A gap year

Towards the end of his prison term, Harry received a summons to appear in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court.  The wording was clear and concise: to show why his name should not be removed from the list of law agents allowed to practise in the Transvaal.  Explicit mention was made of the bribery conviction.

On 7 October 1904, having been appraised of the content of Rex versus Saltman and Schapiro, Henry Rose Innes – Pretoria’s Resident Magistrate – handed down his decision.

I was curious to see if this Rose Innes was connected to the judge, James, who had presided at Harry’s criminal trial.  The trail led me to the marriage of Henry to Mary Elizabeth Hazlehurst in July 1894; in December of the same year her sister, Emma Eliza Hazlehurst, married a James Rose Innes (not the judge, I’ve found).  The men were both attorneys and may have been brothers.  Just to round off this incidence of coincidence, both marriages took place in Barberton, a small town near the Swaziland border.   Illuminating as this digression was, I still don’t know if the judge who put my ancestor behind bars was related to the magistrate who would then strip him of his livelihood.

Henry Rose Innes extended Harry’s time in the wilderness by a year.  This was his second eighteen-month period of unemployment, but whereas the first had been thrust upon him by the Anglo-Boer War, he had only himself to blame for the next one. A third of it had passed in gaol; but what was he to do with another 12 months of forced inactivity?

To have more than one career is almost a given these days.  Even doctors, whose trajectories seem so assured, don’t always stick with the trade; thirty-five years after having completed his residency at Sydney’s St Vincent’s hospital, George Miller was holding the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature for the movie Happy Feet.   Lawyers are famous for reinventing themselves; John Cleese, Gerard Butler and Andrea Bocelli are good examples in the entertainment world.  Within my own circle, I have known people to have swapped the law for non-profits, digital marketing or coffee shops; one of them now writes children’s books.

In early 1905, Harry pulled out a sheet of letterhead, crossed out the words ‘at law’ after ‘agent’ and wrote to the Colonial Secretary asking for application forms to register as a dental student.

The mere mention of the word, dentist, triggers childhood memories of fear and terror.  I grew up at a time when fluoride was unheard of and fillings were the bread and butter of South African practitioners.  Drills were Heath Robinson affairs and shots were given only if a tooth was to be pulled.  From the expression on his face, the cavities in my teeth were to the family dentist what the Big Hole is to Kimberley.  For two years I contrived to stay away, ‘forgetting’ to remind my mother that I was due for a check-up.  It took at least two sessions to deal with the fallout.

A reply was swift.  There were no forms to be completed, but everything one needed to know about becoming a dentist could be found at Section 27 of the Medical, Dental and Pharmacy Ordinance.  Harry either had second thoughts or – more likely – was prevailed upon by whomever was supporting him this time around, to wait out the 12-month suspension and do something productive with the time.  A part of me is sorry that he never became a dentist; I’m sure the collective family choppers would have been much better off if he had.

In November 1905 Harry was reinstated as a practising law agent in Pretoria.  Around that time, there was another development.  He’d met someone.  Her name was Rose.




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