ZOOLOGICALS & BOTANICALS
Robert Jacob Gordon (1743-1795) studied the humanities whilst a cadet with the Dutch Light Dragoons. After joining the Dutch East India Company he rose to the rank of Colonel and was the commander of the Cape garrison. He went on six journeys in southern Africa, and was responsible for naming the Orange River. In addition to French, Dutch and English, he spoke the indigenous languages KhoeKhoe and Xhosa. For most of his journeys he followed well-travelled routes, sometimes joined by others going the same way. His equipment was carried by a single wagon, while he was on horseback, ranging across the veld, observing, recording and occasionally hunting. After the French successfully invaded the Netherlands, a British fleet arrived at the Cape claiming that they had instructions to occupy the colony. Gordon became an outcast and a target of derision and violence and on 25 October 1795 he committed suicide at his house Schoonder Sight.