowker, A.H.; Molyneux, Frank and Lindsay Oliver, John


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This book deals with a series of cases of family law. It is a document showing how the British Colonial Empire tried to control the day to day minutiae of African life in then Rhodesia. Part of an index is present, but some pages are missing. There are in excess of 300 cases over 558 pages of hand written text, from 1912 to 1917. The cases were heard in the village of Magunda in the Buhera district in the Manicaland Province of Eastern Rhodesia. Most cases deal with family disputes, usually centred around cattle and labola. Some involve children, estranged wives and adultery. Usually the defendant states his case, followed by the plaintive, followed by a brief judgement. The claim is usually for livestock. Each case is signed by the attending Assistant Native Commissioner (ANC), who wrote the minutes. There are three who deal with the cases in this volume. The first is A.H.Bowker. A former naval captain who became a career officer in Southern Rhodesia’s Native Affairs Department from around 1903. He later became Chief Clerk to the Chief Native Commissioner in Salisbury. He retired in the 1930’s and became the harbourmaster at Simonstown. These entries are followed by those of Cecil Frank Molyneux who was an acting Assistant Native Commissioner form 23/8/1913 to 15/09/1913. Born in 1879 he is listed as a trooper in the Natal Carbineers and was present during the Siege of Ladysmith. He later became a Magistrate and Native Commissioner with the British South African Company (BSAC) in Northern Rhodesia. Lastly there are the entries of John Lindsay Oliver. Assistant Native Commissioner 12/02/1916 to 11/05/1917. He later became District Commissioner at Mwera, Southern Rhodesia and was on the King’s Birthday List to reward and highlight good work by citizens abroad. There are also four permits for natives to carry arms and ammunition loosely inserted into the book together with “Certificate of Native Marriage”. Condition is good. The leather spine is missing although the binding is firm and intact. One page of the index is loose and one other page is torn in half.

Date Published: 1912 – 1917
Publication Place: Magunda

Condition: Good

Dimensions: 22 x 35,5cm, 558 pages.

Additional information

Weight 3000 g