Most of us have interesting stories and rumours to tell about our family history and background. Sometimes the legacies left by our ancestors are small but important enouCliff_Garethgh in our lives to be proud of those small things left behind and then there are those who are just darn lucky to come from an extremely long line of prolific ancestors who just keep getter better and better every time they go back another generation.

Some of us do not even know what our grandmother’s maiden name was and clutch at any strand of family gossip to put some flesh on the bones of our forefathers. Gareth Cliff, judge of the TV show Idols and 5FM DJ – has it all. Not only is Gareth renowned for his wonderful sense of whit, charm and his dashing good looks but also is an avid family historian that has spent much of his spare time digging into the past. .

Gareth Cliff, grandson of Rev William Kidwell Cliff a founder of the Pietermaritzburg Cathedral, has with great interest and enthusiasm has discovered a sophisticated blend of prolific South African families which is a fine example of the rich and diverse cultural and social backgrounds that make up many families in our country. Gustav Preller considered being the father of Afrikaans language and literature, Naval Admiral Sir. H. Heathcote, Commandant General Hendrik Schoeman President of the Zuid Afrikaanse Republiek (1860-1862), Voortrekker Leader Piet Retief as well as Alfred Benjamin Kidwell the son of one of the original 1820 settlers are just some of the biological blood lines of Gareth.

He has also plotted out his family history as far back one of the first Kings of Finland in the year 160 AD, descendant of the one of the illegitimate children of King Charles 11 as well as 5x great grandson of Lord Charles Somerset.

I asked Gareth why his ancestors were so important to him and this is what he told me: :

Why your Ancestors matter

You are one-half the product of your environment (nurture) and one-half the product of your genes (nature). The first part depends on the way you were raised, the resources available, your own choices and decisions and your location. The second part you have no control over whatsoever.

When your parents made you from half of each of their genetic material (in turn, half of each of THEIR parents’ genetic material), they gave you DNA that defines and identifies you for all your life. Unless you’re a criminal, you’re unlikely to have thought of this scientific curiosity very much, but you should.

Why? Because it’s the stuff you can’t change: The way you look, sound, your talents or lack thereof, your genetic predisposition to run or fight, how clever or stupid you are, all the good stuff. So shouldn’t you want to know what that stuff is?

Knowing who your ancestors are isn’t a uniquely African idea, but most people in Africa don’t even know who their grandparents were. They kind of hope the ancestors will find them. I like to know whose DNA runs through my chromosomes, and it’s a fascinating business trying to discover who those people were.

cliff_dnaTry it: Draw a chart. First, put your name on the left of a piece of paper.
Then draw a line which splits in two. Put your fathers’ name at the top and your mothers at the bottom. From each of them draw another line that splits in two, citing their father and mother in turn. Do this is as many times as you have information. It’s called a pedigree. Since it doesn’t include siblings or cousins or aunts and uncles, it’s all about who made you. Along the way you’ll find out all kinds of things about yourself – and realise that it’s about as close as any of us come to immortality – the unbroken line of descent is your DNA chasing everlasting life.

If you don’t know where you come from, how will you know where you’re going to?

The Rev. William Kidwell Cliff


born 1848 in Audlem, Cheshire, England; died 21 June 1922 in Pietermaritzburg

There is a plaque on the wall of the Cathedral in Pietermaritzburg where he and his wife are buried. Evidently the congregation held him in some esteem. William Cliff was instrumental in establishing the Wesleyan Methodist ministry in Natal. He was very much involved in the founding of the Cathedral in Pietermaritzburg and seems to have migrated there from England via Grahamstown.

He was the son of Thomas Cliff (1825-1872) and Elizabeth Hall (abt 1820) in Cheshire, England; Elizabeth Hall’s father was Thomas Hall (1784-1809) and her mother Elizabeth Dooler (1820-?). Both their families resident in Cheshire, England. Thomas Hall’s father, William Hall (1765-1816) was a solicitor. His mother was Ann Johnson. Elizabeth Dooler’s parents were Thomas Dooler (1766-1791) and Mary Shuker (1768-1845). Mary Shuker came from a very long line of Shukers stretching back to John Shuker in 1672 in Nantwich, Cheshire, England.

Thomas in turn the son of Joseph Cliff (1786-1873) and Mary unknown (abt 1797). They seem to have been humble people, but owned land which indicates that they were probably cleaner than most of the English at the time.
Joseph was the son of Joseph William Cliff (1754-1834) and Sarah Besford (abt 1750). Sarah’s father was a certain Edward Besford (born 1720 in Edgmond, Shropshire, England, son of Thomas Besford, born 1695). J. W. Cliff was a smart landowner so we must assume because of Thomas Cliff’s reduced circumstances that their finances deteriorated over the early 1800s or under Joseph Jr.
Joseph William Cliff was the eldest son of William Cliff (1710-1802) and Frances Briggs (1732-1784), but was the first to move to Cheshire. His parents were resident in Flintham, Nottinghamshire.

William’s father was John Cliff (1686, Cheshire England) and his mother Mary Barrows (1686-1713). John Cliff is about as far as we can track Cliff accurately. He may or may not have been the original landowner in Cheshire (perhaps his son left to Nottinghamshire temporarily, as his children seem to have reverted to Cheshire).

Phoebe Ann Kidwell

(born 1853 in Grahamstown, South Africa; died in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.)

She was supposedly very pretty, but we have no idea of how any of them looked. She was the daughter of Alfred Benjamin Kidwell (1831-?) and Lucy Mary Anne Lydia Hescott-Curle. Alfred Benjamin Kidwell was the son of one of the original 1820 settlers, Alexander James Kidwell (1782-1844) and his wife Phoebe Tubb (1790-1837). Tubb was born in Wales and Kidwell in London. Kidwell and Tubb sailed to South Africa on The Kennersley Castle , reaching Table Bay on 29 March 1820. They continued to Algoa Bay and settled with most of Holder’s Party (No.44 on the Colonial Department List) at New Bristol on a tributary on the Bush River. Kidwell was killed by a vicious cow at an Agricultural show in Grahamstown. He was to have been re-married on the day of his death. For some years he was engaged in a rather extensive retail business at Graham’s Town, under the firm of “STONE & KIDWELL”, since which he has had to pass through many trying vicissitudes. He was much esteemed by his friends and maintained an unblemished character for integrity. He belonged to the Baptist Church.

Edward Harrison

(born 1860 in Roscommon, Ireland; died 1947 in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.)

He was a civil engineer, so must have been quite clever. It appears he was the son of James Harrison (1834-1929) in Roscommon, Ireland; but I know nothing about his mother. James was the son of another James Harrison (1805-27 April 1866), but the elder James seems to have been born in Ashton In Makerfield, England, so they weren’t terribly Irish at all. James Snr’s father was Peter Harrison (born 1781; Prescott, Lancashire; died 1841, Chorley Lancashire); and his mother Alice unknown. This Peter’s father was another Peter Harrison (born 1753; Prescott, Lancashire), and his mother a Cecily Greenough (born 1749 St. Helens, England and died 1827 in Sutton, Lancashire). The elder Peter was the eldest son of Henry Harrison (1709 – ?) and Alice Harrison (1714-1761). They had the same surname and may have been related. Henry’s parents were James Harrison (1682-?) and Margaret Bushell (1686-?). Alice the daughter of John Harrison (1681-?) and Elizabeth Knott (1685- ?). This last John Harrison was the son of Ralph Harrison (1639-?) of Rochdale, Lancashire, England. They seem to have been middle or working class people.

Emily Mary Upton

(born 1867 in Pinetown; died 10 September 1923, Pietermaritzburg)
was the eldest daughter of Francis Upton (born 1841, Durban) and Anne Maria Hulme. Anne’s father was Thomas Hulme (abt 1820-?) from Heaton Norris, Lancashire, England. Her mother, Ann Burgess (1821-1861). Francis Upton had many brothers and sisters, and was the son of Robert Sellers Upton (born 1809, Chichester, England and died 5 May 1883 in Durban) and Mary Nicholls (1807-1882). Robert Sellers Upton moved to London, where he was trained as a surveyor. He is said, during this period, to have designed a church at East Greenwich. Eventually he established a considerable practice with a good income but extravagance brought him financial difficulties. He went to Natal in 1850 as surveyor to the Murdoch emigration scheme. He arrived in the Ballengeich and spent three years on allotments in the Lower Umgeni before moving to Durban to return to his profession. One of his first assignments was a survey of Stamford Hill, which he named after his London home. Click here to see marriage certificate of Emily Upton.
The small community in Durban soon wanted his services as an architect. His first commissions were to design the Congregational Church and the first Anglican Church, St Paul’s. While the former was a simple, classical building with a Doric portico, St Paul’s was conceived as a large church with a tower, to be executed in currently fashionable Gothic. Upton, however, proved himself far more adept at the classical than at the Gothic and the style of St Paul’s is pre-Pugin perpendicular Gothic. In 1855 he was appointed the borough surveyor of Durban but since he was one of the few people qualified in his profession the demands made on him proved to be too much and he resigned in 1860. After 1853 he established the most prolific architectural practice in Natal and there were few architect-designed buildings in Durban which were not the work of his office. While continuing the classical traditions of his training and early professional years, he slowly developed a style of architecture which can only be described as colonial.

His most significant contributions to South African architecture were in his last years. One example was ‘Trevean’, a large, veranda-house in Bellair, Durban, which, in its simplicity and remarkable use of corrugated iron, is closer in spirit to twentieth-century architecture than to the era in which it was designed. One of Upton’s sons, Francis Upton, was an architect and government surveyor. Robert Sellers Upton’s father, The Rev. Robert F Upton (born 1780 in Cheshire, England) seems to have been a prominent clergyman. His wife and mother of RS Upton, Frances Sellers (born 1785) seem to have been of good stock and some money. Reverend Upton’s father, Robert Upton was from Tunbridge Wells in Kent (born 1755 and died September 1844 in Sevenoaks, Kent). Mary Nicholls’s parents were Daniel Nicholls (1780-1851) and Phoebe Aston (1782-?, daughter of Amos Aston and Mary Fellon.) The Nicholls male line extends to Richard Nicols in 1555 and must be considered Derick Cliff’s oldest verifiable ancestor. We don’t know who Rev. Robert F. Upton’s wife was.

His father, also Robert Upton (born 1725, Lamberhurst, Kent) was a Justice of the Peace and married Ann Batten (born 1730; daughter of Richard Batten and Mary Moore). Richard Batten appears to be the son of John Batten (born abt. 1700 in Polperro, Cornwall and died 1794) and Catherine Smith (born 1683 in Berkshire, England). Batten’s father was Henry Batten (born 1658 in Ardington, Berkshire and died 11 January 1697). His father, another Henry Batten (born 1620 in Sutton Courtenay, Berkshire and died 1701 East Garston, Berkshire). This last Henry Batten was the son of Adam Batten (born 1588, Arrington, Berkshire and died 1664) and Jane Clark (born 1590). These Clarks keep tracking back to 1300 and are very ancient indeed. To return to the Upton’s, Robert Upton’s father, William Upton (born about 1703) was the son of another William Upton (born about 1675). These Upton’s lived in Kent. We can’t get much more on them from SA, but the Upton’s seem to stretch back to about a Finnish King in the 160 AD.

George Edward Mosley

(born 1864 in Morton, Derbyshire, England; died in Nottingham, England) Eldest son of George Mosley (no. 40) (1839-?) and Charlotte Honora Fitzroy (no. 41) (1842-1878). George Snr. was a small landholder and grew and bred flowers. Charlotte was the only daughter of a long illegitimate line of catholic Fitzroy’s who lived in Bagshot, Berkshire. She was named, as were all her male ancestors after King Charles II (no. 5250), her paternal four-great grandfather. They seem to have been landed gentry of eccentric reputation and limited resources, but built a school and founded an experimental farm in Berkshire. We will turn first to this line of Fitzroy’s and return to the Mosley’s after.

Charlotte’s parents were Charles Villiers George Stuart Fitzroy (1816-?) and Louise d’Ligonier. The latter was born in France and her husband and she died there. Charlotte was born in Bagshot, Berkshire, England. Louise was the daughter of Auguste Gervase d’Ligonier of Centre, France and his wife, Francoise Desvaux de Marigny. Charles V.G.S. Fitzroy was the son of Charles Fitzroy (1791-1865) and Charlotte Brandon (1798 -?; daughter of John Brandon and Alice Herbert.) This Charles was a magistrate and bad tempered. He is cited in a periodical as being haughty and quick to punish. Though unpopular, he died in office. His father, Charles George Fitzroy (1760-1844) and mother, Mary Scudamore (1772-?). C.G. Fitzroy owned a small farm and reared some livestock to make ends meet, since the family had exhausted any favour or fortune they may have had before.

Charles George’s parents were Charles Villiers Stuart Fitzroy (1738 in Paris, France-1800, in Scotland) and Johanna Johnstoun (1747-1840) and were friendly with the Fitzroy’s of Euston Hall, Suffolk – the Dukes of Grafton, Charles’ cousins. Their son was born at Euston Hall, the seat of the Dukes of Grafton. This Charles’ father was yet another Charles Villiers Stuart Hamilton Fitzroy (born 1691 in Cleveland House, Westminster, England and died 1754), the first so-named; and his mother an unknown cleaning woman. They were not married. Charles V.S.H Fitzroy had a troubled life and seems to have fled to France at least three times in strange circumstances, leaving his child in the care of his own mother, Barbara Fitzroy (1672-1737) daughter of King Charles II Stuart of Great Britain (1630-1684) and his mistress, the infamous Barbara Villiers, Duchess of Castlemaine (1640-1709). She deserves some biography here: Tall, voluptuous, with masses of auburn hair, slanting, heavy-lidded blue-violet eyes, alabaster skin, and a sensuous, sulky mouth, Barbara Villiers was considered at the time to be one of the most beautiful Royalist women, but her lack of fortune left her with reduced marriage prospects. Her first serious romance was with Philip Stanhope, 2nd Earl of Chesterfield, but he was searching for a rich wife; he would wed Elizabeth Butler in 1660. On 14 April 1659 she married Roger Palmer against his family’s wishes; his father predicted that she would make him one of the most miserable men in the world. Palmer was a Roman Catholic. The two separated in 1662, following the birth of her first son. They remained married for his lifetime, but it is believed that Palmer did not father any of his wife’s children. Barbara became King Charles’s mistress in 1660, while still married to her husband Palmer, and whilst Charles was still in exile at The Hague. The Palmers had joined the ambitious group of supplicants who sailed for Brussels at the end of 1659. As a reward for her services, the King created her husband Baron Limerick and Earl of Castlemaine in 1661. She had a bitter enemy in Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon. Clarendon, one of the most powerful of the King’s advisors, opposed her appointment in the summer of 1662 as a Lady of the Bedchamber (as did, quite understandably, Catherine of Braganza, Charles’s wife and Queen).

By 1662 she had more influence in the court than did the Queen, and there were bitter feuds behind the scenes between the two women. In point of fact, Barbara had chosen to give birth to her second child by the King at Hampton Court Palace while he was honeymooning with the Queen. This was followed by rumours of an estrangement between Barbara and Charles, as the result of his infatuation with Frances Stuart. In December 1663 Barbara announced her conversion to Catholicism; historians disagree as to the reasons why. Some believe it might have been an attempt to consolidate her position with the King, and some believe it was a way of strengthening her ties with her Catholic husband. Barbara was famously extravagant. She was notorious for helping herself to money from the Privy Purse, as well as taking bribes from the Spanish and French. She was promiscuous, and well known for using her influence on the king to her own benefit.

Eventually this would lead to her downfall. Her influence over the King waxed and waned. She also meddled in politics. Along with most of the Court and Parliament, Barbara supported the Second Dutch War, which was declared in February 1665. Diarist John Evelyn called her “the curse of the nation”. Yet others also described her as great fun, keeping a good table and with a heart to match her famous temper. Once, after a scaffold had fallen onto a crowd of people at the theatre, Barbara rushed to assist an injured child. She was the only Court lady to have done so.

In June 1670 Charles created her Baroness Nonsuch (being the owner of Nonsuch Palace). She was also, briefly, granted the ownership of Phoenix Park in Dublin as a present from the king. He also created her Countess of Southampton and Duchess of Cleveland in her own right. However, no-one in the court was sure whether this was an indication that she was being jettisoned by Charles, or whether this was a sign that she was even higher in his favours. The Dukedom was made with a special remainder which allowed it to be passed to her eldest son, Charles FitzRoy, even though he was illegitimate.

While the King had taken other mistresses, the most notable being the common actress Nell Gwynne, Barbara also took other lovers, including the acrobat Jacob Hall and her second cousin John Churchill. Her lovers certainly benefited financially from the arrangement; Churchill purchased an annuity with £5,000 Barbara had given him. As the result of the 1673 Test Act, which essentially banned all Catholics from holding office, Barbara lost her position as Lady of the Bedchamber, and the King cast her aside completely from her position as mistress, taking Louise de Kéroualle as his newest “favourite.” In 1676 she travelled to Paris with her four youngest children, but returned to England four years later. In 1705 Roger Palmer died, and she married Major-General Robert “Beau” Fielding, an unscrupulous fortune-hunter whom she later had prosecuted for bigamy. She died on 9 October 1709 at Chiswick Mall after suffering from an oedema, known at the time as dropsy. Barbara had many notable descendants, including Diana, Princess of Wales and Sir Anthony Eden, British Prime Minister from 1955-1957.

Barbara Fitzroy was acknowledged by the King as his daughter but was rumoured to be the child of John Churchill, later Duke of Marlborough. She retired to France and became a nun at the Hotel Dieu, Pontoise, where she died. It is accepted that her lover, Lt. Gen James Douglas-Hamilton, 4th Duke of Hamilton (1670-1712) was the father of Charles V.S.H Fitzroy, although he never acknowledged him. Barbara Fitzroy seems to have been shamed by this and took to the religious life. She is buried in Pontoise, as is her son. It is known that Charles V.S.H Fitzroy, while ineligible for any position of power due to his damning double-illegitimacy was involved in many of the intrigues of the court of James II and the Protestant-catholic tensions of the time. He was an avowed Catholic and visited the exiled King James II at least once at St. Germain en Laye in France. He may have participated in some form of treason. He was reputed to have been extraordinarily handsome and terrifically charming. Naturally, from this bastard link to the great house of Stuart, the blood of the Plantagenet’s, Bourbons, Medicis, Hapsburgs, Oldenburg’s and others are passed into my genealogy. I will not continue this line here. It may be found in many published works.

To return to the Mosleys: George Mosley (no. 40) (1839-?)(bore arms, registered 1864), son of William Mosley (1816-?)and Mary Ann Elizabeth Talbot (1817-1885). William’s parents were another George Mosley (1778-1836) and Elizabeth Fletcher (1769-1847), both of Sheffield in Yorkshire, England. George Mosley’s parents were Joseph Mosley (1746-1782) and Sarah Bennett (1746-1812). According to census papers, they were resident in Derbyshire in 1767. This Joseph Mosley was the son of another Joseph Mosley (1705-?) and his wife, Elizabeth Mosley (1725-?). It is possible that Joseph Snr. took his wife’s surname. Elizabeth is descended from the ancient Mosley’s of Central England. Her father, Nicholas Mosley, Esq. (1663-1734), and his wife Elizabeth Parker (1665-1740) were wealthy landowners near Manchester, England. This Nicholas was the son of another Nicholas Mosley (1637-1697), who was in turn the son of yet another Nicholas Mosley (1611-1672). His father, Oswald Mosley (1583-1630), a descendant of Sir John de Mollesley of Rollaston Hall, Staffordshire (1384-1422). This knight was a descendant of the noble and ancient Mortimers, Earls of March; de Giffards; de Genevilles; de Audleys and Hillarys of medieval England. Although I have these records, they are too tedious to print here.

Emily Beatrice Augusta Hannaford

(born 1871 in Exeter, Devonshire, England; died 1928, Durban, South Africa)

Emily was the daughter of James Henry Wriothesley Hannaford (1838-1878) and Augusta Rose Blanche Somerset (1837-1893). Hannaford’s parents were Col. James Hannaford (1821-1882; who served and died in battle in India) and Mary Wriothesley (1812-11884, pronounced Risley). James Hannaford was the son of John Hannaford of Widecombe, Devon, England (1779-1810) and Sarah Cleave (1786-?). Mary Wriothesley was the daughter of Thomas Wriothesley (1782-?) and Elizabeth Howard. John Hannaford of Widecombe was the son of Capt. Edward C Hannaford (1738-1839) and Grace Hurrell (1738-1829). Capt. Hannaford was the son of Capt. George Hannaford (1708-?) and Grace Coulton (1710-?, daughter of James Coulton). George’s parents were another George Hannaford (1685 in Harberton, Devon-?) and Mary Reep (1689-?). This George had another George Hannaford (1660-?), and his wife Catherine unknown as his parents. Meanwhile the

Augusta Rose Blanche Somerset was the daughter of Lt. Gen. Sir Henry Plantagenet Somerset (1794-1862) and Frances Sarah Heathcote (1801-1886). She was born in Cape Town. Lt.-Gen. Sir Henry Somerset was the son of General Lord Charles Henry Somerset (1767-1831) and The Hon. Elizabeth Courtenay (1766-1815). Frances Sarah Heathcote was the daughter of Admiral Sir Henry Heathcote (1777-1851; a prominent Naval commander). Lt.-Gen. Sir Henry Somerset gained the rank of Lieutenant-General, was Colonel of the 25th Foot and Commander-in-Chief of the forces in Bombay.

Sir_H_SomersetHe was invested as a Knight Commander, Order of the Bath (K.C.B.), and was invested as a Knight, Hanoverian Order (K.H.).1 He lived at Roehampton Lodge, Surrey. General Lord Charles Somerset was the first British Governor of the Cape of Good Hope. He became a Privy Counsellor on April 26, 1797 and was married twice, in June 1788 to Lady Elizabeth Courtenay, daughter of the 8th Earl of Devon, who died in 1815, and with whom he had only one child, a son, and on August 9, 1821 to Lady Mary Poulett, daughter of the 4th Earl Poulett, with whom he had no issue. Lord Charles Somerset expanded policies established by Lord Caledon in 1809 banning the KhoiKhoi and other blacks from leaving their designated homes and having to carry travel documents issued by the British Government in Cape Town, 1809, The British Governor, Caledon, declared that the “Hottentots had to have a fixed residence and could not migrate between regions without written authority.” These were the first official vestiges of what was to become apartheid in the 20th Century when travel documents became the notorious “passes”.

Somerset was also responsible for starting the first attempts to obliterate Dutch and “Kombuis Hollands (Kitchen Dutch or Afrikaans)” from official procedures in 1822, later the British banned Afrikaans from schools, insisting that instruction be in English only, even in schools for Afrikaans students only. “Then in 1820 following the 5th War, Ngqika the erstwhile ally of the British, was forced to agree to evacuate another strip between the Great Fish and Keiskamma Rivers—land to which he did not in fact have a legitimate claim. Governor Lord Charles Somerset gave as his ostensible reason the desire to create a vacant tract as a means of separating white and black and thus solving the problem of conflict between them by a kind of spatial ‘apartheid’.” Somerset was also responsible for banning the first English language newspapers in Cape Town and curtailing the freedom of the press. In his last years there was a cloud over his Cape administration because of the apparent abuse of funds – prior to his return to England in 1826 officials were sent from the UK to look into allegations of misappropriation of funds and several of Somerset’s staff were arrested and sent home. In 1826 Somerset, himself, was recalled under a cloud.

Somerset was known by many as the “scurrilous” governor and roundly hated by many people in South Africa, both black and white. It is remarkable that the Xhosa, who were hunted, warred against and lied to by Somerset have a saying: “Kukuza kuka Nxele” which is based on the story of Nkele, one of their people, who united them against Somerset and his troops and a chief nominated by Somerset, whom they hated. Nkele was sent as a prisoner to Robben Island by the Somerset government foreshadowing the imprisonment of Nelson Mandela (also a Xhosa) by the Afrikaans apartheid government. These early efforts to “separate” blacks and whites, to force blacks to carry identifying documents when travelling outside their immediate living area, the forced resettling of blacks in barren regions not wanted by whites for settlement and farming, and the execution of blacks without trials, were the first vestiges of “apartheid” and were copied by the Afrikaner Broederbond after their formation as an Afrikaner secret society in 1918 developed to counter British control and promote Afrikaners as the controlling minority in 1948. The towns of Somerset West and Somerset East in South Africa are named after him.

He was the son of Henry Somerset, 5th Duke of Beaufort, K.G. (1744-1803) and Elizabeth Boscawen (1747-1828). His wife, The Hon Elizabeth Courtenay, was the daughter of Sir William Courtenay, 2nd Viscount Courtenay of Powderham Castle (1742-1788) and Frances Clack (1744-1782). The Courtenays are a very ancient Norman family with a distinguished pedigree which may be consulted in Burke’s Peerage or any other sources. Among their ancestors are many of Britain’s greatest feudal families. Of the Somerset’s, much is known: Henry Somerset, 5th Duke of Beaufort was the heir to the 4th oldest Dukedom in Britain, and one that descends from a high and mighty royal bastard, one Sir John de Beaufort, 1st Earl of Somerset (born illegitimately between 1371 and 1373 at Beaufort Castle, England. He was the son of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster and his mistress, Katherine Roët.). John Beaufort, 1st Earl of Somerset was the first of the four illegitimate children of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, and his mistress Katherine Swynford, later his wife. Beaufort was born in about 1371 and his surname probably also reflects his father’s lordship of Beaufort in Champagne, France. The family emblem was the portcullis which is shown on the reverse of a modern British 1p coin. John of Gaunt had his nephew Richard II of England declared the Beaufort children legitimate in 1390, Gaunt married their mother in January 1396.

Despite being the grandchildren of Edward III of England, and next in the line of succession after the Lancasters, their father’s legitimate children, by agreement they were barred from the succession to the throne. In 1396, after his parents’ marriage, John and his siblings were legitimated by a papal bull. Early the next year, their legitimation was recognized by an act of Parliament, and then, a few days later, John was created Earl of Somerset. That summer the new Earl was one of the noblemen who helped Richard II free himself from the power of the Lords Appellant. As a reward on September 29 he was created Marques of Dorset, and sometime later that year he was made a Knight of the Garter and appointed Lieutenant of Ireland. In addition, two days before his elevation as a Marques he married the King’s niece, Margaret Holland, sister of the 3rd earl of Kent, another of the counter-appellants. He remained in the King’s favour even after his half-brother Henry (later Henry IV) was banished. In February 1397 he was appointed Admiral of the Irish fleet, as well as constable of Dover and Warden of the Cinque Ports. In May his Admiralty was extended to include the northern fleet. After King Richard II was deposed by Henry Bolingbroke in 1399, the new king rescinded the titles that had been given to the counter-appellants, and thus John Beaufort became merely Earl of Somerset again. Nevertheless, he proved loyal to his half-brother’s reign, serving in various military commands and on some important diplomatic missions.

It was he who was given the confiscated estates of the Welsh rebel leader Owain Glyndwr in 1400, although Beaufort could not effectively come into these estates until after 1415. In 1404 he was Constable of England. Somerset and his wife Margaret Holland, the daughter of the Earl of Kent, had six children; his granddaughter Lady Margaret Beaufort married a descendant of Catherine of Valois by Owen Tudor, creating a powerful branch of the Lancastrian family and enabling Henry VII to claim the throne in spite of the agreement barring the Beaufort family from the succession. Somerset died in the Hospital of St. Katherine-by-the-Tower. He was buried in St. Michael’s chapel in Canterbury Cathedral. As a legitimated grandson of the sovereign, Beaufort bore the arms of the kingdom, differenced by a bordure gobony argent and azure. His descendants are the only heirs male of the Plantagenet royal line. The current Duke of Beaufort is also Master of the Horse to Queen Elizabeth II. To give extensive biographies of this lineage would require a lifetime of work. I must refer you to other sources. It stretches back for over a thousand years.

William Fowler Hastings

(born 1873 in Sheerness, Kent, England; died 1935, Durban, South Africa) Son of Vice-Admiral The Hon. George Fowler Hastings (1814-1876) and Mathilde Alice Hitchcock (1838-?). Hitchcock was the daughter of W.H. Hitchcock (1810-?) who later took the name Degacher. George F. Hastings was the son of Hans Francis Hastings, 12th Earl of Huntingdon (1779-1828) and Frances Cobbe (1781-1820). I’m sure we can discover more about this line from English sources suffice it to say that a de Hastings was one of the knights that accompanied William the Conqueror in his invasion of Britain in 1066.

Muriel Holland

(born 1869 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa; died 1962, Durban, South Africa). She was married twice. First to William Fowler Hastings above; and then to a Clark, having one daughter from the first, brief marriage and four children from the second.

Muriel’s father was Frederick Holland (1827-1880), who emigrated from Manchester to South Africa. Muriel’s mother was Jessie Helen Huntly (1842-1874). Huntly was born in Port Elizabeth.

Kmdt. Robert Clunie Logie Preller

(born 1846 in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa; died 1916, Amsterdam, Transvaal, South Africa)

His celebrated son, Gustav Schoeman Preller (1875-1943)(no. 12) was considered the father of Afrikaans language and literature, a journalist, historian, writer and literarary critic. He fought for the recognition of Afrikaans. Preller helped the Afrikaner to awaken to the importance of the history of South Africa. He made great contributions to the writing of South African history, through his research and the literature. He also contributed greatly to making South Africans aware of the legacy of the Voortrekkers and also had a share in the idea to build the Voortrekker Monument. He was the leader of the Afrikaans movement in the Transvaal. He founded De Volksstem newspaper, whose editor, F.V. Engelenburg, initially neutral towards Afrikaans, became gradually a keen proponent, though he himself wrote in Dutch. On 6 March 1906 Onze Jan Hofmeyr addressed students at Stellenbosch, posing the question whether Afrikaners were serious about preserving their language. His title was: “Is’t ons Ernst?” (Is it of concern to us?). In his speech, Hofmeyr threw his weight behind Dutch as the Afrikaners’ cultural language. Preller felt compelled to react. He consulted immediately with various friends and associates, including S.J. du Toit, who gave Preller permission to quote from one of his works. Between 19 April and 14 June 1905 Preller presented a series of articles under the heading “Laat’t ons toch ernst wezen!” (Of course we should be concerned!) Through turning Afrikaans into a written language the Afrikaner would be forging his nationhood; and to form a national literature, Preller believed, was the task of all Afrikaners. Gustav Preller resided at Sterrewag, Welgegund, Pelindaba, South Africa. Five generations of the Pretorius and Preller family are buried there.

Robert_Clunie_PrellerRobert Clunie Logie Preller was the son of Carel Friedrich Preller (1809-1870) and Maria Margarethe Naude (1794-1862). He served in military exercises and many battles in Natal and the Transvaal as an officer of distinction. He is buried in Potchefstroom. Carel F. Preller married three times and was the son of Johann Friedrich Preller (1764-1825), the first of this family to settle in South Africa in 1786 (he was born in Genend, Viersen, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany). J. F. Preller came to South Africa in military service to the Dutch East India Company and settled in Graaf-Reinet. C.F. Preller’s mother was Zacharia Christina De Beer [1777-1845; daughter of Zacharias De Beer(1719-1777)]. J. F. Preller was the son of Johann F. Preller (1746-1764) and Johanna Dorothea Philemann (1746-?). Zacharias De Beer married Dina Margaretha van Dyk [1741-1829; daughter of Sybrand van Dyk (1706-?) and Alida Aletta Brits (1708-1743)] and was the son of Samuel Jacobus De Beer from the Cape of Good Hope and Hilletjie Smit (1691-1760).

Hilletjie’s parents were Jan Smit (1650-1705) and Adriana Tol (1656-1722). They were among the first settlers at the Cape of Good Hope. Adriana was born in Nieuwe Kerk, Delft, Zuid-Holland, Netherlands and Jan in Maastricht, Limburg, Netherlands. Jan’s parents were Hans Smidt (1625-?) and Anna Schouwermans (1630-?). Adriana’s parents were Jacob Alewijnsz Tol [1622-1662; son of Alewijn Jacobs (1585-1621) and Maritgen Joosten (1585-1654)] from Langdijk, Delft, Zuid-Holland, Netherlands and Elysabeth Dircsz Lijsbet Van Der Piet [1622-1692; daughter of Dirck Thonisz Dirck van der Piet (1582-1660) and Ariaentgen Tijsz Pleunis (1590-1655)]. I am certain the Dutch have reasonable records if I need to discover more about these early Dutch forebears.

Stephanie Maria Aletta Schoeman
(born 1857 in Pretoria, South Africa; died 1928, South Africa)

Stephanie’s father, Kmdt. Gen. Stephanus Schoeman (1810-1890) was President of the Zuid Afrikaanse Republiek (1860-1862). The first member of the Schoeman clan arrived in the Cape in 1674 from Ditmarschen in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. Ditmarschen had been a Boer Republic (Burenrepublik) of Merchant-farmers until 1550, and the memory of this free Boer Republic must have lived on in her sons who emmigrated to South Africa. Stephanus Schoeman was a minor Trekker leader, who had his own flag. He joined Andries Pretorius’ group, fighting in the Battle of Blood River. One of the three canons used in the battle, “Ou Grietjie” belonged to Schoeman and is now on display in the Voortrekker Museum. It was imported from Germany and was attached to a pair of wagon wheels. Schoeman married three times, finally marrying the widow (Elsie van Heerden) of the Voortrekker leader Hendrik Potgieter, arch-antagonist of Andries Pretorius.

He originally settled in the Zoutpansberg but also owned a farm in Pretoria – the area now occupied by the Pretoria Zoo. Bloedstraat was also part of his farm. The street in Pretoria, Schoemanstraat is named after him, as is the town, Schoemansdal, which was razed by the Venda in the 1860s. (The ruins are currently being excavated again.) Another Street, Andries Street (originally St. Andries street) is named after his flag, the flag of St. Andrew, flown in opposition to the ZAR’s “Vierkleur”. His red hair, fiery temperament and vehement disputes with other Boer leaders earned him the moniker “Stormvogel den Noorden,” “Storm bird of the North.” His unconstitutional seizure of the presidency would end in a constrained civil war. As Commandant-General, Stephanus Schoeman was involved in a major political conflict with Marthinus Wessel Pretorius, the ZAR’s First President and writer of its constitution. Schoeman rejected the constitution. Shortly before the end of 1859, MW Pretorius, who was the son of the popular Voortrekker leader Andries Pretorius, was concurrently elected president of the Orange Free State Republic (OFS). The Volksraad granted him six months leave to take up his office in the OFS. However, once his leave expired, the Volksraad would not allow Pretorius to resume his former office of president of the Transvaal as well as of the OFS. The presidency of the Transvaal was thus left vacant and Commandant-General Stephanus Schoeman refused to accept JH Grobler as acting president.

Schoeman, supported by many dissatisfied burghers, relieved Grobler of his office, assuming it himself. The followers of Pretorius and Schoeman had an element of right on their side; moreover, the old government had decided to submit to the new conditions. On the other hand, Schoeman had gained his position by unconstitutional means. In 1861, the Volksraad decided to take action against Schoeman, who with his followers steadfastly refused to give up his position, Paul Kruger intervened against Schoeman, however, no one was prepared to take extreme action, and bitter letters were exchanged between Schoeman and Kruger. It was only in 1862, when the Volksraad declared the Schoeman factions to be rebels, that Kruger could summon his burghers to the conflict.

Kruger, who was elected commandant-general in April 1862, succeeded in driving Schoeman over the Vaal River. Schoeman’s faction then tried to restore their position by force of arms. Commandant Jan Viljoen led a so-called ‘People’s army’ against Kruger and his ‘State Army’ in January 1864, but was defeated at the Crocodile River. Peace was restored when a new election was held in 1864. Pretorius became president for a second time and Kruger retained his position as commander-in-chief. Pretorius finally resigned in 1871 after a spectacular failure to prevent the Keate award which lopped off a large piece of the western Transvaal to satisfy a claim by the Barolong tribe. He died in Pretoria in 1890, aged 80. In 1904, both executors of his estate had died and the Master of the Supreme Court had to publicly advertise for anyone willing to finally settle what remained of his estate.

Stephanie’s mother was Anna Gertruida Schutte (1818-?), daughter of Christiaan Ernst Schutte (1767-1855) and Anna Margaretha Strydom (1780-1799). Christiaan’s parents were another Christiaan Schutte(1743-1772) and Susanna Minnaar (1740-?). Anna’s parents were Petrus Jacobus Strydom (1755-?) and Anna Margaretha Du Preez (1755-?). The elder Christiaan Schutte was the son of Christiaan Ernst Schutte of Schleswig, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany [1693-1766; son of Ernst Gregorius Schutte (1660-1722) and Anna Magdalena Burmister (1655-1699)] and his wife Susanna Fourie [1694-1750; daughter of Louis Fourie (1669-1750) and Susanna Cordier (1678-1715)]. Susanna Minnaar’s father was Philippe Minnaar [1713-1786; son of Philippe Minnaar (1681-1751) and Jeanne Mouy (1686-1758)], and her mother Susanna Roux [1720-1814; daughter of Pieter Roux (1692-1771) and Susanna de Villiers (1693-1770)]. Petrus Strydom was the eldest son of Hendrik Josephus Strydom [1725-?; son of Johannes Strydom (1692-1721) and Judith Schreuder (1704-1760)] and his wife, Sara Delport [1728-?; daughter of Pieter Delport (1704-?) and Anna Elisabeth Maree (1710-1755)]. Anna Du Preez was the daughter of Philippe Du Preez [1705-1765; son of Philippe Du Preez (1681-1722) and Elizabeth Prevot (1683-1750)] and his wife, Isabella Potgieter [1711-?; daughter of Johannes Potgieter (1674-1733) and Clara Herbst (1685-1714)]. Some of these maternal lines can be followed back to the early 1600s or just before.

Stephanus Schoeman’s father was Hendrik Schoeman (1770-1828) and his mother Regina Catharina Scheepers (1787-?). Hendrik’s parents were Jurgen Schoeman [1740-1778; son of Heinrich Schumacher (1714-1765) and Johanna Botha (1739-?)] and Dorothea Bekker [1744-1778; daughter of Stephanus Bekker (1705-?) and Sara Olivier (1711-)]. Regina’s parents were Jacobus Scheepers [1762-1781; son of Jacobus Scheepers (1725-1733) and Maria Elizabeth van Wijk (1733-?)]. Most of these lines are continued in Geslagsregisters Van Ou-Kaapse Families by De Villiers.

Kmdt. Henning Petrus Nicolaas Pretorius

HPN Pretorius(born 1844 in Natal, South Africa; died 1897, Farm Abrahamskloof, Albanie, Cape, South Africa) nicknamed “Skote Petoors”
When a young boy, he was nearly present when his paternal grandfather was murdered in 1865 in Moorddraai, but rode ahead to see his fiancee, and therefore was saved from being murdered too. In 1876 he became and Cornet in the Z.A.R. in the Sekukune wars. His heroic conduct during the First Boer War in Elandsfontein made him famous. He was wounded twice. In 1882 he was commissioned as a Kommandant. In 1890 he was made Acting Kommandant Generaal in place in P.J. Joubert. In 1896 he was promoted to Lt. Colonel of the reorganised Artillery Corps under the new name of Staatsartillerie. He made several improvements to the Artillery, rendering them equivalent to those of most nations at the time. He died while on a mission in the Eastern districts of the Cape, while looking for the beam on which the accused were hanged in 1816 for the Slagtersnek opstand. He was buried with full military honours at the Helde-akker in Pretoria. There is a statue of him in front of Military Headquarters in Potgieter Street in Pretoria.

His father was Marthinus Wessel “Swart Martiens” Pretorius (1822-1864) born in Graaf Reinet and who died at the Battle of Silkaatsnek, during the First Boer War. Farmer in Welgegund, near Pretoria. His mother was Debora Jacoba Retief (1815-1900), born at Mooimeisjesfontein, in the Cape. She famously painted her father’s name on the cliff face of Kerkenberg in the Drakensberg. A sculpture of this deed is on display in the Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria. Her father was Gen. Pieter Retief (1780-1838), known as Piet Retief, Voortrekker leader. Retief was born in the Cape Colony, South Africa. His family were Boers of French Huguenot ancestry, and Retief grew up on one of the vineyards established by French wine-making immigrants near Stellenbosch. After moving to the vicinity of Grahamstown Retief, like other Boers, acquired wealth through livestock, but suffered repeated losses from Xhosa raids in the period leading up to the 6th Cape Frontier War. (However, apart from such losses, Retief was also a man in constant financial trouble. On more than one occasion, he lost money and other possessions mainly through gambling and land speculation.

He is reported to have gone bankrupt at least twice, while at the colony and on the frontier. Such losses impelled many frontier farmers to become Voortrekkers (literally those who move forward) and to migrate to new lands in the north. Retief authored their ‘manifesto’, dated 22 January 1837, setting out their long-held grievances against the British government, which they felt had offered them no protection, no redress, and which had freed their slaves with recompense to the owners hardly amounting to a quarter of their value. This was published in the Grahamstown Journal on 2 February and De Zuid-Afrikaan on 17 February just as the emigrant Boers started to leave their homesteads. Retief’s household departed in two wagons from his farm in the Winterberg District in early February 1837 and joined a party of 30 other wagons. The pioneers crossed the Orange River into independent territory.

When several parties on the Great Trek converged at the Vet River, Retief was elected “Governor of the United Laagers” and head of “The Free Province of New Holland in South East Africa.” This coalition was very short-lived and Retief became the lone leader of the group moving east. On 5 October 1837 Retief established a camp at Kerkenberg near the Drakensberg ridge. He proceeded on horseback the next day to explore the region between the Drakensberg and Port Natal, now known as Kwa-Zulu Natal. Upon receiving a positive impression of the region he started negotiations with the Zulu chief, Dingane, in November 1837. Retief led his own band over the Drakensberg Mountains and convinced Voortrekker leaders Maritz and Potgieter to join him in January 1838.

On a second visit to Dingane, the Zulu agreed to Boer settlement in Natal, provided that the Boer delegation recovered cattle stolen from him by the rival Tlokwa tribe. This the Boers did, their reputation and rifles cowing the tribe into peacefully handing over the cattle. Despite warnings, Retief left the Tugela region on 28 January 1838, in the belief that he could negotiate permanent boundaries for the Natal settlement with Dingane. The deed of cession of the Tugela-Umzimvubu region, although dated 4 February, 1838, was signed by Dingane on 6 February 1838. This Dingane did by imitating writing and with the two sides recording three witnesses each. Dingane then invited Retief’s party to witness a special performance by his soldiers. However, upon a signal given by Dingane, the Zulus overwhelmed Retief’s party of 70 and their Coloured servants, taking all captive. Retief, his son, men, and servants, about a hundred people in total, were taken to Kwa Matiwane Hill in what is now Kwa-Zulu Natal, and murdered. Their bodies were left on the hillside to be devoured by wild animals, as was Dingane’s custom with his enemies.

Dingane then gave orders for the Voortrekker laagers to be attacked, which plunged the migrant movement into serious disarray. Eventually, the Retief party’s remains were recovered and buried on 21 December 1838, by members of the “victory commando” led by Andries Pretorius, following the decisive Voortrekker victory at Blood River. Also recovered was the undamaged deed of cession from Retief’s leather purse, as later verified by a member of the “victory commando”, E.F. Potgieter. An exact copy survives, but the original deed disappeared in transit to the Netherlands during the Anglo-Boer War. The site of the Retief grave was more or less forgotten until pointed out in 1896 by J.H. Hattingh, a surviving member of Pretorius’s commando. A monument recording the names of the members of Retief’s delegation was erected near the grave in 1922. The town of Piet Retief was named after him as was (partially) the city of Pietermaritzburg.

(The “Maritz” part being named after Gerrit Maritz, another Voortrekker leader.) Piet Retief married Magdalena Johanna De Wet [1782-1855; daughter of Pieter De Wet (1765-?) and Maria P Opperman (1757-?)]. Her father Pieter de Wet was in turn the son of Petrus Pieter De Wet (1726-1782) and Magdalena Fenesie Maree (1726-1770). Retief’s own parents were Jacobus Retief [1754-1821; son of Francois Retief (1708/9-1743) and Anna Marais (1722-1777)] and Debora Joubert [1749-?; daughter of Pieter Joubert (1726-1746) and Martha Du Toit (1729-1771)].

Jacobus Retief was a farmer near Wellington, his original farm was called “Soetendal”. He also bought the farm “Welvanpas”, formerly known as “De Krakeelhoek” which belonged to his grandmother Maria Mouij, of whom presently. He had eleven children. His father, Francois Retief, was the eldest son of the founding father of the Retief clan in South Africa, Hugenot emigree Francois Retif Snr. (1663-1721). This Francois Retif fled Mer in Blois, France during the recriminations of King Louis XIV with his young sister to Holland. Since the Dutch were looking for settlers for the Cape, they joined and arrived in Cape Town in 1688. He bought a farm and called it “Le Paris” on the northern banks of the Berg River near Wemmershoek. He married Maria Mouij, (1685-?, daughter of Pierre Mouij, also of France.), 23 years his junior.

To return to Marthinus Wessel Pretorius (Swart Martiens): His father was: Councillor Henning Petrus Nicolaas Pretorius [1800-1865; son of Marthinus Wessel Pretorius (1747-?) and Susanna Elisabeth Viljoen, (1760-?), widow of J.D. Hattingh] who was a Deacon in the church and long-serving elder, as well as member of the first Voortrekker Council in Natal. He was murdered by the Sotho at Moorddraai near Harrismith with his wife, Johanna Christina Vorster [1804-1865; daughter of Barend Johannes Vorster (1771-1840) and Johanna Christina Vorster (1776-?)], two of his sons and a companion. His brother, Andries Pretorius later became the Voortrekker arch-leader and founded the capital city of Pretoria, South Africa. Barend Vorster was the son of Barend Johannes Vorster (1748-1799) and Cecilia van Heerden (1752-1789). Marthinus Wessel Pretorius was the son of Johannes Pretorius [1711-1778; son of Johannes Pretorius (1642-1694) and Johanna Victor (1640-1719)] and Johanna Bezuidenhout [1717-?; illegitimate daughter of Wynand Bezuidenhout (1674-1724) and Gerbrecht Boshouwer (1684-1772)]. Johannes Pretorius (1711-1778) farmed near Roodesandskloof with about 40 cattle and 70 sheep. His father, the elder Johannes Pretorius was born in Oudorp, Alkmaar, Noord-Holland, Netherlands and was the first to move to South Africa. His parents were: Wessel Schout Praetorius [1614-1664; son of Barend Wesselius Pretorius (1596-1668) and Aaltje Jansdochter (1596-1643)] and Josyntgen Claesdochter (1618-?). Barend’s father was Wessel Schulte (1566-?).

The Rev. Alfred Langdon

(born 1842 in West Down, Devon, England; died in Torrington, Devon, England)

The Langdons have been present in Cornwall and Devon since the 1100s or perhaps even before. Lizard point is named after their distant ancestor, Sir Lizard de la Langdon; Langdon Hall, built in the 1400s was named after the family. The little towns of Langdon and Keverell owe their origins to the family too. Their blood is intermingled with all the great and old families of that county – the Courtenays, St. Johns, Beauchamps, Godolphins, Trenouths, Arundels, Bassetts, de Roches and Clares. Pedigree attached.

Elizabeth Davy

(born 1839 in Chulmleigh, Devon, England; died 1897, High Bickington, England)

Edward Gordon Nixon

(born 1849 in Scotland; died 1893, Salt Savannah, Clarendon, Jamaica)

Pedigree attached. Nixon’s most significant ancestor from a genealogical point of view is his maternal grandmother, Lady Anne Gordon, daughter of the 3rd last Duke of Gordon, Cosmo George Gordon. This family and title are now extinct in the male line and distills quite possibly one of the best Royal and Noble Scottish bloodlines in existence. Among his ancestors are almost every King of Scotland, as well as links to the Ancient English Royal house. When expanded for the last one thousand years, it is also one of the most complete pedigrees I have encountered. Lady Anne Gordon could account for a direct line to King Charlemagne of Europe (Karl der Große, 747-814AD). Very nearly all of Lady Anne Gordon’s closest 200 ancestors are accounted for.

Mary Catherine Owen

(born 1864 in Newfoundland, Canada; died 1921, Salt Savannah, Clarendon, Jamaica)

Sources + References:

Personal sources – old family trees and letters etc.
Birth, baptism, marriage and death certificates
The Plantagenet Roll (Clarence Volume) by Ruvigny
Geslagsregisters van Ou Kaapse Families – De Villiers Pama
Burke’s Extinct, Dormant and Abeyant Peerage – Burke
Burke’s Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage – Burke family history websites (as supportive evidence only)

Gareth Cliff
Ellen Stanton
Cape Town Archives
Pietermaritzburg Archives