Book Reviews

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Cockney Liz Legendary Barmaid of Barberton

Sometimes bold, sometimes bashful, sometimes seductive but mostly Cockney Liz was a business woman and hotelier, with a lust for life. After traveling thousands of miles unaccompanied across the Atlantic Ocean and then by train to the gold mines of the Reef, Liz has to lower her upbringing by selling her body to some of the richest men in South Africa. The likes of Abe Bailey, Sammy Marks, Hirschel Cohen and Alfred Beit swooned her, protected her and one of them even offered her a hand in marriage. The shy and quite Alfred Scribbens accidentally meets Lizzie for the 2nd time on her quest to find her sweetheart, whom she had carried a blue lace jersey across the world for. She never gave up her search until she found the grave of Roy Spencer. Can-can girls, pool tables, drunken men, brothels, auctions and jealous woman are merely some of the daily responsibilities that Lizzie was faced with. A remarkable story of a [...]

Cockney Liz Legendary Barmaid of Barberton 2017-08-05T14:59:02+00:00

Personalia of Germans in South Africa

After publishing his monumental History of the Lutheran Church at the Cape, Dr. Hoge set himself the task of searching out the references in the various archives to the Germans who settled at the Cape during the indicated period. Previously the subject has been dealt with by Schmidt and Moritz, but now for the first time exhaustively by Dr. Hoge. Besides the 4,000, whose personalia are given in alphabetical order, followed by a list of women and Swiss immigrants, Dr. Hoge has collected the names of some 10,000 Germans who, during the above mentioned period, did not leave the service of the Company; this brings us to the figure of 14,000 persons of German origin, who individually and collectively must have contributed their share in the formation and the upbuilding of the Cape Colony during the first 150 years of its existence.

Personalia of Germans in South Africa 2017-04-11T10:44:55+00:00

From Manchester to Albany

For anyone whose family was an 1820 Settler Peter Kirkman's years of research and investigation has proven to be one of the finest and most comprehensively cited genealogy books of any particular South African family I have yet to read. See the list of some of the surnames mentioned below This epic saga of the Kirkman family and their descendants spans over 200 years of hardships living in hostile African conditions, brave farmers who fought for their land, strong religious values and survival of a remarkable family that have their tales to tell. 1820 Settler John Kirkman who arrived with Smith’s party had a particularly interesting son in law Edward Jeffries who was married to his daughter Martha. Their son, also named Edward, set fire to his neighbour’s property after a fit of rage, and through a lucky decision by the jury, he was declared temporarily insane. Jefferies after serving 17 months for the duty of his crime was finally released from [...]

From Manchester to Albany 2017-05-20T10:57:13+00:00

Francois Renier Duminy 1747–1811

The intrigue and mystery surrounding the Duminy ancestors' connection with the well-to-do Lebre family of Tarascon in France reminds me of my own family's long line of Master Mariners.The history of the Duminy family is a plethora of information - Andrew Duminy has meticulously researched the family history and descendants of Francois Renier Duminy and has rewarded all living relatives with a magnificent piece of history that every one of them will treasure forever. Francois Renier Duminy's prolific naval career, crowned with the Chevalier Grand Cross of the Order of St. Philippe as well as the Sovereign Prince Rose Croix, was an extraordinary achievement by a man who started off with the French East India Company and eventually brought him to the Cape. His involvement with the Freemasons and his long association the Lodge De Goede Hoop ensured his position as Grandmaster in 1795 and by undisputed vote again in 1797. Francois Renier Duminy's social life led him and his wife to [...]

Francois Renier Duminy 1747–1811 2017-05-20T11:03:23+00:00

Broken Promises

So much has been written in the past about settlers and immigrants to South Africa but also many of them have been sadly neglected or overlooked until now. Keith Tankard's "Broken Promises", Exploring Sir George Grey's Settler Schemes for the Eastern Cape Frontier, could not have arrived at a more appropriate time than Heritage Week 2012. This remarkable E-book covers numerous aspects of the primary role players such as German Military Settlement, Saving the military settlement, Some Legionnaire stories, German agricultural families and some postscripts. Read about the drama on the high seas from when Baron von Stutterheim was bitten on the hand by his favourite bulldog and in a fit of temper flung the dog overboard the ship, to the construction of houses with even a kiln in every village. Keith provides a fascinating insight into the lives of these new immigrants. Tankard is assisted by Nolene Lossau, who has an Oxford Undergraduate Advanced Diploma in Local History. She shares her [...]

Broken Promises 2017-05-20T11:19:52+00:00

Claim to the Country

Reading Pippa's unbelievable publication "Claim to the Country", gave me wonderful insight into the Khoi people and their heritage and ancestry. Now part of UNESCO' s Memory of the World Register, this lavishly illustrated Claim to the Country: The Archive of Lucy Lloyd and Wilhelm Bleek has been created, compiled, and introduced by Pippa Skotnes, and presents - in book form and on an accompanying DVD - all the notebook pages and drawings that comprise this remarkable archive. Contextualizing essays by well-known scholars, such as Nigel Penn, John Parkington, Eustacia Riley and Anthony Traill, and a searchable index for all the narratives and contributors are included. Through this remarkable collection, we can better understand what it means that the people who lived in southern Africa long before any new arrivals settled the country no longer survive through their language or culture of intellectual traditions, but only as text on a page. The Bleek-Lloyd archive is the San's surviving claim to the country. [...]

Claim to the Country 2017-05-20T11:28:48+00:00

Villages of the Liesbeeck

Helen Robinson has excelled again in her unbelievable knowledge and research on Cape History. Her latest book "The Villages of the Liesbeeck - From the Sea to the Source" - documents the history of the inhabitants who lived along this once very fertile and countryside of the Liesbeeck River which was abundant with wild animals and exotic plant life. Helen's digs into the daily lives of these early settlers and explains who took land from the local herders and also highlights the slaves who later married into prominent Dutch families, who created the "brown people" of South Africa today. Whilst the struggling communities lived in hope and despair the more affluent residents were buying and selling the land of today's historic homesteads which once belonged to the indigenous people. Villages of the Liesbeeck include the intermarriages between local families that ensured property and wealth was kept within the same circles. The social life, parties, scandal, subdivision of property, domestic workers and the [...]

Villages of the Liesbeeck 2017-05-20T11:37:44+00:00

The Fox and the Flies

The nineteenth-century was the age of industry, witnessing extraordinary advances in manufacturing, trade and communications. Exploiting the new infrastructure of railways, steamships and telegraph systems, European pimps and 'white slave' traffickers were hugely successful in establishing an integrated global market for commercial sex. In the newly developed industrialized economy, criminal syndicates in capital cities such as Buenos Aires, Cape Town, Bloemfontein, Johannesburg, New York, London and Rio de Janeiro - were able to commission the seduction or rape of women by agents in under-developed parts of Europe and 'export' them as prostitutes to meet the insatiable demand for sexual services throughout the Atlantic world. For three turbulent decades before the First World War, Joseph Silver - brothel-owner, pimp and trafficker in women on four continents - was central to this hidden world of betrayal, intrigue, lust and sexual slavery. Burglar, gun-runner, jewel-thief, rapist, safe-cracker and sodomist, Silver's notoriety was captured in the most confidential correspondence of a dozen countries in the western [...]

The Fox and the Flies 2017-05-20T11:45:21+00:00

The Bishop’s Churches

Having such a passionate interest in Genealogy and church records, I was delighted and overwhelmed when my husband bought "The Bishop's Churches" for my birthday. I found that Desmond's vibrant and delicate brush strokes have brought a true sense to the meaning of tranquillity and belief to the living monuments of Bishop Grey and his wife Sophy. This beautifully illustrated collection of water colours and line-art drawings of Anglican Churches gives not only a history of each church portrayed, but also reflects the outstanding Victorian Gothic Architecture as well as distinctive Norman ornamentation. Desmond's representation of these houses of divinity pays tribute to the craftsmanship of the skilled tradesmen at the time who have enriched the architectural heritage of South Africa. This beautifully illustrated book brings to life the legacy which Bishop Robert Grey and Sophy have left behind. This publication is a definite must for any family historian who has ties with the Anglican Church. The following Churches are included in [...]

The Bishop’s Churches 2017-05-20T12:03:58+00:00

Plague, Pox and Pandemics

This is a Jacana Pocket History of Epidemics in South Africa by Howard Phillips is an epidemic of lethal diseases which killed tens of thousands of people in South Africa. Anyone who lost a family member during the years covered in this book would more than likely have died from one the 5 epidemics mentioned in this book being Smallpox, Bubonic Plague, Spanish Flu, and Poliomyelitis or yes AIDS. Many genealogical researchers or family historians seem to forget that besides war or old age that their family members probably died from one these dreaded diseases. Spanish Flu in 1918 killed 6 percent of the inhabitants in South Africa which was a staggering three hundred thousand people. Thousands of orphans were produced literally overnight as men and woman became instant widows and widowers. Black October was the country's worst epidemic ever, as it outdid the force, range and lethality out of every epidemic that appeared in Southern Africa. Howard simplifies these five major [...]

Plague, Pox and Pandemics 2017-05-20T12:34:29+00:00

Admiralty House Simon’s Town

I have been to Simon's Town many times in my life and my childhood association with the Royal Navy has been vividly recalled when I was recently introduced to the book by Boet Dommisse's of Admiralty House Simon's Town. In the 1960's I lived next door to a house owned by the Royal Navy in Plumstead that was occupied by my godmother and godfather, who was the Admiral's chauffeur. Boet Dommisse has truly brought to life this wonderful, nostalgic period, not only in my own life, but also for those who spent many years - specially during war times - working and living in close proximity with and in the home of the Admiral. The author, the retired Chair of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Cape Town, co-authored Simon's Town - An Illustrated Historical Perspective after relocating to the area in 1996 and was subsequently approached by the SA Navy to undertake the Admiralty House project. This richly illustrated book [...]

Admiralty House Simon’s Town 2017-04-05T13:01:22+00:00

A Memoir in Letters

A Memoir in Letters by Penelope Forrest covers the Phelps family who originated in Gloucester England. She follows them through the generations, piecing together the puzzle of these wonderful ancestors who have provided her with more than just meat on the bones for her family tree. When Penelope started transcribing letters by her ancestors she unravelled a wealth of information about her family's past. Story telling at its best The narrative description in the book provides wonderful accounts of family’s life and culture in England, Madeira and South Africa, through family events, war, love and hope. Penelope captures the reality of life, enchantment and pleasure that drive long-distance family relationships to survive and the breathless excitement that comes with the arrival of each new letter Why I love this book A Memoir in Letters makes fascinating reading for anyone who has delved into their family history. It makes me want to bring out that box of family memoirs and do exactly the [...]

A Memoir in Letters 2017-11-13T16:25:13+00:00

The Black Countess

The Black Countess is an incredible story that chronicles the life of Martha a woman of colour from Wynberg and her husband the Harry, the 7th Earl of Stamford. Martha the daughter of freed slave and well known Tavern owner "Queen Rebecca" of Cape Town who married Harry Gray the rejected remittance man from an upper class family in England. It is a true story of two people from such widely different backgrounds whose compatibility, let alone affection, seemed impossible. There was difference of origin, she from the Cape, and he from the great colonial power that was England. They came from different classes, she from a background of slavery, and he from the privilege of the British aristocracy. Martha Solomon There were differences of colour, where he was white, and she was the product of the creolisation of the people of the Cape. He came from a background of wealth, she from poverty. He spoke English, and she spoke Dutch. In [...]

The Black Countess 2017-05-20T12:51:00+00:00