British Bechuanaland

British Bechuanaland
Crown Colony
Flag Coat of arms
God Save the Queen
Capital Vryburg
Languages English
Government Constitutional monarchy
   1885–1895 Queen Victoria
Historical era New Imperialism
   Crown colony established 1 March 1885
   Annexation to Cape Colony 16 November 1895
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Cape Colony
An 1885 map showing the Bechuanaland Protectorate prior to the creation of the crown colony of British Bechuanaland and the Heligoland–Zanzibar Treaty.

British Bechuanaland was a short lived crown colony of the United Kingdom that existed in southern Africa from its formation on 1 Sep 1885 until its annexation to the neighbouring Cape Colony on 16 Nov 1895.[1] British Bechuanaland had an area of, 51,424 square miles (133,190 km2) and a population of 84,210.[2] Today the region forms part of South Africa.


Bechuanaland meant the country of the Tswana and for administrative purposes was divided into two political entities. The northern part was admistered as the Bechuanaland Protectorate and southern part, south of the Molopo River, was administered as the crown colony of British Bechuanaland.

In 1882 British Bechuanaland suffered two secessions by the Boer states of Stellaland and Goshen. For many months, starting in 1883, pressure was placed on the British Government to do something in Bechuanaland because of unrest in the area. On 29 October 1884 the British Government appointed Sir Charles Warren as Special Commissioner of Bechuanaland. On 13 November 1884 Parliament voted a sum of £675,000[3] (this is equivalent to over £32 million today) for military operations in Bechuanaland. Sir Charles Warren was authorised to recruit an irregular force of 1,500 in South Africa[3] in addition to the regular troops that would be provided.

A force of 4,000 troops, under Sir Charles Warren, set off to recapture Stellaland and Goshen. On 7 February 1885 the force reached Vryburg, the principal town in Stellaland, then continued to Mafeking, the principal town in Goshen. By 8 April 1885 Sir Charles Warren sent a despatch to notify the British Government that he had occupied Bechuanaland and had entirely restored order. The two Boer republics had collapsed without any bloodshed.

On 30 September 1885 Stellaland, Goshen and other territories to the south of the Molopo River were constituted as the Crown Colony of British Bechuanaland. In 1891 the South African Customs Union was extended to British Bechuanaland, and in 1895 the colony was annexed to the Cape Colony and now forms part of South Africa, the area around Mafikeng.

See also


  1. Ben Cahoon. "South Africa". Retrieved 2015-07-02.
  2. Archived November 29, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  3. 1 2 "ARMY SUPPLEMENTARY ESTIMATES' 1884–5—MILITARY OPERATION'S IN EGYPT AND BECHUANALAND. (Hansard, 13 November 1884)". Retrieved 2015-07-02.

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