S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science

Schunke-Hollway, Mr Henry Charles (geography, ethnology)

Born: 15 May 1853, Esslingen, Germany.
Died: 1921, South Africa.

Henry Charles Schunke (born as Carl Heinrich Schunke, later Schunke-Hollway, also Schunke-Holway or Schunke-Holloway) was the son of Ludwig August Schunke and his wife Jeane (or Jane) E. Hollway. The family moved to the Cape Colony, where Henry Charles passed the examination for the Certificate of proficiency in the theory of land surveying of the University of the Cape of Good Hope in 1876 and was admitted to practice as a land surveyor in the Cape Colony in 1877. In February 1880, at which time he resided in Cape Town, he was appointed by the acting surveyor-general, L. Marquard*, to survey a portion of Griqualand East (the Gatberg area, south-west of Ugie) and lay out a number of farms there. This work occupied him to 1884. Meanwhile he had become a member of the South African Philosophical Society in 1878, the year after its formation. Though he was not listed as a member during 1890-1892 he was again (or still) a member in 1897. By that time he had been elected a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (FRGS) and was using the name Schunke-Hollway. He remained a member of the South African Philosophical Society until it became the Royal Society of South Africa in 1908, when he was elected as one of the early Fellows of the latter.

Schunke produced a number of publications on the geography and ethnology of southern Africa. The first of these, "South African tribes", appeared in the Cape Monthly Magazine (2nd Series, 1876, Vol. 12, pp. 180-185, 244-249, 283-288) while he was still a young man of 23. The article referred to the indigenous languages and advocated the need to study the Khoi languages in particular. In January 1879 he read a paper, "On the geography of South West Africa", before the South African Philosophical Society. The paper was published in the society's Transactions (Vol. 2, pp. 1-6) for that year. Later two articles by him, "The Transkeian territories; their physical geography and ethnology" and "Notes on the orography and climatic conditions of south-eastern Africa and on the migration of the natives", were published in the same journal (1891, Vol. 8, pp. 1-11 and 12-15). The first of these was presumably partly based on an earlier publication by him, "Kaffraria und die oestlichen Grenzdistrikte der Kapkolonie", in Petermanns Mittheilungen (1885). The second of his two articles dealt mainly with the region between the Limpopo and Zambesi Rivers and was severely criticised by J.A. Liebman as "bristling with errors" (Liebman, 1891, p. 16). Schunke also compiled a map of Tembuland, in the Transkei (not dated); a map of a portion of south-western Africa showing Damaraland and the rest of northern Namibia, part of Angola, and the river systems of the Okavango and Cuito (not dated); and maps of Pondoland (1894, 1902).

Schunke's most important publication was his Bibliography of books, pamphlets, maps, magazine articles etc., relating to South Africa, with special reference to geography. From the time of Vasco da Gama to the formation of the British South Africa Company in 1888. It listed over 2000 items, in chronological order, and was published as Vol. 10, Part 2, of the Transactions of the South African Philosophical Society in 1898. Later he contributed a chapter on "South Africa: An outline of its physical geography" to the volume Science in South Africa (Flint & Gilchrist, 1905), published in preparation for the joint meeting of the British and South African Associations for the Advancement of Science in 1905. At one of the meetings in Cape Town on 17 August 1905 he read a paper on "The physical geography of Cape Colony", a summary of which was published in the British Association's Report (p. 393).

List of sources:
British Association for the Advancement of Science. Report of the seventy-fifth meeting... South Africa, 1905. London: John Murray, 1906.

Cape of Good Hope. Report of the Surveyor-General, 1879, 1880, 1903.

Flint, W. & Gilchrist, J.D.F. Science in South Africa (chapter 1, by Schunke). Cape Town: T. Maskew Miller, 1905.

Liebman, J.A. Mashonaland and Matabeleland - facts and figures. A reply to Mr Schunke. Transactions of the South African Philosophical Society, 1891, Vol. 8 (1), pp. 16-22.

Mendelssohn, S. South African bibliography. London, 1910.

National Automated Archival Information Retrieval System (NAAIRS). http://www.national.archives.gov.za/naairs.htm Documents relating to Schunke, H.C.

Personal communication from Dr Thomas Wagner, Germany (researcher of the Schunke family), August 2015.

Royal Society of London. Catalogue of scientific papers [1800-1900]. London: Royal Society, 1867-1925.

Royal Society of South Africa. Transactions, 1908-1910, Vol. 1 and 1917, Vol. 6: Lists of Fellows and members.

South African bibliography to the year 1925, Vol. 5. Cape Town: South African Library, 1991.

South African Philosophical Society. Transactions, 1879-1907, Vol. 2-4, 6-10, 16, 17: lists of members and papers by Schunke.

University of the Cape of Good Hope. Calendar, 1884/5.

Compiled by: C. Plug