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Edward Pocock


Edward Innes Pocock  was born on 3rd December 1855 at 5 Worcester Terrace, Clifton , Bristol and was educated at Clifton College  from 1872 to 1875. He began playing for Clifton RFC in 1873, and his three brothers Herbert, Reginald and Walter also played for the club.

After moving to Edinburgh and joining Edinburgh Wanderers  he played twice for Scotland in 1877, for which the Scottish Rugby Union needed special permission from the RFU. There are good accounts of his first international, but in the second he had such a bad game that he was moved from the backs to the forwards.

The Scotland XV that played Ireland in Belfast on 19th February 1877. Image courtesy of the SRU. (L-R) Back Row: D. Lang (Paisley), H.H. Johnston ( Edinburgh University ). Middle Row: J.R.H. Gordon ( Edinburgh Academicals), J. Junor ( Glasgow Academicals), J.R. Reid ( Edinburgh Wanderers), J.H.S. Graham ( Edinburgh Academicals), C. Villars ( Edinburgh Wanderers). Seated: D.H. Watson ( Glasgow Academicals), M. Cross ( Glasgow Academicals), R.W. Irvine [Captain] ( Edinburgh Academicals), R.C. MacKenzie ( Glasgow Academicals). On the ground: S.H. Smith (Glasgow Academicals), E.I. Pocock (Edinburgh Wanderers), H.M. Napier (West of Scotland).


Above: Programme from the match Scotland v England on 5th March 1877. Edward Pocock’s second and last game for Scotland . There are good accounts of his first international but in the second he had such a bad game he was moved from the backs to the forwards.


Above Scotland team that played England in Edinburgh , 5th March 1877 with ex Clifton College and Clifton RFC Edward Innes Pocock. Image courtesy of SRU. Back Row (L-R): H.M.Napier (West of Scotland ), C.Villars ( Edinburgh Wanderers), J.R.H.Gordon ( Edinburgh Academicals), J.H.S.Graham ( Edinburgh Academicals). Sitting (L-R) H.H.Johnston ( Edinburgh University ), J.R.Reid ( Edinburgh Wanderers), R.W.Irvine (Captain) ( Edinburgh Academicals), A.G.Petrie (RHSFP), T.J.Torrie ( Edinburgh Academicals), J.S.Carrick ( Glasgow Academicals). On Ground (L-R): D.H.Watson ( Glasgow Academicals), M.Cross ( Glasgow Academicals), J.Junor ( Glasgow Academicals), R.C.MacKenzie ( Glasgow Academicals), E.I.Pocock ( Edinburgh Wanderers).

On 18th April 1890 Captain Edward Pocock was recruited by Cecil John Rhodes  to be part of C Troop of the Pioneer Column, organised by Rhodes and his British South Africa Company that year and used in his efforts to annex the territory of Mashonaland , later part of Southern Rhodesia and now Zimbabwe . The column consisted of a Pioneer Corps of 180 men, accompanied by a paramilitary police force (later christened the British South Africa Police) of 300 men.

On 16th August 1890 Pocock captained one of the teams participating in the first ever cricket match held in Zimbabwe , staged at Providential Pass near Fort Victoria (now known as Masvingo). Captain Henry Francis Hoste was one of the officers in the column and commanded B Troop. A few years before his death in 1936 he compiled an account of Forty Years Ago: Rhodesia in 1890. One paragraph mentions Pocock. It said

"Fry, who was our official photographer, got his camera going, to the great alarm of the natives, who watched him in fear and trembling, expecting an explosion every moment. We in the meantime wandered about the place. We camped there that night, and the next morning after an early breakfast saddled up and returned to the laager, where we arrived in the forenoon. In the afternoon the first cricket match in the country was played. The sides were 'A' Troop (Pioneers) v. 'B' and 'C' Troops (Pioneers). I forget who won; it was probably 'A' Troop as they had several outstanding cricketers, notably Monty Bowden, the celebrated Surrey wicket-keeper. He had come out to the Cape in an English team, Read's I think, and hearing of the Pioneer expedition, had joined as a trooper. L. Vintcent and B. Wimble, both noted South African cricketers, were also in 'A' Troop. Our side was captained by Trooper E. I. Pocock, an ex-military officer, and a most useful cricketer."


Above the Pioneer Corp hoisting the flag at Fort Salisbury on 13th September 1890. It subsequently changed its name to Salisbury and finally changed its name to Harare on April 18th 1982, the second anniversary of Zimbabwean independence, taking its name from the Shona chieftain Neharawa.


Above the Pioneer Corp Camp at Fort Salisbury in 1890.


The Pioneer Corps was officially disbanded on 1st October 1890 and each member was granted land on which to farm, with mining concessions. Some of the men sold their farm right for £100 and their claim right for the same sum. By 1899 over 15.7 million acres had been granted, with only some four million left for the native Ndebele.


Pocock was appointed Gwelo District Mines Inspector in February 1896. He admitted he knew very little about mining. In one of his letters he wrote that the Chief Inspector of Mines had been coming to his district, so in order to avoid having his knowledge tested he had mounted his horse and left the area until the Chief Inspector returned to Salisbury . In another letter to his mother, he mentioned that he had had a promotion and, as a result, had been given an ox cart and span of oxen, the equivalent of today's company car.  He was appointed Mining Commissioner for the Lomagundi District in November 1897 but resigned from the Civil Service in 1901 and joined United Excelsior Mines Ltd. to take charge of the Alliance Mine in Abercorn District, 68 miles south of Salisbury. He continued to live on the property after mining operations ceased in June 1903.


Edward Pocock died of pneumonia on 14th January 1905 in Salisbury Hospital , aged 49. He is buried in the Pioneer Cemetery in Salisbury (now Harare ).




© Patrick Casey, 2010
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