Ancestry Gift Vouchers

Ancestry Gift Vouchers are the perfect gift idea for family and friends for Christmas or Birthday presents. An Ancestry Gift Voucher is something that will last for generations to come and preserve family history's. Ancestry Gift Vouchers can be bought in terms of "hours of research undertaken" and are emailed to the purchaser as a customised jpeg image with the receivers’ name on it so that you can print it out. Payments can be made via Electronic Bank Transfer in South Africa and PayPal for overseas clients. How does this work? You buy a few hours of my time and I will research the family history with the information you have provided, and your family member or friend will need to also provide me with the starting information. They will also need to give me copies of documents they already have so that I do not repeat something that may have been done already. However, depending on how much depth of [...]

Ancestry Gift Vouchers 2017-11-30T15:48:27+00:00

How Grahamstown got its name

John Graham was born on the 24th July 1778 in Dundee Scotland. He was a British officer and the second son of Robert Graham, the last laird of the Fintry demesne and twelfth representative of the Grahams of Fintry in Forfarshire, north of Glasgow, and his wife, Peggy Milne. His old and noble family was descended from the first Duke of Montrose, and, originally, from Sir William Grame, laird of Kincardine in the early fifteenth century. As a lieutenant aged sixteen, he joined the 90th Regiment, which had been raised in 1794 by his kinsman, Thomas Graham, of Balgowan (the later Lord Lynedoch). In 1795 he left, at the head of a detachment, for an Island on the French coast, but poor health caused his return to Britain in 1796. Later he served under Colonel Graham, of Balgowan, and in 1799 went to Toulon with Earl Hood's expedition. In the same year he was appointed aide-de-camp to the Earl of Chatham, [...]

How Grahamstown got its name 2017-12-04T06:40:08+00:00

The History of Maitland

Base Calvary Camp at Maitland where the Calvary were sent on arrival to retrieve their horses after the voyage. The first recorded grant of a section of land in the Maitland area was made during the first decades of the British colonial occupation at the Cape. The farm, named ‘Varsche Vallei’ was a loan farm granted by the then-Governor of the Cape, Lord Charles Somerset to M.J. La Cock at 30 rixdollars per annum. The farm covered 826 morgen and encompassed the area now known as Wingfield. [De Vries, 1991] The well-known fossil of the extinct Cape zebra, Equus capensis was found in 1909 embedded in the sandy limestone of the area. It apparently derived from a former land deposit now lying below sea-level and presumably of the Middle or Upper Pleistocene age. Did you know? The town was named after Sir Peregrine Maitland, Governor of the Cape (1844—47) It was proclaimed a separate municipality in 1902, but was [...]

The History of Maitland 2017-12-03T14:41:28+00:00

Claremont Then and Now

Claremont Station circa 1900 Claremont is a residential suburb in the municipality of Cape Town, within the magisterial district of Wynberg. It lies 9.6 km south of Cape Town between Newlands and Kenilworth. The village started forming in the 1830s on the Main Road around what was essentially a farming area. The community flourished, and with the opening of the railway line from Cape Town to Wynberg in 1864, Claremont developed even further. Arderne Gardens, now a public park of 4 hectares, was originally planted by R. H. Arderne in 1845 as part of his estate, The Hill. He, and later his son, H. M. Arderne developed a fine collection of exotic trees, often with the help of the director of Kew Gardens in London. British astronomer, Sir John Herschel, who resided at the Cape from 1834 to 1838, lived and made astronomical observations at Feldhausen in Claremont. After four years of concentrated effort he completed his survey and returned [...]

Claremont Then and Now 2017-11-28T18:22:58+00:00

Sale of Free Black

Widow of the late agriculturist, Hendrik Swanepoel; mentions that her late husband in 1764 bought from the late free black, Johannes Jansz of Ceylon, a slave named Manna of Boegies, who, especially since the death of her husband, has shown himself very obstinate and unbridled, so that, for fear of disaster, she had been obliged to do away with and sell him in another country. Accordingly having brought him into town from her place in the country, in 1771, she requested the Provost, Jan Jacob Doeksteen, to send him away to India, in charge of one or other seaman, in order to be sold there. He accordingly entrusted him to the junior mate of the Ceylon ship “Velzen,” viz.: Arnoldus Pietersz: who however found himself unable to carry out his commission; for having brought the said slave to Colombo, the latter maintained that he was no slave, but a free man. Accordingly the Court of Justice there decided that the Deed, authorising [...]

Sale of Free Black 2017-11-02T11:14:11+00:00

Newsletter Contribution Ancestors South Africa

Would you like to contribute to the Ancestors South Africa Newsletter, The Cape Almanac? It has been out of circulation for a while, but with the help of some genealogical Imps and Elves, we hope to get it going again into a Quarterly Newsletter and then eventually a monthly issue. We are looking for any interesting family stories, old photographs of places of interest, 'then and now', or anything of historical or genealogical interest that will whet the appetite of our thousands of readers. Hopefully, this newsletter will grow into a real magazine. All articles will be proofread to ensure top quality editorials. Images must be your own property or out of copyright. Your articles will also appear on Ancestors South Africa website and you will be credited as the author. You can send your submission to me.

Newsletter Contribution Ancestors South Africa 2017-11-28T18:29:31+00:00

Traditional Heritage Recipes

Traditional Heritage Recipes are part of our everyday life and especially when it comes to public holidays. The South African people are renowned for their varied culinary dishes. Since early times travellers have mentioned the good food they were offered at the Cape. South African cookery developed from the eating habits of the colonists and their slaves, who came from various parts of the world. Many South African recipes derive from the Netherlands. German soldiers in the garrisons, as well as subsequent German immigrants, also contributed considerably. Social activities at the Cape always reached a peak when there were ships in Table Bay. After the crew had enjoyed the hospitality of the burghers, these were in turn treated to receptions on board ship, and the exchange of recipes and different kinds of liquor which accompanied these festivities greatly enhanced the local cookery. The Cape Malays even used to exchange songs for wine. Traditional Heritage Recipes The character of South African cookery bears [...]

Traditional Heritage Recipes 2017-09-22T11:42:06+00:00

Missing Ancestors

Have you got any missing ancestors in your family tree? Every week, in some town in South Africa, someone is reported missing; but for 99 out of every 100 disappearances there is a simple explanation. Occasionally, however, there is the inexplicable disappearance that remains unsolved, the best-known case perhaps being that of George Arthur Heard, a well-known Johannesburg journalist and political commentator, who was Signals officer with the rank of lieutenant in the South African frigate Good Hope, when he walked off his ship on to the Table Bay Docks on Tuesday, 7 Aug. 1945, and vanished without trace soon afterwards. He was due to report back on board on the Thursday morning; he carried no luggage at all. On the Wednesday morning, he called on his mother-in-law at Sea Point and left there at 2 p.m., promising to return for dinner. He intended, he said, to go back to the ship during the afternoon, but no one saw him there. At [...]

Missing Ancestors 2017-09-19T12:40:26+00:00

Alabama Confederate Raider

The Confederate raider the Alabama was built by Lairds of Birkenhead during the American Civil War. She was designed to prey on the mercantile shipping of the Northern states. The Northern government attempted to have her impounded under the neutrality laws, but she escaped to the Azores, where she was armed on 29 August 1862. Her captain, Raphael Semmes, and her officers were Southerners, her crew British. By 28 July 1863, when she arrived at Saldanha Bay, she had accounted for SS enemy ships, and on 5 August she captured the Northern bark Sea Bride outside Table Bay. The Alabama was unsuccessfully pursued to the Cape of Good Hope by the U.S.S. Vanderbilt. In the following March the Alabama returned to the Cape, and this was probably the occasion when the Malays composed the well-known 'ghommaliedjie' (folk-song) Daar kom die Alabama. From Cape Town she went direct to Cherbourg in France, where she was sunk outside the harbour by the U.S.S. Kearsarge [...]

Alabama Confederate Raider 2017-05-06T16:12:52+00:00

Bowesdorp Ghost Town

The old church Bowesdorp is a Ghost town on the national road from Cape Town to Springbok, in the magisterial district and division of Namaqualand, aprox 504 kilometres north-west of Cape Town and 591 kilometres south of Springbok. In 1850 the Dutch Reformed parish of Namaqualand was separated from the mother parish of Clanwilliam, a place for a church was required. A site was chosen on the farm Wilgenhoutskloof and the church, the first in Namaqualand, was completed in 1864. Plots were surveyed and sold and the village that sprang up round the church was at first named Bowesville after Henry Bowe, a Namaqualand doctor. The village did not develop much until 1897, when Moses Schuur opened a shop and built a hotel next to it. Then came the post office, the police station and the prison, and it seemed as if Bowesdorp was on the road to prosperity. However, the growing importance of Springbok, which had been established in [...]

Bowesdorp Ghost Town 2017-12-08T11:40:24+00:00

Rehoboth Basters

The main surviving group of Basters  are those inhabiting the 'Rehoboth Gebiet', a territory of 5,000 sq. m., some 50 m. south of Windhoek in South-West Africa. The size of the population living in the 'Gebiet' at any one time is difficult to estimate. According to the 1960 census the Basters numbered 8,960, a figure which remains more or less stationary. In addition there were about 40 Whites, well over 2,000 Nama and Damara, and a good many recent Coloured immigrants from other parts of South-West Africa and from the Republic, as well as other non-Whites to the number of about 5, 000. The majority are thus the descendants of early Basters, the pioneers of the territory during the latter half of the 19th century, and they insist on being called Rehoboth Basters, a term which they reserve strictly to themselves. The Administration of South West Africa has decided that the Whites in the 'Gebiet' must sell their land to the Administration [...]

Rehoboth Basters 2017-04-05T13:46:38+00:00

Secret Society in the Parliament Precinct

It's 235 years old, but very few know about the De Goedehoop Masonic lodge. Governments rise and fall, but one thing remains constant in the precincts of Parliament in Cape Town: 235-year-old Masonic lodge. Few know that an old and venerable temple of the ancient and mysterious brotherhood of Freemasons exists in the parliamentary complex. But De Goedehoop Temple was built long before Parliament.

Secret Society in the Parliament Precinct 2017-11-02T16:26:19+00:00

Was your Ancestor a Beauty Queen?

Was your Ancestor a Beauty Queen? As we celebrate the Miss World Contest we congratulate Candice Abrahams a South African who has been crowned Miss World at the 27th Miss World Pageant held on 12th March 2016 at Dongguan, in China, we also look back at the winners of the Miss South Africa and the South African winners of the Miss Universe contest as well. Many beauty contests have been held in South Africa since 1910. The most important being those in which the winners are entered in overseas contests.

Was your Ancestor a Beauty Queen? 2017-10-22T17:24:07+00:00

Pagel’s Circus

Friedrich Wilhlem August Pagel was born in Plathe, Pomerania, Germany on 5 February 1878 Friedrich, the 'strong man' and circus proprietor, was the 2nd of eight children born to Antonia Fraudnich and August Pagel, a huge strong man. Friedrich inherited his father's great size and strength which he enhanced by working at a smithy in his home town. He qualified as a blacksmith when he was seventeen, but became a ship's stoker and travelled widely and adventurously, finally deserting his ship at Sydney, Australia,

Pagel’s Circus 2017-04-05T13:44:35+00:00

Basters of Little Namaqualand

The Basters of Little Namaqualand lived in the five Coloured reserves - Concordia, Komaggas, Leliefontein (Lily Fountain), Steinkopf and the Richtersveld - in the magisterial district of Namaqualand, Cape Province, provide nowadays a field in which the Baster way of life in its various modified forms can be observed. These reserves originated as mission 'areas' of the London Missionary Society during the first half of the 19th century and received formal recognition by the Government of the Cape Colony in the shape of 'tickets of occupation' shortly afterwards. (Leliefontein was taken over by the Methodists at an early stage, and the others by the Rhenish Missionary Society later on.) Most of the territory in which these reserves are situated was claimed by Kupido Witbooi, chief of the Hobesen tribe, but during the first two decades of the 19th century his domain was 'invaded' by families of Basters who brought with them guns and a new way of life. Missionaries also arrived at [...]

Basters of Little Namaqualand 2017-04-05T13:44:50+00:00

Was your ancestor a petty criminal?

Some years ago whilst searching through the Government Gazettes I came across an interesting list of Criminal Offences from 1855 and a List of Prisoners Committed to the Cape Town Goal. By PE de Robaix Esq. Justice of the peace. These were true extracts by N. Stewart Gaoler. Browse below and see if one of your ancestors appear,

Was your ancestor a petty criminal? 2017-04-05T13:45:29+00:00

Pirates on the High Sea

The Union Castle liners plough the sea between Cape and Southampton week after week, year after year, with never a thought of danger other than from storm or fog. On almost every tide the ships of Great Britain may float in security, and it is many a long year since passengers had cause to fear the cruelty or the rapacity of pirates. Yet there are still those living at the Cape today - though they are getting on in years and have passed Psalmist's allotted span - who can remember the terrible story of the “Morning Star” and her awful fate.

Pirates on the High Sea 2017-05-30T10:38:23+00:00

French Surgeons at the Cape of Good Hope

It is a pity that so little is known about the medical men and profession at the Cape during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and on that account any information gathered from the official records of the country should prove of interest. We have no record to show that any of the Cape surgeons or physicians studied under any of the noted professors of Holland or France, but it does seem natural to suppose that they studied and read the publications of some of the celebrated medical authorities of their day. We know that those who practised here were examined in Holland, and others who had served their term of apprenticeship at the Cape were examined by two of the Chief Government Surgeons and certified as being competent to practice. After the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685 thousands of Frenchmen, rather than abjure their faith, and to escape religious persecutions, sought an asylum in different parts of Europe. Many [...]

French Surgeons at the Cape of Good Hope 2017-04-05T13:41:49+00:00

Hidden Treasures in South Africa

Many romantic tales are current of treasures lost and found in Southern Africa during the past five centuries. Some are based on fact and others on less reliable information. It is certain that notorious 16th- and 17th-century pirates careened their ships on islands off the coasts of East Africa and Madagascar, and stories about pirate hoards hidden by these desperadoes still circulate. Many ships carrying valuable cargoes, including treasure, have been wrecked off the coast of Southern and East Africa. Records reveal that from the middle of the 16th to the middle of the 17th century the Portuguese alone lost about 130 ships on the route to India, most of them on the treacherous African coast. High losses were also sustained by other maritime nations.

Hidden Treasures in South Africa 2017-11-18T08:21:50+00:00

Die Boerevrou Magazine

In 1918, Die Boerevrou, the first Afrikaans magazine for women, appeared in Pretoria. This illustrated monthly magazine for women was the first published magazine in Afrikaans. Die Boerevrouw (its title until June 1920) was the first women's magazine in Afrikaans and appeared in Pretoria from March 1919 under the editorship of the owner, Mrs. Mabel Malherbe (nee Rex), whose assistant editor from an early date was Mrs. M. E. Rothmann (M.E.R.), who published her first short stories in it.

Die Boerevrou Magazine 2017-11-02T12:28:53+00:00

Ancestors in Kilts

It is interesting to find that the first Scotsman in South Africa William Robbertson (sic) of Dundee former surgeon was stationed at the Castle around 1660 shortly after the arrival of Jan Van Riebeeck and that the Scots presence was found in local taverns as well as which often doubled up as brothels, of which one was called the Schotsche Tempel.

Ancestors in Kilts 2017-04-05T13:40:32+00:00

Mothers, Midwifery, Births & Babies

The first White baby was born at the Cape to the wife of the sick-comforter Willem Barentz Wijlant on 6 June 1652. At the time an epidemic of a serious type of dysentery affected many of the available helpers, but of the three women who were not ill, the wife of Adriaen de Jager, the first senior surgeon at the Cape, probably would have assisted at the delivery

Mothers, Midwifery, Births & Babies 2017-04-05T13:40:51+00:00

Freemasons in the Family?

Have you ever wondered why your Ancestors became Freemasons? Was it because of the idea of belonging to a secret society, or perhaps a night off from the nagging wife once a week? Men join and practice Freemasonry to make themselves better human beings, and the rituals, symbolism, and teachings of Freemasonry focus on morality and ethics.

Freemasons in the Family? 2017-11-08T13:55:11+00:00

Cab Proprietors

The coach evidently reached South Africa at an early stage, because Simon van der Stel travelled in one when he led an expedition to Namaqualand in 1685 in search of copper. The Dutch coach of his time was a heavy four-wheeled vehicle with a leather-covered and brass-studded body. The undercarriage was like that of the wagon, with four upright posts from which the body was suspended on leather straps. A coachman's seat was fitted above the front wheels and a team of up to six horses drew the vehicle, the leaders being controlled by a postilion who rode one of them.

Cab Proprietors 2017-11-02T12:39:23+00:00

History of Cycling in South Africa

Bicycle races were held in South Africa some years before Dunlop invented the pneumatic tyre (patented 1888). The first cycling club in Southern Africa the Port Elizabeth Bicycle Club was founded in Oct. 1881, while the South African Amateur Cycling Union was founded in 1892 in Johannesburg. On 9 Sept. 11893 the first South African championships were decided in Johannesburg, and in the same year the first world championships. Cycling prospered particularly on the Witwatersrand. Men like L. S. Meintjes, J. D. Celliers, L. C. Papenfus, C. H. Kincaid, F. G. Connock, H. Newby-Fraser, C. E. Brink and J. M. Griebenow were the pioneers of a sound cycling tradition. Lourens Meintjes, who used the first racing bicycle fitted with pneumatic tyres in Johannesburg, achieved high honours in 1893 in Europe and the U.S.A. Between 12 Aug. and 11 Sept. at Chicago and Springfield, Mass., respectively, he won five world titles and established sixteen world records over distances from 3 to So miles (4.8 [...]

History of Cycling in South Africa 2017-04-05T14:14:05+00:00

Hidden Family Heirlooms

Heirlooms in your family's possession are items or artefacts that are sometimes never spoken about or even viewed, but either hidden from prying eyes or discreetly placed in the home so as not to be seen as too conspicuous to non-family members. These items can sometimes be found listed in wills or they are simply passed down through the generations with admiration and a huge amount of trust ensuring that they do not end up on an auction or in the hands of the wrong person.

Hidden Family Heirlooms 2017-04-05T14:22:32+00:00

The King and I

King Sweyn II of Denmark A number of years ago I was lucky enough to be given a free DNA test. When I had my Mitochondrial DNA test done I discovered that I descended from Haplogroup H and my DNA sequence is 16093 T, 16126, 16304, 16362 and 16270. The DNA sequence which I have I also share with my sisters and their daughters, my mother, her mother and her mother’s sisters as well as any direct female ancestors. Originally I was told that my closest famous relative within my Haplogroup was Marie Antoinette but know I have discovered it is in fact King Sweyn II of Denmark and Tsar Nicolas Romanov are even closer. Other famous people who also share the same haplogroup. Luke the Evangelist A body attributed to Luke the Evangelist that resides in Padua, Italy, underwent a mtDNA (mitochondrial DNA) test: 1,850 years ago mitochondrial DNA sequence 6235G, 16291T Haplogroup H King Sweyn II of Denmark [...]

The King and I 2017-04-05T14:22:44+00:00

Were your Ancestors in the Circus?

From the evidence of early Dutch and Cape paintings, it may be assumed that the first White inhabitants of the Cape were diverted by performing dogs and various animals trained to do tricks, notably monkeys (which were common household pets) and baboons. The garrisons at the Castle possibly spent part of their leisure in training such animals, and performing bears and various animals from the Orient may have been seen when in transit to Europe. In the country districts feats and tricks of horsemanship were highly esteemed, and were probably demonstrated at kermis (fair) and other occasions where the farmers gathered. Organised exhibition of performing persons and animals cannot be traced before 1810, when an application was made for leave to stage a circus in Cape Town. Except for occasional theatrical performances and amateur diversions in the town, organised entertainment was rare, and the circus was one of the first forms to develop. One of the earliest was W. H. Bell's [...]

Were your Ancestors in the Circus? 2017-12-08T16:05:35+00:00

Was your Ancestor a Murderer?

From the beginning of time, there have been murderers and psychopaths - if we delved deeply enough into our family we may find that somewhere along the way one of our ancestors either killed someone for revenge, love or by mistake. We now take a look at some famous and not so famous South African murderers - perhaps you are related to one of them? Daisy De Melker DAISY LOUISA DE MELKER was born on 1st July 1886 at Seven Fountains, near Grahamstown. She was the daughter of William Stringfellow Hancorn Smith from Grahamstown and Fanny Augusta Mathilda Bird from Ascension Island. At the age of ten she went to live with her father, who had settled in Bulawayo, and was educated there and at the Good Hope Seminary in Cape Town. She completed a nursing course at the Berea Nursing Home, Durban. On 3rd March 1909 she married William Alfred Cowle, aged 35, a municipal plumber of Johannesburg. [...]

Was your Ancestor a Murderer? 2017-12-08T15:32:19+00:00

Clanwilliam History

This section of my website has been create to promote and bring an awareness to the historical value of  the town Clanwilliam, This is aimed at the forgotten people in the Cederberg with references to deaths, burials, farm graves, farm names and historical properties as well as any scandalous events you may know of.  This is an ongoing project. Anyone willing to contribute can contact me. Clanwilliam is a Principal town of the magisterial district and division of the Cedarberg Municipality, situated at the foot of the Cedarberg Range where the Jan Dissels River flows into the broad Olifants River, 232 km by the national road from Cape Town and 35 km from the nearest railway station, Graafwater. Clanwilliam, formerly Jan Disselsvlei (after Jan Dissel, a botanist who lived 'at the Rhenosterbosch along the Piquetberg Mountains'), celebrated its 150 th anniversary in Sept. 1964. The district originally formed part of the district of Stellenbosch. On 1 February I808 the Earl of [...]

Clanwilliam History 2017-12-08T14:01:37+00:00