UCT Libraries


Manuscripts & Archives

University of Cape Town Libraries


Donated to

The University of Cape Town Libraries


Mrs B Cornell 

A list  

Compiled by  

Isaac Ntabankulu









Biographical note


The Collection














Biographical Note

Frederick Carruthers Cornell was born in Devon, England on 6th May 1867. As a young man he commenced his mining career in Brazil and then Mexico. Before coming to South Africa in 1901, he ran a hotel in Madeira, where he met his wife.

He made many prospecting trips in the course of his 20 years in South Africa: to Namaqualand and the Richtersveld and South West Africa (now Namibia). He searched for gold, copper and diamonds but was never fortunate enough to make a significant find.

During the First World War he served with the South African Native Labour Corps, but his asthma prevented him from active service. It was he who first advised the Government that the Germans had crossed the border into Cape territory in 1914. His services obtained for him the O.B.E. In 1917 he was appointed to the rank of Lieutenant.

In 1920 he travelled to England to accept a Fellowship of the Royal Geographical Society and to find a backer for further exploration of the lower reaches of the Orange River. He gave several lectures during the trip, including the Royal Geographical Society.

His tragic death resulted from an accident when he was thrown out of the side car of a motor cycle. He died two days later (6th March 1921) of a fractured skull.

The Collection

The F C Cornell Papers were presented to the University of Cape Town Libraries in 2000 by Mrs B Cornell and numbers ca 600 items.

The collection consists mainly of personal papers of FC Cornell (1867-1921). It contains correspondence, diaries, newspaper clippings, maps, reports on various prospecting expeditions and areas, etc relating to his prospecting trips to South West Protectorate, 1905-1920.

The first section consists of correspondence between FC Cornell and his lawyers, office of the mining minister, office of the administrator, publishers and newspaper editors. There are also application letters of Dr W.M. Borcherds requesting the right to prospect for minerals and correspondence between Douglas Cornell and David Philip Publishers about the new edition of “The Glamour of Prospecting.” 

The next section contains reports on various prospecting expeditions in the Richtersveld, Steinkopf District, Orange River, Klein Namaqualand and South West Africa.

His writings include articles and stories that were published by various newspapers and journals. It also includes a draft of his book, “The Glamour of Prospecting” and newspaper clippings reviewing his books “A Rip van Winkle of the Kalahari” and “The Glamour of Prospecting.”

There are no restrictions on the use of the collection, but permission should be first obtained from the University Librarian.


BC 1183 F C Cornell Papers

Box 1



Personal papers:

A 1.1


A 1.2

Certificate of appointment to rank of Lieutenant, 1917

A 1.3

Permit to proceed to South West Africa protectorate, 1919

A 2


A 2.1

Diary, 1882

A 2.2

Diaries of 1911 trips to Upington and Zendlings drift

A 2.3

Expedition diary, (from Prieska),1913

A 2.4

Pocket diary, 1913

A 2.5

Reporters note book & diary, 1913 (includes a trip to Delagoa Bay)

A 2.6

Diary, 1914

A 2.7

Fragmentary trip records, including South West Africa, 1919

A 2.8

Diary, 1920 (starts from London)

A 2.9

Diary, 1921

A 2.10

Diary and note book, n.d.

A 2.11

Expedition notes, n.d

A 2.12

Rough wages book, 1920-1921

A 3


A 3.1

Cornell’s family (draft)

A 3.2

Percy Albert Wagner (draft)

A 4.1 

Memorandum of agreement between FC Cornell and EWF Telfer,1912

A 4.2

Memorandum of agreement between FC Cornell and EWF Telfer, 1913

A 5

Obituaries and tributes, 1921

A 6 

Share certificates of the Malvern-Orange River(proprietary) Ltd, 1929.


Transferred by E F Bird to Emily Venning Cornell

Box 2




B 1

Correspondence and contracts, 1905-1936

B 2

Correspondence with Dr W.M. Borcherds, 1924-1927

B 3

Correspondence between Douglas Cornell and David Philip Publishers, about new edition of the Glamour of Prospecting, 1981-1987

B 4

Letter book and diary, 1913

B 5

Additional letter book up to 1914

B 6

Letter book, 1910-1911

B 7

Letters, 1916 (re brickyard)

Box 3


B 8

Letter book, 1917-1920

B 9

Letter book up to 1920 (including Alexander Bay survey)

B 10

Telegram book, 1920



C 1

Digger’s permit, issued to FC Cornell by the Pniel Diamond Mining Company, Ltd, 1907

C 2

Proposals for expeditions

C 2.1

Proposed expedition in search of the so-called “Hottentots Paradise”.

C 2.2

Estimate for forming the gravel terraces at Zendlings Drift over a period of six months from leaving Cape Town 

C 2.3

Outline on proposed method of recovery of ore values and method of mining,

C 3

Reports on various prospecting expeditions and areas, 1910-1920

C 3.1

Report on the Steenbok Copper Property

C 3.2

Summary of prospecting trip during Dec 1910 & Jan 1911

C 3.3

Report on prospecting trip to Richtersveld on behalf of Orange River Territories Ltd, 1911

C 3.4

Steinkopf District

C 3.5

Report on trip to various Bays on the Coast of Klein Namaqualand, to the mouth of the Orange River, 1920

C 3.6

The Vaal River Diamond Diggings

C 3.7

List of gravel prospects worked during Feb-March 1920 near Zendlings Drift, Orange River

C 3.8

Site map of prospecting area at Zendlings Drift, ms

C 3.9

Site map of prospecting (unknown), ms

C 4

Documents of the Cornell Exploration Co, Ltd

C 4.1

Draft of proposed scheme for the development of the holdings of the Cornell Co. Ltd

C 4.2

Cornell Exploration Company, Ltd, Oct 1919

C 4.3

Cornell Exploration Company, Ltd, Dec 1919

C 4.4

Cornell Exploration Company, Ltd, Jul 1920

C 5

Official reports (by others)

C 5.1

Report on the petroleum Prospects in the Union of South Africa, 1914

C 5.2

Report on the Discovery of Diamonds at Abomoso, North West of Kibbi, Eastern Province, Gold Coast

C 5.3

Report on the Inspection of Occurrences of Mica in Namaqualand


Writings by FC Cornell :


Periodicals containing articles by FC Cornell:

D 1.1

Cape Argus Xmas Number, Dec 1916 & 1920 (stories poems and articles)

D 1.2

The Cape: An Independent Review of South African Life and Politics, vol.1:no. 833, 1931 (article on Namaqualand and a quotation from Glamour of Prospecting)

D 1.3

South African Survey Journal, vol. 1:no.8, 1925(articles on Namaqualand and Richtersveld)

Box 4


D 1.4

The State, 1909-1912 (stories by F.C. Cornell)

D 1.5

Cape Times Annual, 1919, p13 & 71

D 1.6

Journal of the Royal Society of Arts, vol. LXIX: no. 21, Jan 1921

D 1.7

Mainly About Books, vol. XIV: no. 1, Dec 1920 (story by FCC p32)

D 1.8

South African Panorama, vol. 32: no. 8, Aug 1987 (article on Richtersveld and surrounding areas)

D 1.9

The State: South Africa, vol. 2:no. 10, Oct 1909 and vol. 3:no. 1, Jan 1910

D 1.10

Vlieende/Flying Springbok, vol. 2: no. 8, Feb 1983(article on Richtersveld)    

D 1.11

Custos: Wildlife Conservation Magazine, July 1982(article on Richtersveld)

D 1.12

Rondebosch Boys High School, 1921

D 1.13

British South Africa Annual, 1918-19

D 2

Other writings by FC Cornell:

D 2.1

Articles and stories by F.C. Cornell (mainly poetry) includes Capt. Julian Grenfell’s poem

D 2.2

Song book “East and West” or War Songs and Verses for South African soldiers by Fred C. Cornell

D 2.3

Cold Feet: A South African Recruiting Song. Words by FC Cornell and  music by William J Pickerill

Box 5


D 2.4

Newspaper clippings on FC Cornell with attachments (picture layouts of places, rivers, bays, houses, people, etc)

D 2.5

Scrapbook, contains poems and articles published by FC Cornell, as well as drafts of poems. (It also consists of a ledger, Dec 1899-1903, in which the articles have been posted)

D 2.6

Ledger-includes letters to the editor, articles, 1906-1915

D 2.7

Newspaper clippings (folder) on FC Cornell, 1914-1921

Box 6


D 2.8

Newspaper clippings (note book) on FC Cornell, 1920-1921

D 2.9

Press cuttings (United Kingdom), 1920-1921 (on mining and mines of South Africa and other African countries)

D 2.10

Articles on his travels, published in The Wide World Magazine, 1921-1922

D 2.11

Narrative of amazing adventures by FC Cornell and others, 1913-1987

D 2.12

The Glamour of Prospecting (new edition)

Box 7


D 2.13

Book reviews of “A Rip van Winkle of the Kalahari” and “The Glamour of Prospecting,” includes articles by Willem Steenkamp on FCC & The Glamour of Prospecting



E 1

Map of Kenhart

E 2

Maps of the North-West and South-West portion of the Cape of Good Hope and German South West Africa as it was before 1914 and subsequent railway development



F 1

Cape Register (Statement of advertisements, April 1903)

F 2

Photograph of army troops [1914-1918?]

F 3

Proclamation of the German Military Commandant of Lille, 25 Aug 1914

F 4


F 5

The Kitchener Memorial Book

F 6

The Royal Geographical Society: Foundation, history and work of the society:  Charter  and bye-laws: The Societies House, 1919

F 7

Newsletter no. 1 & 3. Namaqualand Mineralogical Society, 1986