S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science

Stigand, Capt Almar Gordon (cartography)

Born: 1876, Place not known.
Died: 26 February 1956, Brighton, United Kingdom.

Almar Gordon Stigand, soldier and colonial civil servant, was the son of William Stigand, British consul at Palermo, Italy, and was educated at the famous public school in Rugby, Warwickshire. From 1896 to 1898 he served in the police force of the Cape Colony and then entered the civil service of Bechuanaland (now Botswana plus the northern districts of the Northern Cape, South Africa). He was stationed in Mafikeng and during the Anglo-Boer War was in active service in defence of that town. At the conclusion of the war in 1902 he was transferred to Gaberone and in 1904 became an acting assistant civil commissioner. During World War I (1914-1918) he participated in the campaign in German South West Africa (now Namibia) during 1914/5, arrived in England in March 1916, served in the West Kent Regiment, was a member of the British Military Mission to Rome, and attained the rank of Captain.

From before World War I Stigand served as magistrate of Ngamiland, an administrative district of the Bechuanaland Protectorate (now Botswana) with its headquarters at Maun. There he went far beyond the requirements of his official duties to explore and map the Okavango Delta and the wider Ngamiland and Ghanzi regions, doing his elaborate mapping work by compass traverse and becoming an authority on the geography of the region. He published his 'Notes on N'Gamiland', including a map, in The Geographical Journal (London, 1912, Vol. 36, pp. 376-379) and in the Transactions of the Royal Society of South Africa (1913, Vol. 3, pp. 379-392). About ten years later he contributed another paper, titled 'Ngamiland' (with map), to The Geographical Journal (1923, Vol. 62, pp. 401-419). Among others he discussed the levels of Lake Ngami and speculations of its drying up by David Livingstone* and others. Stigand himself described the paper as of less importance than the map. Logan (1969) described the paper as 'A non-professional and only half-accurate account of the area'. However, according to VanderPost (2005) the map belonged to a new era of professionalism and became a leading example of mapping in the Bechuanaland Protectorate. The culmination of Stigand's work was the official publication of his two-sheet 'Sketch map of Ngamiland and Ghanzi', at a scale of 1:500 000, by the Geographical Section of the (British) General Staff in 1925. In that same year, when he was resident magistrate of Molepolole, his knowledge and map proved useful to the expedition led by the geologist A.L. du Toit* to investigate the feasibility of the Kalahari irrigation scheme proposed by E.H.L. Schwarz*.

Stigand visited England in July 1923 and returned to England again in May 1930. By 1929 he was on the Royal Army Reserve of Officers and a senior resident magistrate in the Bechuanaland Protectorate.

List of sources:

Ancestry. http://www.search.ancestry.com See: United Kingdom, Incoming Passenger Lists, 1878-1960.

Bibliography of regional meteorological literature, Vol.1. Southern Africa, 1486-1948, compiled by R.J. Venter. Pretoria: Government Printer, 1949.

Google Scholar. http://scholar.google.co.za Publications by A.G. Stigand.

Logan, R.F. Bibliography of South West Africa, geography and related fields. Windhoek: SWA Scientific Society, 1969.

National Automated Archival Information Retrieval System (NAAIRS). http://www.national.archives.gov.za/naairs.htm Documents relating to Almar Gordon Stigand / A.G. Stigand.

Rugby School Register, Vol. 3, p. 196. http://www.mocavo.com/Rugby-School-Register-Volume-3/295721/196

Supplement to the London Gazette, 3 June 1929, p. 3681.

Transactions of the Royal Society of South Africa, 1913, Vol. 3, paper by Stigand.

VanderPost, C. Early maps of Ngamiland and the Okavango Delta. Botswana Notes and Records, 2005, Vol. 37, pp. 196-207.

Union of South Africa, Department of Irrigation. Report on the Kalahari Reconnaissance of 1925. Pretoria: Government Printer, 1926.

Compiled by: C. Plug