[Volume 1] Travels into the interior of southern Africa : in which are described the character and the condition of the Dutch colonists of the Cape of Good Hope, and of the several tribes of natives beyond its limits : the natural history of such subjects as occurred in the animal, mineral and vegetable kingdoms; and the geography of the southern extremity of Africa : comprehending also a topographical and statistical sketch of Cape Colony; with an inquiry into its importance as a naval and military station, as a commercial emporium; as a territorial possession


Date: 1806



In 1797, Barrow accompanied Lord Macartney as private secretary in his important and delicate mission to settle the government of the newly acquired colony of the Cape of Good Hope. Barrow was entrusted with the task of reconciling the Boer settlers and the native Black population and of reporting on the country in the interior.

At the time Barrow began collecting information for this work less than a tenth of the British colony of South Africa had been accurately mapped. In the course of the trip, he visited all parts of the colony; when he returned, he was appointed auditor-general of public accounts. He then decided to settle in South Africa, married, and bought a house in 1800 in Cape Town. However, the surrender of the colony at the peace of Amiens (1802) upset this plan.

During his travels through South Africa, Barrow compiled copious notes and sketches of the countryside that he was traversing. He visited the Boers, Hottentots, and the Bosjemen, performing "a journey exceeding one thousand miles on horseback, on foot, and very rarely in a covered wagon, and full half the distance as a pedestrian, and never except for a few nights sleeping under a roof."

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The outcome of his journeys was a map which, despite its numerous errors, was the first published modern map of the southern parts of the Cape Colony. This map was the most comprehensive work on the region published to date, with a map that at upon appearance was unrivalled in its accuracy and scope. "Highly valuable for its variety and extent of information, both political and scientific" (Lowndes, 122-23). "An excellent description of the country traversed" (Mendelssohn).

One contemporary of Barrow named William John Burchell (1781-1863) was not as pleased going so far as to say; "As to the miserable thing called a map, which has been prefixed to Mr. Barrow's quarto, I perfectly agree with Professor Lichtenstein, that it is so defective that it can seldom be found of any use.".

The first edition published of this work was published between 1801 and 1804 under the title: An account of travels into the interior of southern Africa, in the years 1797 and 1798. It does not contain any of the colored plates. The first edition only included one view, a folding hand-tinted aquatint view of Cape Town not retained in this second edition.

Second edition was enlarged with the addition of eight hand-colored engravings illustrating Boers, natives, and fauna of South Africa not present in the first edition. Volume 1 has 8 hand colored plates and volume 2 has nine maps and charts from the first edition.


Tooley 85; Bobins I, 74; Abbey Travel I, 322. Mendelssohn I, 88-89. Cox I, 398.

Publisher: London : Printed for T. Cadell and W. Davis



ISBN-10: N/A

Date Added: 2019-04-18

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