Inventory of the Archives of the Treasury of the Cape Colony, 1794 - 1923

Fonds Specifications


Biographical History
During the regime of the Dutch East India Company the financial affairs of the Colony were transacted in the office of the Secretary to the Council of Policy, and it was only during the first British Occupation of the Cape Colony, that an independent office for the collecting and spending of public revenue was established. This happened on the 10th October, 1795, when J.J. Rhenius was appointed "Collector General and Treasurer". [1]
Rhenius was, however, not known as Treasurer, but as Receiver - General. [2]Into his hands all income of government was paid by the district collectors. The accounts and receipts were audited, and when certified correct by the Auditor of accounts, the Receiver - General was authorised by the Colonial Office to receive the money and carry it to public account. He paid all accounts due by the government on authority of a warrant issued by the Governor. The Receiver - General also saw to the exchange of old and defaced paper money, and made a list of the worn money, which was examined and destroyed under his supervision and that of a special commission. [3]
Under the government of the Batavian Republic the office of the Receiver - General remained in existance. In his "Memorandum" De Mist recommended the appointment of a "Generaal Ontvanger...die de produkten van alle middellen uit handen der subaltern Ontvangers, Bailluwen, Collecteurs of Pagters behoorde overteneemen met elk derselve te sluiten - en alle die Ontvangsten,met zyne Uitgaven, door Ordonnantien en quitantien, te Justificeeren, in een Boek, te verantwoorden". [4]It was also stupilated that in future the Receiver - General should be under direct control of the "Rekenkamer", the established of which De Mist also recommended. No payments should be made without a warrant of the Governor and Council of Policy, countersigned by the "Rekenkamer". [5]Furthermore, no money could be received and brought to public account, without a qualification from the Governor, Council of Policy and "Rekenkamer". [6]He also laid down that the books of the Receiver - General should annually, in March, be audited by the "Rekenkamer". [7]
In 1806 when the British for the second time occupied the Cape Colony, the "Rekenkamer" was abolished, but the Receiver - General continued with his duties. In 1828 the first change of importance took place when the title of the office was changed to that of Treasurer and Accountant General. [8]As the documents left by the Receiver General and Treasurer and Accountant General form a unity, they were kept as such in the inventory.
During the next years the amount of work and the importance of this office increased. In 1872 the title was changed to "Treasurer of the Colony" and promoted to cabinet rank. It was, however, not before Act. No.14 of 1893 was passed that the title of "Treasurer" was officially recognised. [9]
The Treasury was no longer a depository of revenues and moneys, charged only with the custody and issue, but had all the duties and responsibilities such as the Chancellor of the Exchequer of England had. The Treasurer was now in charge of revenue, responsible for the proper collection thereof, he had to devise new taxation to meet any shortage of revenue, to state whether there were any funds to meet contingencies improvided for, and to recommend to the Governor to issue a covering warrant. He was also in charge of the Pension and Guarantee Funds, and had to make an annual budget speech before Parlaiment. Furthermore, the following departments were controlled by Treasury: Customs, Licenses and Stamps, Income Tax, Excise, Post and Telegraphs, Audit office and High Commissioner. [10]
During 1888 an important reorganisation took place. The Treasury was devided into two branches, vz. Receiver General and Paymaster General. The Permanent chief, the Assistant Treasurer acted as Receiver General of Revenue, and all Civil Commissioners as receivers of revenue. The Assistant Treasurer also acted as Paymaster General. [11]
On the 18th July, 1889, all matters relating to the administration of protocols and registers of Notaries Public were transferred to Treasury from the Colonial Office. [12]
Important additional functions, were imposed on the Treasury from the 18th September, 1892. From the Colonial Office were transferred Agriculture, and from the Commissioner of Crown Lands and Public Works the following: crown forests and plantations, manufacture of Colonial wood sleepers, geological explorations, irrigation and water supply, mines, surveyor - General and miscellaneous services.
During the following year further additions came from the Colonial Secretary's Department. These were: Agent - General for the Colony in London, Controller and Auditor General, general Post Office, and conveyance of Mails. [13]
In 1897 the Sinking Fund Commission was created of which the Treasurer was ex officio chairman. [14]From 1898 the Treasurer was also responsible for the administration of the "Friendly Societies". [15]
The next change in the duties of the Treasurer took place in 1906 when the Auditing Act was passed. According to the provisions of this act accounting officers were appointed for the different departments. These functions devolved on the Treasury and the accounting work of the following departments was transferred to the Treasury: Prime Minister, Native Affairs, Controller of Customs (exclusive of Revenue), Controller and Auditor General and Public Works Department. It was further stipulated "that all expenditure and receipts other than Revenue hitherto paid and received by the Civil Commissioner, Cape, will be performed by the Treasury". To carry out these functions a "Chief Paymaster and Accounting Officer of the Treasury" was appointed. [16]
When Union came into being, Treasury was transferred to Pretoria, but a Treasury Representative in the person of the Civil Commissioner, Cape, cared for the local interests of Treasury.