Colenbrander Papers

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 161 MSS. Afr. s. 2330
  • Dates of Creation
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      10 boxes  There was a housefire in 1968, which has left some of the early material donated by J.C.A.L.Colenbrander in a fragile state.

Scope and Content

Family correspondence and letters of condolence on J.W. Colenbrander's death, 1870-1918;press cuttings, etc., 1904-1995; correspondence of J.C.A.L. Colenbranderconcerning biographies of his father, 1939-1977; other correspondence ofJ.C.A.L. Colenbrander, 1929-1986; transcripts of documents relating toJ.W. Colenbrander, including photographs, [1870-1990]; annotated books andother printed material, etc., 1893-1994.

Administrative / Biographical History

Colonel Johan William Colenbrander (1856-1918) was born in Pinetown, Natal to aDutch family who had settled there in 1849. During his lifetime he participatedin a number of key events, including the Zulu War, the visit of Lobengula'sindunas to Queen Victoria, Rhodes' expansion into Mashonaland, the NdebeleRebellion, and the Anglo-Boer War (during which he raised and commanded a unit named'Kitchener's Fighting Scouts'). After several unsuccessful business ventures,he obtained employment in 1917 with I.W. Schlesinger's film company, helping toorganise labour for the filming of The Symbol ofSacrifice. He played the part of Lord Chelmsford in the film and wasdrowned as he tried to cross the Klip River on horseback. He was marriedthree times, first to Mollie Mullens in 1883, secondly, in 1902, to Yvonne Nunn,with whom he had a daughter, and thirdly, in 1911, to Catherine (Kathleen)Gloster, with whom he had a son.

Conditions Governing Access

Bodleian reader's ticket required.

Other Finding Aids

A handlist is available in the library reading room.

Conditions Governing Use

No reproduction or publication of personal papers without permission. Contact the library in the first instance.

Custodial History

Johan Colenbrander's son, J.C.A.L. Colenbrander gathered a large amount ofmaterial on his father's life, mostly in preparation for a biography whichwas to have been written by the Marquis del Moral in the 1950s. The Marquisdied in 1955 and the work was continued by Tom V. Bulpin who published a semi-fictionalised biography, The White Whirlwind (Johannesburg, Nelson, 1961).


An autograph letter from J.W. Colenbrander to Mr. Vaughan Williams mentioning his trial on a charge of embezzlement and requesting a loan, 1911, was purchased from Clive Farahar and Sophie Dupre, of Calne, Wiltshire, dealers in books, autographs and manuscripts on 29th November 2001.

Related Material

J.C.A.L. Colenbrander sent photocopies of material relating to his father to the Killie Campbell Library in Natal, South Africa, the Zimbabwean National Archives, and Yale Library, U.S.A.. Yale Library also receivedsome original photographs. Some artefacts relating to J.W. Colenbrander were housed at the Rhodes Memorial Museum, Bishops Stortford. A collection of love letters between J.C.A.L. Colenbrander's parents were retained by the family estate.