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Expert Research on the First Wave of British Immigration to Natal

How to use this site:

1. Check the lists of settlers to see if your ancestor is listed.

Volumes up to ‘Guy’ may be available from the University of KwaZulu-Natal Press.

If the press cannot help you, try the eThekwini Municipal Reference Library, or look for out of print volumes in Africana bookshops and on websites like BidorBuy or ebay.

Sometimes we re-tweet ads for old volumes on Twitter.

Volume 8 – ‘Haigh to Hogshaw’ is in publication and will be available later in 2015 from the UKZN Press.

2. Individual records after ‘Hogshaw’ are obtainable in simple chronological format from ourselves, at a cost. Some of these records have been posted here. If you wish to order a record, please contact us.

3. Join our mailing list to be notified of new records added to the database

News About the Publication Schedule

The records are published in alphabetical order, as far as ‘Guy’. The University of KwaZulu-Natal Press will be publishing volume 7: HAIGH to HOGSHAW in the near future.

Introduction to the Project

Since the 1960s historian Shelagh O’Byrne Spencer has been compiling biographies of the first wave of British settlers (the term ‘British’ encompasses English, Irish, Scottish and Welsh).

Her project covers the approximately 2800 settlers that came to Natal, South Africa between 1824 and 1857.

Today Dr Spencer has published seven volumes of these biographies in the critically acclaimed series known as ‘British Settlers in Natal 1824 – 1857: a Biographical Register’.

Emigres from Natal to Australia and America are also covered.


The sources consulted to write the biographies, apart from books and journal articles, are:

  • The official records of births and deaths of the Department of the Interior (as it was then)
  • Private manuscripts in archives and libraries
  • Church registers, plaques and cemeteries
  • Family Bibles (it was the practice at that time to record family births and deaths in the family bible)
  • Diaries, Letters and Memoirs
  • Deceased, Insolvent and Assigned Estates
  • Papers of: the Supreme Court, the Surveyor General, the European Immigration Department, the Colonial Secretary’s Office and Government House.