A Man of Principle –The Life of Percy Alport Molteno, M. P. by Francis Hirst

This book is the unpublished biography of Sir John Molteno’s second son, Percy Alport Molteno. It is well worth looking at. Percy was a remarkable man, and a worthy son to his father, the first Prime Minister of the Cape Colony.  He played a leading role for over 20 years as a director of the Union Castle Shipping Line that ran the main passenger, mail and freight service between Britain and South Africa. And from 1906 to 1918 he was also a member of the House of Commons and deeply involved in influencing the policy of the Liberal Party on various issues. His biography gives us a lovely picture of Molteno family life, including pen portraits of Percy’s numerous brothers and sisters at Claremont House from the 1860s to the mid 1880s.

percy-molteno-m-p-painting-ofOn this website, there are several things to look at relating to this biography.


I have written an Introduction.  This will tell you a little about Percy Molteno himself, and a lot more about how the book came to be written and why, in the end, it was never published.

Table of Contents

I have also constructed the book’s table of contents. As you will see, this was complicated by the fact that the printer’s galleys got a bit muddled as to the correct sequence and numbering of the chapters.  As a result, I have set out the Contents in two versions – one as they appear on the galleys, and the second in the sequence (and with corrected chapter numbering) that I think the author, Francis Hirst, would have wanted.

Introduction & selected early chapter of the book with photographs

Six chapters of the book – which are among the most interesting – have been transcribed.  In order to make their content more immediately intelligible, I have inserted subheadings in each chapter. I have also illustrated these chapters with numerous photos from the time. And I have put in footnotes that explain all sorts of things that otherwise might not be immediately intelligible to the reader today. The chapter on Sir Donald Currie needs completion and one more chapter will be prepared for inclusion which is a description of Percy Molteno’s Cambridge years in the early 1880s.

The complete printer’s galleys

Finally, the printer’s galleys have been digitised in their entirety. Because of the size of the files, they have been divided into three  PDFs. You can read any particular chapter by clicking on the appropriate blue-coloured link for that chapter. Once you are in it, scroll down to the correct page number where the chapter you want starts. Unfortunately you will also see a lot of handwritten scribblings on the galleys which I have not yet been able to remove.

  1. Percy Molteno’s boyhood and family life at Claremont House — pp.1 -20  (Galley pages 1-200)
  2. The Moltenos and Lombardy — pp. 91-99  (Galley pages 1-200)
  3. Percy Molteno’s grandfather, Hercules Jarvis, and his Origins — pp. 20-37  (Galley pages 1-200)
  4. Sir John Charles Molteno, K.C.M.G. — pp. 37-52  (Galley pages 1-200)
  5. The Molteno Ministry 1872-78 — pp. 52-67  (Galley pages 1-200)
  6. Sir Bartle Frere, the Dismissal of the Molteno Ministry, the Misfortunes of South Africa and their Influence on Percy Molteno pp. 99-110  (Galley pages 1-200)
  7. Sir Donald Currie and his family — pp. 67-77 (Galley pages 1-200)
  8. Glen Lyon and Glen Lyon House — pp. 77-91  (Galley pages 1-200)
  9. School and College Days at the Cape –pp. 123-127  Galley pages 1-200)
  10. Cambridge and the Bar — pp. 127-147  (Galley pages 1-200)
  11. Molteno, a Practising Barrister, 1886-89 — pp. 147-156  (Galley pages 1-200)
  12. Kimberley and the Diamond Fields in 1888 — pp. 156-166  (Galley pages 1-200)

  13. The Wedding — pp. 166-171  (Galley pages 1-200)
  14. Molteno Embarks on a Business Career, 1889 — pp. 171-185  (Galley pages 1-200)

  15. Cape Fruit Growing and the Export Trade – Percy 

    Molteno’s Pioneer Work and Reminiscences 1891-1922 — pp. 110-123  (Galley pages 1-200)

  16. Rhodes and the Raid — pp. 185-198  (Galley pages 1-200)
  17. After the Raid — pp. 198-217  (Start with Galley pages 1-200 and then open ,(Galley pages. 201-401)
  18. Milner and Schreiner — pp. 217-231  (Galley pages 201-401)
  19. Molteno’s Efforts to Avert the Boer War — pp. 231-247  (Galley pages 201-401)

  20. Outbreak of the Boer War in 1899 — pp. 247-263  (Galley pages 201-410)
  21. The Second Stage of the War – Victories of Lord Roberts –The Khaki Election — pp. 263-286  (Galley pages 201-401)
  22. The Third Year of the War 1901 — pp. 286-296  (Galley pages 201-401)
  23. The Boer War Ends with the Peace of Vereeninging – Percy Revisits South Africa — pp. 296-308  (Galley pages 201-401)
  24. Candidate for Dumfriesshire — pp. 308-320  (Galley pages 201-401)
  25. Molteno in Parliament, Campbell-Bannerman’s Administration 1906-08 — pp. 320-337  (Galley pages 201401)
  26. Small Holdings and Land Reform — pp. 337-349  (Galley pages 201-401)
  27. Mr Asquith’s Government and Mr Lloyd-George’s Budget 1908-09 — pp. 349-364  (Galley pages 201-401)
  28. The Two Elections Year, 1910 — pp. 364-377  (Galley pages 201-401)
  29. In Parliament and out of Business – The Agadir Crisis of 1911 — pp. 377-387  (Galley pages 201-401)
  30. Home Rule, Tariff Reform and Foreign Policy in 1912 — pp. 387-408 (Start with Galley pages 201-401 and then open Galley pages 402-632)
  31. The Year 1913 – A Lull before the Storm— pp. 408-416  (Galley pages 402-632)
  32. The Prelude to War – From the Autumn of 1913 to the Summer of 1914 — pp. 416-436 (Galley pages 402-632)
  33. The First Nine Months of the War – Fall of the Liberal Government — pp. 436-461  Gaall
  34. The first Coalition and the Dardanelles — pp.461-479  (Galley pages 402-632)
  35. Conscription and Reprisals — pp. 479-493  (Galley pages 402-632)
  36. Peace Aims and War Aims — pp. 493-505  (Galley pages 402-632)
  37. The Policy of the Knock-out Blow – Mr Lloyd George Drives  Mr Asquith from Power – The Lansdowne Letter — pp. 505-517  (Galley pages 402-632)
  38. The End of the War and the Coupon Election — pp. 517-537  (Galley pages 402-632)
  39. The Peace of Versailles and the Famine — pp. 537-548  (Galley pages 402-632)
  40. Decline of the Coalition 1920-1922 – Friendship with Coue – The Molteno Institute — pp. 548-558  (Galley pages 402-632)
  41. Gladstone’s Foreign Policy 1921-1922 — pp. 558-567  (Galley pages 402-632)

  42. Three General Elections 1922-1924 — pp. 567-578  (Galley pages 402-632)
  43. The Conservatives Return to Power – The Locarno Pact – An Individualist Movement — pp. 578-583  (Galley pages 402-632)
  44. A Visit to the United States — pp. 583-594  (Galley pages 402-632)
  45. Lord Oxford’s Resignation – The Kellogg Pact – Fall of Mr Baldwin’s Government — pp. 594-602  (Galley pages 402-632)
  46. The Financial and Political Crisis of 1930-1932 and the Downfall of Free Trade — pp. 602-608  (Galley pages 402-632)
  47.  Last Years – War Preparations and Peace Efforts — pp. 608-632  (Galley pages 402-632)

The galleys are divided into 3 large files.

Galley pages 1-200 (pdf)

Galley pages 201-401 (pdf)

Galley pages 402-632 (pdf)


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