S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science

Ecroyd, Mr John (meteorological observation)

Born: 21 July 1793, England.
Died: 6 April 1873, Burnley, Lancashire, England.

John Ecroyd emigrated to Natal in 1850 and became a farmer. He first lived at Rochdale [not identified], but by 1851 had settled on a portion of the farm Bellair, which he named Briercliffe, some 10 km south-west of Durban. There he made regular meteorological observations (rainfall, air temperature and general state of the weather) from November 1850 to June 1852, being the first person to do so in Natal. His observations were published in 1855 in W.C. Holden's History of the Colony of Natal (pp. 10, 32).

In 1852 Ecroyd was an honorary member of the management committee of the Natal Agricultural and Horticultural Society, founded in 1848 to promote the introduction of crop and horticultural plants. In July that year he submitted a valuable report on his experimental cultivation of cotton to a sub-committee of the society appointed to publish information on this topic, though he neglected to indicate the costs of his experiments. The society furthermore awarded him a prize of three pounds sterling for the best cotton produced on a plot of at least five acres. He also grew a variety of food crops.

Ecroyd left his farm late in 1852 and in April 1853 arrived back in England.

List of sources:
Burdecki, F. The dawn of meteorology in Natal. South African Weather Bureau Newsletter, June 1960, No. 135, pp. 8-9.

Holden, W.C. History of the Colony of Natal, South Africa. London: A. Heylin, 1855 (facsimile reprint, Struik, 1963).

Natal Agricultural and Horticultural Society. Third annual report. Durban: J. Cullingworth, 1852 (Don African Library, Durban).

Spencer, S.O. (Ed.) British settlers in Natal, 1824-1857 (Vol. 6). University of Natal Press, 1992.

Compiled by: C. Plug