The Writings, Photographs and Sketches of HC Harford

The Writings, Photographs and Sketches of HC Harford


  • Author: Dr David Payne and Emma Payne
  • Publish Date: 19/06/2008
  • Price: 25.00 plus p & p

Review By : (unknown)

The Writings, Photographs & Sketches of Henry Charles Harford CB

With particular reference to the Anglo Zulu War and his service in India By Dr David Payne and his daughter Dr Emma Payne.  Edited by Dr Adrian Greaves Special Edition limited to 1,250 copies with only 400 remaining.

 “Henry Charles Harford was a professional entomologist and a vibrant personality of the Anglo Zulu War. I felt a special empathy towards him – in a way he was my friend.” David Rattray FRGS

Colonel Henry Charles Harford. The beetle collector Hero of the Zulu War, Soldier and Entomologist.

 Much is known about Henry Charles Harford, firstly due to his exploits during the Anglo Zulu War but also because he came from an eminent family linked through marriage to the Scott family of Outlands in Devon. Captain Robert Falcon Scott - Scott of the Antarctic - was Harford’s cousin. Charlie Harford, as he was popularly known, played a significant role in the Anglo Zulu War of 1879 and his eye-witness accounts, writings and sketches on the subject have only recently been discovered. Harford was well known to his colleagues for his intense interest in nature, especially of beetles, butterflies and moths, an interest which matched his enthusiasm for military life. Harford participated in a number of important actions during the Zulu War and was at Rorke’s Drift where he witnessed and recorded the fortification of the Mission Station prior to the invasion of Zululand. As an experienced Lieutenant attached to the Colonial Natal Native Contingent from the 99th (Wiltshire) Regiment, he led the first attack against the Zulus under the watchful eye of the British Commander, Lord Chelmsford during which he caused some confusion in the heat of battle by famously pausing to collect a rare beetle. For his calm bravery Harford earned the respect and admiration of his fellow officers while modestly shunning suggestions he would be suitably decorated. Within days he wrote a remarkable and detailed account of the engagement which, beyond his immediate family, remained unread. Harford then accompanied Lord Chelmsford on his ill-fated reconnaissance from Isandlwana which left the British unprepared and unaware of the approaching Zulu Army, and he scrupulously recorded the chaos and confusion in the hours leading to the Zulu destruction of Chelmsford’s main camp. He witnessed the aftermath of both the destruction of Isandlwana and the Zulu attack at Rorke’s Drift where, just days later, he supervised the disbandment of the Natal Native Contingent. At the same time Harford’s senior officer, Commandant Lonsdale, gave him custody of two officer deserters, Lieutenants Higginson and Stephenson; both officers had abandoned their men in action against the Zulus and the situation caused Harford some perplexing moments. Following the eventual Zulu defeat on the 4th July 1879 Harford was part of the force that searched for King Cetshwayo and following his capture the King was given into the custody of Harford until his exile to Cape Town. Harford meticulously recorded and sketched his experiences and these feature for the first time in this remarkable new work. Harford was extremely lucky to have survived to old age, he eventually died at the age of 86.

 He was born in India where he immediately developed fever and was given into the care of an Indian family as he was not expected to survive. He was subsequently returned to his parents fit and well but prior to his second birthday he managed to fall out of an upper window and was impaled on spiked railings. Again, he was expected to die of his injuries but he survived and recovered. His account contains many unusual hair-raising experiences. His childhood was spent largely exploring, hunting and shooting, both in England and then in Natal, South Africa and his diaries are illuminating, amusing and exciting. His accounts of fishing and hunting trips, often in unmapped areas of Natal, make wonderful reading, as do the escapades and pranks which were a feature of his life. Harford possessed a wonderful sense of humour which shines through his accounts. Throughout his writings, he expresses his love of nature and wildlife yet at the same time he begins to note the way of life of the native population he mixed with. His childhood friends in South Africa included such young notables as Cecil Rhodes, Spencer Drake (descendent of Sir Francis Drake), Robert and Frank Colenso, and the feral youth John Dunn (later to become adviser to King Cetshwayo). He also formed many friendships with British army officers, friendships which drew him to an army career at an early age. As a youth he learned to speak fluent Zulu and when in his twenties, as the Adjutant of the 99th Regiment then serving in England, he was well aware of the looming war in Zululand. He offered his services to the War Office, services which were promptly accepted and he soon found himself back in Natal in time for the Anglo-Zulu War. After service in Zululand, Harford remained in the British army and served variously in the UK, Bahamas and India. He retained his interest in collecting rare specimens and he meticulously recorded these and sent the best exhibits to the Museum of Natural History in Durban. A number of rare items were also presented to the British Museum in London (then latterly to the Natural History Museum). Like many dedicated military officers, he married late in life but tragically lost his new young wife to fever in India. He was left with an infant daughter, Sweetie, and never re-married.

Early in 2005 the authors became acquainted with the sole grand-daughter of Charlie Harford who kindly offered them the use of her Grandfather’s vast collection. Accordingly, this book is the result of two years of collating, deciphering, transcribing and careful compilation of Harford’s journals, diaries, numerous manuscripts, sketches and photographs. many were taken prior to and during the Zulu War while others focus on his life in India. They have never previously been seen outside the Harford family. These documents filled three suitcases and their content give a remarkable insight into the life and times of a successful and dedicated Victorian army officer who specialised in the study of the natural world; he was also a devoted family man. This work naturally focuses on Harford’s life and times in Zululand and then in India - and he has much to say that will be new to followers of the Anglo Zulu War. He witnessed and recorded the preparations for the defence of Rorke’s Drift nearly two weeks before the mission station was attacked by the Zulus, he commanded and wrote extensively about the first British attack of the Zulu War at Sihayo’s homestead, and witnessed the events at Isandlwana and their aftermath. He was also given custody of two officers who had deserted their men in action, a situation which perplexed him. The book then continues with his accounts during his remaining military service and focuses on his life and experiences in India before dealing with his retirement.

This special edition is limited to 1,250 copies with only 400 remaining.  Each book will be numbered and, if required, will be signed by Charlie Harford’s grand-daughter and the books two authors.

Purchasers can make their signing request on the accompanying Order Form. The authors are Dr David Payne, a life-long Zulu War enthusiast and his daughter Dr Emma Payne. David collated and transcribed the written material and Emma took responsibility for researching the origins and locations of Harford’s sketches and photographs, both in the UK and in South Africa.

The authors have faithfully transcribed Harford’s notes, diaries and journals using his own spelling and syntax. Where this needs clarification, the modern usage has been included (in italics). This project is a faithful reproduction of Harford’s hand-written records. The book measures 12” by 10” and is beautifully bound. It includes 314 pages with 150 illustrations and photographs. This special edition is strictly limited to 1,250 copies; priority is being given to the recipients of the attached Order Form. This book is an important work as Harford witnessed many important events and meticulously recorded what he saw. His accounts are precise and factual when dealing with military action, especially during the Anglo Zulu War, yet highly amusing when he relates the many amusing events seen during his life. The book begins with his two ‘near death experiences’ and finishes with his amusing Last Will and Testament.

“The most remarkable Zulu War work I have ever had the pleasure to review. There is so much here that is new and unseen, Harford’s accounts will radically challenge some fundamental beliefs, including some concerning events at Rorke’s Drift and Isandlwana.”            Dr Adrian Greaves FRGS. The Anglo Zulu War Historical Society

. “A wonderfully vigorous account with astonishing pictures and photographs.”                 Ian Knight

“Henry Charles Harford was a professional entomologist and a vibrant personality of the Anglo Zulu War. I felt a special empathy towards him – in a way he was my friend.” David Rattray – at The Royal Geographical Society 2006 David was especially excited when the new material was discovered and he was delighted to hold and present Harford’s medals to his audience during his final Royal Geographical Society lecture in London - just four months before his untimely death.

“If your readership in general enjoys it as much as I did, then ‘you will have a hit on your hands’! The photographs alone are totally fascinating. His writings provide a remarkable insight into the attitudes and behaviour of a dedicated British Army officer of the 19th century - albeit a rather eccentric one with the career ambitions confined to regimental life. Britain was fortunate to have men like him devoting their lives to their country’s military service. I am sure I would have liked Charlie very much.”                           Geoff Fawcett

Cost per book; £25 Plus postage, insurance and packaging; UK mainland £12 Europe £20 Worldwide £30 

Orders can be made @  The Ultimatum Tree Ltd, 121 Marina Heights, Basin Approach, Limehouse, London, E14 7JB United Kingdom  07702 473830

Friday 29th of April 2011 10:19:52 PM

Review By : Dave Charles South Africa

I knew that this book would be good, but it \\\'s way beyond that - in my opinion it is a masterful account of Harford \\\'s contribution to life and the world in which served. The detail is intense yet easily readable and I was transported back in time and a world that I felt strangely familiar in. Thank you for allowing me the privilege of an early read of this remarkable work.

Very sincere congratulations to you both.

Thursday 24th of July 2008 07:52:19 AM

Review By : Teddy Morgan USA

I am delighted with Harford. I am only on page 38 but had to write to you - it is splendid

Thursday 24th of July 2008 07:50:28 AM

Review By : Brian Kieran New Zealand

A brilliant study of a truly interesting man. Every page is a gem.

Thursday 24th of July 2008 07:51:24 AM