Chapter 7: A Pillar of Society
Our Great Great Grandfather James Cotterell Hoole was born in 1816 in England, and was four years old when the family emigrated on the Chapman to South Africa. He must have had a tough childhood, coping with all of the deprivations of the early colony as his parents and their neighbours struggled to build a new village (Cuylerville) in the wilderness while coping with the hostility of both the environment and the local Xhosa tribes.
When James was eleven, the family moved to Grahamstown, where things were less precarious, and as a teenager he helped his father with setting up and running various trading posts. In 1834, at the age of 18, he knew at least one local language well enough to act as an interpreter to the military forces operating beyond the Kei River in the Sixth Frontier War. In 1837 he and his brother Abel started a bakery business in Grahamstown, and for some years they ran a variety of storehouse businesses, also buying and selling cattle and sheep. No doubt the brothers received great help from their father -- and like him they suffered from fires, losses of livestock and occasional outbursts of tribal violence.
In 1838 James married Harriet Maria Rhodes -- the daughter of one of the other 1820 settler families who had come to South Africa from Hull. Seven children were born to this marriage, including Oliver Percival Porter Hoole -- the fifth child -- born in the year 1850. OPP, as he was called, was our Great-Grandfather. Harriet died in 1856 in Grahamstown, and after her death JC Hoole married twice again, first in 1857 and then again in 1868 (?).
James carried on with his trading businesses after 1840, building various stores and winning contracts for the provision of forage corn to the military. In 1845 he bought a farm called "Begelly" (which must have been built by a settler family from Pembrokeshire) and at that time he was involved in the local Wesleyan Church and also local politics. In 1846 he was again involved in the conflict between the colonists and the Xhosa tribes, acting as an interpreter once again when British troops were operating in hostile territory during the "War of the Axe".
At various times over the years he was a member of the Albany Divisional Council, Municipal Commissioner, town councillor, member of the Upper House of the Legislative Council and a justice of the peace. In later years, as a successful and relatively wealthy businessman he was a member of the Kowie Harbour Improvement Company. He died in 1878 in Grahamstown, and is buried in the town cemetery in the family vault, alongside his parents, two of his wives and various other family members.
James Cotterell Hoole was perhaps typical of the "next generation" of the 1820 settler families who knew all about deprivation and disaster and who managed to come through it all to establish a strong family -- underpinned by trading or merchant activities. Through his involvement in chapel and civic affairs he also seems to have become quite a pillar of society in the growing community of Grahamstown.
Another image of James Cotterell Hoole. Date unknown.
The two sons of the Settler, James and Abel, were prominent figures in the Sixth Frontier War (1835) serving in Col. (afterwards Sir Harry) Smith's Corps of Guides. Abel Hoole with his expert knowledge of the Xhosa language, was often used as an interpreter when negotiating terms with the Xhosa chiefs. These brothers also served in the Seventh Frontier War, 1846. In times of peace they were successful in a mercantile business in Grahamstown, with a branch at Whittlesea run by the younger brother Abel.
In 1866 the elder brother James Cotterell Hoole was one of those elected to represent the Eastern Districts in the Legislative Council. He held his seat until 1869, when the Council and the House of Assembly were dissolved. The following year however, he was re-elected and sat till the Responsible Government Bill was passed in 1872.
Shoot-out between British and Xhosa troops during the "War of the Axe" in 1846
The remnants of a very ancient photograph of James Cotterell Hoole in middle age -- a slim and good-looking man......
We think this is also James Cotterell Hoole when he was a good deal older. The hairline has receded, but the parting is on the left, and the nose is very sharp, so the identification may well be correct.
Gravestone above the Hoole family vault in the old Grahamstown cemetery. GG Grandpa James Cotterell Hoole is buried here.