Saturday, February 20, 2010

More 19th c German immigrants in South Africa

A group of 74 Germans, mainly vine-dressers and wine-makers selected by the Cape Emigration Commissioner, Mr Field, were among other emigrants who sailed to South Africa on the ship Aurifera. This was during the era of assisted emigration to the Cape between 1857 and 1862. These German passengers’ names are given in Esme Bull’s book, ‘Aided Emigration to the Cape’.

Just under a decade after the Bergtheil Settlers arrived in Natal, German Military Settlers were sent to South Africa. These men had been recruited for service with British forces in the Crimean War (1854-6) and were stationed in England. From here it was intended they should sail to South Africa but the war ended before their departure. The soldiers (2362 in all) were instead sent to the Cape as settlers, arriving in East London in early 1857. It was suggested that the men marry, with the incentive being free passages for wives, resulting in last-minute weddings at the quayside. For names of those who married in England, on board ship or on arrival in South Africa see the free site:

The Indian Mutiny which broke out in 1858 tempted over a thousand of these German soldiers to volunteer for service in the Indian Army. Those who remained settled in various places in the Cape and Natal, including King William’s Town, Hamburg, Potsdam, Stutterheim, East London, Marienthal, Greytown and others. The women brought out on the Lady Kennaway (discussed in a previous post on this blog) were destined to be wives for any single men among the German military settlers but this idea was not a resounding success.

At about the same time, i.e. 1858, 1600 German settlers arrived in East London under a contract arranged by Sir George Grey. It was proposed that these immigrants, who did not receive free passages, would settle in the area known as British Kaffraria and add to the numbers of the German military settlers. Most of the Kaffraria Germans were farmers.

In another scheme, Germans were brought to settle in the Eastern Cape. One group arrived on the Wandrahm in March 1877 and a second in 1883. Due to the continuing troubles on the eastern frontier, these immigrants were at first settled near Claremont, Cape Town and eventually made their permanent home in Philippi.

Joachim Schubert's indispensable website for descendants of German immigrants can be found at  for example:  for passengers per Wandrahm, departed Hamburg 22 August 1858, arrived East London (Kaffraria) 8 December 1858.

This site includes passenger lists from Hamburg as well as an extended register of names mentioned in the book Deutsche Wanderung nach Südafrika im 19. Jahrhundert by Werner Schmidt-Pretoria. The book covers German immigration to South Africa during the 19th Century.

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