Percy Alport Molteno, born in 1861, was the second son of Sir John Molteno, the first Prime Minister of the Cape Colony, from 1872 until 1878. After 1878 Sir John continued as a progressive farmer at Beaufort West, but he also kept a large estate at Claremont, near Cape Town, and it was here that Percy grew up. He was educated at the Diocesan College, Rondebosch, (“Bishops”), after which he studied at the University of the Cape of Good Hope and achieved academic honours at Trinity College Cambridge, going on to qualify as a barrister.
Percy Alport Molteno
He returned to South Africa in 1886 and set himself up in practice in Cape Town. But at that time the Colony was not lacking in legal talent and, with competition being keen, Molteno’s practice was slow in getting off the ground. In 1889 he married Elizabeth Currie, the daughter of Sir Donald Currie, the shipping magnate, whom he had met while a student in England. He was offered a partnership by his farther-in-law, which after due consideration he accepted. This entailed residence in London, and he therefore left the Cape. However, he remained in touch with his family and a wide circle of influential friends and acquaintances, and with these he would maintain close contact for many years.