The British government was puzzled by the Great Trek of 1836–7 when thousands of Boer farmers moved out of the Cape, leaving British jurisdiction. In 1845 it annexed Natal and in 1848 followed up by annexing the Orange River Territory, pursuing the Boers. But it was difficult to establish control and in 1852 the British signed the Sand River convention acknowledging the independence of the Boers in the Transvaal in the hope that they would not assist the Boers in the Orange River Territory. But the Orange River Territory remained unstable and, in a startling switch of policy in 1854, by the Bloemfontein convention, power was handed back to the Boers. This arrangement did not prove satisfactory and two Boer wars resulted.
Subjects: British History.