Early Inquests and Post Mortems at the Cape 1652 – 1825


Before the Inquest Act of 1875 no proper provision appears to have been made in the Cape Colony for the holding of inquests on the bodies of persons who had died suddenly or under suspicious circumstances. In that year, however, this defect was remedied by the passing of Act 22. The preamble to this Act says: "Whereas no adequate provision exists in the law of this Colony for the holding of inquests in cases where persons die suddenly or are found dead or are supposed or suspected to have come by their death by violence, or otherwise than in a [...]

Early Inquests and Post Mortems at the Cape 1652 – 18252018-11-23T08:51:04+00:00

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 [...]

Ancestry Gift Vouchers2017-11-30T15:48:27+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 [...]

How Grahamstown got its name2018-10-16T12:28:12+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 [...]

The History of Maitland2018-10-16T12:50:17+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. [...]

Claremont Then and Now2018-10-16T12:50:17+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 [...]

Sale of Free Black2018-10-16T12:36:39+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 [...]

Newsletter Contribution Ancestors South Africa2018-10-16T12:28:12+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 [...]

Traditional Heritage Recipes2018-10-16T07:26:48+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 [...]

Missing Ancestors2018-10-16T09:19:40+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 [...]

Alabama Confederate Raider2018-10-16T12:34:23+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 [...]

Bowesdorp Ghost Town2017-12-08T11:40:24+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 [...]

Rehoboth Basters2018-10-16T12:34:20+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 Precinct2018-10-16T12:30:12+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?2018-10-16T12:45:09+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 Circus2018-10-16T12:29:25+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 [...]

Basters of Little Namaqualand2018-10-16T12:29:24+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?2018-10-16T12:29:23+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 Sea2018-10-16T12:50:16+00:00

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Terms and Conditions2019-02-14T09:52:30+00:00



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