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FitzPatrick James Percy
(18621931)
Jock of the Bushveld

FitzPatrick James Percy (18621931)  Jock of the Bushveld

Sir James Percy FitzPatrick was a South African author, politician and pioneer of the fruit industry. He is best known for his book Jock of the Bushveld, considered a South African classic, as well as other children's books.

FitzPatrick was born in King William's Town, the eldest son of James Coleman FitzPatrick, who was a judge of the Supreme Court of the Cape Colony, and Jenny FitzGerald. Both were originally from Ireland. Two of James FitzPatrick's other sons were killed in action - Tom FitzPatrick in the Matabele Rebellion and George FitzPatrick (serving with the Imperial Light Horse) in the Second Anglo-Boer War. He was first educated at Downside Abbey and St. Gregory's College, near Bath in England and later at St. Aidan's College in Grahamstown, South Africa.

When the elder FitzPatrick died in 1880, Percy FitzPatrick left college in order to support his mother and the rest of her family. He travelled to the Eastern Transvaal goldfields in 1884, where he worked as a storeman, prospector's assistant and journalist as well as an ox-wagon transport-rider from (the then) Lourenco Marques to Lydenburg and Barberton. He later became editor of the Gold Fields News in Barberton. An account of Fitzpatrick's adventures during this time Jock of the Bushveld - was published in 1907. He was also the author of The Transvaal from Within.

In 1892 Fitzpatrick became the head of intelligence in the Johannesburg offices of Hermann Eckstein and Company (part of Wernher-Beit and Company). Fitzpatrick became the secretary of the Reform Committee in Johannesburg in 1895. The Committee conspired to overthrow Paul Kruger's South African Republic government from 1895 to 1896. Fitzpatrick acted as go-between the Committee and Cecil John Rhodes and Leander Star Jameson in Cape Town. On December 29, 1895 Jameson led a failed raid from Zimbabwe (then Southern Rhodesia) to aid the conspirators in Johannesburg, but was stopped at Doornkop on January 2, 1896. Fitzpatrick was charged with the others for high treason. Although sentenced to two years' imprisonment and a £2,000 fine, he was released in May 1896. At the outbreak of the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902) Fitzpatrick helped to establish the Imperial Light Horse Regiment. Prevented by ill health from active service, he remained during the war in Britain as Official Adviser on South African Affairs to the British Government. Fitzpatrick was knighted in 1902.

He served as one of eight Transvaal representatives in the national convention of 1908-9, where four British colonies were consolidated into the Union of South Africa. He went on to serve as a member of the parliament of the Union of South Africa, and successfully defended his Pretoria seat in 1906 and 1910. Fitzpatrick and General J.B.M. Hertzog worked out the agreement that recognized English and Dutch as the official languages of the Union. Fitzpatrick kept wild animals that he brought back to Johannesburg after hunting trips at what now is Zoo Lake. Some of these animals formed the first stock of the Johannesburg Zoo. Fitzpatrick helped establish citrus farming in South Africa. He died in Amanzi (Uitenhage) in 1931.


South Africa, 1984, James Percy FitzPatrick

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