Thursday, August 30, 2012

Passengers to Natal on Pharamond 1863

The Pharamond, a typical three-masted barque, 306 tons, arrived at Natal on 10 January 1863. Her voyage from London had taken 69 days.

Cabin Passengers:

Murphy, Dr and Mrs
Dearns, Mrs. and three children
Hare, Miss
Daggett, Mr and Mrs
Cotton, Miss
Crookenden, Messrs
Dill F J and son
Griffiths, H J
McNair, W
Pearse, Edward
Varty, T B
Chappel, Fredk
Davis, Walter
Gowenlock, James and Robert
Millon, E W
Roberts, John
Sandys, Edwin A
Sargent, Henry
Dowden, Henry

Travelling in steerage were:

Edwards, Henry and Catherine
Fielding, Charles
Grix, Richard and Henry
Edwards, W F
Edgcombe, Jane and Catherine
Hurst, William
Holms, David
Leige, N
McKinlay, J R and Jane
Moore, Thomas, Eliza, and Matt F
Padley, John
Reynolds, T H
Savil, Fredk
Sharples, H
Story J. and Ann
Walker, Fredk
Walton, Walker
White, Sarah
Wilson, John
Wootton, Henry, Sarah, Sarah, Henry, Anna, Thomas, John, Ellen
Alfred, R and H

Government Emigrants:

Arthur, James and Janet
Burne, John
Barker, James
Clarke, Anne
Clark, William, Jane, George, Ann J, William, Joseph, and Robert
Clark, Mary
Doig, D W
Fenton M., J B, and Margaretta
Francis, D F, Maria M, and Harriet M
Fenwick, R
Galbraith, E J
Guthrie, J
Graves, S A
Betsy, Martha and Mary
Gass, George, Ann, Alice, George and J C
Huntley, W, Martha, and G
Harmsworth, C and Julia
McDonnell, C, Jane and Mary
Moon, E
McNamara, M
Morris, James, Maria, Edwin J and Francis J
McRae, C
Pugeon, M A
Peckham, E, Sophia, Thomas, Harriet, Emily, and Edwin
Rockey, M A, John, Mary Ann, Harriett, and William
Rollinson, M F
Shaw, Joseph
Skoton, Francis
Tonkins, C
Thomson, E
Wing, Mary
Wilkinson, H C
Benzie, S., Emma, and Emma F
Simpson, J, ? illegible initial, M and E
Wall, Bridget

William and Jane Clark
Descendant Stuart Clark offers the fascinating results of his in-depth research into the Clark family (listed among the Government emigrants above) at

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Shipboard diaries for family history

Shipboard diaries, contrary to expectation, can be a disappointing resource for family historians, as passengers were extremely busy either recording their sufferings at sea (their own as well as their fellow travellers’) or completely wrapped up in the novelty of the experience – wind and weather, how much headway the vessel was making (apparently never enough), dolphins, sharks and seabirds spotted en route and crew members or even passengers lost overboard.

Of course, these accounts do give us insight into life on board, its perils and pleasures. If that’s what you’re looking for – a view of the ancestor’s voyage through his eyes, or at least through the eyes of one of his contemporaries – well and good.

All this maritime activity, though, left little leisure for writing about the relatives left behind at home, which would be more use to the inquisitive descendant than reports of  shooting contests held on deck or of larking about throwing message-bottles into the sea. These antics confirm our suspicions that most of the time the passengers were bored to distraction.

A diary written by passengers on a schooner travelling from Glasgow to Port Natal in 1862 reveals that the ship was becalmed for long periods, and was also undermanned. There was much seasickness and when the diarists recovered sufficiently to partake of meals they had to watch fellow passengers throwing up in the dining room – if the nauseous victims didn’t manage to get to the deck rail in time. This can hardly have been conducive to the onlookers’ return of appetite. In the restricted space of such a small vessel, another family (parents with six children) proved irritating company. When not entering comments in their journal, the diarists spent time reading improving literature such as, ironically enough, Milton’s Paradise Lost. There were a couple of catastrophes during the voyage – a damaged topmast which was repaired at sea and a Man Overboard – a seaman, who couldn’t be saved. Despite all, general admiration of the Captain was expressed.

In the remarkable 88 closely-written pages of this diary, almost no mention is made of family members left in Scotland and where names are given references are tantalizingly brief: who can the ‘Janet’ be whose health was drunk in a glass of negus by her relatives on board ship? Naturally, diarists know who they are writing about and usually find it unnecessary to describe the relationship or give a surname, leaving descendants or other readers guessing.

After the foregoing critical appraisal of the value of shipboard diaries in family history research, I must admit that they make enjoyable reading, also that pleasing nuggets of information occasionally emerge. The hunter-traveller-artist Cornwallis Harris, in his Wild Sports of Southern Africa, describes a short coastal trip to Algoa Bay (Port Elizabeth) during the 1830s in detail and not without humour:

‘In addition to a mate, a cook [and a] steward, our crew consisted of three men and a boy; our fellow passengers being two adventurers … and a tailor and his wife with nine daughters, some marriageable, some at the breast. This unfortunate family, every member of which was seasick during the entire voyage, located themselves in the steerage, an apartment about eight feet square, ventilated only by the hatchway. The passage up the coast, at that season [July], seldom occupies more than three days, but the fates decreeing that our progress should still be opposed, adverse winds had taken the place of the north-wester, which had been blowing without intermission during the preceding six weeks, and which, had it but continued a day longer, would have wafted us to our destination. The little vessel was usually gunwale under.’

Harris disposes of Port Elizabeth in a short uncomplimentary sentence, remarking that the town was ‘built on the sea-shore on the least eligible site that could have been selected’ but goes on to redeem himself (as far as I’m concerned) by mentioning that he ‘tarried a week at Mrs Scorey’s fashionable hotel’. Mrs Scorey features in my own family history, linked to Mary Ann Caithness who married Captain William Bell; this snippet has led to further discoveries re connections in early Port Elizabeth.

[The Wild Sports of Southern Africa, being the Narrative of an Expedition from the Cape of Good Hope etc by Cornwallis Harris: Full View free on Google books.]

Not many travellers would aspire to writing of their shipboard experiences in verse, but that’s what John Coventry did. An English surgeon, Coventry sailed to Natal from England on the barque Amazon in 1850, later publishing his work Viator, A Poem of a Voyager’s Leisure Hours (London, 1854). The Amazon carried 46 adult passengers and 14 children; they were not government-aided emigrants and this may account for no passenger list having been located so far. Coventry presents an interesting list of items the emigrants considered necessary for their new lives in the Colony, as well as references to their arrival at Natal where the ship was chased out to sea by a storm but later safely landed, after taking on board ‘Port Captain Bell and Archer, the pilot’. (This was George Archer.) Almost the first thing the settlers saw was the wreck of the British Tar lying on the beach, so they must have been relieved that the Amazon, drawing only 11 feet, was able to cross the bar at the harbour entrance without difficulty. Coventry did not settle in Natal but left us an unusual narrative account of his experiences as a traveller in that era.

Other shipboard diaries:   Diary written on the sailing vessel Lord Clarendon in 1862 by William Nicolson, on a voyage to Natal.  A journey to South Africa in 1870 by William Pawson. Extracts from various diaries. William Lister’s voyage in 1850, taken from his Recollections of a Natal Colonist, written ca 1905.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Passengers to Natal: 1861

On 7 September 1861 the 329 t barque William Ackers arrived at Port Natal. According to the immigration register she had sailed from London on 1 June. Length of voyage from England to Natal varied considerably during the 1860s, partly because sailing vessels didn’t take anything resembling a straight course but tacked all over the ocean in pursuit of favourable winds. The clipper ships such as Priscilla and Verulam of the White Cross Line, built for speed, could do the trip in under two months. Priscilla set a record from Natal to England in November 1863 - 52 days – but that was exceptional.

William Ackers carried 64 emigrants, including Henry Dongworth, one of the Redhill reformatory boys mentioned in the recent series of posts on this blog.

Full list of passengers:

Abbott, Christopher
Beard, James R
Beard, Mary Ann
Beard, Mary Ann (dau)
Beard, James E
Crosse, Robert F
Crosse, Emeline
Crosse, Cecilia
Crosse, Frederick
Crosse, Bertie
Crosse, Claude
Dunn, Georgina
Jones, John T
Jones, Amy
Nimmo, Jane
Palmer, Thomas
Shearbridge/Shewbridge, Charles
Turpin, Emma
Andrews, John
Algers, George
Algers, Susannah
Bailey, Alfred
Candill, Joseph
Candill, Isabella
Candill, John
Candill, James
Chadwick, William
Clarke, William
Dongworth/Dougworth, Henry
Edwards, Edward
Ellenor, David
Frammer (?), William
Hick, Joseph
Harris, Henry
Hall, Thomas
Hoffman, Christian
Jordan, Margaret
Lyth, Thomas
Leech, William
Leech, Sarah
Massey, Matthew
Pastell, John
Teasdale, Mary
Teasdale, William
Teasdale, Helen
Teasdale, Robert
Thaxted(?), George
Waters, Hannah
Wood, Robert
Wheeler, Robert
Woodhouse, William
Oppenheimer, Alfred
Woodhouse, Jane
Woodhouse, Thomas
Woodhouse, William
Woodhouse, George
Woodhouse, Frederick
Woodhouse, James

Added at the foot of the list:
Charles Waters
Child Townsend

There is a slight disparity between the number of passengers supposed to have been on board and the actual number listed. This is not unusual in passenger registers.

The ship departed Natal for Mauritius on 3 November, 1861.

The 1861 voyage was a once-off visit to Natal by the William Ackers. More about this vessel at

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Redhill Reformatory Emigrants to Natal/South Africa - Part 2 N - W

Continuing the list of Redhill emigrants; see yesterday's post on this blog for the first portion of the list.

Facts in this order - Birth/Admitted to School/emigration date (if known):

37. Nalder Francis 20.10.1858/30.1.1874
38. Oliver Isaac 7.11.1840/20.6.1852
39. Parratt John  1866/17.12.1879/to S Africa 27.8.1884 Tartar
40. Paul John 1868/10.9.1881/to S Africa 24.7.1884 Garth Castle
41. Pilcher William Edward 1867/11.7.1879/to S Africa 24.7.1884 Garth Castle
42. Porter Edward 1863 (Battle, Sussex)/21.7.1879/to Natal 28.6.1884 Mexican
43. Porter Horace 1868 (Battle, Sussex)/21 7 1879/to Natal 28.6.1884 Mexican
44. Pulford William 25.2.1840/5.4.1854
45. Pritty John 1845/25.8.1860
46. Quin George 1847/13.5.1861
47. Rayner Samuel 1866/13.9.1881/to S Africa 27.8.1884 Tartar
48. Reed James 15.4.1840/13.4.1854
49. Reeves William Henry 11.1.1844/13.10.1858
50. Rowe John 30.3.1840/7.3.1854
51. Shackleford Edward 1845/14.12.1858
52. Shaw John (Wm Thos) 13.2.1874 (Kilburn, Middx)/26.1.1889
53. Shorter George Henry 17.9.1865 (Hadlow, Kent)/8.7.1880/to S Africa 27.5.1884 Hawarden Castle
54. Sinmer (real name Limmer) Charles Arthur 1862/29.6.1875
55. Smith Charles W 1840/23.2.1852
56. Smith (real name Saundaycock) George 26.1.1859/27.4.1874
57. Smith John George 1845/2.2.1860
58. Stammers Christopher James 10.8.1865 (Sible Hedingham, Essex)/7.3.1881/to Natal 11.4.1884 Drummond Castle
59. Swan Charles 1868 (Watford, Herts)/9.8.1879/to S Africa 24.7.1884 Garth Castle
60. Swift William 25.12.1865 (Nottingham)/3.7.1879/to Natal 28.6.1884 Mexican
61. Thomas William Edward 1.11.1866 (St Leonards, Sussex)/14.8.1880/to Natal 24.7.1884 Garth Castle
62. Titley Joseph 25.12.1842/8.9.1857/to Natal Aries
63. Ware William 1866 (Bridgwater, Somerset)/23.5.1879/to S Africa 27.5.1884 Hawarden Castle
64. Waugh James 16.12.1841/18.12.1852
65. Webb Edward 1842/13.2.1854
66. Weldon alias Williams Peter 1841/3.1.1854
67. Williams (real name Jenkinson) Robert (real name Peter) 1843/15.6.1857/to Natal Aries
68. Williams (right name Warren) Henry (right name John) 2.4.1844/16.1.1860/to Natal Dudbrook
69. Willis alias Lloyd John alias George 1841/20.6.1854
70. Wood George Thomas 13.6.1864 (Chatham, Kent)/8.11.1879/to S Africa 27.8.1884 Tartar

Researcher Peter Bathe would like to hear from any descendants of the Redhill emigrants, or from anyone with an interest in the topic, and can be contacted at p[dot]bathe[at]hotmail[dot]com

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Redhill Reformatory emigrants Natal/South Africa – Part 1 A-M

Rather than ship troublesome boys straight to the colonies, the British Government worked with various charities, including the Philanthropic Society, to train boys, mostly in farming work but also as blacksmiths and carpenters, etc, and then selected the most suitable for immigration to Canada, Australia and South Africa.

The Philanthropic Society’s Farm School was at Redhill in Surrey. The boys would spend between three and five years at the school (depending on the term of their original sentence) before they sailed to the colonies.

In the second half of the 19th century, the Society sent some 70 boys to South Africa, most going to Natal.

By combining the records of the Farm School, data from the British census, and the records published so far as part of the eGGSA Passenger Project, it has been possible to collate some information about these immigrants, which is presented here in two parts – boys with surnames beginning A to M and those from L to Z.

The boys are listed alphabetically by surname, followed by two key dates – a date of birth and the date the child was admitted to the Farm School. Where known, a place of birth has been added.

Finally, where there is a known date of arrival in South Africa, this has been noted, together with the ship the boy sailed on.

Birth/Admitted to School/emigration date (if known):

1. Ayton William 1842/1.8.1853
2. Baigent Alfred Thomas born 2.6.1872 (London)/admitted to school 19.3.1888
3. Bloomfield (real name Bailey) George (real name Alfred) 15.9.1842 27.10.1858
4. Bathe George William 12.7.1847 (Plumstead, Kent)/16.11.1861/to Natal 10.1865
5. Berridge Robert James 28.6.1864 (Rotherhithe, Surrey)/25.12.1879/to Natal 10.4.1883 Kinfauns Castle
6. Brian alias Hill Thomas 1847/27.10.1860
7. Broadley John 1841/17.3.1854
8. Carr Samuel 1852/16.4.1866
9. Chidgey Joseph 4.11.1846/18.1.1861
10. Cockbill James 1.9.1862 (Westminster)/2.7.1878/to S Africa 23 2 1882 Anglian
11. Cosford George 10.3.1867 (Derby)/5.5.1879/to Natal 11.4.1884 Drummond Castle
12. Dixon John Henry 5.7.1866/29.6.1881/to Natal 28.6.1884 Mexican
13. Dongworth Henry 4.5.1846/29.5.1857/to Natal 1861 William Ackers
14. Dudderidge Charles 9.1.1849/28.3.1861
15. Eary George 1840/20.6.1854
16. Edgell John 18.10.1849/26.12.1861/to Natal 10.1865
17. Freeman (real name Smith) William James 24.11.1876/20.5.1892
18. Friend (real name Hall) John 26.2.1873/22.6.1887
19. Gaiter Hodgson Smith 27.1.1866 (Wellington, Shropshire)/21.7.1879/to S Africa 27 5 1884 Hawarden Castle
20. Hale William 1865 (Radstock, Somerset)/2.2.1878/ to S Africa 23 2 1882 Anglian
21. Harmsworth George James 27.2.1866 n(Clapton, Middx)/15.3.1879 to S Africa 27 5 1884 Hawarden Castle
22. Harris William (Benjn Geo Chas) 16.4.1863 (Millwall, Essex)/21.5.1879/to Natal 10.4.1883 Kinfauns Castle
23. Hoffmann Arthur 7.1.1866 /27.8.1881/to S Africa 27 8 1884 Tartar
24. Horn (real name Murphy) William 1866 (Dover, Kent)/6.5.1880/to Natal 10.4.1883 Kinfauns Castle
25. Jones George Henry 1846/22.11.1860
26. Keynton Laurence 1846/13.10.1860
27. King Thomas John 1865 (Rochester, Kent)/12.4.1879/to Natal 11.4.1884 Drummond Castle
28. Kirk John 1846/27.7.1858
29. Lamas James 1850/31.10.1866
30. Leatham Henry George Milton 1862/20.9.1875
31. Long Maurice 28.10.1858/9.12.1872
32. Lovett John 22.3.1842/6.7.1853
33. Marsh William 2.1.1864 (London)/20.4.1880/to Natal 11.4.1884 Drummond Castle
34. McCarthy Michael 30.9.1866 (Kensal New Town, Middx)/30.3.1881/to Natal 11.4.1884 Drummond Castle
35. Moore Henry 2.7.1859/11.3.1873
36. Murphy James 1848/8.2.1860

To be continued.

Guest post from researcher Peter Bathe.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Names of Redhill emigrants to Port Elizabeth

Peter Bathe’s list of emigrants to Port Elizabeth from the Redhill Farm School, Surrey:

Note: the first date by each name is date of birth and the second, date of admission to the school.

1. Clarke William 25.5.1834 17.3.1848 Emigrated to Port Elizabeth
2. Donovan Cornelius 6.5.1835 11.10.1848 Emigrated to Port Elizabeth per 'Pestongue Bomanzie'
3. Dunkley Henry 1832 23.12.1846 Birth given as July, to Port Elizabeth then returned
4. Fossett George 1833 27.10.1847 To Port Elizabeth, age given as 14
5. Gould James 1832 25.11.1847 Emigrated to Port Elizabeth, age given as 15
6. Hallworth William 28.5.1838 21.5.1848 Emigrated to Port Elizabeth
7. Halpin Joseph 1836 4.11.1847 Emigrated to Port Elizabeth, age given as 11
8. Hulme James 1.5.1833 12.8.1848 To Port Elizabeth, Cape Colony
9. Hurley Dennis 1835 4.8.1848 To Port Elizabeth, Cape Colony,
10. James George 1833 29.1.1848 Emigrated to Port Elizabeth,
11. Johns Isaac 1833 27.10.1847 To Port Elizabeth,
12. Jones James 1834 27.10.1847 To Port Elizabeth,
13. Kennerley Samuel 1832 21.10.1848 Emigrated to Port Elizabeth, Cape of Good Hope,
14. Ladsom William Broad 10.2.1835 31.8.1848 Emigrated to Port Elizabeth
15. Littleford Robt I (sic) 27.1.1834 20.1.1848 Emigrated to Port Elizabeth
16. Mahoney Thomas 20.1.1847 To Port Elizabeth, Cape Colony,
17. Morey John 1834 15.5.1848 Emigrated to Port Elizabeth,
18. Robson Matthew Mitchell 27.6.1834 26.8.1848 Emigrated to Port Elizabeth, Cape Colony
19. Rogers Wm (sic) Albert 1839 13.11.1848 Emigrated to Port Elizabeth
20. Ryan Edward 1833 11.12.1847 Emigrated to Port Elizabeth,
21. Sayle William 1831 25.8.1848 Emigrated to Port Elizabeth, Cape Colony,
22. Spurr Henry 1833 15.1.1848 Emigrated to Port Elizabeth
23. Stanley William 22.3.1834 30.10.1848 An orphan, emigrated to Port Elizabeth, Cape Colony
24. Taylor Thomas 1832 17.1.1848 Emigrated to Port Elizabeth,
25. Tootall William 25.11.1847 Emigrated to Port Elizabeth, age given as 15
26. Turnock Joseph 1832 29.7.1848 To Port Elizabeth,
27. Walduck alias Cox Robert 1831 18.11.1848 Emigrated to Port Elizabeth, Cape of Good Hope
28  Webb John 1834 10.2.1847 Emigrated to Port Elizabeth, Cape of Good Hope,
29. Whitebrook John 27.6.1834 13.6.1848 Emigrated to Port Elizabeth

Sunday, August 19, 2012

More emigrants from Redhill Farm School, Surrey

After further research, Peter Bathe can now offer additional information on Redhill Farm School emigrants. He reports:

There were 29 ex Redhill boys who emigrated to Port Elizabeth, all of whom came to the school in 1847 or 1848, and so probably emigrated between 1850 and 1853. After then, the boys were noted as having emigrated to Natal and then, in the 1880s, more generally as 'to South Africa'.

The popularity of southern Africa as a destination for the boys waxed and waned. Of the boys who were admitted to the school between February 1852 and June 1856, 13 went to Natal (probably arriving between 1855 and 1861).

No boy from the next three years’ intakes was sent to Natal, but seven of those admitted between May 1857 and December 1858 did (including Henry Dongworth, admitted May 1857, arrived Natal 1861).
Again there was a gap when none of the boys admitted in 1859 went but then 12 from January 1860 to December 1861 admissions sailed for Natal (including George Bathe, admitted November 1861, emigrated October 1865)

Two boys from the 1866 intake and six of those admitted to the school between December 1872 and September 1875 went to Natal or were noted as having gone to South Africa. (This last group would have arrived between 1875 and 1880)

The biggest migration occurred in the period 1882 to 1884. A total of 26 boys who had entered the school between February 1877 and September 1881 went to Natal in seven groups – and these are all listed in the database currently in process of development by eGGSA i.e. the Passenger List Project.
See previous post

After this period, emigration to South Africa tailed off, with only four more boys going, one each from the intakes of 1887, 88, 89 and 92.

Names of Redhill boys who emigrated to Port Elizabeth will follow in a future post.

Redhill, Surrey: the Philanthropic Society's Farm School
for the reformation of juvenile offenders

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Historic Durban views online

The Point, Durban, from the Bluff ca 1890s.

For all the visitors to this blog who ask for views of Old Durban, have a look at

Others at

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Passengers to Natal on the Umgeni, 1867

The Umgeni: arrival at Natal, 14 August 1867.

This barque of 365 tons under Capt J Stuart sailed from London on 15 July 1867, and was one of Rennie and Co's 'Aberdeen Direct' clippers which were frequent visitors at Natal. Others included L'Imperatrice Eugenie, Prince Alfred, Natal Star and Quathlamba.

Passengers per Umgeni from London, arriving at Natal
14 August 1867
Among the passengers were Captain Tollner, his wife Jessie (daughter of John Milne), and child (plus nurse). During the Crimean War Captain Tollner served with the Royal Horse Artillery at the Battle of Sebastopol. He had studied at the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich. During 1863/4 he was stationed at Fort Napier. Tollner also served during the Anglo-Zulu War. After the death of his first wife he married Mary Agnes (daughter of Alexander Gifford).

Capt and Mrs Fitzgerald may indicate a second military gentleman, plus spouse, on board. A well-known Natal name on the list is A E Runciman.

Testimonials to the Captain of the Umgeni
and a description of the voyage from Gravesend to Natal.
(Click on the pic for zoomed version.)

On this voyage, the Umgeni nearly lost one crew member overboard in a gale. The 46 passengers all expressed their thanks to the vigilant Captain Stuart via letters to the press.
A detailed account of the passage after Cape L'Agulhas mentions 'a very dangerous cross sea, which rose in pyramids...'. Note that the cabin passengers and those in steerage presented separate testimonials.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Names of emigrants to Natal from Redhill Farm School, Surrey

Part Two of Guest Post by Peter Bathe

The following is a list of those who emigrated to Natal from Redhill Farm School, Surrey:

1. Ayton William
2. Bloomfield (real name Bailey)
George (real name Alfred)
3. Bathe George William
4. Berridge Robert James
5. Brian alias Hill Thomas
6. Broadley John
7. Carr Samuel
8. Chidgey Joseph
9. Cosford George
10. Dixon John Henry
11. Dongworth Henry
12. Dudderidge Charles
13. Eary George
14. Edgell John
15. Freeman (real name Smith)
William James
16. Friend (real name Hall) John
17. Harris William (Benjn Geo Chas)
18. Hirn (real name Murphy)
19. Jones George Henry
20. Keynton Laurence
21. King Thomas (John)
22. Kirk John
23. Lamas James
24. Leatham Henry George Milton
25. Lovett John
26. Marsh William
27. McCarthy Michael
28. Murphy James
29. Oliver Isaac
30. Porter Edward
31. Pulford William
32. Putty/Pritty John
33. Quin George
34. Reed James
35. Reeves William Henry
36. Rowe John
37. Shackleford Edward
38. Sinmer [sic] (real name Limmer)
Charles Arthur
39. Smith Charles W
40. Smith John George
41. Stammers Christopher James
42. Swift William
43. Thomas William (Edwd)
44. Titley Joseph
45. Waugh James
46. Webb Edward
47. Weldon alias Williams Peter
48. Williams (real name Jenkinson)
Robert (real name Peter)
49. Williams (real name Warren)
Henry (real name John)
50. Willis alias Lloyd John
alias George

Author's note:

I have extracted all those noted as having gone to Natal from a pdf file created by Surrey History Centre. lists several hundred boys for whom records exist at the SHC.

The data on the pdf file is simply name, date of birth, date of admission to the school and where they went at the end of their sentences. However, it is possible to purchase facsimiles of the admission register entries for each boy from SHC:

Redhill Farm School Log 1861: portion of page concerning
George William Bathe, giving physical description, age and
educational status as well as his offence: 'obtaining 21/-
by false pretences'. 
The pages of the register are about A3 in size, and there are two per boy. The top half of these two pages include details such as date of birth, physical attributes, parents, crime and court, former education etc while the lower half is a log of the boy’s life at the school – visits, leave, misdemeanours and what happened at the end of the sentence, plus as much of a post-release follow-up as the school was able to manage, based on letters from former inmates and their friends.
It would be possible using to get more details of these boys prior to their period at the school (including, possibly, their offence) and I would be happy to look into that should anyone wish to know more about a particular individual.
The new eGGSA passenger list project mentioned elsewhere in this blog may provide details of their arrival in Natal.

Peter Bathe can be contacted at p[dot]bathe[at]hotmail[dot]com

Monday, August 13, 2012

Emigrants to Natal from the Redhill Farm School, Surrey

Guest post from Peter Bathe

The Philanthropic Society was formed in 1788 to aid the reformation of boys who had been engaged in criminal activities. In 1792 it transferred to Southwark and in 1849 to a farm school of 133 acres, later expanded to 350 acres, at Redhill in Surrey. Boys accepted at the school early on were either voluntary cases at expiration of prison sentences, voluntary cases part paid for by parents who could not manage them at home, or very young boys sentenced to transportation.

The Reformatory School Act of 1854 made changes that meant that in place of these three categories the school began receiving boys directly from the courts. The numbers of boys at the school rose considerably, and at the end of their time at the school many Victorian era boys were sent to parts of the British Empire.
The basic training for the boys was working on the land, although tailoring, carpentering, shoemaking, and blacksmithing were also taught.

Reform, or Reformatory, schools became Approved Schools under the 1933 Children’s Act. Later changes in legislation took control of the school – although not ownership of the property – away from the Society and eventually the school closed in 1988.

In 1861, it was reported: “Since the year 1849, 1,484 boys have been received, of whom more than 600 have emigrated. A large majority of those who have left its walls are now filling situations with credit to themselves and the good report of their employers. There are now 260 inmates, who are lodged in six separate houses, or ‘homes’.”

Of those who emigrated, most went to Canada, but several sailed to Natal.

For example, of the 95 boys admitted to the Farm School in 1861, five emigrated to Natal at the end of their sentences, but 21 went to Canada (plus three to Australia and one to New Zealand).

The records of the Farm School show that some 27 former inmates who had been sent there between 1852 and 1865 emigrated to Natal, and a further 18 from those sent there between 1866 and about 1890.

The year 1865 is only significant in that my great grandfather, George William Bathe, who was sent to the school from Maidstone Quarter Session in November 1861, sailed to Natal after completing his sentence and arrived there on 25 October 1865. He did not prosper as a colonist and in 1869 enlisted in the British army with a regiment then stationed at Pietermaritzburg, and returned to England with that regiment.

Harvest home at the Philanthropic Society's Farm School, Redhill, Surrey

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Other SA certificates

Compulsory official registration of Births, Marriages and Deaths in South Africa commenced as follows:

Cape: marriages 1700; births and deaths 1895
Natal: marriages 1845; births 1868; deaths 1888
Transvaal: marriages 1870; births and deaths 1901
Orange Free State: marriages 1848; births and deaths 1903

If your ancestor was born prior to the start of civil registration, a birth certificate will not be available.

Marriage certificates are uninformative. No parents’ names appear on the document. Witnesses’ names – often siblings of the bride/groom or other family members - can be interesting. If the couple later divorced, a copy of the marriage certificate is likely to be among the documents generated by the court proceedings. This is a good reason to access a divorce file for which you find a reference on NAAIRS.

In early civil marriages where the bride was under age her parents’ signatures would appear on the entry, indicating their consent.

As is the case with death certificates, you need to have full details – names, precise date and location - of births and marriages before you can proceed with ordering certificates. Generally these details are precisely what the family historian is endeavouring to discover.

There are alternative research avenues such as Church records. However, some definite clues as to location and a reasonably narrow date parameter for the event are required as starting points.

Check the Family History Library Catalogue at for filmed registers.

My grandparents' marriage entry 1909 St Peter's Church, Pietermaritzburg
 from filmed register

UPDATE: The Natal Marriage Index is now accessible online at Family Search. 
To read more about this extremely useful and long-awaited facility, go to the Family Search Wiki pages at

Friday, August 10, 2012

Back to basics in SA family history research: the Death Certificate

You’ve found and accessed your ancestor’s Deceased Estate file including the Death Notice and other contents. Now, do you need the Death Certificate?

The Death Certificate is a civil document, usually completed by a doctor. The only piece of information it contains which does not appear in the Death Notice is the cause of death. (The Death Notice – see previous posts - is a legal document, usually completed by the next-of-kin.)

While the cause of death is generally of interest to most family historians, in certain circumstances this could be of vital significance e.g. if mention is made of a hereditary disease, or if there is any suggestion of violent death such as suicide or murder. Sometimes after a ‘suspicious death’ an inquest may be held e.g. in the case of a man who died after injuries inflicted by a passing train (did he fall into the path of the train, did he mean to fall, or was he pushed?). Shades of Miss Marple.

Among the facts which should be stated in the full Death Certificate are: forenames and surname, age and sex of the deceased, birthplace, marital status, occupation, date and place of death, residential address, intended place of burial, cause of death and duration of final illness, name of the medical practitioner, informant’s signature, qualification and address, and when and where the death was registered.

A Death Certificate can be ordered – only if precise and full information of the event is known - from the Department of Home Affairs or from the appropriate embassy/consulate, should you live outside South Africa.

The original civil register may be held in the Archives Repository in the relevant South African province. Only selected registers are available. The 20 year closed period applies to civil registers of Deaths.

Check the Family History Library Catalogue at for filmed registers. If the Library Catalogue is a new frontier for you, read Ellen Stanton’s article at

You can see an example of a South African Death Certificate at

Hamilton family MI, Stellawood Cemetery, Durban.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Deceased Estates: more than just the Death Notice

The Death Notice is not the only significant document among South African estate papers. There would also be a Will (if one was made), Final Liquidation and Distribution Accounts, correspondence generated either before or after the death occurred, invoices etc.

All these are potential sources of information. To stop at the Death Notice – or to allow your local researcher to do so – is a grave mistake. Surprising facts emerge in apparently unlikely pieces of paper.

Undertaker's Invoice 1911 mentions 2 carriages &
a special tram car for mourners
Although many wills aren’t particularly informative, they generally name beneficiaries and sometimes give instructions as to burial or cremation which can be helpful when trying to find the ancestor’s last resting-place. Specific bequests – sometimes of unexpected items to unlikely people - can be intriguing. Inventories give us an intimate glimpse into the ancestor’s daily life. Invoices from tradesmen claiming settlement from an estate are worth a look, especially one from the undertaker which may offer the name of the cemetery where burial took place as well as the style and cost of the obsequies considered appropriate for the deceased.

Milliner's Invoice 1869
A fairly nondescript invoice listed items of clothing which turned out to be my great great grandmother’s mourning clothes ordered from the Silk Mercer, Milliner & Straw Bonnet Manufacturer for my great great grandfather’s funeral in 1869.

Letterheads among the estate correspondence may give snippets about a family business, its street address, who the directors were, or a picture of the building where the deceased lived, worked and died. How much more interesting, relevant and memorable it would be, rather than baldly stating the company name, to include a decorative engraved letterhead as an illustration when publishing the family’s story whether on the printed page or online.
Engraved letterhead 1911

Archival documents require interpretation, digging beyond the stated facts to unearth choice nuggets of detail to enliven the family history. This makes all the difference to a narrative which, no matter how accurate the names and dates might be, reads like a bland chronology of births, marriages and deaths.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Death Notices far from kith and kin

When an ancestor died at a distance from home and family his Death Notice may give comparatively little detail e.g. the informant could be the owner of a boarding house where the deceased was temporarily residing. Unless the boarding house owner had subjected the guest to close questioning, it’s unlikely that the former would know much more than the name of the deceased – possibly not even his full name – and the date and location of death.

In time of war, a Death Notice would be produced hurriedly at the place of death, probably by the Adjutant in charge of the camp. Later a more detailed Death Notice would be completed. This can result in two Death Notices emerging in one individual’s estate papers. I’ve found several instances of this occurring during the Anglo-Boer War.

If the deceased was living elsewhere, perhaps in pursuit of his occupation, there may have been no family members present at his death. Again, the informant signing the Death Notice might know few personal details. This was evidently the case in the example shown below. The name is given in full, a guess is made at the age of the deceased, his parents’ names are ‘unknown’ (i.e. to the informant), he is described as married and in the space where his children’s names should appear is a scrawled note, ‘supposed to have a family in the Colony of Natal consisting of 3 small children …’. The deceased’s occupation is given as ‘canteen-keeper’ and his assets consisted of ‘a tent and other movable property’.

Death Notice: New Rush 1873
The most significant clue appears at bottom left of the document: it is dated at ‘New Rush, 1 February 1873’. This explains the deceased’s occupation as well as the tent listed among his movable assets. New Rush was the original name for part of what is now Kimberley.

We could speculate that the deceased had left Natal to try his luck at the diggings. Apart from mining, the diamond fields offered various opportunities for making a living. The population of the tented camps which sprang up almost overnight required food, drink, provisions of every kind. John James Johnason’s canteen would have filled a need. Unfortunately, he died leaving his family without a breadwinner.
Despite the omissions from this Death Notice, it does offer several clues which invite further investigation.

Early mining, Kimberley.

Footnote: In 1873 the Secretary of State for the Colonies, Lord Kimberley, insisted that places newly within his jurisdiction on the Diamond Fields should receive decent and intelligible names. He did not approve of ‘such a vulgarism as New Rush and as for Voortuitzigt ... he could neither spell nor pronounce it.’ The populist Diamond Fields newspaper objected to the new name (Kimberley) saying, ‘...we went to sleep in New Rush and awaked up in Kimberley, and so our dream was gone.’ 

Monday, August 6, 2012

More on the SA Death Notice

Despite occasional errors and omissions, a Death Notice should take you several paces forward in the quest for your ancestor. It may also present opportunities for locating living relatives e.g. following up married names of the deceased’s daughters.

A Death Notice is not available for every person who died in South Africa, though there should be a Death Notice for anyone who died leaving inheritable assets in that country. Death Notices only came into being in 1834, so before that date other research avenues must be relied on. If the deceased had minimal assets at date of death – literally no ‘estate’ – a Deceased Estate would not be lodged with the Master of the Supreme Court.

Should you find no reference to a Deceased Estate file for your ancestor on NAAIRS, this could be because of the date parameter: in Natal, Deceased Estate files up to and including 1974 are held at archives; Cape, up to 1957; Transvaal, to 1978; Orange Free State, to 1951. Estates filed after these years are held by the Master’s Office in the relevant province. There is no legal or other obligation for the Master to ‘release’ or ‘transfer’ (both frequently-used terms and both inaccurate) Deceased Estate material to an Archives Repository at any stage. More recent estates can be accessed at the Master’s Office in the province where death occurred. However, this is not as simple a task as finding an estate file held at an archives repository.

The most obvious reason for not finding a Deceased Estate file – and hence no Death Notice - for your ancestor is that, contrary to family belief, he died elsewhere i.e. not in South Africa. You may then have to dig further afield, in his country of origin perhaps, or in another colony.

Contents and format of the Death Notice vary slightly at different periods. Earlier Death Notices were printed in a sideways format and sometimes on shiny blue legal paper which may prove a challenge for the digital photographer. Comparatively recent Death Notices include the SA Identity Number which came into being in the mid 1950s. The ID number can be important if you want to acquire a South African Death Certificate.

Sideways Death Notice 1893: click to zoom in.