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.

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 [...]

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 [...]

Rose’s Round-up January 2005 No 132

GOOD YEAR FORECAST FOR TOURISM Experts forecast a good year for tourism. SA Tourism chief executive Moeketsi Mosola, has called for excellence and sustainability at all levels in an interview in Tourism Update. “Role players should concentrate on transformation, service, quality assurance, training and information sharing,” he said. Tourism Update features items on growing market sectors. Among these are the sectors serving disabled tourists and wine tourism, which is growing rapidly internationally. For instance, it contributes R25bn annually to the Australian economy. In South Africa the contribution is R4,2bn according to an article in South African Wine. Experts feel [...]

Rose’s Round-up December 2004 No 131

A DELICIOUS LOOK AT TRAVEL From time immemorial food has set the social scene. It’s been a comforter, a treat and a way of sharing traditions and cultures. Now, the idiosyncrasies of cooks and cooking in some of South Africa’s most remote places has been captured in Delicious Travel, a magnificently illustrated book written by South-African born Gwynne Conlyn, who is passionate about the country, its people, and cuisine. Much more than just another cookbook, Delicious Travel offers food fundis a new perspective on South Africa and a delightful peek into South African Society. In Delicious Travel Gywnne, a well-known [...]

Rose’s Round-up November 2004 No 130

FLORAL HERITAGE HONOURED The Swartberg Nature Reserve is now part of S A’s ‘Big Six.’ It is part of the Cape Floristic Region, CFR, which was recently declared a World Heritage Site. This brings the total number of sites in the country to six, and the number of natural sites in the world to 154. South African sites include Robben Island, The Greater St Lucia Wetland Park, Sterkfontein: Cradle of Humankind, the ukhahlamba-Drakensberg Park, Mapungubwe and the CFR. “The CFR’s listing is the result of three years of hard work,” says Cape Nature publicity officer, Erika Swanepoel. “The CFR is [...]

Rose’s Round-up October 2004 No 129

LONG WALK INTO THE RECORD BOOKS A few mishaps hit the Sak River Expedition as it got underway. Ten men, each carrying a backpack of between 20 and 25 kg, were due to set off from the source of the Sak River in the Nuweveld Mountains, outside Beaufort West, on October 26, and walk the entire 450km length of this river to its end at a giant pan in Bushmanland, by November 6. The group included a Norwegan, New Zealand biologists, interested in riverine rabbits, the director of the African Conservation Trust and “adventurers,” like Beaufort West’s Arnold Hutchinson, who [...]

Rose’s Round-up September 2004 No 128

A VIEW OF THE KAROO FROM SIXTEEN FARMS Graaff Reinet-born Pinkey Watermeyer’s literary talents only came to the fore after he retired. At almost 80 years of age he not only sat down and penned a delightful tale of his life on 16 Karoo farms but following in his grandfather’s footsteps, he also took to painting. “Both new ventures turned out to be highly successful,” says his nephew John Finnemore. Sixteen Farms (or the Impossible Dream) is much more than a biography. It offers an entertaining look at Karoo life, first of all through the eyes of a young [...]

Rose’s Round-up August 2004 No 127

TWO NEW ‘KAROO BOOKS’ FOR CHRISTMAS Struik Publishers will launch two special books on the Karoo in time for Christmas. The first, due out in October, is a magnificent 168-page, full colour coffee-table book, Karoo Moons - A Photographic Journey. It includes a series of inspirational photographs, by Yorkshsire-born photographer, Richard Dobson, who attended school in South Africa from 1975 to 1983. Richard’s passion for photography began in London in 1984. It shines through every page. His first taste of the Karoo came in 2002 when he “trundled across its plains and along the back roads” preparing a photo-essay for [...]

Rose’s Round-up July 2004 No 126

WALK THIS WAY IN A GOOD CAUSE A mammoth 450 km walk, the first of its kind across the Karoo, is planned for October. The route follows the course of the Sak River, the Karoo’s longest watercourse, from its source in the Nuweveld Mountains, outside Beaufort West, to its end at ‘Blok se Kolk’ on Grootvloer, a giant pan at Onderstedorings in Bushmanland. It passes through an isolated part of the Karoo and places that few South Africans have seen. The aim is to raise funds for riverine rabbit research. This little creature, one of the world’s most highly endangered [...]