In Search Of A Swedish Rebel

At the end of the last century a Swede from Gothenburg decided to make the Karoo his home. According to reports, Frederick Toy lived in Beaufort West and Willowmore from about 1870 until the Anglo-Boer War broke out.  He could not help but take up the cause of the Boer people whom he had grown to love.

In the spring of 1901, he is said to have joined the commando of Commandant Gideon Scheepers.   With them Toy galloped across the Karoo plains and through small villages until he was captured on the farm Onbedacht on July 12, 1901. Toy was charged with treason and attempted murder at Graaff Reinet on August 5, 1901.  It was claimed he shot at a British officer after he had surrendered.  Toy denied the charges, but was found guilty and sentenced to be hanged.  This was changed and he was executed by a firing squad on September 4.

This story, which appeared in Rose’s Round-up, caught the attention of  Bertil Haggman, of Helsingborg,  Sweden, is trying to trace  Toy’s time in the Karoo.  “this is a particularly interesting story because Toy is not a Swedish name,” he said.  “It is Anglo-Saxon in origin.”

“Toy is reported to have spoken English quite well at his trial, so Bertil surmises his parents were part of the huge English and Scottish populations of Gothenburg at the time.  This city had extensive links across the North Sea with Britain at the time. The death report gives his name incorrectly as Frederick Toe.  It states that both his age and religion are unknown and gives the cause of death as cardiac failure.  I find this extremely odd because  we know he was executed.  I would love to know more of  about him and his time in South Africa,” says Bertil.

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