Mount Moreland initially established in
1850 by John Moreland, he was The Byrne settler agency land surveyor.
Although some of
the Byrne settlers, including Macleroy,
wished to have town lots in Verulam he refused, remembering that the founders of the Christian Emigration
& Colonization Society had insisted on the Wesleyans being settled on a compact block of 12,000 acres
and retaining their identity as a co-operative emigration.
The Byrne emigrants were therefore
planted north of the Umhloti and Moreland’s arrangements apart from the survey were intended to please the
emigrants and avoid
recrimination. A second village was established a few miles from Verulam. The site was chosen by a party
of old colonists, eight in number, among them being Henry Milner and G.C.Cato, and the name ‘Mount
Moreland’ chosen by them as well. It was situated on a small hill with
a lake below and enjoyed the sea breezes blowing up the valley of the Umhloti; but it had a brief life as a township. A few
houses were built, a small church, and a hotel. The hotel was a temporary structure of wood and reeds
erected by Philip Dykes who arrived by the Sovereign. It was later burned down accidentally soon after
being built. Two months later a grass fire destroyed another settler’s rough hut, consuming the little
property he had.
The hamlet of Mount Moreland
never prospered, partly because the main road to Zululand by-passed it but probably because the people settled
there were unfit for agricultural pursuits. Today the land on which it is sited belongs to the Tongaat Sugar
Company, and everywhere are the fields of sugarcane. The lake has long been drained but the Umhloti River still
winds its way through rolling country to the Indian Ocean. Mount Moreland, the low hill which gives a placement
to the district, is also covered with cane but there are patches of bush on the sides where the land is too
rough for cultivation. On a visit there in September 1967, I was told by Mr J. Naude, an employee of the Sugar
Company, that the top of the hill is still called the ‘village field’. The foundations of buildings erected by
Byrne settlers remain to mark the township and have yet, after more than a century, been ploughed
Extracts from: Natal Settler Agent – The Career of John Moreland – By
John Clark pg 66/67
Mount Moreland 1850 Map
Mount Moreland 1935 Map - Image courtesy John Forbes
Mount Moreland 1969 - image by Dr John Clark
A Curiosity of
Natal Settler Literature
'... comfort and Natal have yet to form acquaintance .. .'
………As for the white men at D'Urban in 1850, Viator regards them with
displeasure. To him they seem a degenerate society.
Viator and his friends
obtain horses and ride to the newly-established Wesleyan settlement of Verulam about 30km
north of Durban. There
they observe fields of tall mealies and crops of indigo, fig, senna, castor, tamarind,S
capsicum. The poet is moved to
prophesy, though not quite successfully:
Natal's grand source
of future wealth and power, One plain perceives will be that yellow cotton flower ...
Leaving Verulam, the
party of horsemen arrive at Mount Moreland, the Byrne settlement a mile or two east of
where they climb the
hill, then covered by bush, to view the prospect. The undulating land around, not yet cleared,
little value, says
Viator, mainly because there is no bridge across the Umgeni. Consequently when the river comes down
in flood the traveller
runs the risk of being swept to his death if he tries to cross. The alternative is to endure up to
until the waters subside. Another hazard in wading across the Umgeni is the watchful
bridgeless river is
therefore the reason for the lack of buyers of land situated beyond the Umgeni.
Digressing a little at
this point, the poet blames promoters like James Erasmus Methley, J. C. Christopher, and Joseph
Byrne" for publishing over-enthusiastic accounts of the land of Natal. One might
think from their books that Natal flowed with
milk and honey instead of being a place of storms, floods, and hurricanes of driving sand, a region where
vermin of all shapes and sizes flourish:
Founder Tongaat Sugar
James Liege Hulett, Starting an entirely new industry and a very profitable one in Natal
for many years....
He had no capital but nevertheless took
up a lease on 160 acres of land (which was one of the Mount Moreland lots south of the proposed La Mercy
He experimented with a number of crops,
and in 1864 moved to Kearsney near Stanger, where he had leased a block of some 600 acres of land, planting
crops such as maize, sweet potatoes, chillies, arrow-root and later coffee. The latter proved to be the best of
the crops but its success was somewhat short-lived when the crop was devastated by borer and rust disease.
Quarter-deck of emigrant-ship - the role call.
Illustrated London News, July, 1850
Mount Moreland History 1970's
Mount Moreland 2010