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.

Somerset Hospital

Somerset Hospital in Beach Road, Green Point, Cape Town, the first hospital in South Africa to be used for the training of doctors. It admitted its first patient on 18 Aug. 1862. This picturesque building is the third hospital on the site to bear the name 'Somerset Hospital'. The first Somerset Hospital, named after Lord Charles Somerset when he was governor, was founded by Dr. Samuel Bailey, a naval surgeon, and was opened in 1818 somewhere below Signal Hill.

The Slave Lodge in Cape Town

A circular raised dais near Church Square in Bureau Street Cape Town, almost next to the slave lodge, marks the spot where imported and local slaves were auctioned under a fir tree. Perhaps as [...]

Ruda Landman

Ruda Landman's birthplace in the dry and dusty town of Keimoes, in the Northern Cape, is a far cry from where her family's humble beginnings started in the lush and fertile valleys of Europe. [...]

Laurence Hynes Halloran

Have you ever considered that your Ancestors marriages and baptisms in Cape Town during the 2nd British Occupation were not valid?, all by one minister who faked his identity. One of the strangest characters at [...]

Strange Joshua Norton

Among the 307 new settlers for the Cape of Good Hope, who came ashore in Algoa Bay from the British transport Belle Alliance early in 1820, was a small Jewish boy from London, and [...]

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Sir Ranulph Fiennes

Sir Ranulph Fiennes has more connections with South Africa than most people are aware of. He was born posthumously after his father was killed in the 2nd World War and his mother moved to South [...]

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Hugh Grant’s Cape Ancestry

Hugh Grant Suave and dapper film star Hugh Grant family ancestral roots did not begin in the lavish suburbs of Notting Hill, London but right here in our very own vibrant mother City [...]

RH Morris Master Builder

By 1896 Richard H. Morris had become known as a builder of distinguished quality and workmanship and the fame of R.H. Morris had spread. Herbert Baker had met Richard on several occasions and took immediately to this man who built with such fine quality and precision. It was then that R.H. Morris secured the prestige contract for the restoration of "Groote Schuur", after the building had been extensively destroyed by fire.

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Military Records in South Africa

Are you looking for Military Records in South Africa? Contact me I can provide a service for the following records: Pre Anglo-Boer War (1853 – 1898) Various attestation forms, muster and medal rolls are [...]

District Six

Cape Town in its early days clustered snugly around the slopes of Lion's Head Mountain and Signal Hill, and only when overcrowding forced it did the White population begin to build homes on the [...]

Counterfeit Countess

Princess Catharina Maria Radziwill was born Ekaterina Adamevna, Countess Rzewuska, in St Petersburg, Russia on 30th March 1858. A journalist and only daughter of Count Adam Rzewuski, an exiled Polish noble-man living in Russia. [...]

Cape Slave Naming Patterns

When Robert Semple visited Cape Town in 1804 he correctly noted the significance of the naming pattern for Cape Slave owners: It ay here be observed that the whole heathen mythology is ransacked find [...]

Clanwilliam Civil Deaths

The records of Civil Deaths for Clanwilliam are presently being transcribed from 1895 onwards. These records provide full names of deceased, age, gender, race, residence, place of death, date of death, intended place of burial as well as cause of death. Should you wish to see the actual image you need to go to the year you want to look at and put in the page number corresponding to the image number as see in the record link below. Please note that every record is transcribed exactly as is. If any surnames, farm names or causes of death are wrong please feel free to contact me with corrections.

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Were you a Buxton Baby?

Babies and children had a tough time in the early nineteen hundreds. The boom that followed the South African War was sadly brief and within months the country was plunged into a depression. Life was [...]

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 [...]

Rose’s Round-up September 2006 No 152

BIG PLANS FOR 100TH ANNIVERSARY Hanover’s Dutch Reformed Church celebrates its 100th anniversary in October this year. The congregation has great plans to make this a memorable event and hopes to encourage travellers of the N1 to pause and toast this occasion with them. This little town, which prides itself on being exactly half way between Johannesburg and Cape Town, was established on land bought from Farmer Gous in 1854. It was called Hanover in honour of his forebears who came from Germany. The first church, a humble little structure, was built in 1857 and Thomas François Burger, who later [...]

Rose’s Round-up August 2006 No 151

OLD AIRSTRIP BACK IN BUSINESS Matjiesfontein airstrip has been re-opened. Several private flights from around the country have already used this airstrip, which has been out of action since it was destroyed in the Laingsburg flood. Somehow its restoration never seemed to be a high priority on anyone’s agenda. Then Alan Veasey, a pilot who flew for 23 years, bought Rietfontein farm and decided to turn it into a Private Nature Reserve. A deserted airstrip on his doorstep made no sense, so he took a closer look and discovered that it could be resurrected. Alan’s enthusiasm rubbed off on David [...]

Rose’s Round-up July 2006 No 150

DISCOVER THE KAROO’S NATURAL HISTORY Discover the secrets of the Great Karoo - book now and explore the unique natural history of this fascinating arid zone at Rietfontein Private Nature Reserve, near Matjiesfontein. The first trip, from August 10 to 13, is a three-day and three-night programme of veld walks and talks, led by Dr John Almond. These cover a wide spectrum of Cape and Karoo natural history with topics ranging from rocks and fossils through soils, climate and ecology to archaeology and the glorious Karoo night skies. Veld walks each day explore the diverse natural attractions of the Rietfontein [...]

Rose’s Round-up June 2006 No 149

‘MANNA’ RE-ISSUED Manna in the Desert, Alfred de Jager Jackson’s special book on the Great Karoo, is being reprinted. The new, better illustrated, hard cover edition, which includes a dust jacket and additional background material, will be launched in Beaufort West in August. No changes have been made to the style and spelling of the original text. The man behind the project is Alfred’s great grandson, Craig Elstob. “Like him I love the Karoo,” said Craig. “I visited Bakensrug and Kamferskraal, the farm where he was born, and where he spent the first 20 years of his life and, thanks [...]

Rose’s Round-up May 2006 No 148

RARE FOSSIL EXCAVATED IN THE KAROO The fossil found on Niël Rossouw’s farm België, near Prince Albert, last July, has turned out to be a rare one. Professor Bruce Rubidge of the Bernard Price Institute for Palaeontological Research in Johannesburg, who was invited to assess the fossil, has identified it as a Nochelosaurus. These were huge reptiles that lived on the floodplain of an ancient Mississippi-like river that once flowed across this part of the Karoo. Only three other specimens of this species have ever been found worldwide. One is in the Smithsonian Institute. It was sold to this museum [...]

Rose’s Round-up April 2006 No 147

LAINGSBURG FILM EN ROUTE TO CANNES There is an air of beauty, pathos, drama and hope in the latest film to be made in the Karoo. In many ways this short 15-minute film, Vloedlyn (Floodline) captures the dynamics of the Great Karoo. Loosely based on welknown artiste Antoinette Pienaar’s myths and legends of the Karoo, it tells the story of the Laingsburg flood at three different levels – before the flood, later in 1990s and lastly in the modern day, when two young travellers meet on a desolate road. Behind this production is highly-talented young musician and composer, Braam [...]

Rose’s Round-up March 2006 No 146

PLANS FOR ANOTHER WINNING OLIVE FESTIVAL Prince Albert’s ever-popular Olive Festival will keep the village buzzing from May 5 to 7 this year. As always it promises to be a winner with many interesting stalls offering intriguing and unique items. Among them will be stalls with home-made preserves and fresh produce. Food stalls, as ever, will hold a special appeal for “city folks” and there will be a range of cultural and traditional taste treats to explore. Of course, the restaurants, bistros and coffee shops in the village will not be outdone. They are already planning some different dishes and [...]

Rose’s Round-up February 2006 No 145

KAROO VELD REPUBLISHED A second edition of Karoo Veld Ecology and Management is being published. This well-illustrated, 224 page, full-colour book, edited by Karen Esler, Sue Milton and Richard Dean, is available in English or Afrikaans, from Briza Publications. It costs R169-95. Karoo Veld outlines veld management and assessment approaches for a wide geographical area of arid South Africa, ranging from the vygie veld of Namaqualand, through the Great Karoo to the grassier parts of the eastern Karoo. The book is designed to assist practical and ambitious land users to apply ecologically friendly veld management techniques and to evaluate the effects of [...]

Rose’s Round-up January 2006 No 144

HIPPOS RETURN TO KAROO AFTER 230 YEARS It is claimed that the last hippopotamus in the Great Karoo was shot on the banks of the Zeekoei River, near Hanover, in 1775. Now, after 230 years, three hippos have been given a new home on New Holme Guest Farm, 8km north of Hanover. December 13 was an emotional day for farmer PC Ferreira when a truck pulled onto his farm after a 14-hour journey from Mpumalanga. The doors opened, black snouts appeared, and one sniff of Karoo air was enough. With eyes squinting in the sunlight, a hippopotamus bull, cow [...]

Rose’s Round-up December 2005 No 143

NEW BOOK CAPTURES SPIRIT OF PRINCE ALBERT The spirit of Prince Albert is captured in a book launched by the village’s own Writers’ Guild. Some time ago the many writers who live in Prince Albert formed this Guild. In time the beauty of the village, its location and the magnificence of its surroundings inspired ten members, all experts in their own fields, to write this book that captures the flavour of the town. Prince Albert – Kweekvallei covers the rock art, early indigenous inhabitants, fresh mountain water in irrigation furrows, the town’s unique architecture and its exceptional and eccentric people. [...]

Rose’s Round-up November 2005 No 142

RABBIT RESEARCHERS REPORT EXCITING FINDS A highly successful search for riverine rabbits has delivered exciting news. Some of these creatures seem to have settled down and started breeding in the wild. A team of 25 researchers recently scoured a huge area of the Central and Klein Karoo between Touws River and Montagu, as well as part of the Ceres Karoo to discover the status of this critically endangered species. They reported rabbits near Touws River and Ceres. During a two-day search on Slangkrantzrivier/Keurfontein farms near Touws River seven riverine rabbits were sighted. This is the furthest south that these animals [...]

Rose’s Round-up October 2005 No 141

GREAT KAROO REVEALS ANOTHER SECRET The Karoo has shared yet another secret. “An extremely rare fossil, a magnificent specimen of a Conulariid, was recently found on Vyevlei, about five kilometres from town,” says Prince Albert palaeontologist Judy Maguire. “Oddly enough local Ds Eddie Scheffler also recently acquired two similar specimens, but is unsure of their provenance. The Conulariid is a totally extinct group of organisms. They left no living descendants. Way back when they were alive, the whole African continent lay much further south (the South Pole was close to present-day Bloemfontein). Strange life forms evolved in the cold climate [...]

Rose’s Round-up September 2005 No 140

NEW ROCK ART BOOK REUNITES PEOPLE AND PLACES A new book on rock engravings has just been launched. Entitled "My Heart Stands in the Hill," this beautifully illustrated, full colour coffee table book, written by well-known archaeologists Janette Deacon and Craig Foster. All engravings in this book were all done by the /Xam San people who lived in the Kenhardt, Brandvlei and Van Wyksvlei districts of the Upper Karoo. “The book draws on the myths, legends and folklore of the /Xam people written down in the 1870s by Wilhelm Bleek and Lucy Lloyd,” says Janette. “To express the strength of [...]

Rose’s Round-up August 2005 No 139

PART OF THE ANCIENT WORLD REDISCOVERED AT LEEU GAMKA The fossilised remains of a complete dinocephalian, with an unusually long tail, have been found in the Central Karoo. It was discovered on a Leeu Gamka farm by labourer, Hendrik Mans. Its discovery sent ripples of excitement travelling through the palaeontological world and scientists are scheduled to visit the site shortly to evaluate it. There was a time, way back when the earth was young and the Great Karoo a primeval swamp, that these giant creatures trampled unconcernedly about in this area. They splashed in the waters at the edge of [...]

Rose’s Round-up July 2005 No 138

LAINGSBURG LINK WITH TOP MUSIC INSTITUTE The sonorous tones of a Karoo Dutch Reformed Church organ started a Laingsburg lass on a musical career that has now landed her a top job. Nicolette Solomon, an internationally-known string specialist, who was given her first music lessons by her father, Melvyn van der Spuy, once the Dutch Reformed Church organist and music teacher in Laingsburg, has been appointed executive director of the Suzuki Institute of Dallas (SID), Texas, USA. She spent her childhood in the Karoo, enjoying all the freedom that only a small South African hinterland town can offer. In time [...]

Rose’s Round-up June 2005 No 137

RARE ‘DWARF’ DISCOVERED ON SWARTBERG PASS A rare dwarf has been discovered on the Swartberg Pass. A team of experts, including Elton le Roux, Gamkaberg Conservation Area’s nature conservator, and researcher, Devi Stuart-Fox, a post doctoral student from the University of the Witwatersrand, recently roamed the area at night in search of this dwarf chameleon. “The species is so new that it doesn’t yet have a name,” said Elton. “It is being described by Port Elizabeth Museum’s herpetologist, W. R. Branch. Bradypodion atromantana, which means ‘black mountain’ is being considered to honour the Swartberg, the only place where the [...]

Rose’s Round-up May 2005 No 136

FESTIVAL AGAIN SET TO BE A WINNER Visitors to Prince Albert’s annual Olive, Food and Wine Festival will be warmly welcomed this month. Karoo cuisine will be the main focus of the festival from May 6 to 7. Visitors will be able to savour Karoo flavours at a variety of restaurants. Taste treats will include olives, dried fruits, award winning cheeses, wines, witblitz, Karoo lamb, ostrich, venison and a variety of traditional dishes. Some food stalls will host cooking demonstrations by local chefs. There will be bread baking, ‘potjiekos’ and ‘potbrood’ competitions, a beer tent, a fairground, puppet shows, and [...]

Rose’s Round-up April 2005 No 135

FIRST ARCHIVES COUNCIL TO PLAY VITAL ROLE The first Free State Provincial Archives Council was launched in Bloemfontein on March 22, by the MEC of Sport, Arts, Culture, Science and Technology, Mr M J Mafereka. “Knowledge is power,” he said. “And well-researched information provides this power. We thus want all researchers, students, school children and the general public to become more aware of the Provincial Archives and its essential role in the preservation of all levels of history for all communities in the province. Our five newly-appointed councillors will assist us in achieving this.” In addition to overseeing the archives [...]

Rose’s Round-up March 2005 No 134

TOP HONOUR FOR KAROO ECOLOGIST Prof Sue Milton, of Stellenbosch University’s Ecological Conservation Department, has been awarded the Molteno Gold Medal for her outstanding contribution to nature conservation. Sue, who lives in Prince Albert, was honoured specifically for her contribution to the rehabilitation of natural vegetation in the Karoo, a region for which she has a great passion. She also recently received an award from Thrip (Technology and Human Resources for Industry Programme) for contributions that she and her students have made to research on the restoration of surface mines in Namaqualand. The work that Sue and her ornithologist husband, [...]

Rose’s Round-up February 2005 No 133

DELICIOUS WEEKEND ON THE CARDS Prince Albert has plans for a delicious, fun-filled weekend in May. “Our olives are world famous and health conscious people love our olive oil, so we have scheduled an Olive, Food and Wine Festival for May 6 and 7, 2005,” says tourism officer Charlotte Olivier. “Visitors will be able to tour to the olive farms, taste olives and enjoy olive cooking demonstrations. Restaurants and guest houses will serve olive-based cuisine. There will also be visits to fruit and fig farms, outings to Gamkaskloof, The Hell, The Swartberg Pass, the old gold mines and San rock [...]