The History of Sir James Percy Fitzpatrick

The History of Sir James Percy Fitzpatrick

The early life of Percy Fitzpatrick

Percy Fitzpatrick, known to some as Fitz and known to others for his famously known classic children’s book named Jock of the Bushveld. Fitz were born in 1862 in King Williams Town in the Cape Province. During those days, this area was known as British Kaffiaria. Percy’s father was Irish and was a Judge of the Supreme Court. He and his family moved to Grahamstown for a short while after moving to Cape Town when his father was appointed to be the bench in the Supreme Court.

Fitzpatrick was christened James Peter and his parents called him Jim. Fitz did not like any of these names and started to call himself Percy. Percy loved being outside in the midst of Nature, playing and enjoying every moment of his childhood where he grew up in Cape Town.

Besides his love for nature, he inherited a great love for music from his musically talented father. Percy played the guitar as well as the concertina very well.
At seventeen years old, Percy grew into a young adult with a well-built body and a fair complexion. He was intelligent but lazy at his schoolwork and failed to qualify for the entrance exam of the Cape Town University.

Percy Fitzpatrick

During this time, Percy had lost his father due to blood poisoning leaving them poor. The children had to go find employment to help support the family. He first worked at Standard Bank in Adderley Street, Cape Town but soon found that this was not his cup of tea and he longed to be outside. Besides his longing, he had to work several years at the bank and finally at the young age of 21, he decided it was time to seek other opportunities, riches, and adventures in the gold-digging towns of Barberton and Pilgrims Rest.

Fitz starts his own transportation business

Percy started a new adventure with a newly found friend named Hugh Hall. These two formidable men then set up a transport business whereby they delivered goods and supplies from Delagoa Bay and the Lowveld to the mining settlers, eventually starting his very own transport business that ended with him losing all his cattle due to disease. He then opted for the opportunity at a local business house in Barberton, for Barberton’s local Newspaper the Barberton Herald; this is where Percy started writing his first columns.

He soon met a lovely lady named Lillian Cubbit who he later married and settled down in Barberton. After several years, Percy and his wife moved to Johannesburg to develop business for their new office, this is where he attracted the attention of the Star newspaper who recognized his literacy talent. Besides his literary talent, he also possessed great storytelling skills.

Fitzpatrick returns to Barberton

After the mining slump in the 1890’s, it forced Fitz back to Barberton to make a new start. He was even more determined to succeed and started three trading stores that had a license to sell liquor to people. He sold his goods along the railway that stretched from Pretoria to Lourenco Marques in Delagoa Bay. His finances soon started to run dry as the industry he was in, had many competitors and yet again he was not successful, and with their second-born, the future of their finances looked even bleaker.

Percy Fitzpatrick first best-seller book

After his seventh failed attempt on the success, he managed to get a position as transport manager of an expedition heading to Mashonaland that was being planned by Alfred Beit and was being sponsored by the London newspaper. During this expedition, Percy was able to observe things closely and recorded them on paper of which he then published a book later. This book became a best-seller and was believed to be the first book ever published in the city of Johannesburg.

Alfred Beit and Percy became such good friends, so much so that Beit offered Percy a job as a director in a firm later known as Corner House, which floated Rand Mines. Percy spent fifteen years in the mining industry appointed to the Board of Directors and serving as President of the Chamber of Mines in 1902.

Percy Fitzpatrick and politics

It was in 1907 when Percy entered politics. He was an unofficial member of the Transvaal Legislative Council and served on the Inter-Colonial Council, which was responsible for the SA Railways. He was knighted for these services in 1902. He later became President of the Chamber of Mines.

From 1907 to 1908 he was a delegate to the National Convention of the Union of South Africa. Even though politics bored him, he spent another twelve years in politics. Fitzpatrick played a great part in the creation of the Union of South Africa as a delegate from the Transvaal to the National Convention. He acted as a liaison between Generals Botha and Smuts and the Transvaal; and he and General Hertzog, in private, worked out the agreement for full language equality.

During his parliamentary career, he successfully fought two memorable elections in defense of his Pretoria seat – first in 1906 against Sir Richard Solomon, and again in 1910 against General Botha, the Prime Minister of the first Union Parliament. He created K.C.M.G. in 1910. During the 1914-1918 War, Fitzpatrick was sent by General Smuts on a countrywide tour, lecturing on the reasons and causes of the war. When it ended, he conceived the idea of the “two minutes silence on Armistice Day”, and the suggestion was adopted and acknowledged by King George V. The idea of the National South African War Memorial at Delville Wood was his and he was Chairman of that committee.

Fitzpatrick had a most engaging personality and a sunny and optimistic nature, but his later life was clouded by a series of personal tragedies. His wife died in 1923. His eldest son, Nugent, had been killed in France in 1917 and his other two sons died within a week of each other (Christmas 1927): Alan from an accident in Johannesburg and Oliver from typhoid fever in Mexico. This left him with only his daughter who got married to Jack Niven in 1923.

These blows, though born with great courage, shortened his life and he died at Amanzi in January 1931 at the age of sixty-nine. He is buried in The Outlook overlooking the Sundays River Valley. His burial place has been declared a National Monument.

Percy Fitzpatrick – The maverick

He was involved in various projects; from establishing modern educational facilities in Johannesburg from which the University of Witwatersrand developed. He also helped in the financing of the Roedean School. He was also involved in the foundation of Queen Victoria Maternity home. Besides this, he collected animals that are now known as Johannesburg Zoo.

Percy Fitzpatrick and the morning newspaper – The Transvaal Leader
Fitzpatrick founded the Johannesburg morning newspaper known as the Transvaal Leader that was later known as the Rand Daily Mail. He also served on the board of the independent newspaper in Pretoria and managed to write two books that include the classic children’s book named Jock of the bushveld. Rudyard Kipling, a family friend of Percy inspired Percy to put the tale of Jock on paper after he had heard Percy telling the stories to the children. His book was soon read by no other than President Theodore Roosevelt who loved the story so much. Percy also wrote a book called South African Memories.

Percy Fitzpatrick
Percy Fitzpatrick

Percy Fitzpatrick’s book – Jock of the Bushveld

During Fitzpatrick’s time as a pioneer in the Lowveld, he recorded his adventures with pen and paper and vividly described the tale about Jock in a classic children’s book called Jock of the Bushveld.

The tale took place in the 1900’s and the start of the book was Fitzpatrick’s dog named Jock who was a Staffordshire Bullterrier crossbreed. Percy first told the tale to his four children, Nugent, Alan, Oliver and Cecily. This book was also dedicated to his four children. A family-friend named Rudyard Kipling used to listen to Percy’s evening story-telling and later told Fitz to put the stories together in book form. After having done this, Percy Fitzpatrick searched for an artist to illustrate the children’s book. Percy finally found Edmund Caldwell in London and decided to bring him to South Africa to experience the bushveld and to do the illustrations in the natural surroundings. The book Jock of the Bushveld finally made its first appearance in 1907 and was an immediate success and was reprinted four times in that year.

Fitzpatrick’s first wagon journey to Lourenço Marques (now Maputo) started on 8 May 1885. He was the least experienced of a party of transport riders, arranged by Hugh Lanion Hall, to transport supplies purchased at the Port. One of the group members was Ted Sievewright, the owner of Jess, Jock’s mother.

Samarhole Spruit or better known to us today as “Ship Mountain” was a Camp where many of the major events in the story of Jock of the Bushveld involved. It was in this area where the group Fitzpatrick was traveling with, nearly lost their wagons and equipment due to a self-inflicted veld fire.
It was also here at Samarhole campsite near the edge of the spruit under a tree where Jess (mother of dog Jock) gave birth to a beautiful litter of pups.

YES! We offer affordable Kruger National Park safaris

Our rates include the following:

  • Transfers from a pre-arranged pick-up location to Kruger National Park and back (this can be at your accommodation where you are staying, depending on the location). This includes Nelspruit | Kruger National Park | KMI Airport | Skukuza Airport | White River | Hazyview | Malelane | Komatipoort and Marloth Park

  • Full Day safari with a luxury open safari vehicle

  • An accredited & professional Field Guide doubling as the driver of the vehicle on the day of safari

  • +- 8 Hours of sheer “entertainment” in the world-famous Kruger National Park (excludes travel time outside the park)

  • A snack box per person consisting of various treats to munch on during the day of the safari

  • Assistance with Kruger National Park entrance/conservation fee payments, paperwork and permits

  • The use of high-quality, waterproof ponchos on-board the vehicle when needed

Please note:

Our area of operation covers Nelspruit and surrounding areas, White River | Malelane | Hazyview | Komatipoort | Marloth Park | Kruger National Park | KMI Airport | Skukuza Airport.

Please contact us if your accommodation falls outside of our area of operation.

We also conduct safari tours in the North of Kruger upon request and need. You also have the option to hire the safari vehicle privately, email us to find out more. Additionally, you have the option to add your Kruger entrance/conservation fees when you make your booking so you don’t have to go to the office on the morning of the safari to make payment for entrance fees.


Fantastic experience

We really enjoyed our safari with Liz and the web photographer. They pointed out many sightings which we would never have seen on our own. We saw 3 leopards, many elephants, rhinos, cape buffaloes, giraffes, zebras, hippos and different types of antelopes and birds.
They provided binoculars which helped a lot, especially when observing the leopards in the reed!
The service is top: on time, friendly, very informative and you get a feeling how much they enjoy “going the extra mile” for the customer. They tried to keep ahead of the crowd and do not enter thru Numbi gate which is usually very crowded. Its great the park fee is included in the price because then you do not need to queue at the entrance like in the case of some of the other operators. We will definitely recommend you!

dorischristina2015, TripAdvisor
Emocional experience

When we thought about that trip, my wife, my stepson, our friend and I ,had never imagined how amazing could be , and how deep can touch us. From the first moment when we founded Lizelle, our guide at the Malelane door, the magic begins to happen.She was so unreal in some way, that my wife said ( in Portuguese,) she seems to be a caracter from a movie!, We had very good luck , and in just 2 full days, 20 hours total, we could see the real big five, including black rhino and leopard, and many many other species, of course. Lizelle was so nice, so professional and so dedicated that we are recommended to our friends around the World to do the same program.. .. we will repeat it for sure. There is not words, not video or pictures, that can transmit this experience, .. believe me, after you live it you will understand it .

FellowTraveler507918, TripAdvisor
Great services! Amazing commments

The guide was very friendly and helpful!
She really knew the way around the park and we were able to see a big variety of animals

344hama, TripAdvisor
Super accommodating and informative.
Liz was super patient in making sure we get the morning bush walk and night drive within limited dates. They know lots about every animal we saw. I love that they provide parkas for their guests because it gets super chilly as the truck moves. Their truck is clean and not loud like other trucks which tend to scare the animals away.
Zzame Em, Google Review
Leading Safari Company

Lion Roar Safaris offers safaris in Kruger Park. In an excellent car and with professional equipment we discovered in a small groupe the big 5. The guide was an expert and is very customer oriented.

DutchAdventurer, TripAdvisor
Spectacular day in the Mighty Kruger!

Even if the weather was cold during the day, the spectacular sightings we had made up for it all. Luckily this company is not one of those that rush from one big sighting to another but rather take it at a slower pace and therefore not miss even the small things like some bird species and trees and plants, lizards and much more.
Oh and I am so glad their Photographer was also on board with her very sharp eye sight. She spotted plenty of animals where the rest of us missed them…especially that Cheetah! And she took the most beautiful pictures (and some short videos clips) of all our sightings that day. We were surely one lucky group of people seeing all those magnificent wildlife, especially the Elephant Calves, Wild Dogs as well as Hyena Pups!
Oh and let’s not forget the snack bags that was packed for us!!
The Guide was very informative and interactive with our group. Evidently her kindness and helpfulness is not only restricted to the time a guest is on her vehicle still busy on the Tour but even helping when one of our group members was staying over at a place in the Kruger Park, she assisted him from booking in at the camp to taking him to where he would be staying, to briefly showing him around on what is where and available to him in the camp. And this all took merely a few minutes.
I would definitely be recommending Lion Roar Safaris.

Grifinne, TripAdvisor

Best experience ever!

Lizelle was very informative and made sure we had the best views of all the animals!

Johan , Google Review
Amazing experience

Staff is professional and on time.
We saw a lot of animals like lions cheetah hyenas rhinos elephants hyppos and many others.
Really an amazing day!! Thank you!

valeva2019, TripAdvisor

Some of the services Lion Roar Safaris Offer…

Upmarket Luxury Safaris  I  Tailored Safaris  I  Professional Personal Holiday Photographer   I  Hire a Professional Field Guide  I  Hire a Private Safari Vehicle   I   Accommodation in and around Kruger   I  Photographic Safaris   I   Safari catering – picnic lunches, dinners and BBQ’s and more…

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