Papers of Reginald Frederick George Pearce

Scope and Content

Correspondence, newsletters, press cuttings and notes, 1959-1973, of Reginald Frederick George Pearce, relating mainly to civil rights issues in South Africa.

Administrative / Biographical History

Reginald George Pearce was born in South Africa in 1915. He was educated in South Africa and Scotland. He became junior clerk in a motor firm, and then a bank clerk in Johannesburg, where he worked for seven years. He was ordained into the Anglican Church in 1940, serving first as a curate at the Church of St. Marks, Bury, Lancashire. He spent a year in Brazil from 1957-1958.

From 1958-1961 he served in the Parish of St. John Wynberg, Cape Province, South Africa, before taking up the post of Rector and Manager of Anglican Church Schools in Namaqualand. In September 1964, Pearce became Rector of St. Anne's Church, Maitland, Cape Town.

During his time in South Africa, Rev. Pearce was witness to the effects of the Race Re-classification Laws on members of his own congregation. In 1964 he became involved in the case of William Boikanyio, a 14 year-old student who was removed from the Steinkopf Coloured High School following a ruling by the Coloured Regional School Board, Springbok, that re-classified him as 'black' (Bantu). In January 1967 he resigned his living and used his passport to sponsor the passage of the Fabing family to England, when certain members of the family were re-classified from 'white' to 'coloured'. The wide publicity surrounding the case and the difficulty in obtaining a suitable post in England led to a deterioration in Pearce's health, and he was hospitalised from May - June 1967.

In July 1967, he returned to South Africa to take up a post as hospital chaplain and assistant priest at St. Mary's Collegiate Church, Port Elizabeth. However, his continued stand against apartheid led to his resignation in August 1968. He returned to England, where he became Vicar of St. Clether Church, Laneast, Cornwall. He continued to support the Fabings and it was while seeking sponsorship for Aubrey Fabing's education in 1969 that he came into contact with the Anti-Apartheid Movement, which he later joined. Although Pearce's main concern was with the apartheid system in South Africa, he was also involved in other aspects of church work, for example combating alcoholism and developing the role of the church in industry.


The material has been arranged in two categories, correspondence and printed material, and then in chronological order.

Access Information


Acquisition Information

Transferred from the Africa Department, SOAS Library, in 1983.

Other Finding Aids

Unpublished handlist.

Conditions Governing Use

For permission to publish, please contact Archives & Special Collections, SOAS Library in the first instance