S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science

Churchill, Mr Frank Oliver Fleetwood (geology)

Born: 1861, Durban, South Africa.
Died: 1934, Place not known.

Frank O.F. Churchill (also known as F.F. Churchill), Natal legislator, was the son of Joseph Fleetwood Churchill. He was educated at Hilton College, near Pietermaritzburg, and in Germany. After working in the Standard Bank for a short period he qualified as an attorney in 1885. He was a pioneer on the De Kaap goldfields in the Eastern Transvaal, and one of the early arrivals on the Witwatersrand.

Churchill visited the Natal side of the Drakensberg in May 1895, and again in September-October 1896. He made observations of the geology at Giant's Castle, the valley of the Little Tugela, the foot of Champaign Castle, and Tugela Falls, and mentions seeing caves at Bushman's Pass. A paper based on these visits, "Notes on the geology of the Drakensbergen, Natal" was read before the South African Philosophical Society in Cape Town and published in its Transactions (1898, Vol. 10(3), pp. 419-426). He was a member of the society from 1898, and remained a member when it became the Royal Society of South African in 1908.

In 1897 Churchill started farming at Hillcrest, some 30 km inland from Durban near the railway station Gillits. From there he sent data on maximum and minimum temperatures and rainfall to E.N. Nevill*, Government Astronomer of Natal, who incorporated the information in his annual compilations of meteorological observations for the colony.

Churchill served in the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902) and participated in the relief of Ladysmith. He entered the Natal colonial parliament in 1901, by which time he had moved to Ennersdale, near Estcourt. After the formation of the Union of South Africa in 1910 he became a senator and was a strong protagonist of the Natal viewpoint. He was re-elected to the senate in 1921. In 1918 he joined the South African Association for the Advancement of Science and that same year was elected a member of its council for 1918/9, representing Durban. In 1922 he wrote an article, "In old Natal", which was published in the Cape Argus of 7 October that year, and later also as a pamphlet. He made a study of the Churchill family and bequeathed his manuscripts to the South African Library in Cape Town.

List of sources:
Mendelssohn, S. South African bibliography. London, 1910.

Natal [Colony]. Report of the Government Astronomer for 1898, 1899.

Natal who's who. Durban: Natal Who's Who Publishing Co., 1906.

National Automated Archival Information Retrieval System (NAAIRS). http://www.national.archives.gov.za/naairs.htm Documents relating to Churchill, Frank Oliver Fleetwood.

Rosenthal, E. Southern African dictionary of national biography. London: F. Warne, 1966.

Royal Society of South Africa. Transactions, 1908-1910, Vol. 1 and 1917-1918, Vol. 6: Lists of members.

South African Association for the Advancement of Science. Report, 1918, list of members.

South African bibliography to the year 1925. London: Mansell, 1979.

South African Philosophical Society. Transactions, 1898, 1907, Vol. 10, 17: lists of members.

South African who's who, 1908, 1919/20.

Compiled by: C. Plug