1857 – 1934
George Thorncroft was born in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England, on 22nd May, 1857. After serving his apprenticeship there as a grocer he left London in the sailing vessel “”The Zulu Chief””, on the 14th February, 1882, to arrive in Durban, Natal, after a voyage of 68 days.
In 1886 he married Charlotte Jordan in Pietermaritzburg. On 23rd October the same year they left the town for the De Kaap Gold Fields, traveling by train as far as Colenso and then by Taylor and Gills ox-wagons. Their long trek started on Saturday 31st October, and they did not reach Barberton until 18th January 1887, 79 days later.
Until February 1893, he was in charge of the Ivy Hotel and store, at Moodies, on a share basis with Messrs. Fowley and Moore. Then he went back to Durban to open up a grocery business in partnership with Mr. Payne at 422 West Street, Durban. While there their two children, Ivy Gladys and Joseph Norton, were born.
After the Anglo-Boer War, Thorncroft sold his shares to his partner and came with his family back to Barberton in 1902, where he worked for 25 years for the Winter Bros., Fred and William, after which they liquidated the business and all retired. George Thorncroft died on 18th July 1934, at the age of 77 years.
All his life George Thorncroft was interested in flowers. While in London he spent most of his spare time at Kew Gardens. During his journey by ox-wagon to Barberton he collected seeds of wild flowers, which he sent to interested people in England. He was one of the Foundation Members of the Botanical Gardens in Durban and collected botanical specimens for Durban Herbarium and the Government Herbarium in Pretoria for many years. He corresponded with people and institutions all over the world including Cambridge University, Kew Gardens, and others in America and Japan.
A whole genus and many species of plants were named after him.
Road to Barberton
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