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O'Neil's Cottage
Newcastle district, KwaZulu-Natal

Date:1870
Type:Homestead
Status:Extant

Situated at the foot of the Amajuba Mountain on the farm Stonewall, R C ('Ou Gert') O'Neil's simple cottage was the scene of the signing of the Peace Treaty following the ignoble defeat of the British at the battle of Amajuba, which ended the first Anglo-Boer War.

On 6 March 1881, Sir Evelyn Wood and General Piet Joubert concluded an armistice. Some days later Paul Kruger and others from the Transvaal, together with President J H Brand of the Orange Free State, gathered at the Boer camp at Laing's Nek, in order that discussions might take place at O'Neil's cottage at the behest of Sir Evelyn Wood. These discussions were informal, sometimes taking place in the front room and sometimes on the stoep; at all times President Brandt was present as arbitrator.

Built in 1870 by PA Hayward de Barry, the dwelling was designed in the form of a cross and constructed of stone. Later the property was bought by an O'Neil from Graaff-Reinet, who, in 1878 transferred it to his brother. On a panel at the base of the Kruger statue in Church Square, Pretoria, the sculptor Anton van Wouw depicted the front room of this cottage with the group of leaders around the table signing the treaty that was to regain independence for the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek - albeit under the thumb of the British.

(Picton-Seymour, 1989: 145)

For more information see Graham Leslie McCallum.


Writings about this entry

Oberholster, JJ. 1972. The historical monuments of South Africa. Cape Town: Rembrandt Van Rijn Foundation for Culture at the request of the National Monuments Council. pg 283
Picton-Seymour, Désirée. 1989. Historical Buildings in South Africa. Cape Town: Struikhof Publishers. pg 145
Richardson, Deidré. 2001. Historic Sites of South Africa. Cape Town: Struik Publishers. pg 234-235