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Robert Templeton Part 1 & 2

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Lindy Report 8 Apr 2009 12:26

Great achievers educated at a small East Cape village school
by Jane McSporran

In 1856 a remarkable educator, Robert TEMPLETON, emigrated to the Cape Colony from Scotland, having obtained an M.A. with honours at Glasgow University.

He taught at Lovedale College until 1864, marrying Mary Elizabeth CALDERWOOD in 1862. He became a Presbyterian minister and taught in Uitenhage before becoming principal of the small East Cape village of Bedford's public school, which was later named after him. Bedford is still a tiny village and the Templeton High School is still there. In 1873 he became headmaster of the Grahamstown boys' public school, many of his pupils following him.

TEMPLETON was an outstanding teacher who had a great reputation as a headmaster and made a significant contribution to education in the Cape Colony. During the period of a little less than ten years that he was headmaster at the Templeton High school, no less than eight men and women, prominent in the annals of South Africa, received education there.

Two of his pupils became Chief Justices of South Africa - Sir James ROSE-INNES and Sir William SOLOMON. William SOLOMON's two brothers were also knighted, Sir Edward SOLOMON becoming a leading lawyer and politician in the Transvaal, and Sir Richard SOLOMON, a leader of the Bar, was Attorney-General at the Cape and Union High Commissioner in London. Their sister Emillie became a leader of the cause of women and a well-known temperance advocate. Two others became leaders of the Bar, J.W. LEONARD in Johannesburg and William Otto DANCKWERTS in London. There was also W.P SCHREINER, who became Prime Minister at the Cape and later South African High Commissioner in London.

The chief subject of this article is William Otto DANCKWERTS. His father, Dr Viktor Adolf DANCKWERTS was one of four doctors attached to the King's German Legion, 4000 Hanoverians who were recruited by Britain to fight in the Crimean War. At the end of the war the British authorities had to find occupations for these 4000 men and the project was conceived of sending them to the Cape Colony to be settled in the Border area inland from East London.

Viktor Adolf, born in 1821 in Gottingen, Germany, had received his medical degree from the University of Gottingen, and emigrated to the Cape Colony with the King's German Legion in 1857, bringing with him his wife Ida Sophia Louisa WILMANS and the first of their six children, Wilhelm Otto Adolf Julius, born at Heidelberg in Germany in 1853.

When Doctor DANCKWERTS settled in a practice in Somerset East, his son William Otto went to Templeton's school in Bedford. At the age of seventeen he went to the diamond fields in Kimberley. He was well suited to the life - apparently able to shoot a green parrot on the wing, and with a stock whip flick the ear of an ox in the leading span of a team. William was, however, not destined for the life of a farmer or a diamond field overseer, and at the age of eighteen he went to Cambridge, where he entered Peterhouse College.
In spite of his rural colonial background he graduated with Honours in Mathematics and took his M.A. a few years later. He was called to the English Bar in 1878, where, though lacking influence and expectations, he attained a position of leadership. Even in those early days he was known for his quickness of temper and irritable disposition. ASQUITH, with whom he had studied, said of him in later years that every man who aspired to succeed at the Bar had sooner or later to earn "the danger, the multiform and manifold danger of an encounter with DANCKWERTS".



Lindy Report 8 Apr 2009 12:44


Great achievers educated at a small East Cape village school
by Jane McSporran

Continued from Part I.

DANCKWERTS. Q.C., although he came to earn a large income for his times - twenty thousand pounds a year - and although he rose to the very top of his profession and achieved the highest professional honours, due to his fiery temper and pugnacity, frequently quarrelling with both his adversaries in court and with the Bench, never actually became a Judge.

His struggles for leadership of the London Bar included involvement in some notable cases, in particular his appearance for the prosecution in one of the most remarkable cases ever heard in England. Three men and a boy had been cast adrift from a yacht in the South Atlantic without food and water. At last in the very extremity of hunger and on the point of death, they decided to kill the weakest, the cabin boy, and fed on his body.

The story leaked out when the men were rescued and returned to England, and DANCKWERTS had to go to Exeter to prosecute the three survivors for murder. He received threats of being lynched, as the cabin boy came from a village near Exeter, but he was undeterred. The case was without precedent, and although DANCKWERTS allowed one of the men to turn informer and give evidence against the other two, the question arose, for the first time in English law, whether it is lawful to kill in order to live, and it was argued, on behalf of the accused, that killing was no murder if done in self-protection.

The case eventually appeared before a full Court in London, and the judges ruled that it is never lawful to take life for one's own benefit. The two men were convicted of murder, but reprieved after only six months in prison.

William Otto died in 1914 at the age of sixty. He had married Caroline Mary LOWTHER, the daughter of General William LOWTHER and Amelia PAINTER, who was the sister of William Otto's father. Dr Viktor DANCKWERTS' second wife, Emily PAINTER, whom he had married after the death of his German born wife Ida Sophia. Emily and Amelia were daughters of Richard Joseph PAINTER who had come to the Cape Colony in 1820 at the age of seventeen years, and later bought the farm "Yellowwood Trees" between Adelaide and Fort Beaufort.

William and Caroline's son Harold was of equal ability to his father, but of milder disposition. He became a judge - Lord Justice DANCKWERTS, a member of the Privy Council and the English Court of Appeal.

Both father and son were men of distinction but and received a widely differing early education - the father educated at the Templeton School in the village of Bedford in the Eastern Cape Colony, and the son at Eton.

The Reverend Robert TEMPLETON must indeed have been a remarkable educator.

Ref: 1 "William Otto DANCKWERTS - From Barnyard to London Bar", an article by Mr.Justice Leslie Blackwell in "Personality". 26th February, 1970.
2. Dictionary of South African Biography, Vol.1.

Conclusion of Robert TEMPLETON.

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