Charles Du Val was born in Manchester, England in 1810 of Irish parents. Du Val and his business manager and long-time associate, Arthur Fry, arrived in Cape Town at the end of 1879. They toured South Africa until 1881, when they were interrupted by the siege of Pretoria during the First Anglo-Boer War.

The two, who had been joined by the Pole Checheffski in Port Elizabeth, arrived in Pretoria on18 November 1880. They joined the Pretoria Carabineers, also known as D’Arcy Horse. In December, Du Val was attached to the staff of the British garrison commandant Lt.-Col. G. F. Gildea of the Royal Scots Fusiliers. On 25 December 1880, a news-sheet called News of the Camp,with a circulation of 500, was published with Du Val as editor, assisted by Charles W. Deecker. The paper was distributed thrice weekly and the last edition was printed on the press of De Volksstem and published on 9 April 1881. Du Val took part in the skirmishes at Sesmylspruit, Swartkoppies, and Elandsfontein during the siege of Pretoria by the Boer commandos.

In April 1881, the company departed for Kimberly where they resumed their performances after an interval of five months. Before Du Val’s return to England, he lectured in Cape Town on the war. He wrote With a show through Southern Africa, and personal reminiscences of the Transvaal War (2 vol.,1882), which remains a valuable source of information about South Africa, the war and the siege of Pretoria.

Du Val returned to England some time after 1882.


Potgieter, al. (eds). (1971). Standard Encyclopaedia of Southern Africa, NASOU: Cape Town, v. 4, p. 143. |

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