Friday, November 2, 2018

South African Ancestry Research Q and A

Q  Why can’t I find a reference to my ancestor on NAAIRS?

A  Should no reference emerge it doesn’t necessarily mean that your ancestor did not spend some time in South Africa. It could be that his activities weren’t a matter for public record, or that his sojourn was brief. It is perfectly possible for an individual to pass through South Africa invisibly - as far as records are concerned.

A deceased estate file was not opened for everyone who died in SA. Reasons for this vary e.g. minimal assets at date of death would imply literally no ‘estate’. If the ancestor died comparatively recently (say within the past 20-30 years) his deceased estate file, presuming there is one, would not be referenced on NAAIRS. In such an instance, the records would be held by the Master of the Supreme Court in the area where the death took place.  

Despite what your family might believe, your ancestor might not have died in SA but moved on elsewhere, to another colony perhaps, or even returned to his place of origin. The name you believe was his may not be correct – it wasn’t unknown for an emigrant to change his name when starting afresh in the colonies. The spelling of his surname may differ from the version you have accepted.

If you don’t immediately find a reference to your ancestor on the index, don’t give up. Information is always being added so keep checking.

There are file types other than deceased estates e.g. divorce, claims for compensation, applications for employment or for a licence for a firearm etc etc.

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