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Stafford Parker was a British artist, miner and the only President of the small and short-lived "Diggers Republic" on the diamond fields of southern Africa.
Griqualand West and President of the Diggers Republic
Originally an auctioneer and artist, Parker moved to mining in Griqualand West in southern Africa, where he rose to prominence as commandant of the miners' "Mutual Protection Association". The chaotic diamond fields were disputed among several political claimants, such as the local Griqua people, the Orange Free State and the Transvaal Republic. The white British miners ("diggers") rejected all of these claims and, following a series of disputes, a faction of the miners declared themselves independent until they could attain annexation to the British Empire.
On 30 July 1870 at the settlement of Klipdrift, Parker became the first and only President of the short-lived self-declared "Diamond Diggers Republic" (also known as the "Klipdrift Republic"). His government renamed Klipdrift as "Parkerton" after its new President, and began to collect taxes (often at gunpoint). The size of mining plots was limited in a move towards economic egalitarianism; however non-white persons were prohibited from holding either land or mining licenses.
He then moved to Lydenburg in the Transvaal, where he opened the "Masonic Lodge" and was elected to the Volksraad (parliament) of the Transvaal Republic.
He was widely known for his distinctive and memorable appearance. He always dressed extremely elaborately in a presidential manner. His signature item of clothing was his large white top-hats, that he always wore and that made him immediately recognisable. The journalist R.W. Murray described him as a "swagger citizen", and a master story-teller.
- Diamond flag of the Diggers' Republic taken from the South African Flag Book by A.P. Burgers plate37]]
- "Stafford Parker - KAAPSCHE HOOP CHARACTERS OF THE EARLY DAYS", Mapumalanga Happenings accessed 27 Jan 2014
- Jade Davenport, "A question of sovereignty over South Africa’s earliest diamond diggings" Mining Weekly 28 May 2010 accessed 27 Jan 2014
- Jade Davenport, "Diggers’ democracy – the era of the small-scale digger", Mining Weekly 9 July 2010 accessed 27 Jan 2014
- Kilpdrift Republic accessed 27 Jan 2014
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-02-26. Retrieved 2015-02-26.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
- R.W. Murray: South African Reminiscences. 1894. p.101.