Thank you received: 1778
Albert Cornelius Maytham
Private, Queenstown Burghers – Transkei & Basutoland Campaigns - Basuto Gun War
- Cape of Good Hope General Service Medal with clasps Transkei & Basutoland to Pte. A.C. Maytham, Queenstown Burghers
Medals to men who served in the above campaigns are rarely seen with the preponderance of those issued being in respect of the Bechuanaland campaign of 1896. This is partially because the Cape General Service Medal was only authorised for issue in 1900 – 20 years after the two initial campaigns and, by which time, many of the recipients either didn’t bother to apply or had passed away, with life expectancy much shorter then than it is now.
Medals with both Transkei and Basutoland clasps combined are even rarer and are highly sought after although both campaigns, to a large extent, occurred simultaneously or flowed into one another as it were.
Albert Maytham was born in the Eastern Cape in about 1858 the son of Alfred Maytham and his wife Elizabeth Grace Trice Maytham. The families in the Frontier region of the Eastern Cape were, of necessity, large ones as they had to till the soil and farm the land with very little in the way of black labour to assist them. On the contrary much time and much effort was spent in protecting what they had from the marauding bands of tribesmen hell-bent on depriving them of their hard-won livestock and crops.
It would come as no surprise therefore to find that Albert was not an only child; joined as he was by siblings Alfred Rufus Maytham; William Orlando Maytham; Grace Eleanor Maytham; Caroline Edith Maytham; Florence Elizabeth Maytham; Clifford Samuel Maytham; Leonard Vivian Maytham; Alice Maud Harvey; Stanley Maytham; Kate Evelyn Maytham; Susan Jane Trice Pellow; Edward William Maytham and Ernest Charles Maytham – a total of 15 in all.
As was mentioned earlier the Eastern Cape – known as Frontier country – was a hotbed of instability in the last half of the 19th century and, after as many as nine Kaffir Wars had been fought with the last, against Morosi, having ended in late 1879, the region thought, mistakenly, that all its residents could settle down to peaceful co-existence. This noble sentiment proved premature as, on 13 September 1880, the region was thrown once more into confrontation.
What had precipitated this latest crisis? A decision by the new Cape Governor, Gordon Sprigg, to disarm the Basuto by repossessing fire arms they had legally earned and obtained. As Major Hook in his work “With Sword and Statute” mentioned:-
The Basutos loved their guns; to be armed was a badge of manhood. They had acquired the guns honestly; had been employed to use their own weapons against the rebellious Morosi, and were furious about having to give them up.”
Morosi’s stronghold had fallen in November 1879. The actual fighting in Basutoland, in what led to what became known as the Basuto Gun War, among the Basutos themselves about disarmament arose in July 1880. In September 1880 a few hundred members of the Cape Mounted Riflemen under Colonel Carrington were moved up to Mafeteng where, on the 17th they were attacked by Chief Lerothodi with several thousand mounted men. There was heavy loss to the Basuto on that day.
On 8 November Thlotse Heights was attacked by a Joel Molappo and the Kimberley Horse were sent to save the garrison. At the same time Mohali’s Hoek was besieged until relieved and general skirmishing broke out in the mountain kingdom. The Queenstown Burghers (or Volunteers) were one of the small irregular colonial units raised to assist the imperial forces mobilised into being in November 1880.
Albert Maytham joined them on 8 Feb 1881 at Qumbu, Basutoland and he was on strength when they were at Poquani Ridge, Basutoland in May 1881 and when they arrived in Queenstown in June taking part in all the skirmishing with the Basutos until peace was declared. On joining it was recorded that he was an 18 year old Tinsmith from Queenstown (this according to the 1879 Cape Burgher List)
The Basutos bested for the moment the fight went on in what became known as the Transkei Campaign. This campaign, starting as it did at the same time as the Basuto Gun War ended slightly later, on 13 May 1881 and saw a number of locally raised units take part in operations in Thembuland and Griqualand East, where the native Xhosa populations were particularly hostile to settlers in the districts of Tsolo, Maclear, Matatiele and Qumbu. Inspired by the example set by their Basuto neighbours the Xhosa’s had risen in revolt as well.
Belatedly, in 1900 when the Anglo Boer War was in full flow, the Queen agreed to the award of a medal to those who had taken part in either the Basutoland or Transkei campaigns (or in some instances both for which separate clasps were awarded) – this medal was named the Cape of Good Hope General Service Medal and was also awarded for the Bechuanaland campaign of 1896.
It was this medal with clasps Basutoland and Transkei that was awarded to Maytham. There were various naming styles for this medal with a number of blanks being sent out by the Royal Mint to be named up to claimants in South Africa. Those so named were dubbed “Cape naming style” of which a feature was the upside down impressing of the medals compared to those done in England.
Proof in the form of a medal roll exists whereupon Maytham’s medal was sent to the Jeweller’s in Cape Town on 12 March 1906 to be impressed. The following snippet of very valuable information concerning these medals came from a renowned Cape Town collector, Rob Mitchell, he wrote as follows:-
“Maytham’s medal is listed on Roll Number “65” for the CGHGS medal. The naming was undertaken by Sceales/Armstrong in Cape Town sometime between August 1905 and March 1907. Listed as No “446” of medals where the recipient’s name begins with the letter “M” in the CGHGS Medal Issue Register. The naming is 100% correct as issued.
The so called “Cape Naming” of the CGHGS medals refers to medals named in Cape Town during the period 1903 to about 1909. These medals were named in various styles, sometimes “upside down” from the usual naming convention but seemingly always on officially issued blank (i.e. not skimmed) medals sent to the Cape Authorities for naming. Clasps were also fitted in Cape Town.”
But what of Maytham? Having earned his stripes in 1881 he was either too old or too busy to volunteer for service in the Boer War instead going into business in East London where he established his own firm, A.C. Maytham & Co. - plumbers, electricians and dealers in metalware. He was also an agent for the Norwich Union Fire & Insurance Society and was elected to the East London City Council in February 1904 to represent Ward 2. he did not seek re-election opting to retire on rotation in February 1907. After this he moved to Johannesburg where he founded Maytham’s Limited, the forerunner of the world-renowned company “Metal Box” – it would seem that his time served as a Tinsmith put him in good stead.
Albert Cornelius Maytham passed away at Courtfield Nursing Home in Johannesburg on 17 November 1932 at the age of 70 years and 4 months. He had married Catherine in Aliwal North in the Northern Cape at some point but she had predeceased him in December 1926. His residence at the time of his death was 30 Rhodes Avenue, Parktown West, Johannesburg and he was survived by his children Catherine Elizabeth Gray, Archibald Arthur Maytham, Aileen Grace Drummond, Edith May Muller and Reginald Patrick Maytham with who he had been in business. He left a sizeable estate in an amount of £13 828
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