William Philip Schreiner — King's Counsel, CMG of ‘Eastcliffe’, No. 16 Main Road St James — was born at Wittebergen Reserve near Herschel. He was the son of Reverend G Schreiner, a German missionary. His sister Olive received widespread acclaim for her bookThe Story of an African Farm. After studying at London and Cambridge universities he was called to the English Bar in 1882, and in the same year was appointed Advocate of the Supreme Court of the Cape Colony. He married the sister of Mr Reitz, one-time President of the Orange Free State. They had five children, and his son William Francis (Uncle Bill) lived at Eastcliffe from 1916 until his death in 1957.

Both father and son were keen rock fisherman at St James and William Senior broke the then record for the Gordon’s Bay coast by landing a huge 111lb (±50kg) kabeljauw. In 1911 he successfully led a petition to the local municipality to build a tidal pool at St James for safe bathing, sparking the development of tidal pools along the coastline.

A friend of Cecil John Rhodes, he served in his ministry, was a member of the Jameson Raid and after the general election of 1898 became Premier of Cape Colony, a position he held for two years. After serving as a Senator for four years he was appointed the High Commissioner in London in 1918 where he contracted a severe bout of flu. This weakened him considerably and he never fully recovered, dying at the relatively young age of 61 on 28 June 1919, the day on which the Treaty of Versailles was signed – a treaty in which he supported both Smuts and Botha in requesting the Allies to take a more lenient approach to the German people; for to crush them indiscriminately would only cause them to rise again. Their plea fell on deaf ears, but proved to be correct.