George McCall Theal

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George McCall Theal_table_infobox_0

George McCall ThealGeorge McCall Theal_header_cell_0_0_0
BornGeorge McCall Theal_header_cell_0_1_0 (1837-04-11)11 April 1837

Saint John, New BrunswickGeorge McCall Theal_cell_0_1_1

DiedGeorge McCall Theal_header_cell_0_2_0 17 April 1919(1919-04-17) (aged 82)

Wynberg, Cape TownGeorge McCall Theal_cell_0_2_1

OccupationGeorge McCall Theal_header_cell_0_3_0 Historian, archivist and genealogistGeorge McCall Theal_cell_0_3_1

George McCall Theal (11 April 1837, Saint John, New Brunswick – 17 April 1919, Wynberg, Cape Town), was the most prolific and influential South African historian, archivist and genealogist of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. George McCall Theal_sentence_0

Life history George McCall Theal_section_0

The son of Canadian physician, William Young Theal, who wanted him to become an Episcopalian minister, Theal left home early, sailing with his uncle, Captain Francis Peabody Leavitt, and lived briefly in the United States and Sierra Leone before emigrating to South Africa. George McCall Theal_sentence_1

There he became a teacher but soon moved to journalism, publishing, and an unsuccessful stint as an amateur diamond miner, all in South African frontier communities. George McCall Theal_sentence_2

His career as a historian began with the publication of his Compendium of South African History and Geography in 1873 following his return to teaching. George McCall Theal_sentence_3

Theal spent five years at the Lovedale Seminary outside Alice in the Eastern Cape, working amongst missionaries and Africans. George McCall Theal_sentence_4

Lovedale was an important institution in the early 1870s, being a non-sectarian and non-denominational theological seminary and Christian school, founded by Presbyterian missionaries in 1841. George McCall Theal_sentence_5

Lovedale's principal, Dr. James Stewart, attached great importance to the teaching of printing and bookbinding. George McCall Theal_sentence_6

In 1872 Stewart needed someone who could teach and manage the printing works – Theal was the man. George McCall Theal_sentence_7

He had taught first at an elementary school in Knysna and from 1867 at a public school in King William's Town, later to become Dale College Boys' High School. George McCall Theal_sentence_8

He had also been editor of three minor British Kaffrarian newspapers between 1862 and 1865, and later worked for the Kaffrarian Watchman in King William's Town, where he printed his first contribution South Africa As It Is in 1871. George McCall Theal_sentence_9

From King William's Town he had travelled to Du Toit's Pan, then seen as the richest diamond mine in the world, and was present when Britain raised the Union Jack over the area. George McCall Theal_sentence_10

Theal wrote some articles for the Diamond News and called the takeover "a most disastrous change". George McCall Theal_sentence_11

Having failed to make his fortune on the diamond fields, he returned to the Eastern Cape. George McCall Theal_sentence_12

Theal was a religious man, and thus believed that it was the civilised white man's duty to rescue the black man from ignorance and barbarism (in common with others of that period, he saw it in racial terms as well) This made him ready to accept the Lovedale post. George McCall Theal_sentence_13

While living in King William's Town, he had read everything available on the history of South Africa and had started on an outline of his own rendition which was a synthesis of all he had read. George McCall Theal_sentence_14

By 1875 at Lovedale he was teaching history, geography, English grammar and history of the Bible, and also being in charge of the printing department. George McCall Theal_sentence_15

He was responsible for the monthly publication of the Kaffir Express (later the Christian Express) and for the Xhosa version. George McCall Theal_sentence_16

The press published mainly religious and educational works. George McCall Theal_sentence_17

Between 1879 and 1882 Theal wrote a large number of articles for various periodicals on South African history. George McCall Theal_sentence_18

His knowledge of the Bantu was so extensive that in 1877 he was requested by Sir Bartle Frere to persuade some belligerent Bantu chiefs to moderate their attitude. George McCall Theal_sentence_19

Theal's success in this role led to his being offered a post in the Treasury. George McCall Theal_sentence_20

He accepted this position, aware that he would then have access to the State archives which were housed in the Surveyor-General's office. George McCall Theal_sentence_21

Publications George McCall Theal_section_1

See also George McCall Theal_section_2

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Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George McCall Theal.