Category Archives: Boer War

Last Remnants of British Colonial Rule

Last Remnants of British Colonial Rule

Remnants of British Colonial Rule

The British increased power through growing an Empire of fifty colonies, 500,000,000 people and a quarter of the globe. This meant they were controlling a huge amount of the world’s resources, as well as playing a major roll in world trade and foreign affairs.

    • Between 1926 and 1956, at the start of the Suez Crisis, British power declined massively.
    • British colonies started to gain independence and the British Empire turned into the British Commonwealth of Independent States.

So what began the decline of Empire?

    • 35% of the British Empire was controlled directly from London, as the Empire grew, so did the costs. By 1880, these costs, coupled with rebellion in the Colonies and pressure to protect them from the French, Germans and the Dutch with a large army and navy, became increasingly onerous.
    • The Boer War and the weaknesses it illuminated in the British seemed to be the turning point for the British Empire.
    • By 1907, Australia, Canada and New Zealand had made moves towards independence.
    • WWI served to weaken it even further. The British Government called on it’s Colonies to provide troops to fight the Germans. Heavy losses of their men particularly at Gallipoli, made the Australians and the New Zealanders question British war policies.
    • The result was a place for them at the War cabinet table on an equal footing as Britain.

British Colonial Rule

The tide had turned.

    • The Balfour Report of 1926 was a pivotal point in Independence and in 1931, the Statute of Westminster meant the Commonwealth was formerly established.
    • World depression during the 1930’s saw a further weakening of British rule.
    • By the end of WWII, anti colonial feelings ran high and the US in particular, felt very strongly that the British Empire and other colonial empires had to be abolished as quickly as possible. They saw the disgruntled colonies as ‘hot beds’ for possible communist uprisings.
    • Britain was in debt to the US and severely, economically weak, in the years following the war and so the final years of Empire creaked to it’s end.
    • The Suez Crisis of 1956 was the final nail driven home by the US.
    • Countries opted in or out of the Commonwealth, it eased the transition for both Britain and the former colonies as they struggled to find a place in the new world order.

In most places the Empire seemed to end quietly but with the release by the National Archives of the first of the ‘Migrated Archives’, the records of the former colonial administrations that were brought back to the UK rather than being left in the former colony for examination, the true picture of those dying moments will be revealed.

See the recent release at TNA for records from Aden, Anguilla, Bahamas, Basutoland, British Indian Ocean Territories, Brunei, Cyprus, Kenya, Malaya, Sarawak and the Seychelles

Visit Intriguing Family History to find more resources to explore the British Empire


Army Cyclist Corps Cap Badge

The Army Cycle Corps Cap Badge illustrates the great versatility of the bicycle in the C19th and C20th. Not only did the bicycle find it’s way onto the battlefields but it had a powerful impact on women’s rights as well. Quite an achievement for the humble bicycle

The Work of Emily Hobhouse

Emily Hobhouse, welfare campaigner was loved by the South Africans for the compassion and aid given to their women and children in British prisoner of war camps during the Boer War and vilified by her own people because of that work

Lady Florence Dixie journalist and feminist 1856

Lady Florence Dixie journalist and feminist 1856

Lady Florence Dixie was an insightful and inspiring writer, journalist and liberal thinker. She championed equality for women and was outspoken in her support for Irish Home Rule.

Wiltshire Regiment Cap Badge 1954

The Wiltshire Regiment cap badge is part of the intriguing collection of military cap badges and related history. If anyone in your family tree was serving in any of the major wars in the last 250 years then you will this of interest.

Artists Rifles Cap Badge

Artists Rifles Cap Badge

This cap badge signifies the brilliant bravery shown by the Artists Rifles when they served in WW1, suffering disproportionatly high losses.

Boer Wars

The Boer War was the first military clash of the C20th, it changed the face of warfare and brings great context for those studying their family history at such an important time in military history.