(Information courtesy Milner Snell, curator Kokstad Museum).
Only known example (Fuld) Rarity Scale: R -10).
The St Faith's trading store was established in the 1890s by John Robinson Royston. (There are references to Royston having a farm surveyed at St Faith's in 1893)*. Royston, know as Zithulele (the silent one) by the Africans and generally called 'General', made a name for himself as a skilled soldier.** Royston was the fourth son of a civil engineer of Durban. When the Anglo-Zulu War broke out in 1879, Royston, not yet sixteen, joined the Isipingo Mounted Rifles. Because of his young age, he was supposed to restrict his activities to defence duties on the Zululand border. Royston, however, defied authority and worked as a scout for the Natal Volunteer Guides. He took part in the battles of Inyezane, Gingindhlovu and the Relief of Eshowe. During the Anglo-Boer War he served with the Border Mounted Rifles which became caught in the Siege of Ladysmith. Once Ladysmith had been relieved, Royston joined the Volunteer Composite Regiment. At a later stage he was placed in command of the West Australian Mounted Infantry. He was awarded the D.S.O. for his services. After the Anglo-Boer War he went back to farming but this time in the Port Shepstone area. The store at St Faith's was looked after by managers. In 1906, during the Bambatha Rebellion, he raised Royston's Horse and for his outstanding services was appointed Honoury Lieutenant-Colonel in the British Army. In 1910 he commanded 2000 troops who attended the coronation of Edward VII. The King conferred the C.M.G. on him. At the outbreak of World War One he again recruited his own regiment, which became known as the Natal Light Horse. In February 1915 he was attached to the staff of General McKenzie in the German South West Africa Campaign. He was later appointed by the Imperial Army to command the Australian 12th Light Horse Regiment and then the 3rd Australian Light Horse Brigade, which fought in the Palestine Campaign. He obtained the nickname 'Galloping Jack' during the Palestine campaign by riding up and down the lines shouting 'No surrender'. His life story is told in a book entitled Galloping Jack by Napier Devitt.
Image right: Map from the book "On the high flats of Natal" showing the road to St Faiths store - south of Ixopo.
In the early 1920s Royston leased the St Faith's store to Ronald Reuben Hill.*** Hill was born in Qumbu in East Griqualand in 1897 and at some stage worked as a storekeeper in Matatiele. Hill spent 24 years trading at St Faith's. In about 1937 he bought the store from Royston. The store was registered as belonging to RR Hill and Company. Hill was still at St Faith's in 1946 but had sold the shop to Boffa and Collins by 1947.**** Hill then worked for the Native Affairs Department in Durban until his death in 1970.
It is not clear if Royston or Hill issued the tokens for the St Faith's store. Royston would have been aware of the tokens issued by Strachan & Co. in the adjoining territory of East Griqualand. Hill, on the other hand, would have known about the tokens issued by the Moore family in the Qumbu district and those issued by James Cole and Strachan & Co. when he worked in Matatiele. The most likely explanation is that Royston issued the tokens and that Hill continued using them after he had bought the store. It is interesting to note that Brooklands, owned by Dennis of Creighton and Dennis, was a neighboring store to St Faith's and thus the storeowners were trading rivals. The tokens could well have been issued as part of the competition between the various storeowners in the Highflats area.
The images below were taken on St Faiths Road by Paul Baxter in December 2009 (More at this link)
|The foundations under the tree|
are all that remain of the old store
|The scenic road to St Faiths||The Maristella Church|
on St Faiths Road
There is only one known example of a St Faith's token, which is owned by Mr Scott Balson of Australia. For examples of what the tokens look like see Theron's Supplement to the Tokens of Southern Africa and Their History or www.tokencoins.com.
* Natal Archives SGO III/1/92 SG4620/1893
** Information on Royston from Eric Goetzsche, 'Rough But Ready': An Official History of the Natal Mounted Rifles and Napier Devitt's Galloping Jack.
*** Milner Pedlar, who managed the Brooklands store for Strachan & Co. left the following description of Hill in his memoirs Days to Remember: We had an African working for us called Leonard Gumbi who was a jack-of-all-trades, doing shoe and watch repairs and many other things. This helped induce many to buy at Brooklands, as less than two miles away as a crow flies was the St Faith's Store owned by the wily R.R. Hill. Mr R.R. Hill of St. Faith's, since deceased, had a boy named Dhlulisa working for him for many years, and this boy constantly requested that he fly in an aeroplane. As Mr Hill saw the funny side of life he duly obliged and took him to Durban and told the pilot to do the loop the loop. He flew upside down and did every thing as requested and Dhlulisa thought he was going to die as he was under the plane and imagined he would fall out from that height. When the plane landed Dhlulisa was helpless from fear, and was helped out and could not walk. He said his boss was a mad man and he would not trust him again.
**** Besides the store at St Faith's, Collins and Boffa also owned stores at Highflats and Hlokozi.