1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Philip, John
PHILIP, JOHN (1775–1851), British missionary in South Africa, was born on the 14th of April 1775, at Kirkcaldy, Fife, the son of a schoolmaster in that town. After having been apprenticed to a linen draper, and for three years a clerk in a Dundee business house, he entered the Hoxton (Congregational) Theological College, and in 1804 was appointed to a Congregational chapel in Aberdeen. In 1818 he joined the Rev. John Campbell in his second journey to South Africa to inspect the stations of the London Missionary Society, and reported that the conduct of the Cape Colonists towards the natives was deserving of strong reprobation. In 1822 the London Missionary Society appointed him superintendent of their South African stations. He made his headquarters at Cape Town, where he also established and undertook the pastorate of the Union Chapel. His indignation was aroused by the barbarities inflicted upon the Hottentots and Kaffirs (by a minority of the colonists), and he set himself to remedy their grievances; but his zeal was greater than his knowledge He misjudged the character both of the colonists and of the natives, his cardinal mistake being in regarding the African as little removed from the European in intellect and capacity. It was the period of the agitation for the abolition of slavery in England, where Philip’s charges against the colonists and the colonial government found powerful support. His influence was seen in the ordinance of 1828 granting all free coloured persons at the Cape every right to which any other British subjects were entitled. During 1826–1828 he was in England, and in the last-named year he published Researches in South Africa, containing his views on the native question. His recommendations were adopted by the House of Commons, but his unpopularity in South Africa was great, and in 1830 he was convicted of libelling a Cape official. The British government, however, caused the Cape government to conform to the views of Philip, who for over twenty years exercised a powerful, and in many respects unfavourable, influence over the destinies of the country. One of Philip’s ideals was the curbing of colonial “aggression” by the creation of a belt of native states around Cape Colony. In Sir Benjamin D’Urban Philip found a governor anxious to promote the interests of the natives. When however at the close of the Kaffir War of 1834–35 D’Urban annexed the country up to the Kei River, Philip’s hostility was aroused. He came to England in 1836, in company with a Kaffir convert and a Hottentot convert, and aroused public opinion against the Cape government. His views triumphed, D’Urban was dismissed, and Philip returned to the Cape as unofficial adviser to the government on all matters affecting the natives. For a time his plan of buffer states was carried out, but in 1846 another Kaffir rising convinced him of the futility of his schemes. The Kaffir chief who had accompanied him to England joined the enemy, and many of his converts showed that his efforts on their behalf had effected no change in their character. This was a blow from which he did not recover. The annexation of the Orange River Sovereignty in 1848 followed, finally destroying his hope of maintaining independent native states. In 1849 he severed his connexion with politics and retired to the mission station at Hankey, Cape Colony, where he died on the 27th of August 1851.
See South Africa: History; G. M‘C. Theal’s History of South Africa since 1795 (London, ed 1908); Missionary Magazine (1836–1851); R. Wardlaw’s Funeral Sermon, 1852.