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Jacobus Nicolaas Boshoff

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Title: Jacobus Nicolaas Boshoff  
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Subject: Josias Philip Hoffman, Jacobus Johannes Venter, State President of the Orange Free State, Marthinus Wessel Pretorius, 1740s in South Africa
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Jacobus Nicolaas Boshoff

Jacobus Nicolaas Boshoff
2nd State President of the Orange Free State
In office
27 August 1855 – 6 September 1859
Preceded by Josias Philip Hoffman
Succeeded by Esaias Reynier Snijman
Personal details
Born (1808-01-31)31 January 1808
Kogmanskloof, Montagu
Cape Colony
Died 21 April 1881(1881-04-21) (aged 73)
Weston, Pietermaritzburg,
Colony of Natal
Religion Dutch Reformed

Jacobus Nicolaas Boshoff (31 January 1808 – 21 April 1881) was a South African (Boer) politician and statesman, member of the Voortrekker movement, and the second state president of the Orange Free State, in office from 1855 to 1859.


  • Biography 1
    • Family 1.1
    • Early career 1.2
    • State president 1.3
    • Later life and death 1.4
  • References 2
    • Notes 2.1
    • Literature 2.2



Boshoff was a member of a Huguenot family from the Cape Colony, originally bearing the surname Boseau. He completed his education in Swellendam and Graaff-Reinet. Boshoff married twice, first to Adriana Petronella Gertruida Van Aswegen (Graaff-Reinet 3 November 1827) and after her death in 1878 to Louisa Perry van der Berg (26 May 1880).

Early career

Boshoff was one of the original Voortrekkers in Natal, that established the Natalia Republic. Here he showed himself an able politician in the light of the British plans to annex Natal. He drafted and co-signed the protest manifesto the Boers signed at Pietermaritzburg on 21 February 1842 and in a way it made his reputation with the British.[1]

State president

In 1855 Boshoff, then living in Graaff-Reinet, stood for election as state president of the Orange Free State, against the chairman of the Presidential Executive Commission J.J. Venter and A. Du Toit from Beaufort. He won the election with a convincing majority.

Within his first year in office, Boshoff introduced state symbols, namely a Great Seal, a flag, and a coat of arms.

During his term of office Boshoff laid the foundation stone of George Grey, governor of the Cape Colony and high commissioner for South Africa.

Politics in the Orange Free State were still rather volatile and personal in the 1850s and there were conflicts regularly between the Volksraad and the state president. In the process heavy political decisions were often made light-heartedly, and as easily reversed. On 25 February 1858 Boshoff handed in his resignation effective 15 March 1858 over a dispute about the order of the meetings of the Volksraad. The Volksraad accepted the resignation, but also showed its displeasure about it. Eventually Boshoff withdrew his resignation after some discussions, but this in turn effected the resignation of several Volksraad members, among whom the chairman. In town sentiments ran high as well, mainly in support of Boshoff, with people shooting in the air, and throwing "turpentine balls".[2]

Early in 1858 tensions rose on the border with Governor Sir Grey to intermediate between the Orange Free State and the Basotho. This expired in August and September 1858, resulting in the Treaty of Aliwal North on 29 September 1858. In it, the Basotho and Orange Free State jurisdictions were for the first time clearly demarcated, as were several legal provisions.[3] In the meantime, a movement had developed that aspired to a union or amalgamation of the Orange Free State with the South African Republic. In November 1858 Boshoff in turn made clear that he wanted to go on leave to Natal for several months. Eventually he would leave Bloemfontein in February 1859, tired of the burden of his high office. The peace treaty with the Basothos did not put an end to the frontier skirmishes. Closer co-operation with the Cape Colony had been ruled out by the British government. And last but not least, the supporters of a union with the South African Republic now forcefully pushed for a personal union with Marthinus Wessel Pretorius as president of both Boer republics. Boshoff did not return from his leave, but handed in his final resignation from Natal in June 1859.

In 1860 Pretorius was elected as his successor and the two Boer republics were then briefly united under one head of state with a dual mandate. The experiment failed quickly however, with Pretorius first resigning the Transvaal presidency and not finishing his term in the Orange Free State. For the new elections in 1863, Boshoff was named as one of four candidates, but eventually J.H. Brand was put forward by the Volksraad as the sole candidate.[4]

Later life and death

Boshoff continued his political career in Natal as member of the Legislative Assembly of the Klip River District (1866).[5] He died in Weston, Pietermaritzburg on 21 April 1881 and was buried in the Voortrekker cemetery in Pietermaritzburg. Upon the news of his death reaching Bloemfontein, the Volksraad passed a resolution honouring Boshoff for his services to the Orange Free State.[6]



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