Mount Moreland Inkonjane


The History of Mount MorelandJohn Moreland

Mount Moreland initially established in 1850 by John Moreland, he was The Byrne settler agency land surveyor.Byrne's Emigrant's Journal

 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 andMount Moreland Bye-Laws 1887 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 out.
Extracts from: Natal Settler Agent – The Career of John Moreland – By John Clark pg 66/67

Mount Moreland Map 1850
Mount Moreland 1850 Map
Mount Moreland Map 1935
Mount Moreland 1935 Map - Image courtesy John Forbes
Mount Moreland 1969
Mount Moreland 1969 - image by Dr John Clark

A Curiosity of Natal Settler Literature
'... comfort and Natal have yet to form acquaintance .. .'  --Coventry,VIATOR ,p.95-6.

 ………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 cotton,

coffee, and 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 Verulam,

where they climb the hill, then covered by bush, to view the prospect. The undulating land around, not yet cleared, has

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 two

months' quarantine until the waters subside. Another hazard in wading across the Umgeni is the watchful alligator. This

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 Charles
 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 Company
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 airport site.)

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
Quarter-deck of emigrant-ship - the role call.
Illustrated London News, July, 1850


I've come across a memoir of Ven. Charles Mackenzie who was stationed at Umhlali from 1857 to 1859.
Mention is made of Mount Moreland on several occasions. Here are just two: 

1.) "The Dean and I spent an evening in arranging the dimensions and materials of a church for the Umhlali. It is to be 57 feet from end to end, and to cost (say) £140, and hold over 100 people. The civil population is now about fifty, and nearly fifty of the troops attend regularly. Besides these buildings, the bricks are on the ground to build a little church at Mount Moreland, to cost about £50 or £60." (p174)

2) Charles instituted a "monthly collection in his five churches, namely, Umhlali, Tongaat, Verulam, Mount Moreland, and the little Umhlanga, and found it answer so well that he determined to adopt the same system of collection 
for the support of education in his district." (p189).

An Anglican church was built in Mount Moreland in 1858 at a cost of about 100 pounds.  It could seat about 100 people. The church only ever had an itinerant priest who served Umhlali, Tongaat, Verulam and Blackburn (Umhlanga).  The Mount Moreland church was destroyed by fire.  So nothing remains but a footnote in history:)

Kind regards
Peter Houston
Rector of the Parish of Umhlali
Archdeacon of the North Coast
Diocese of Natal (Anglican)

See more History
Mount Moreland History 1970's & 1980's
Mount Moreland 2010