The Honorable Harry RIVERS (son of Francis RIVERS and Mary HOUSE)
Born on 13 July 1785
Baptised on 11 August 1785 at Fulham, Middlesex
Married Charlotte Johanna CLOETE on 27 July 1818 in South Africa
Died on 6 December 1861 at Ludwigsburg, Cape Town, South Africa
Occupation: Treasurer General
Charlotte Johanna CLOETE
Born about 1788
Died in 1869

Francis Peter RIVERS

Baptised on 24 March 1820


Baptised on 23 December 1821 at the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa
Died on 4 December 1888 at Woodlawn, Hanworth, Middlesex
Occupation: Major General in Her Majesty's Army

Charlotte Mary RIVERS

Born about 1824 at the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa
Died on 7 November 1893 at West Brighton, Sussex
Buried on 11 November 1893 at Hove Cemetery, Sussex

Josiah Charles RIVERS

Born about 1825.  Click here for more information




Harry Rivers - extract from "Dictionary of South African Biography"

Rivers, Harry (London, Eng., 13 July 1785 – Cape Town, 6 December 1861), Cape magistrate and Colonial Treasurer, was a son of Francis Rivers, of Bradmore, a rural area of Hammersmith. When he left school he was employed as a clerk in the old East India House. In 1816 his brother-in-law, Henry Alexander, secretary to the Cape government, persuaded him to seek his fortune in the Cape Colony, and he owed his appointment as acting wharfmaster for Table Bay to Alexander’s patronage. On 27 July 1818 he married Charlotte Johanna Cloete (1788-1869), eldest child of Pieter Lourens Cloete and widow of Col. Ronald Campbell. She was the sister of Henry Cloete and A. J. Cloete. There were three sons of the marriage: Josiah Charles Rivers (1819-1873) [note: these dates are incorrect], afterwards chief magistrate of Cape Town and later of Wynbergm Francis Peter Rivers (24 March 1820), and Harry Rivers (23 December 1821).

Rivers became landdrost of the district of Albany on 17 December 1821, but was not very successful. Class distinctions separated him from immigrants and he became an intimate friend of Col. Henry Somerset, the Governor’s eldest son. His scheme for a local militia earned him credit with Lord Charles Somerset but it was felt, especially in missionary circles, that he neglected the interests of Settlers impoverished by crop failures.

In 1824 the government press in Cape Town published his Authentic copies of a correspondence which took place in consequence of a statement made at the general annual meeting of the Society for Relief of Distressed Settlers in Cape Town, August 18, 18214, reflecting on the conduct and character of the landdrost of Albany. (Cape Town, 1824). Though Somerset accepted Rivers’s explanation of expenditure to relieve distress, as given in Letter addressed by Harry Rivers , Esq., to the colonial secretary, in explanation of certain assertions and documents contained in the ‘Reply to a pamphlet entitled Authentic copies of a correspondce etc’ (Cape Town, 1825), the Colonial Secretary, Earl Bathurst, pronounced against Rivers, who in 1825 was relieved of his post. His demeanour as a landdrost had certainly been somewhat rigid, but the peculiar difficulties of his position were no fault of his.

He was transferred to Swellendam at the beginning of 1825 but his appointment was not confirmed. However, despite Bathurst’s displeasure, he was, at Somerset’s insistence, reinstated in the service on 14.11.1826. In Swellendam he was popular with all classes, his administration as landdrost (1826) and, after 1834, as resident magistrate and civil commissioner being indulgent, his interest in the daily life of the farming population considerable, and his wife’s hospitality at the drosdy much appreciated. Rivers also improved roads, and promoted education and the general welfare of his district.

When, in 1837, Dr William Robertson and others in Swellendam decided to establish a mission station independent of the church, the directors bought the farm Doornkraal, Rivers promising his help ‘in every way’. On 20 August 1838 he was asked to allow the site to be named after him. He agreed but preferred Riversdale to the suggested Riversville, so as to please both English and Dutch.

On 21 June 1842 he was appointed Treasurer of the Cape Colony, succeeding the botanist W. H. Harvey. He was given the additional appointment of paymaster-general in 1851. It is clear that he was widely trusted as an administrator but was overshadowed on the Executive Council by men like John Montagu, William Porter and Sir John Wylde. He helped with the drafting of the constitution of 1853. Under the parliamentary constitution introduced in 1854, the treasurer-general was an ex officio member entitled to sit in both Houses but not to vote. He had previously been a member of the nominated Legislative Council, being on good terms with the ‘Easterners’, especially with Robert Godlonton, and having approved of the removal of the seat of government to Grahamstown. In 1854 Rivers succeeded Montagu as chairman of the prisions commission.

Not a man of quick wit he was nevertheless recognised as a useful and hard-working colleague who neglected no opportunity to make himself acquainted with the needs of the rural population. In manner he was a typical English squire of the early Victorian period and had all his instinctive conservatism.

There are portraits of Rivers in the Drosdy Museum at Swellendam and (infra) in Kilpin and the Cape Monthly Magazine. The South African Library, Cape Town, has several photographic portraits of Rivers, among these a reproduction of an original in the possession of the De Smidt family, of Cape Town.

Transcript of the Will of Harry RIVERS (1821 - 1888)

Transcript of the Will of Charlotte Mary RIVERS




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Harry Rivers (1785-1861)