Lawyers in Turmoil

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Sir Henry de Villiers, the Cape’s chief justice, branded the Jameson Raid an act of ‘transcendent wickedness’. Any hope of unity between the English and the Dutch populations was shattered, and the Boer War became inevitable.

Ten lawyers were among the sixty-three men arrested for treason. The defence team was led by the pugnacious John Wessels. He and one of his juniors, Jacob de Villiers, were to be chief justices of South Africa more than thirty years later. Another future chief justice, the incomparable James Rose Innes, held a watching brief.

Owen Rogers traces the careers of these and several other prominent lawyers and judges, the parts they played during the crisis, and their roles in later life.

Politics, history and human nature, rather than the law, are this work’s central themes.

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