Indentured Sailors of Simonstown

Indentured Sailors of Simontown play an immense role in the history of this Naval village. The relationship of the West African Krooman with the Royal Navy lasted about a hundred years from the early part [...]

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.

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 [...]

Did your Ancestors qualify to vote in South Africa

When the Cape Colony achieved representative government in 1853, all male persons complying with the following qualifications could be registered as voters: those who had occupied, for a period of twelve months, building which alone or with the ground on which it stood was worth at least £25; those who had, for a period of twelve months, earned a salary or wages amounting to at least £50 per annum.

Church Cemeteries Cape Town

For most genealogists, trying to find out when a certain church or cemetery opened is important for tracing your relatives. I am trying to find dates of these places to make it easier for you to find those missing records. If you can add or help with any additional information kindly contact Heather.

What is a Veldkornet

The field cornet was the most many-sided military, administrative and judicial officer in South Africa in the 19th century. The word `kornet' is derived from Spanish corneta (Latin corms, horn), which meant a cavalry flag and was later extended to mean the officer who carried this. Denoting a particular rank in the army it came from the Netherlands to South Africa.

Marriages and Divorces in South Africa

Pre 1972 Since the days of Roman law marriage in the Western world has been defined as the legally recognised union of one man and one woman, to the exclusion, while the marriage lasts, of all others. Polygamous unions, being fundamentally opposed to our conception of matrimony, are not recognised as valid marriages. Thus, Bantu customary unions, though by no means without legal effect (see Bantu law), are not marriages in the eyes of South African law.

Prison Records Pre-apartheid era

Participation in a historical research project about South Africa’s ex-political prisoners involved the retrieval of Apartheid era archive records of the Department of Correctional Services (called DCS hereafter) during which the following observations were made. [...]

Starting your Family Tree

Very few individuals can walk into a library and trace their family line without some knowledge of their ancestors. Even extensive knowledge of your ancestry does not guarantee that you will find your pedigree [...]

Shipping and Passenger Records in South Africa

Cape Town has generally been considered as the initial major port of entry for South Africa. Years later Durban, Port Nolloth, Port Elizabeth and East London became more popular. Tracing the departure of passengers from England can be found in various repositories such as the Cape Government Gazette papers (1805 to 1900) in the Cape Town and Natal Archives. Government Gazette papers are also held at the National Library in Cape Town.

Folk Medicine of South Africa

Various definitions and concepts of folk medicine have been put forward. It will be sufficient here to mention a concept of Afrikaans folk medicine and folk remedies given by Schulz and based on his research into the background of this subject: `Folk medicine includes any medium, treatment or ritualistic act which is applied or carried out to cure or avert illness; and is administered only as a direct consequence of the traditions and lore of a particular country.

Fire Wardens at the Cape

In time of fire, the Firewardens controlled the working of the manual fire engines by the slaves. The many thatched houses and the frequent south-east wind in the summer were dangers on the outbreak of a fire. On the alarm being sounded, those responsible for the engines hurried to the station which was next to the Burgher Watch House and ordered the slaves to bring them to the burning building. The Firewardens, who were specially chosen from amongst the prominent citizens of the town, were required to keep the crowd in order, to see that nothing was pilfered and generally to direct operations. As a sign of their authority they carried a staff with the Company's monogram engraved thereon.

Early Taverns and Hotels at the Cape

To Jan van Riebeeck goes the credit for having made the first attempt to provide services for the traveling public in South Africa. Barely two years after the establishment of the settlement at Table Bay, in 1654, he submitted for the consideration of Geraert Hulst, Director-General of the Dutch East India Company, whose ship Parel was lying in the bay, a request that he (Van Riebeeck) provide, for those visitors for whom facilities could not be furnished at the Fort, 'a boardinghouse (ordinaris), the keeper to be supplied from the Company's stores and gardens . . .'

Cape Criminal Procedures

During the 17th and 18th centuries criminal cases were tried before the Court of Justice which sat at Cape Town. This Court, the highest in the Colony, was composed of eleven members in 1686, and a hundred years later of twelve. In 1797 the number was reduced to seven, when the members received salaries for the first time. The President received £400 per annum. Up to 1734 the Governor occupied this position, but after this the Vice-Governor did so. The members acted as judge and jury combined.

Inhabitants of the Cape

From the 1815 a list of principal Inhabitants of the Cape were included in the African Court Calendars. As the city grew and the population increased more names were added to this list. It must be noted that generally only heads of households were listed. First names, surnames, initials, titles, occupations and address's of individuals can be found. In some instance as early as 1813 slaves and Muslims are listed including occupations such as fisherman, Malay priests and washerwomen.

Personalia of Germans at the Cape

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.

Weights and Measures in South Africa

In 1681, through the 'Statuten van India', the Dutch authorities prescribed standards of measurement and their application in trade. Instruments had to be assized twice yearly and the most common goods had to be marketed in fixed quantities. Fines were imposed for non-compliance. At the beginning of British rule in 1806 the following standards were in use

Quakers in South Africa

The Quaker movement arose in Great Britain out of the religious ferment of the mid- 17th century and soon spread to North America. Probably the first members to visit South Africa were whalers from Nantucket, who often called at Table Bay around 1800. Immigrants followed later and settled in various parts of the country. As their numbers grew they gathered for worship and counsel, first in isolated groups, then on a wider basis, until eventually national gatherings became possible. In 1946 the Friends in Southern Africa were given recognition as an autonomous body within the world fellowship.

Rose’s Round-up December 2009 No 191

FOLLOW THE FOOTSTEPS OF THE HIGHLANDERS Discover Magersfontein. Relive the fateful day when the pride of Scotland, the Highland Brigade, marched into the arms of the Boers at this famous Anglo-Boer War battlefield. Steve Lunderstedt, an experienced Boer War expert and tour guide will lead a day’s march at this historic site on Saturday, December 12. The outing begins at 06h30. Participants meet at the Moth Centre in Kimberley for coffee and a quick tour of the museum, if they wish. Each will be given a map as the tour departs for Modder River at 07h00. It will stop to [...]

Rose’s Round-up November 2009 No 190

ROADS TAKE YOU THERE, BUT THE PEOPLE REMAIN IN YOUR HEART! Some yearn to change course on the Road of Life – others just do it. One of these is Nicholas Yell. His adventures began when he moved to Aberdeen in the Karoo and began restoring a traditional, old ‘platdak’ (flat roofed) Karoo house. To relax he indulged two loves - photography and the absolute joy of roaring down a little-known gravel road on a dirt bike exploring the Great Karoo. In time this led to a planned “circumnavigation” – an adventure through this vast arid area. He captured it [...]

Rose’s Round-up October 2009 No 189

FIRST GATEWAY OPENS The first Cape Town Routes Unlimited Gateway to the Western Province is to be opened at Beaufort West in October. “One of three gateways to the province – the others are at Storms River and Van Rhynsdorp – its aim is to offer full support to tourists giving them details of where to go, what to do, where to stay throughout the province, as well as a variety of other information to make their holiday unforgettable,” said Centre manager, Liesl Lund. “Our aim is also to offer Internet and booking services to tourists so that they can [...]

Rose’s Round-up September 2009 No 188

NEW LIGHT ON AIR CRASH OF YESTERYEAR The news of an air crash on their doorstep saddened many Beaufort Westers in 1942. Details had faded till Rose’s Round-up, July 2009, brought them sharply into focus. The crash cost the life of Second Lieutenant Desmond Thornhill Gilfillan only a few days before his 21st birthday. After reading the story south African National Defence force researcher, Colonel Graham du Toit, sent Round-up a short write up covering Desmond’s military servicer record and the circumstantial report of his death. “Desmond, the son of C H Gilfillan of Teviot Station, near Middelburg in [...]

Rose’s Round-up August 2009 No 187

TOP HONOUR FOR AN ICON A man, widely respected for his knowledge of the arid zone, history, and the Anglo Boer war, is to be honoured by the University of the Free State. Johan Loock, who also helped distinguished author James Mitchener with research for his acclaimed novel, The Covenant, will be awarded an honorary doctorate for his exceptional efforts in the fields of geology and earth sciences at a special function at the university on September 16. Always ready to share his knowledge with anyone keen to learn, Johan is a well-known figure of the veld in his [...]

Rose’s Round-up July 2009 No 186

BRITSTOWN PRIMARY GOES GREEN Britstown’s really no different from any other small Karoo town. It has only a few thousand inhabitants, the socio-economic environment is challenging, business opportunities are limited, and unemployment is high. But the primary school has put it on the map. In 2008 Van Rensburg Primary decided to raise environmental awareness in the village and registered for the WESSA/WWF National Eco-Schools Programme. Now, it is the only school the Northern Cape Karoo area with an Eco-Schools Green Flag. This was awarded in recognition of exceptional efforts in environmental education. The school, founded in 1884, today has [...]

Rose’s Round-up June 2009 No 185

LIFE TIME OF SERVICE HONOURED Prince Albert’s Dr Richard Dean was recently honoured for a life time of service to ornithology. The prestigious Gill Memorial Medal, awarded only when a deserving candidate is identified, was presented to him by Rick Nuttall, president of BirdLife South Africa at the association’s annual general meeting in Phalaborwa. Rick praised Richard’s dedication, pioneering research and willingness to assist students, youngsters entering the field, researchers, conservation biologists and birders in general Richard entered the field of ornithology from the printing industry in the 1970s when he was commissioned to undertake a field study project in [...]

Rose’s Round-up May 2009 No 184

EXCELLENT CONFERENCE HOLDS GREAT PROMISE The first Karoo Development Conference, recently held in Graaff-Reinet, was a great success. Over 300 delegates, most key role players, attended. They represented a wide variety of small, medium and well-established businesses, various sectors of the tourism industry, many government departments and local authorities, as well as private entrepreneurs and their focus was the Karoo in all its aspects across the three provinces – Eastern, Western and Northern Cape. All talks were kept crisp, short and to the point. The well-chaired sessions all ran to time and question sessions were keenly monitored. There was much [...]

Rose’s Round-up April 2009 No 183

FESTIVAL TIME AGAIN! This year’s Prince Albert Town and Olive Festival is scheduled to take place on May 1 and 2. Organisers say the festival will have something for everyone – theatre, music, and other live entertainment, interesting and unusual things to buy, and fantastic food stalls. They are hoping to bring the South African National Circus School to town for two full shows. There will also be “brilliant street entertainment”, including mime artists, fire eaters and stilt walkers. The Muscle Cars will be a “must see” for motoring enthusiasts. The Jazz Art Dance Company has been booked and their [...]

Rose’s Round-up March 2009 No 182

FASCINATING PEEK AT PEOPLE OF THE PAST Max du Preez’s new book, Of Tricksters, Tyrants And Turncoats, is an excellent read. Typical of his work it is well-researched and well-written. The book takes readers back over 500 years and brings to life many lesser known people of the past. This is how history should be presented, particularly in schools, where all too often it is considered a deadly dull and dry. This book is a sequel to Of Warriors, Lovers and Prophets, however, its characters are perhaps more robust, colourful. The book contains amusing tales of Khoi ‘gentlemen’ who tried [...]

Rose’s Round-up February 2009 No 181

EXCELLENT SPEAKERS FOR FIRST DEVELOPMENT CONFERENCE Excitement is mounting in Graaff Reinet as plans mature for the First Karoo Development Conference scheduled to take place on March 26 and 27. This conference, the first of its kind, promises to be an event that everyone with an interest in the Karoo should attend. It will be opened by Daantjie Japhta, Mayor of Camdeboo Local Municipality, during a short session chaired by Prof Tienie Crous, Dean of the Faculty of Economic Sciences, at the University of the Free State (UFS). Sue van der Merwe, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Zohra Dawood, [...]

Rose’s Round-up January 2009 No 180

LOOKING BACK ON 15 YEARS January 2009, sees Rose’s Round-up moving into its sixteenth year of publication. It started in January 1993, when few people had any real faith in the tourism potential of the Karoo, nevertheless it survived, and this is the 180th issue. Initially it was designed as a cost-effective little newsletter to keep six town clerks abreast of what was happening in the newly-created Central Karoo Tourism Office and because, Rose Willis’s life partner, Wally Kriek, felt it might become a “knight in shining armour for the Karoo,” he sketched a knight using a pen for a [...]

Rose’s Round-up December 2008 No 179

A RARE TREASURE RE-APPEARS – AFRICANA COMES HOME A special treat is now available for history and poetry lovers. It is Songs of the Veld an anthology of protest poetry written during the Anglo-Boer War by six well known South African intellectuals (some of whom were English-speaking). These poems by C Louis Leipold, Betty Molteno, Alice Greene, Anna Purcell, Albert Cartwright and Friedrich Carl Kolbe, denounce the imperialistic methods of barbarism and scorched-earth policies of the British military forces. They were smuggled out and published anonymously in England in 1902 to protect the writers from prosecution as Martial Law still prevailed [...]

Rose’s Round-up November 2008 No 178

KAROO FARMER SCOOPS TOP INTERNATIONAL PRIZE The prestigious Ermenegildo Zegna Mohair trophy, for the best bale of summer kids’ mohair in the world, was recently presented to a Willowmore farmer. And, this is the second time that veteran Angora goat farmer, Billy Colborne, has won this coveted award. According to Farmer’s Weekly of October 17, 2008, Billy the also received the top award in 2005. The announcement was made at an awards ceremony in Port Elizabeth. The prize, which always includes a length of suiting material containing some of the winner’s own mohair, will be presented in Zegna, in the [...]

Rose’s Round-up October 2008 No 177

CONSERVE EVERYTHING FROM AARDVARKS TO ZEBRAS The Nama Karoo Foundation (NKF) has launched a booklet that stresses the need for conservation. Karoo Landowners Conservation Guidelines covers a wide range of issues related to the preservation of the country’s natural heritage and is available free as a PDF download, or as a hard copy costing R20. In addition to advising farmers on how to ensure that veld creatures, such as tortoises, can access water on their farms, the guide includes valuable information on how to handle the conservation of a wide range of fauna and flora. The NKF says “many of [...]

Rose’s Round-up September 2008 No 176

INTERESTED IN WEATHER FOLKLORE? If you have any weather-related folklore or other stories to share Dr Peter Alcock, who lives in Pietermaritzburg, would like to hear from you. He is in the final stages of compiling a book on myths, legends and stories relating to climate and weather patterns in South Africa. He has a mass of material rooted in San, Khoi-Khoi and African culture, plus interesting facts relating to place names, plants, the rainbow, rain, hail, snow, etc. He has also collected stories on specific and peculiar behaviours of birds, insects and animals, as well as tales on [...]

Rose’s Round-up August 2008 No 175

GET A TASTE OF THE KAROO IN OCTOBER A new cookbook will be on the shelves in October. It is the result of a move to the Karoo in 1990 which made it possible for Rose Willis to indulge her two great loves – historic research and cooking. “Friends scoffed when, after a particularly busy time in Johannesburg’s world of public relations, we announced we were going to drive down the road, find a house we liked and move to there,” she said, “But, we did just that and so I found myself in the Karoo. Never having been out [...]

Rose’s Round-up July 2008 No 174

ALL YOU EVER WANTED TO KNOW AND MUCH, MUCH MORE Struik has just launched a magnificent new book on the Great Karoo. Written by tour guide Leon Nell, a Zambian by birth, and entitled The Great Karoo, it covers the geology, palaeontology, fauna, flora and cultural heritage of this vast arid zone, which the author has divided into 11 sub-regions or mini-karoos. The 256-page book, lavishly illustrated in full colour, but with black-and-white photographs to enhance the history sections, contains everything that anyone would ever want to know about the Karoo and much, much more. It discusses land evolution, the [...]

Rose’s Round-up June 2008 No 173

A CLOSER LOOK AT INDIGENOUS PLANTS The Indigenous Plant Use Forum (IPUF) will hold its 2008 conference at the Volkskool, in Graaff Reinet, from July 7 to10. The main theme of this conference, the 11th of its kind, will be “Value Adding.” In addition to enhancing knowledge of indigenous plants, their conservation and cultivation, the seminar will cover the use of indigenous plants in ethno-veterinary medicine, Sutherlandia as a multi-purpose tonic, and aloes for health and beauty. Several other medicinal plants and their uses will be discussed on a field trip to a nearby farm led by three local experts. [...]

Rose’s Round-up May 2008 No 172

WELL-DRESSED PORCUPINES Two porcupines in the Nieuwoudtsville area are now wearing collars. These are the first of 16 state-of-the-art GPS collars sponsored by Boekenhoutskloof, makers of Porcupine Ridge Wine, for a project being run by researcher Christy Bragg. Hotgroup, South African manufacturers of collars with global position system (GPS) technology, worked long and hard with Christy to develop a collar that would not cause discomfort. Several prototypes were tested before they agreed on a product light enough not to chafe or irritate the animals in any way. Christy felt so strongly about this that she had the final product riveted [...]