Saturday, June 30, 2012

Listing Purchasers of Ammunition at Natal 1864.

My Gadsden ancestor arrived in Natal on the Priscilla, a barque of the Bullard King line, on 21 June 1863. (Priscilla was a speedy sailer: in Nov 1863 she made the fastest passage on record from Natal to England i.e. 52 days.)

One of the first references to Thomas Gadsden, other than his name on the passenger register (spelled Gadsom), shows that he bought ammunition, ‘250 Percussion Caps and 7 Cartridges’ from ‘the Officer in Charge at Durban’ on 13 October 1863.  Thomas’s surname is given as Gedsden in this reference, another of the imaginative variant spellings I’ve found during research into Gadsden family history.

Interestingly, only two days afterwards, Captain Bell (William Bell, the Port Captain) purchased ‘3 Gunpowder, 250 Caps and 7 Cartridges’ on the 15 October 1863 from the same Officer. Thomas Gadsden was later to marry William Bell’s daughter, Eliza Ann. These gentlemen were not arming themselves against attack, simply hoping to enjoy some sport: the hunting was still good at Port Natal, particularly in the wooded areas such as the Bluff and the Berea hills or further afield across the Umgeni River.

Lists of Purchasers of Ammunition appeared in the Natal Government Gazette. Here is the list published in the edition of 19 April, 1864. It includes prominent citizens and those less well-known. A few names are mis-spelled. Is your ancestor among them?

Feb 1864
06 - Antonio (Native Police)
06 - Boyne, R
   View ca 1860s from the Berea towards the Bluff,
showing ships outside and within the harbour,
and the town clustered on the shores of the bay. An ox-wagon
trundles along in the foreground.
08 - Bralse, M
08 - Witer, C
08 - Jacques, Thos B
10 - Waller, E
10 - Norris, Richard
11 - Durban Corporation
13 - Surtees, R
13 - Edwards, G F
13 - Jorson, J E
15 - Deighton, W H
15 - Oppel, Herman
16 - Christon, J
16 - Norris, Richard
16 - Wiltshire, Frank
16 - Seager, Geo
16 - Pierson, Jno
16 - Baker, Charles
17 - Deighton, W H
17 - Priestley, J
17 - Dickinson, Capt F
18 - Willy, R B
18 - Thorpe, Fredk
18 - Pennington, Richard
19 - Edie, Robert
22 - Logan, Robert
23 - Durban Corporation
23 - Harrison, C S
23 - Williams, Henry James
23 - Reed, Jno, VRC
23 - Fowle, James
23 - Polkinghorn, John P (Probably John T. Sugar Planter, Victoria County)
23 - Wright, A
23 - Roberts, Wm C
01 - Milner, Henry (Managing Director of the Cotton Plantations Co.)
01 - Murray, Jno
01 - Symgani
02 - Evans, A W
02 - Lloyd, J
03 - Mumford, J J
03 - Morris, J
03 - Barron, Edward
03 - Watson, Wm Geo
03 - Steel, P
03 - Town Council
03 - Smith, Geo
03 - Symgani
03 - Blundell, T
03 - Seager, R
05 - Peel, T
05 - Walton, Walter
08 - Phillips, Jno
09 - Acutt, W H
09 - Town Council
09 - Collinge, A
09 - Umgabozi
09 - Dulgety, J
10 - George, Jno
11 - Gifford, James
11 - Fayers, James
12 - Grainger, Wm
12 - Edwards, Rev W
12 - Ballenden, J M
12 - Walpole, Capt
14 - Cox, Jno
14 - Shooter, Wm
15 - Reynolds, Lewis (Sugar planter, Victoria County)
15 - Brown, Harry Wylde
15 - Broadstreet, Robert
15 - Francis, Henry
15 - Tennison, A
16 - Holland, Edward, jun
16 - Thourne, R J
16 - Anderson, Henry
16 - Gifford, Samuel
16 - Mayor of Durban
17 - Willy, Wm B
17 - Dickins, J C
17 - Dickinson, Capt
17 - Jackson, W J
17 - Struthers, R B
18 - Deek, W E
19 - Young, ?
19 - Rich, C H
19 - Crowder, T, jun
19 - Leech, C E
21 - Field, Jno
21 - Steel, Jno S
21 - Gillett, Wm
21 - Fuller, Fred A
22 - Tyler, Rev J
22 - Chadwick, Howard
22 - Lloyd, Revd C H
22 - Pickering, Edward
22 - Crozier, N H  (of Clairmont Estate)
22 - Konkromer (sic – Konigkramer)
22 - Horboralo, Daniel
24 - Godden, Richd (Byrne settler on the King William; landowner of  Durban and Victoria County)
24 - Jones, J T
24 - Cowley, Wm
24 - Green, G
30 - Mack, Jno G (Sugar planter of Isipingo)
30 - Norris, Richard
30 - Edwards, F G
30 - Mayor of Durban (Hugh Gillespie was Mayor from 1863-65)

Friday, June 29, 2012

More on the 1860s in Durban.

The Natal Railway Company didn’t do well to begin with, despite the line being kept busy transporting cargo. By 1863 there was some improvement financially and an extension was made to the line as far as a new station named West End. Another locomotive was acquired by the Company in 1865 and named Perseverance (a quality much needed in colonial Natal). In 1867 the line was extended as far as the Umgeni Village. Natal sugar production was increasing in volume and this product was transported to the Umgeni end of the line by ox wagon then taken to the Point by the railway. Such developments gave opportunities for employment as well as for growing entrepreneurial ability among the merchants and other citizens of Durban.

The harbour was an area of on-going difficulty and in the early 1860s, after Milne retired from the lists and other engineers and other surveys had failed to come up with a suitable scheme for improving the entrance, one Captain James Vetch, R.E., contributed his mite in 1862.  Perhaps his grand design would have provided a more practical answer to the problems if Vetch had actually visited the site: he never came to Natal. Undeterred by such considerations he submitted a report. For Lieutenant Governor Scott, who pushed the Vetch scheme, hiring contractors to begin building breakwaters, the project assumed nightmarish proportions and eventually was abandoned. Colonial Engineer Peter Paterson had to be called in to try and save the day.

A more promising step seemed to be  the building of the first bridge across the Umgeni River: called the Queen’s Bridge, this was opened to joyous celebrations (at each end of the bridge) on 22 September 1865.

Victoria County was thus joined to Durban by road, a boon for the numerous colonists then residing north of the Umgeni - particularly the sugar planters. The joy was short-lived. In August 1868 the bridge was washed away during floods. There were murmurings about the timber piles not having been sunk deep enough to withstand the waters.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Durban events in the 1860s

This photograph of the Point, Durban can be dated to the 1860s because the steam paddle tug Pioneer is included at left - with her distinctive funnel and flag flying astern. (Click on the pic for a zoomed view.) If you look closely you can see the shaped housing for the paddle wheel.

The other shipping consists of sailing vessels, though a regular mail service by the steamer Sir Robert Peel had commenced in 1852 between Durban and Cape Town. Among the structures clustered on the shifting dunes the Point (the spit of land at right, projecting into the bay) are the Customs House and warehouses. There were no wharves or jetties. In the distance are the hills of the Berea - not a building in sight at that date. The entrance channel is in the foreground.

In June 1860 the town celebrated the opening of the Point-Durban railway line and in September of that year  townsfolk had an opportunity to see Royalty in the person of Queen Victoria's son, Prince Alfred, aged sixteen, who took a ride on the train during his visit to the Colony.

Prince Alfred wearing the uniform of a midshipman in H.M. Royal Navy. He arrived at the Cape in July aboard the frigate, H.M.S. Euryalus, then went on an overland journey to the interior with Sir George Grey, Governor of the Cape Colony, before arriving in Durban on 5 September, 1860..

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Natal gets steamed up in the 1860s

There had been a new development at the end of 1859: Natal’s port had acquired its first steam tug (perhaps the first steam tug in Africa), the Pioneer. This purchase had been recommended by engineer Milne as early as 1852 but colonial wheels turned slowly. It was planned that the tug would tow helpless sailing ships over the Bar and, fitted with a special iron rake, would also assist in scouring the channel since the ebb tide didn’t seem to do this efficiently. (The suction dredger was then unknown.) It took Pioneer just over 100 days to sail from England to Natal; her paddles were fitted when she reached her destination.

In 1860, keeping up with changing times, Durban’s (and South Africa’s) first steam railway was built between the town centre and the Point. Principally it would carry cargo from the ships visiting the port, which had previously been accomplished by ox wagon. The town end of the 2 mile line was on the site of what would later, in the era of the Natal Government Railways, be Durban’s main railway station, next to Market Square (where Farewell Square and the City Hall now stand).

Local artist Robert Bristow Tatham* (d 1881) left us a snapshot in time – a watercolour sketch showing the opening ceremony of the Natal Railway Company’s Durban to Point Line, 26 June 1860. There is a wealth of detail in the painting. Was your ancestor present on this occasion?

Behind the platform is St Paul’s Church. Bishop Colenso, His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor, Major Williamson, and members of the Natal Legislative Council were among the notables at the event. Women dressed in their best, wearing bonnets and shawls and carrying parasols, are gathered in the foreground along with their menfolk and children enjoying the spectacle. African bystanders include a wagon driver with his whip, another carrying a rifle on his shoulder, and ladies carrying firewood on their heads. The Anglican Bishop blessed the new railway and the dignitaries boarded the 1st class carriage – the remainder made do with the goods truck – for a ride to the Point and back. There had been a trial run a few days earlier, to make sure there were no mishaps when the Governor was a passenger.

The star of the show – the small 12 ton locomotive, painted bright green, and with a very large funnel - was  named ‘Natal’.

*Robert Bristow Tatham emigrated to South Africa in 1850; after a spell serving with the Cape Mounted Rifles he was appointed manager of the Natal Railway Company in 1860.

The original  painting is held at the Local History Museum, Old Court House, Durban.

Natal in the 1860s: what the settlers saw.

Although immigration to Natal from Britain and other parts of Europe slowed to a trickle, especially during the early years of the decade, settlers who chose this Colony as their destination would find themselves living in interesting times. The wooden barques on which they sailed still faced difficulties on arrival: the problems of the Bar across the entrance channel to Natal’s port had yet to be solved, despite the engineering work carried out by John Milne* in the 1850s.

The Bluff with the remains of Milne's North Pier in
foreground. There was no lighthouse until 1867.
Around the wooded promontory known as the Bluff, which held the bay of Natal in its embrace, the sea ebbed and flowed, depositing sand and sediment on the ocean floor and continually changing the depth of the tidal channels. Usually the depth of water over the Bar was about six feet at low tide or 12 feet at high spring tide. It was this narrow tidal range and lack of water at peak tides that caused trouble, making the entrance inaccessible to ships of heavier draught. Vessels had to anchor outside in the ‘road’ or roadstead, where they were at the mercy of wind and weather and might well be wrecked. Many wrecks occurred during the 1860s.

Passengers could have an unpleasant day, or several days, while their ship rode unsteadily at anchor outside the harbour and they waited to be transported to shore in a lighter or other small craft. Dry land must have looked inviting after the lengthy sea voyage but most settlers got their feet wet before reaching the shore as the lighters stopped in shallow water some distance away. There were no wharves. A Customs House stood precariously among the scrubby bush of what was originally called, with good reason, Sandy Point (later the Point). The Customs House was saved from disappearing into the bay by Milne, who used pole groynes to stop the sand erosion.

*JOHN MILNE R.E., b 1802 Kincardine Scotland, was a civil engineer who had worked on harbours such as Leith and Inverkeithing in his home country before emigrating to Natal on the Dreadnought in 1849. A widower, he was accompanied by his daughter Jessie. Jessie married a soldier, Captain Robertson, who was later wounded in India in 1857 and died in 1861. Subsequently, Jessie married Captain William Michael Tollner, (Her 2nd husband Tollner’s Death Notice gives her maiden name as Robertson, which is misleading and emphasises the necessity for checking sources.) Milne had his critics (including the influential George Cato) and by 1858 he was no longer harbour engineer at Durban. He died in 1877.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Looking at some recent blog enquiries.

A blog follower was looking for the passenger list of the Haidee, arriving at Natal October 7 1850. See
There's a blog dedicated to the topic at

Tiyo Soga
There have been several requests for information on Tiyo Soga. Enter these two words on the search facility on this blog for various posts.

Similarly, for details on immigration or settlers to Natal or passenger lists use the search facility on the Blogger toolbar at top left hand corner of the blog page. For more successful results search on the words 'passenger lists' and 'immigration' etc rather than 'manifest/s'. 

Alternatively browse through the archived posts using the right hand menu. 

Numerous queries come in weekly re the Boer War and there is some information available on this blog; again, use the search facility. If you Google those two words you'll get a deluge of hits, of course; save time and go to

Incidentally, for the record, Mole is not my surname but my nickname (digging in the records being what I do) so if you are looking for information on the surname MOLE you won't find it on my blog.

Also, if you spell a word incorrectly when using the blog search facility (e.g. recabite instead of rechabite) no references will be found. Stating the obvious? You'd be surprised at how often it happens.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Caithness mystery photo

This wonderful photo, as well as several others connected to the Caithness family history, was sent to me some time ago.

Unfortunately, the vital explanatory captions to these images, as well as the name and email address of the sender, have been lost. If anyone recognises the photo - premises of C Caithness, Baker and Pastrycook - please let me know. The sender's name may have been Peter Hay, possibly in Australia. I would be most appreciative.

Update: The photo shows premises of Charles Caithness who settled in Australia after some years as a ship's baker. He was the brother of Mary Anne Caithness, wife of Captain William Bell. Thanks to Steve Steere for clarification on this. I'm now in contact with Peter Hay, thanks to the power of internet.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

New Gelderland, Natal


In 1870, the New Gelderland sugar estate, including the mill, was bought by the Glasgow and Natal Sugar Co., but by 1880 the estate was insolvent. The New Gelderland mill was 'out of use' in 1881 though David Brown reportedly had it running again for at least one season.

By 1882 the proprietors of the estate were George Stewart, mill engineer, and William Mathews Ash. Ash had married TC Colenbrander's daughter, Nancy (Antonia Nancy). When Ash died in December 1887, Stewart bought his share in the mill, which continued to operate as the New Gelderland Sugar Factory, remaining in the Stewart family until the 1940s. The mill was dismantled and partially re-erected on the Chirundu Sugar Estate on the Zambesi, Rhodesia. The New Gelderland Estate eventually became part of Natal Estates Ltd.

Some of the Dutch settlers turned to other crops and occupations. In 1872 Messrs J and A Colenbrander were cultivating coffee on their plantation, Hummelo, on the Nonoti (this property, named after Hummelo in Gelderland, Netherlands, is marked on a Natal map of 1904). The Natal Almanac of 1894 lists three members of the Gielink family: Albert, farming at Dalton, Noodsberg, another Albert, mason and farmer at Honey Grove, Noodsberg, and John W., mechanic, at Bozamo (near Stanger), New Gelderland.


Many of the names on the passenger lists mentioned in foregoing posts on this blog appear on gravestones in New Gelderland cemetery. Among them are Colenbrander, Gielink, Freriksen, Ledeboer, Hoetink, Theunissen, Albers, Hoogvorst, Wassink, Weber and Reuterink.

The memorial inscriptions show that the Dutch immigrants had their fair share of tragedy. Alida Sophia Colenbrander died in 1874 at the age of 15½; Adolph Colenbrander died in infancy in 1864. Both these children lie buried in the New Gelderland Cemetery.

On 14 December 1872 the Natal Mercury reported: 'An accident, proving fatal, to a boy of four years old, took place on Hummelo coffee plantation of Messrs J and A Colenbrander, in the River Nonoti, by the upsetting of a cart while crossing the full river. The body of the poor child (named Andries Gielink) has not been recovered.' Presumably the remains were never found: there is no memorial to little Andries at New Gelderland cemetery.

Not all the graves in the New Gelderland cemetery are those of Dutch settlers or their descendants: other names include David Brown, associated with the New Gelderland mill in 1881, George Stewart and several of his relatives, also some members of the Lyle family such as William Bray Lyle and Leonard Vacy Lyle.


New Gelderland frequently occurs as New Guelderland: since 'Gelderland' was used by the Dutch settlers, I have chosen that spelling.

Passenger lists - always to be approached with caution - offer a variety of spellings of the Dutch settlers' names. The number of passengers reported to be on board may not tally with the numbers given on the vessel's passenger list. Dates of departure and arrival are equally suspect: in the case of the Natal Mercury shipping columns, an arrival date may indicate the day on which the ship anchored outside in the roadstead, rather than the day of the actual landing of the passengers.

Information also differs among genealogical sources, e.g. Heese lists 9 children of TC Colenbrander; elsewhere 11 and 13 children are mentioned.

Several of the New Gelderland settler families were linked by marriage e.g. Colenbrander and Ledeboer, Albers and Hoetink, Gielink and Wantink, Wassink and Velthuizen.

JA Heese: South African Genealogies
WK Ente: Natal en Nieuw-Gelderland en de vooruitzigten der kolonisatie aldaar
RF Osborn: Valiant Harvest
R Stewart: The Stewarts of New Gelderland
J Ploeger: Colenbrander family papers (MS; Killie Campbell Africana Library)
TC Colenbrander: Brieven uit en over Natal (Killie Campbell Africana Library)

Dutch immigrants on the Jan van Brakel

Appearing in the same column of the Natal Mercury as the passenger list of the Hermanus Izaak (1st voyage)  there is the first mention, under 'Vessels Expected', of the 'Jan Van Brakel, barque, from Amsterdam, to sail in December' (1858). However, there was evidently some delay as this 327 ton ship, commanded by Captain De Reever (Der Oever in some sources), only left Amsterdam on 15 March 1859. The Natal Mercury of 23 June 1859 announced that the Jan Van Brakel had arrived at Simon's Bay on 2 June 'with 74 immigrants'. The vessel sailed from Simon's Bay on 25 June and was eventually reported to be 'standing off' Natal by 14 July:

The Jan Van Brakel: a barque, supposed to be this vessel, has been off the port since Tuesday morning, standing off and on, though from some cause or other she had not last night come to the anchorage. A barque, with a large number of passengers on board, probably the same vessel, stood in for the mouth of the Umlazi on Tuesday, and anchored just outside the breakers, about 300 yards from shore. Mr Stafford, with others, went down and telegraphed to her that the port was 12 miles off and she must go to sea, which she did yesterday morning. Had there been any swell, or had the wind set in from the east, her danger would have been imminent. Several residents remained on the beach all night, fearing the possibility of a catastrophe. 

The Jan Van Brakel reached Port Natal safely, but having lost both her anchors, others were supplied from shore. The Natal Mercury of 21 July 1859 reported: 'This vessel brings nearly fifty Dutch immigrants, who seem likely to turn out hardworking industrious settlers' and listed the passengers as follows:

Mr G Freislich
Mr & Mrs Freriks [sic; Freriksen] & child
Mr & Mrs Gielink & 5 children
Mr & Mrs Warsink [sic; Wassink] & 4 children
Mr & Mrs Weber & 4 children
Mr & Mrs Reuterink & 4 children
Mr & Mrs Bouwmeister
Mr & Mrs Kusteroff
Messrs. Velthuizen, ... (illegible), Bank(?), Wantink, Hanning, Bendink, Bakking (Makkink?), Van Hasteroff & Theunissen.

Goods carried included 100 boxes of pipes, a case of cigars, 36 cases of cheese, 1 anvil, 2 vices, 4 iron rasps, 1 grindstone, a wagon, a cart and 10 pieces of 'machinery'.

By 1860 about ninety Dutch emigrants had settled at New Gelderland. A large area of land had been put under sugar cane, a mill was in operation and sugar was being produced for export.

Colenbrander homestead New Gelderland

Friday, June 22, 2012

Dutch settlers: New Gelderland Natal 1858-60

Passengers per Schooner Hermanus Izaak
 (2nd visit): the Port Captain's list signed by William Bell.

Following in the wake of the Estafette came the three-masted brigantine (elsewhere described as a schooner) Hermanus Isaak (or Izaak), 169 tons, under Captain AH Braunstahl, which left Holland on 9 December 1858, and departed Table Bay on 28 March 1859, arriving at Natal 17 April 1859 (according to the local press, 15 April).

Not unusually, there are discrepancies between the names of the passengers as listed in the Port Captain's register and those shown in the shipping column of the Natal Mercury 21 April 1859. According to the latter, there were 19 passengers in all: 5 members of the Scheuer family, 4 of the Rasch family, 6 of the Fischer family, as well as Messrs Scheffer, Ananarius, Hartinck, and Hut. How many of these were destined for the settlement at New Gelderland is uncertain.
The ship also carried 185 boxes of cheese, 23 cases of herrings, 5 boxes of anchovies, 8 boxes of liqueurs, 76 boxes of cigars and a case of tobacco - a few home comforts for the Dutch immigrants.

The Hermanus Isaak made a second voyage from Amsterdam to Natal in 1860, arriving on 8 July with 43 passengers. It was reported that 'the continued shoal state of the Bar' had resulted in the Hermanus Isaak touching on the Bar as she entered the inner anchorage, 'though drawing only eight feet of water'. The Natal Mercury's report of 9 August 1860 describes this difficulty and gives us a clear picture of the problems posed by the sandbank (i.e. the notorious 'Bar') at the entrance to the port:

On this voyage the passengers aboard Hermanus Isaak included:

Mr & Mrs Canisius (?), 3 children & servant (latter travelled steerage)
5 children of the Rev M Postma
Mr & Mrs Schoon & 8 children
Mr & Mrs Hoogvorst & 7 children (JJ Hoogvorst)
Mr & Mrs L. Kroep & 3 children, & Mrs Kroep snr.
Mr H Bussenraker
Mr Karel van Vollenhoven
Mr Jan de Waal
Mr J Hagenins
Mr H Meerdonk
Mr BH Albers
Mr A Bier

Natal's Dutch immigrants 1858-1860


The Dutch barque Estafette, 424 tons, commanded by Captain Reitveld, lay at Oosterdok (Eastern Dock) Amsterdam from 26 March-19 April 1858, where she took on board crew, passengers and cargo. From 20-22 April she was lying at het Nieuwediep (New Deep) off Den Helder at the tip of north Holland. She sailed for South Africa on 22 April and was at anchor at Simon's Bay between 9 July and 1 August, when she departed for the Cape of Good Hope.

On 20 August 1858 the vessel reached Port Natal.1 The landing of her passengers was announced in the Natal Mercury 26 August 1858.

Passengers on the Estafette included -
Rev D Postma
Rev PAC Van Heyningen & Mrs B Van Heyningen
Mr Adriaan (Benjamin) Colenbrander
Miss Sophia Alida Colenbrander
Second cabin (or steerage):
Miss G Loopwijk
Miss MC Meyer
Mr & Mrs AJ Van der Veen & 3 children
Mr & Mrs JH Gielink & 4 children
Mr & Mrs JV Van Wyhe (elsewhere spelled Wijhe) & 4 children
Mr & Mrs GIC Sein (?) & 2 children
Mr JM Gielink
Mr AJ Reevoort
Messrs Haetinck [sic; HW Hoetink] Haenert, Arnoldt, Friecke, Vogel, Zevenhuysen2

The Mercury reported that among the 'goods entered inwards' per Estafette from Amsterdam were 200 cases gin (for JF Kahts, the shipping agent in Natal); 5 packages, 1 case furniture, 2 boxes, 1 chest, 1 waggon, 1 plough, 1 harrow, 9 casks (for T Colenbrander); 2 chests boots, 73 packages, 442 iron pots (for JC Van der Wyhe) and 3 cases wine (for AB Colenbrander).

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Dutch immigrants to Natal 1858-1860

By 1860 approximately ninety Dutch emigrants had settled in Natal at New Gelderland between the Nonoti and Sinkwazi Rivers.  TC Colenbrander had already put a large area of land under sugar, and a 20 horse-power steam mill was in operation, manufacturing sugar for export. George Stewart, a Scottish engineer, was employed at the mill from 1862.

In the same year, William Karel Ente, who arrived in Natal on the Prins Frederick der Nederlanden in 18577, published a 40-page booklet (written in Dutch) describing New Gelderland in glowing terms. He mentions its crystal clear rivers, rich soil and its suitability for the cultivation of sugar cane.

This immigration scheme was largely the brain-child of Theodorus Christiaan Colenbrander, who had been resident in Natal since 1854. In November 1858 the Nederlandsche Landbouw-emigratie Maatschappij (Netherlands Agricultural and Immigration Company) was founded with the aim of sending settlers from the Netherlands to Natal. 

T C Colenbrander

Colenbrander was born at Doesburg in the Netherlands, on 18 September 1811, the 6th son and 7th child of Adrianus and Tonia (née Heydeman). He later settled near Djakarta, Java in the Dutch East Indies where he married Geraldina Nicolina van Groll. In Java, Colenbrander became interested in the production and manufacture of jute and indigo. It may be that he decided to emigrate to Natal having heard that indigo grew wild in the Colony, though the plant had not been cultivated commercially. Colenbrander set sail for Natal (possibly on the Kaap-de-Goede-Hoop), accompanied by his wife and their first five children, another Dutch planter Wilhelm van Prehn, and a group of Javanese plantation labourers. They landed at Natal in September 1854 and Colenbrander settled on land near Pinetown, cultivating indigo with van Prehn and Archibald Keir Murray. A steam mill was built to process the indigo, and storage vats were also constructed.

The venture was beset by various difficulties: a legal wrangle between van Prehn and Murray, as well as labour problems which threatened to close down the indigo operation. Colenbrander approached the Natal Government on the matter of bringing out settlers from the Netherlands, and it was agreed that land would be granted between the Nonoti and Sinkwazi Rivers on the North Coast, to be farmed by 20 Dutch families if these emigrants could arrive in Natal prior to 26 July 1857. Meanwhile, Colenbrander's brother, Rev Herman Colenbrander, and two of Theodorus Christiaan's nephews, Johannes Arnoldus and Adriaan Benjamin Colenbrander, began to take an active role in finding suitable emigrants in Holland.

To obtain first-hand knowledge of conditions in the Colony, the two nephews sailed for Natal in August 1856 on the Zaltbommel. Johannes Colenbrander returned to Holland where in March 1858 he published a brochure publicising the scheme. The founding of the Nederlandsche Landbouw-emigratie Maatschappij in Doesburg followed in November 1858. Johannes continued to recruit settlers and organize matters in Holland, his uncle Theodorus Christiaan took charge of the Natal end of the scheme, and MC Lapidoth, a shipowner of Amsterdam, would look after the emigrants while on board ship.

More on the arrival at Natal of these Dutch settler ships in another post.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Genomes for tracing geographical origins

Ancestry testing goes for pinpoint accuracy:

Companies use whole genomes to trace geographical origins, reports Ewen Callaway in 'Nature', International weekly journal of science, 6 June 2012..

Condoleezza Rice, former US Secretary of State and national security adviser, ought to be a tough woman to surprise. Yet when Henry Louis Gates Jr, host of a US television series called Finding Your Roots, revealed that nearly half of her genetic ancestry could be traced to Europe, Rice, an African American, told Gates, “I’m stunned.”

Although it is no secret that many African Americans have some European ancestry — a legacy of the transatlantic slave trade — advances in DNA analysis are beginning to provide more detailed insight for individuals. Commercial ancestry testing, once the province of limited information of dubious accuracy, is taking advantage of whole-genome scans, sophisticated analyses and ever-deeper databases of human genetic diversity to help people to answer a simple question: where am I from?


There are further interesting links on that site.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Wreck of the Earl of Hardwicke at Natal, 1863

The dangers of a long sea voyage to Natal culminated in the risks of arrival. From 1845 to 1885 approximately 66 large vessels were lost on the beaches of Durban. Many were driven ashore from the outer anchorage in strong gales. This was the case with the Earl of Hardwicke, a British ship of about 900 tons wrecked on 26 September 1863 on what was then known as the Back Beach, during a north-easterly gale. A Court of Enquiry was held at the Resident Magistrate’s Office to determine the cause of the wreck and to take evidence from the Master, John Maddison, officers and crew members. William Bell, Port Captain, and his friend George Cato, Lloyd’s Agent, both of the Harbour Board, were present.

On her arrival, the Earl of Hardwicke was positioned in the roadstead according to the instructions of the Port Captain. A north-easterly sprang up on the morning of Saturday, 26 September, though not sufficiently strongly so as to necessitate her taking to the open sea. She remained riding by her starboard anchor, with 90 fathoms of chain out. However, in the afternoon she began to drag and the boatswain’s mate, Samuel Hunt, gave it as his opinion that the chain had parted, but he had not voiced this at the time. Able Seaman Goodwin disagreed, and had maintained the chain had not parted. The chief officer, Edward Benjamin Bullen, was considered to have acted correctly in letting go the port anchor and paying out a full cable, while the starboard anchor dragged. During the night the cable had parted and the broken link was brought into court.

It was apparent that the gale had come on suddenly, ‘with more than the usual sea’, and the Earl of Hardwicke was not the only vessel whose cable had parted.  [The barque Sebastian was wrecked on the Back Beach during the same gale.] The Board acquitted the Captain, officers and crew of any blame. There was a great deal of discussion on the point that the scale of chains laid down in Lloyd’s rules were of insufficient size to resist the winds and seas that set in at times on the Natal coast.

The Board respectfully begged to offer a few suggestions arising out of the investigation as well as from the experience of the past: ‘something should be done to save the good name of this port, as it is known to be the best holding ground in Africa. At other places larger size chain cables are used. The same scale should be adopted at this port and duly tested with certificate attached to the ship’s register. Port instructions for Outside should be framed after the Government have first set at rest the vexed question whether the outside anchorage is, or is not, the Port of Natal … These instructions should fully set forth the Port Captain’s duties, and what assistance vessels have a right to expect, not leaving the matter as it now stands, one of opinion of, perhaps, a master of a day, month or year’s experience, or perhaps an interested merchant, against the Port Captain’s experience of twenty-three years of the same place.’  [It’s almost possible to hear William Bell making this statement.]

The Board also recommended, in view of the inevitable increase in volume of vessels, the acquisition of some apparatus for getting a line to ships in difficulty off the port. [This was duly followed up and the rocket apparatus became a vital addition to the harbour facilities, saving both ships and lives.] Finally, the Board suggested ‘the propriety of having a light-house erected, with as little delay as possible, on the Bluff.’ [This too, was acted upon, but it took a year to get the foundation stone of the lighthouse set in place, and another two years to finish building the structure; 23 January 1867 was the date of the official opening.] 

No lives were lost during the wrecks of either the Earl of Hardwicke or the Sebastian.

[Source: Natal Mercury 4 December 1863]

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Passengers to Natal by Nipisiquit 1862

Looking at the Natal Witness report on the arrival 2 June 1862, of the 394 ton barque Nipisiquit from London, the list of passengers appears lengthy and detailed - forenames are given, even for the children.

However, it would be a mistake to assume that this is the full story. Checking the Port Captain's (i.e. William Bell's) register, there is a list of 'steerage passengers not under contract to the government' - 22 ancestors who might easily have been missed yet who were definitely on board the Nipisiquit.

Their names:

James Angus
Elsie Angus
Thomas Bond
Eliza Bond
Richard Brown
Isaac Craggs
Richard Douglas
Arthur Ellis
Benjamin Francie
Jane Francie
Maria Francie
Anne Mary Francie
Harry Francie
Benjamin Francie
Elizabeth Francie
James T Hauxwell
Charlotte Hauxwell
Charles Larkin
Richard Mattison
George Mullaine
Edward Shackleford
James Walker

In the Natal Witness column, passengers (some well-known names) shown on other smaller coastal vessels shouldn't be ignored: the Evangeline arriving from London and the Waldensian departing for Cape Town.

Among the 'Vessels Expected' are the Shakspeare, to bring a hundred emigrants, and the Euphrates, also promising further additions to the Colony.

We tend to think of the ships that arrived at Natal being mainly British, but they were international in origin: here two American vessels are in port, the schooner Enchantress from Boston and the Star King from New York (with George Cato as agent).

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Around the World in 40 Blogs

Article by Sunny Jane Morton in the US Family Tree Magazine May/June 2012 edition 'highlights top blogs for tracing roots round the globe'.

Passenger Arrivals and Departures: Natal 1863

Report of the departure of RMS Dane 'for Capetown and Intermediate ports', in the Natal Mercury of 3 July 1863, illustrates that troops on board were generally not named in published shipping lists. Officers occasionally were but here 2 non-commissioned officers (NCOs) and six soldiers, travelling Third Class, pass unidentified into history.

The port is very busy, with several vessels of heavy draught (for that era) waiting Outside, others which have already entered, and a number still 'expected'. This last is a useful feature when tracking an ancestor on a particular ship - for example, the column announces that the Maritzburg sailed from the Downs 1st March, so obviously a search forward for its arrival would be indicated.

The Dane, built in 1855, pioneered the Union Company's service to the Cape in 1857, inaugurating the mail service to that port. During her interesting career, she was later (1865) chartered by the Admiralty to convey stores to Zanzibar for the British naval forces engaged in the suppression of the slave trade on the east coast of Africa. Having left Simonstown on 28 November 1865 on her way to play this important role, she was stranded during her approach to Port Elizabeth and became a total wreck. Passengers and crew were safely taken off.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Passengers and immigration: Natal 1860s

An extract from the 'Shipping Intelligence' column, Natal Mercury of 9 June, 1863, emphasises the variety of vessels calling at Durban in the early years of that decade: from the single-masted but grandiosely-named cutter of only 43 tons - the Albert Edward, Prince of Wales - to the Hamburg barque Cuba, 400 tons. Some regular visitors in port include the barque Durban, the Natal Star (later wrecked) and the Lady of the Lake.

The arrival of the barque Symmetry from Glasgow is a reminder that ships carrying a general cargo frequently carried a few passengers - in this case, two, who are named.

The Evangeline had sailed for London, carrying among other passengers the Rev W H C Lloyd (the Colonial Chaplain) and his wife and a Captain Lamb of the Royal Navy. Were the Gowenlock brothers (travelling steerage) leaving the Colony for Home after a disappointing attempt at settling? The 1860s was not a boom period for South Africa and numbers of would-be colonists left, returning to their place of origin or looking for greener pastures elsewhere. In 1866 a Natal pioneer wrote to his family in England:
Every ship that is leaving is full of people going Home again, and it seems that everyone that can just get money enough to get Home is clearing out as fast as they can. I am sorry to see it, as it will put the Colony back years.
A family historian tends to consider that once the ancestors made the huge decision to emigrate, they duly did so, and stayed in the new country of choice. Many of them did, of course, but despite the dangers and discomforts of long sea voyages settlers frequently explored opportunities in other colonies. In the early 1850s, for example, the Australian goldfields proved a lure for South African settlers. Conversely, disenchanted Australian colonists later responded to the call of the South African diamond fields.

After the excitement of the Byrne and other organised private schemes had died down, Natal sank into a state approaching apathy as far as immigration was concerned. The years between 1857 and 1862 produced less than 1 500 new settler arrivals.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Natal Passenger Lists 1861

This is a shipping column from the Natal Mercury 13 July 1861.  Though at first glance it doesn't appear particularly exciting, some interesting points emerge on closer inspection of the details.

No passengers are listed for several of the vessels described as 'Arrived' (at Durban). The 384 ton barque Randolph, from London, was still 'Outside' i.e. waiting in the roadstead beyond the entrance to the port. Nevertheless, her passengers are named - in one instance not felicitously: Alex 'Climmury' was actually Alex Cumming.

It's the sort of error that creeps into newspaper passenger lists - these might have been transcribed three times (the captain's or agent's list, the port captain's list and the newspaper shipping reporter's transcript) before publication, making a good case for comparing a published list with the relevant hand-written original register: Cumming is clearly the correct version.

On the other hand, the printed list was helpful in my search for another passenger on the Randolph - Thomas Thomas (a name to conjure with at the best of times) is given simply as 'Thomas' (his surname) in the original register. The addition of his forename in the news column enabled confirmation of his identity. So, again, using both sources paid off.

For those who like contextual detail, the 'Goods Entered Inwards' paragraph shows the cargo carried by the Randolph: it includes various hogsheads and casks (contents not divulged), anvils, rope, nails, chain, grindstones, planks, a large quantity of creosoted timber, an iron boat, a wooden boat with sail and oars, rudders, anchors, axes, bellows, 2 monkeys, a pig house plus 1 pig, and 2 dogs - with kennels.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Passengers to Natal, 1862

Arrival of Catherine 8 March 1862

Port Captain's list of Government Emigrants per Ship CATHERINE, Captain R PATTIE, 493 tons, departed London Nov 5, Portland Dec 3. 48 emigrant. Departed Natal May 25 bound for Akyab, Burma.

Cabin passengers:
Mr and Mrs Eridge
Fox, John
Cooper, Mark
Hind, John
Hind, Sarah
Hind, Mary
Hind, James
Hind, C. Larison
Hind, John
Hind, Charlotte
Hind, William
Hind, Arthur
Bouham, Thomas
Bouham, Emma
Bouham, Tom
Bouham, Mary
Bouham, John
Bouham, infant
Huggins, George
Huggins, Ellen
Jones, Richard
Magnus, John
Magnus, Sarah
Magnus, Sarah
Magnus, George
Magnus, Elizabeth
Magnus, Harriet
Milton, William
Philliplis/Phillips, Arthur
Walker, William
Walker, Elizabeth
Walker, Helen
Walker, Mary Ann
Northern, William
Northern, Emma
White, Jamey/Janey
White, Mary Ann
Seymour, Cayo
Seymour, Mary Ann
Seymour, John
Seymour, Charles
Seymour, Eliza
Seymour, Vincent
Seymour, Henry
Seymour, Arthur
Stanley, Fred
Black, William
Black, Jane
Fox, Edmund

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Passengers to Natal: 1865

Newspaper shipping columns can be unusually informative: this one, from the Natal Mercury of 25 April 1865, shows the arrival of R.M.S. Anglian at Natal. Names of First and Second Class passengers (regrettably omitting most initials) are given, including those who were continuing onward to Mauritius.

There's also a brief account of the voyage from Table Bay, arrival and departure times at the intermediate ports and comments on wind and weather. Interesting details to add to a family narrative.

The Anglian mentioned in this report was a coaster which had been built especially for the conveyance of mails between Natal and the Cape, a contract awarded to the Union Line in 1865. She was of a light draught so that whatever the tide she could cross the bar at the entrance channel to Durban's harbour. Also employed on the Mauritius run, she left the Union fleet in 1869 when she was bought by a Dublin company and her name changed to City of Lisbon. She sank in November 1903 after a collision during a voyage from Malaga to Liverpool; salvage being impossible, the remains of the wreck were blown up.

This Anglian is not to be confused with the later ship of the same name built in 1873, which made her maiden voyage with Barney Barnato on board, then an obscure passenger but later to emerge as one of the most successful of those who made their fortunes in the South African diamond fields.

Transit of Venus

Today South Africans will be able to witness a celestial spectacle no one will ever see again this century: a transit of Venus. While Venus starts to slowly pass between Earth and Sun, millions of people will look in awe at the planet’s silhouette against the brilliant solar disk, beholding the actual clockwork movement of our solar system. It’s one of the most infrequent of planetary alignments, and its rarity alone should justify your own observation of the transit. If you miss this one, you will have to wait another 105 years - until  December 2117. The last transit took place in 2004.

Because of its rarity, viewing the transit yourself not only connects you to the hundreds of astronomers in history who set out on perilous journeys to measure the Sun’s distance using the transit of Venus, but also to your descendants who will see it again in the next century: it will make you part of a chain of privileged people to whom Venus reveals her black profile backdropped by the solar disk ...

Continue reading:

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Natal Contingent to London for Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee

Included on the above forum page is a list of the men who represented Natal at Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee celebrations in London, with a sketch of the Natal Cavalry contingent in the Jubilee procession.  The sketch is from an 'Illustrated Programme of the Royal Jubilee Procession'.

[Brett Hendey's posts, Gentleman's Military Interest Club forum, January 2012.]

Another Queen Another Jubilee: 1897

From the Daily Telegraph's Centenary Supplement 

Saturday, June 2, 2012

A typical shipping column: Natal 1865

A typical shipping column from the Natal Mercury showing the arrival at Port Natal of the ship Tugela, 24 February 1865 (sailed from London 11 December 1864). In this instance the names of the 'Government Emigrants' are included i.e. the steerage passengers.

There are some errors in the spelling of surnames: e.g. Palraman should be Palframan.

The Natal Mercury also offers a report of the voyage and subsequent landing of these settlers, a story which could be applied to many similar experiences at this port:

'The Tugela ... arrived early on Saturday morning, after a voyage from England very much protracted by foul winds in the channel, and off this coast. She was within 250 miles of Natal twelve days before her arrival, but had to share the fate of many vessels that have been waiting for a change of wind. She brings an addition to our population of more than a hundred souls. The passengers' names appear in our shipping intelligence. Eighty of them came out under Government auspices. The whole were landed on Saturday afternoon and they seem a happy and very respectable party of settlers. There was a lamentable scene of uncertainty, bordering on confusion, at the Point, when our new friends came ashore, owing to the utter inefficiency of the present no-system policy pursued by the Government. No one to receive them, no one to direct their movements, to tell that what to do or where to go, no aid, sympathy, nor help of any sort whatever. Lamentable, most lamentable, is this total want of anything like arrangement for the proper reception of European immigrants. The scene on the quay was amusing as usual ... The voyage out, barring the  unavoidable delays that have been experienced, has been pleasant. A newspaper - the Tugela Gazette - was got up on board, and it is to be perpetuated in a printed form. The greater proportion of the passengers seem bound for Maritzburg and the midlands ... A warm welcome to them all. The Tugela was towed inside on Sunday afternoon.'

There follows a copy of the 'testimonial' addressed to the Tugela's Captain, George Stuart, from the passengers thanking him for the excellent way in which he carried out his duties on the voyage and expressing their hope that 'should we again have to commit ourselves to the perils of the deep, we may have the good fortune to meet with so good a ship and so excellent a commander'. Another note of thanks is addressed to the ship's surgeon. These complimentary letters were a feature at that time. Later, with ever-increasing numbers of sailings, the personal touch was lost - as well as a useful source of information for descendants.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Emigration to the Colony of Natal in the 1860s

Colony of Natal: Emigration and Land Grants Under Government Authority.

Entrance to the Bay of Natal, Bluff on the right, Point on the left,
with a sailing ship arriving.
The Colony of Natal is situate on the south-east coast of Africa, looking into the Indian Ocean, 800 miles beyond the Cape of Good Hope, and 6 900 miles from England.

It is in the 30º south latitude, and has its winter in July, and its midsummer in December. The winter is nearly as warm as an English summer in the middle of the day, but it has cool nights. The mean temperature of the year is from 64½ to 68º. Thirty inches of rain fall during the year, principally in the summer season. The winter is bright, dry and sunny. The elevation of the land varies from the sea level to 6 000 feet.

The Colony is about one-third the size of England; it contains 17 000 square miles and has a population of 17 000 Europeans and 170 000 native Africans. It possesses a fertile soil and a beautiful and healthy climate, and has an abundance of good pasture land.

Sugar, coffee, and arrowroot are grown in the coast districts, where the orange, pine-apple and banana ripen abundantly in the gardens. The hill-districts furnish good dairy-farms and grazing-grounds and grow wheat, oats, barley and other corn and root crops such as potatoes, beet and turnips. Indian corn grows everywhere; and tobacco in most places. Cattle, horses and sheep thrive in the uplands. The Colony has only been occupied by the English since the year 1842. But there are, nevertheless, now 300 000 cattle, 20 000 sheep and 17 000 horses on the pastures and about 6 000 tons of sugar are exported in the year.

The Colony affords an excellent field for the enterprise of practical agriculturists, who have a little means to start with, and who have a family to settle. But no one should go to it unless he has enough money to provide for himself until he can bring his land into cultivation and yielding, and unless he knows how to till the ground and manage stock and the dairy. The Colonial Government furnishes assistance and countenance to men of this class; but discountenances all other kinds of immigrants. Just now the Colony has as many artizans and handicraftsmen as it requires; and clerks, shop-men and persons trained to the learned professions, cannot find remunerative employment.

To men who have the requisite knowledge and skill, who pay their own passages, and who possess a capital of ₤500, or a sufficient yearly income, the Colonial Government gives a free grant of 200 acres of selected land, with a reserve of 200 other acres adjoining, which may be bought for 10s an acre, at the end of five years. Actual occupation for four years is required before the land is finally transferred in freehold.

Pastoral runs of one thousand acres in extent may be hired from the Government on eight years’ lease, at a rental of one penny per acre per annum, under the condition of actual occupation and stocking, the Government reserving to itself the right to terminate the occupation of any portion of the runs, by giving 60 days’ notice at the end of any one year, and allowing a fair sum for permanent improvements. These runs are purchaseable by the occupier at any time in the open market.

A limited number of approved men of smaller means, who know how to turn the land to account, and who can provide for themselves and their families until the land yields them sustenance, are sent out with assisted passages under arrangements that have to be considered and settled beforehand. The settlers get free grants of 50 acres of good land, with right to surrounding commonage, receive passages by Government ships on payment of ₤6 per statute adult to the Government Emigration Board, 8 Park Street, Westminster, in London, and are assisted at the lowest possible charge to themselves to get conveyed to and settled upon their grants.

The charges of first-class passages by sailing ships is 35 guineas for each adult but passages may occasionally be had for less, under special arrangements.*  The payments for these have to be made to the owners of the vessels, or to their agents, and not to the Government. The voyage averages about 65 days by sailing ship. It is made in 40 days by the mail steamers.

For further information application may be made to the special Immigration Agent of the Colonial Government, Dr Mann, at the Natal Immigration Office, 15 Buckingham Street, Strand, London.
July 1867.

Extract from Natal Almanac & Yearly Directory 1867.

* The cost of a steerage passage from British ports to Natal was from ₤12 to ₤15. An ‘intermediate’ passage could be obtained for between ₤20 and ₤31. Cabin passengers could pay between ₤30 and ₤50 depending on port of departure (London, Liverpool, Plymouth, Southampton or the Clyde ports).