Why Did He Borrow The Barrows?


In 1865, Irishman Joseph Michel Gilligham,  borrowed five wheelbarrows from the Beaufort West Municipality to celebrate the birthday of  “our most gracious majesty” Queen Victoria.   Just over 30 years later his eldest son, Solomon William, helped form the pro-Boer Irish Brigade that fought against the British during the Anglo-Boer War.   Then, in July 1900, Solomon and Lieutenant Tossel, of the Transvaal police, tried to blow up the Pretoria magazine.   They were caught and deported to Ceylon. Hearing of these happenings was all Maurice Bennell of Bloemfontein needed to search for more about this side of his family.  The wheelbarrows especially piqued his interest. He was not able to find out what his great grandfather, a staunch Irish Catholic, and his friends, J Ferguson, J Clench, C V Fraser and B Morse, had in mind.  What he did discover was that  Beaufort West Municipality agreed to loan them five barrows in “good repair” so long as they “bound themselves to return them in the same order and if they ‘injured’ the barrows to repair them at their own expense.”  Shortly after Joseph Gillingham arrived in Beaufort West he set up business as a house painter, baker and butcher.  He was a kind hearted man who died penniless through allowing too much credit.  After the Anglo-Boer War,  Solomon returned from Ceylon with a bride, Olive Stainton.


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