Battle of Isandlwana: 140th anniversary

Today is the 140th anniversary of the Battle of Isandlwana, which marked the beginning of the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879, when British/Natal troops invaded Zululand.

It was a significant day for our family history too, as one of those on the Briitish/Natal side was my great grandfather Richard Wyatt Vause, and if he had been killed on that day, I would not have been here to write this. At the end of this post I’ve included an extract from his diary, describing his part in the battle.

Forty years ago it was the centenary of the battle, and as we were living in Melmoth, Zululand, at the time, we drove to Isandlwana, to the scene of the battle, I’ve included some extracts from my diary for the day as well. At that time I was Director of Training for Ministries in the Anglican Diocese of Zululand, and worked closely with Canon Peter Biyela, whose grandfather had also fought in the battle, on the other side. We sometimes wondered what our ancestors would have thought of our working together a century later.

For more about the background to the Anglo-Zulu War in general, see Imperialism and the Archbishop, and for more on the battle itself see Zulu Rising (book review).

Extract from Diary of Stephen Hayes

22-Jan-1979, Monday

Abstract

Centenary of the Battle of Isandlwana. Visit the battlefield. Jack and Peggy Stokes come to stay.

It was the centenary of the battle of Isandlwana, so we went up to visit the battlefield. It was a beautiful day, not too hot, with quite a lot of cloud, but the sun still shining brightly, and a clear view.

At Babanango we drove up to the top of the hill. There is a microwave relay station up there, and so the Post Office had provided a track by means of which we could drive right to the top, and there was a magnificent view in all directions. We took some photographs from up there, and one could just see Isandlwana in the distance to the north-west, sticking up in the middle of a valley.

View from Babanango microwave tower

We drove on and came to Isandlwana about 10:45, almost the time the battle had started. There was quite a number of cars there, and the relief model of the battlefield was open, and we took some photographs of it, and I had the diary of my great grandfather Richard Wyatt Vause, which we referred to to try to picture the battle as it had happened.

Isandlwana mountain, with cairns marking places where bodies were buried after the battle.

Down below at the cars someone was tootling on a bugle, and then some men got dressed in red uniforms — obviously costumes used for the extras in the filming of Zulu Dawn. They formed up in a ragged and somewhat sloppy column and marched over to the battlefield, to where the biggest group of graves was, and we strolled over to see what was going on, and they laid a wreath by one of the monuments. It was rather fun to see them marching about, giving some idea of what the troops must have looked like, though the British soldiers of the 24th Regiment must have been turning in their graves beneath the cairns of whitewashed stones at the sloppy drill and incomplete outfits they were wearing.

Bridget Hayes looking at the battle site

Last night we had read Donald Morris’s account of the battle in his book The washing of the spears, and it was strange to think that this was the scene of such violence a hundred years ago, and that one incident at the place, lasting a few hours, could cause it to be remembered for that incident so long afterwards. Bridget and Simon played around the monuments, too young to have any idea of what happened here, and that if their great great grandfather had not escaped, they would not even exist now.

Back at the model we once again tried to trace what had happened, and Mr Hyde, of the National Monuments Commission, pointed out Shepstone’s grave, and that gave a better idea of where Wyatt Vause and his men had fought. There was a visitors book there, and we signed it, and looked at the comments some other people had made — the triumphant ones in Zulu — “Izwe lethu” (the land is ours), “Amandla ngawethu” (power to us) and so on. The English ones: “tragic” to the banal “fantastic”. One of the most interesting was something to the effect that the world would be better without the politicians and soldiers. And looking at it 100 years later it all seems futile. None of the local people really wanted this war — neither the Zulus nor the Natalians. It was conceived by Lord Carnarvon, thousands of miles away, to suit the purposes of the British government, and not the local people at all. Yet even that judgment is conditioned by time and place, reflecting present-day views, with the advantage of hindsight.

Carnarvon’s scheme of federation misfired, it was “premature” as the history books say. Unity had to wait until 1910, when the time was ripe. But the time was not ripe then either, because the Nats are busy dismantling the Union of South Africa. Perhaps if Natal had gone its own way at the time of the republic in 1961, it would have been a better place. After the lessons of Nat rule had been learned and before the very idea of freedom had been obliterated, as it is now, certainly among the whites.

Some people dressed in felftover costumes from the film “Zulu Dawn”, playing the Last Post.

It is also interesting that the whites are more interested in Isandlwana, and the Zulus in Ulundi. Defeats seem to be more commemorated than victories, through the Afrikaners like to commemorate both, as with Blood River. It is interesting to read what happened, but what was not said would be more interesting — how many people really thought that the invasion of Zululand was justified?

Simon Hayes at Isandlwana

A little way away in the church, St Vincent’s, also named because the battle had taken place on St Vincent’s Day, the events have a lasting effect on the place. But now St Vincent had been dropped from the calendar anyway — who was he and what did he do? Deacon and martyr, it is said.[1]

We went to see the sisters at the convent,[2] and talked to Sister Claudia and Sister Nesta. A little later Sister Christian (the Provincial, from Lesotho) and Sister Veronica Mary came in. They were going to be discussing whether they should open a new house at Etalaneni or at KwaMagwaza, and I put in a plea for KwaMagwaza, as the hospital really needs the presence of prayer. We also discussed some of the things to do with the TEE College.

We returned home on the other road, turning off at Babanango and going through Fort Louis and Owen’s Cutting. Went we got home Jack and Peggy Stokes were there, and had parked their caravan in our yard.

Peggy Stokes

Peggy is a third cousin once removed of Val, being the great granddaughter of Henry Green, whose brother Frederick Thomas was Val’s great great grandfather. We had discovered them when a Mrs Collier of Colesberg had given me their address at Kariba, Rhodesia. They had lived at Kariba for 20 years, running tourist cruises on the lake, and had then sold their boat and were now retired. Due to exchange control regulations they had not got too much money available, but in summer they tour Southern Africa, looking for family history. They had recently visited Hal Green, a grandson of Henry, in Swaziland, and had taken notes of various things he had, and had then gone to their daughter, Jean Ingle, in Umhlanga Rocks and had now come to us to compare notes on the Green family.

Extract from Diary of Richard Wyatt Vause during the Anglo-Zulu War.

22 Jan 1879

At break of day we all turned out and stood under arms for an hour as we thought that if the Zulus did attack they would choose that hour for it. As soon as it was quite light we took our men out for footdrill as we expected stiff work for our horses and wished to save them as much as possible. On returning to camp we found that a dispatch has been received from the General ordering us to join the column at Isandlwana as he was about to attack the stronghold of a chief called Matyana and he required all the mounted men available.

Col. Durnford had just started with 50 of the Edendale men to see if he could procure wagons from the farmers living along the frontier. We at once sent a messenger after him and set to work with a will to strike tents and get everything ready to move on his return. All were in high spirits at the thought of a fight at last and we little thought what a terrible and miserable ending that day would have.

About 7.30 all was ready and the order to march was given. We had a smart ride of about 12 miles, arriving at Isandlwana between 10 and 11 am. After riding through the camp we halted a few minutes to give the men their biscuits. Col. Durnford sent for me and ordered me to ride back and meet our wagons as the Zulus were seen in our rear, and he expected they would try and cut them off.

Isandlwana mountain from the west. This is the view Lieut Vause would have had bringing up the wagons, and hearing firing from over the hill.

My orders were to see the wagons safely into camp and then join him about 12. I got back with the wagons and hearing firing about 2 miles to the front of the camp at once gave the order to trot, and started off to find Col. Durnford. I came across Capt. Shepstone, and as he asked me to stay with him I dismounted the men and extended them in skirmishing order. We were soon under hot fire, but continued to advance very slowly as the Zulus were under good cover, and we had to expose ourselves every time we advanced. On arriving at the top of the hill we perceived the enemy in overwhelming force coming up from behind and fearing our ammunition would be expended before we could reach the camp Capt. Shepstone gave the order to retire back to our horses.

Model of Isandlwana battle site. Lieut Vause would have come up the road in the foreground with the wagons, but would only have seen the battle on cresting the hill.

Fortunately the Zulus were shooting very badly, and as yet very few casualties had occurred on our side. As soon as the Zulus perceived that we were in retreat they came on with a shout and were rapidly gaining on us when we regained our horses.

As soon as the men were mounted we retired slowly to the camp, dismounting every few yards and firing a volley, but without holding the enemy in check as they did not seem to mind our fire at all.
After regaining the camp it was found to our dismay that the ammunition boxes had not been opened and as the Zulus were close on our heels we had no time to look for screwdrivers. Fortunately one of my kaffirs came across a box with a few in which I distributed amongst the men.

By this time the soldiers had expended their ammunition and the Zulus had cut though them and were in amongst the tents and we were obliged to retire again. On reaching the road we found it occupied by Zulus and our only way of escape lay over a very rough strip of country. One or two of my older kaffirs advised me to try it, as it was impossible to get out by the road. So we started off, but soon got scattered, a lot of the horses falling over and throwing their riders, who were immediately killed by the Zulus in pursuit.

I managed to reach the Buffalo River with about six kaffirs but my horse not being able to swim was washed down and I lost him. After a great deal of difficulty I managed to reach the opposite bank but being thoroughly exhausted I had to sit down and rest and had it not been for a little kaffir boy giving me a seat behind him on his horse I am quite sure the Zulus would have been upon me before I had gone many yards further.

However we soon got out of range of the Zulus’ fire and as I found the boy could not manage his horse, jumped off and walked a short distance, and came across Edwards of the Carbineers and he kindly took me up behind him.

We reached Helpmekaar thoroughly exhausted and formed a laager of the wagons and sacks of mealies but as there were only 38 of us to defend it we quite expected that it would be our last night.

Fortunately the Zulus were repulsed at Rorke’s Drift and did not get as far as Helpmekaar. I lost 30 men and 10 wounded, so have not many left of my original 50.

Biographical information on Richard Wyatt Vause

born : 1854 02 10 Pietermaritzburg, Natal
died : 1926 05 28 Durban, Natal
mar : 1881 02 03 St Paul’s Church, Durban
to Margaret Ellen COTTAM
eldest daughter of John Bagot COTTAM and Adelaide HERBERT, his wife.
Father : Richard VAUSE
Mother : Matilda Park

Richard Wyatt Vause, generally known as Wyatt to his friends, was the eldest son of Richard VAUSE, born two years after his father’s arrival in Natal from England.

He was educated at Durban High School, and spent some time on the Kimberley Diamond Fields. In 1874 he started a printing, bookselling and stationers business in Pietermaritzburg, known as Vause, Slatter & Co.

In the Anglo-Zulu War he fought as a Lieutenant in the Natal Native Horse under Colonel Durnford, and was one of the few survivors on the British side of the Battle of Isandlwana (22 Jan 1879).

After the war he married Margaret Ellen COTTAM, and they had a son and three daughters. By 1889 he was operating as a sharebroker as well, with offices in Pietermaritzburg and Johannesburg, the name of the firm being Vause and Nourse.

In 1891 his wife died, and he moved to Johannesburg. His bookselling and printing business in Pietermaritzburg was taken over by Daniel Saunders and W.J. Slatter. It later expanded into music and musical instrument sales, and was a theatrical agency as well.

During the Second Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902) he was in the Army Service Corps. After the war he was in business in Johannesburg as an accountant, probably in the firm of his brother-in-law, Charles Henry Matterson. He later appears to have returned to the diamond fields, and then to have farmed in Natal for a while before retiring to Durban.

His hobby was horse racing and breeding.

His only son, Dick Vause, died two years before him. Of his three daughters, Ruby married Jack Stayt, and had two sons and a daughter; Lily married Percy Hayes, and had two daughters and a son; Gladys married Gilbert Wilkinson of Ottawa. They had two daughters, and were later divorced, and Gladys then married Arthur “Dave” Nourse, the well-known cricketer.

Notes

[1] St Vincent of Spain (Feast Day 22 January, 11 November in some Calendars)

St Vincent of Spain, Deacon & Martyr

The Holy Martyr Vincent of Spain from his childhood was the disciple of a wise pastor Valerian, the bishop of the city of Augustopolis (now Saragossa, Spain). When he reached mature age, the virtuous, educated and eloquent Vincent was ordained deacon by Bishop Valerian. Since the bishop himself was not adept in speech, he gave a blessing to his deacon, an eloquent orator, to preach in church and among the people.

Diocletian (284-305) sent the governor Dacian to the city of Valencia, Spain with full authority to find and execute Christians. People denounced the wise bishop and his deacon to the governor, who arrested them. The soldiers, mounted on horses, dragged the Elder and his disciple behind them in chains from Augustopolis to Valencia, and there they cast them into prison beaten and tortured, giving them neither food nor water.

Read it all here.

[2] Convent at Isandlwana

In the Anglican Diocese of Zululand several young women felt called to the monastic life, but there was no monastery  for them in Zululand, so they were sent to Lesotho, where they joined the Community of the Holy Name (CHN). When Alpheus Zulu became Bishop of Zululand in 1966 he invited them to return, and they established a convent at Isandlwana, near the site of the battle. The CHN grew rapidly, and by 1982 had four houses in Zululand.

2018: That was the year that was

In the past people used to keep in touch with family and friends far away (and even, sometimes, close at hand) by sending and receiving Christmas cards. That seems to have died out; this year we have sent none and received none. For a while that custom was replaced by more informative duplicated newsletters, and more recently by the PDF attachment equivalent. Well here’s ours, from Steve & Val Hayes, as a blog post. The advantage of a blog post is that one can keep it fairly short, yet add hyperlinks for those who would like to know more.

Steve: Has been engaging in quite a bit of nostalgia this year, recalling events of 50 years ago, as 1968 was quite a significant year in my life. For more on that, see my blog post on 1968 in Retrospect, and if you want more detail, for two months that year I was at St Paul’s College in Grahamstown, and I’ve written a series of posts on that, starting here. They cover things like theological education of 50 years ago, and contemporary theological currents.

That handles the distant past, but what about the immediate past, of 2018?

Val and I are both retired, and we continue to live in Kilner Park, Pretoria, in the Great City of Tshwane, where we have lived for the last 35 years, with our sons Simon and Jethro, and one dog, and several birds, like the hadedas that crap on our cars, and the toppies that come into the kitchen.

Our daughter Julia Bridget Hayes, is an ikonographer in Athens, and you can read about her work here.

Val Hayes, 70th birthday, November 2018

Our life as pensioners has settled into a routine over the last couple of years, with little variation. We can’t afford to travel, and so mostly stay at home.

Val: In November we celebrated Val’s 70th birthday, a milestone worth marking perhaps. We celebrated with our usual Sunday service in Atteridgeville, and a family dinner at one of our favourite restaurants.

Once a fortnight, more or less,  we go to the Alkantrant library to change our library books, which has a rather limited selection of books, many of them apparently donated by library patrons.

The core of the Atteridgeville congregation — Christos Nkosi, Demetrius Mahwayi and Artemius Mangena. Charles was baptised at Christmas 2017.

We go on alternate Sundays to services in small mission congregations in Mamelodi (18 km to the east) and Atteridgeville (35 km to the west). In Mamelodi we meet in the house of parishioners. We used to meet in a school classroom, but they raised the rental , and in any case Theophania Malahlela has a bad leg, and finds it difficult to walk to church so it’s easier for the church to some to her.

In Atteridgeville we borrow the African Orthodox Church, and you can see what that looks like here. Neither congregation is big, and in Atteridgeville it is mostly the two of us and three regular faithful guys. Perhaps we’re all too old to attract any young people.

Once a month the Russian parish of St Sergius in  Midrand has the Divine Liturgy in  English on a Saturday, and we go to that, and sometimes take our baptised members from Mamelodi and Atteridgeville so they can receive communion.

Fr Wolde Selassie (Diliza Valisa) of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, OT. Данила Луговой (Fr Danil Lugovoy), Rector of St Sergius, Midrand; Leonard Skweyiya; Deacon Stephen Hayes

Midrand is midway between the centres of Johannesburg and Tshwane, and so the English services there are also useful for inviting non-Orthodox who want to experience Orthodox worship, and chat about it at breakfast afterwards, and there are sometimes visitors from other parishes as well.

St Sergius Church, Midrand, 20th anniversary celebrations

St Sergius Parish also celebrated its 20th anniversary which we attended with members of the Atteridgeville congregation. There was a visiting bishop from Russia and of course our own Archbishop Damaskinos. There was also a visiting monastery choir from Russia, so the singing was magnificent.

In Lent and Holy Week especially we try to take part in some of the services in our old home parish of St Nicholas of Japan in Brixton, Johannesburg though the travel is expensive and tiring as every year the traffic gets heavier.

Another fairly regular event in our lives is a weekly ecumenical gathering called TGIF. It’s held at 6:30 am on Fridays in a local coffee shop, and someone gives a talk, usually on some aspect of the Christian faith, followed by questions, and it’s over by 7:30, in time for busy people to get to work, and retired old fogeys like us to have another cup of coffee, and chat to anyone who is still around. The general purpose is Christian apologetics, but there is no proselytising and no pressure on anyone to convert. Anyone is welcome.

At one TGIF meeting David Levey, of the English Department of the University of South Africa, spoke on Reading Irreligiously, and we suggested to him that we should have a more focused gathering on the general topic of Christianity and literature, a bit like the Inklings group of C.S. Lewis, Charles Williams, J.R.R. Tolkien et al. As a result we have been meeting to “inkle” once a month for nearly three years now, I’ve tried to keep a record of some of the books we have discussed in my blogs — see here, and here and here for accounts of some of our 2018 gatherings. The last of these deals also with the current situation in South Africa, and compares it with the “Matter of Britain” — the legends of King Arthur, with the idea that behind Britain there was the realm of Logres — the land of true good and piety, nobleness and right living — which is often overwhelmed by the evil that breaks through. And between 1994 and 2004 we had a glimpse of a South African equivalent of Logres, before the evil empire renewed its attacks.

Apart from those regular things we don’t go out much, and spent most of our days at home, pursuing our hobby of family history and general historical research, and occasionally trying to share ideas through blogs. In February Steve found himself part of an oral history project when Jess Richards and Renate Meyer came to interview him for the Banned People’s Project. Jess and Renate were both young, late 20s, perhaps, and so banning would have been before their time. They said that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission had dealt only with gross human rights abuses and thought that lesser human rights abuses like banning also ought to be documented. If you, reading this, are also too young to remember banning, you can find out more here: The Banned Wagon.

In September we had the first and probably the last reunion of Steve’s matric class at St Stithians College. It was the class of 1958, and we were perhaps never close enough to have a reunion, and were unable to contact any class members but two of us. The Class of 1968, which also gathered, had a better turn-out. More on that here.

We were also saddened by the death of an old friend, Stephen Gawe, whose 80th birthday we had celebrated at the end of 2017. A consolation was that we had got to meet his daughters Nomtha and Vuyo, who were both born while he was in exile in the UK.

In November Steve finally got round to publishing a novel he had been working on for a long time. It’s called The Year of the Dragon. It arose out of a challenge to write a book in the same genre as those of Charles Williams, which have been described as “supernatural thrillers”. You can find out more about it and how it came to be written here. The cover was designed by our son Simon, who spends most of his days (and sometimes nights too) working on computer animation.

Debbie & Jethro

In December Jethro and his girlfriend Debbie went on a trip to Botswana to visit Debbie’s parents who live in Gaborone.

Towards the end of the year we had disturbing news that Bishop Athanasius Akunda of Kisimu and Western Kenya was seriously ill in a hospital in the USA. He had come to South Africa as a young deacon to help with the mission work of the Orthodox Archdiocese of Johannesburg and Pretoria, and we worked together for 13 years. He was ordained priest, and was made deputy dean of the rather under-resourced diocesan Catechetical School, where he made a deep impression on the students who passed through it. Steve was promoter for his doctorate in theology at the University of South Africa with a thesis on Orthodox diologue with Bunyore culture. He became the parish priest of our “home” parish of St Nicholas of Japan in Brixton, Johannesburg where Steve served with him as deacon, and was a mentor, student, colleague and friend.

In 2015 he returned to Kenya and was consecrated bishop of the new diocese of Kisimu, where he has done excellent work, and so his illness affects not only him but many others.

In other news…

Samwise, a dog obsessed with balls

On 11 November our dog Samwise died. He was 12 years old. We got him as a small puppy in September 2006, which was a three-dog year, and Samwise was the third puppy we got that year. In January 2006 our strange excitable bonsai Alsatian, Alexa, suddenly took ill and died. In February Jethro came home with a puppy, Ralf, and within a few weeks he had died. We later discovered that both had probably suffered from a particularly vicious form of biliary.

We got another puppy called Mardigan, and covered him with anti-tick stuff. We got these puppies to keep our other dog, Ariel, company. Then when thieves broke in to steal our Toyota Venture, they poisoned the dogs. After an enormous vet’s bill, Mardigan died, but Ariel survived. We got Samwise to keep her company, but kept wondering if something bad would happen to him too.

Pimen running to welcome people home.

Samwise was a very big dog, and of all the dogs we have had he was the one most obsessed with balls. If someone came to the fence, he would bark madly at them, often quite frighteningly, but actually he was just asking them to throw his ball,. So we buried his balls with him.

Now our younger dog Pimen lacks canine company. When we came home in the car Pimen would bark to let Samwise know we were home, and Samwise would bark to summon Simon to open the gate. But now we have silent homecomings, because there is no Samwise for Pimen to summon.

 

 

 

 

Flamme cousins

A couple of weeks ago Micha Hannemann, Val’s fifth cousin once removed on the Flamme side of the family, got in touch through a link found on the web, and now we have met Micha, her parents, Michael and Irene Birch, and Micha’s daughter Andrea. We compared notes on the family history, reaching back to Francina van de Kaap, slave of Pieter Hacker.

Irene’s mother, Johanna Maria Weilbach (born Steytler) had died last July at the age of 100, and they had found all kinds of family treasures, including portraits of the common ancestors, Johan Friedrich Wilhelm Flamme (1780-1831) and Johanna Sophia Breedschoe (1782-1836), and the commonplace book of their eldest daughter, Francina Dorothea Flamme, who married first Jonathan Joseph Burnard, and second Gerhardus Nicolaas Mechau, a Cape Town butcher.

Flamme cousins: Val Hayes, Irene Birch, Andrea Hannemann, Micha Hannemann, Michael Birch, 7 December 2018, Pretoria

The commonplace book was a historical treasure in itself, containing pictures of early Cape Town, and helping to clarify some family relationships that have long been a puzzle. One member of the the family, Anna Mechau, had been an artist, and here is one of the pictures she had drawn in the commonplace book:

by Anna Mechau, Cape Town, 13th February 1843

And here is an unsigned picture of a Cape Town scene, probably around the same time, or a little earlier:

Cape Town street scene, 1830s or 1840s

There were many snippets of poetry and drawings, some signed with names, some more obscurely by initials, and some just signed “A Friend”.

But best of all were two portraits of Val and Micha’s common ancestors, J.F.W. Flamme and Johanna Sophia Breedschoe (or Breitschuh).

J.F.W. Flamme (1780-1831)

Johan Freidrich Wilhelm Flamme was born on 3 October 1780 in Twiste, Hesse-Nassau, Germany, the son of Stephan Flamme and Maria Elisabeth Scharschmidt. He came to the Cape Colony as a soldier in the Waldeck Regiment, and was captured during the British occupation and confined in Fort Amsterdam. He may have worked as an assistant to John Martin Durr, butcher, who gave surety for him in 1806, and wrote to the Governor and Commander in Chief of His Britannick Majesty’s troops in the Settlement of the Cape of Good Hope, Sir David Baird, saying that his “very extensive Butcher’s trade necessitates him always to have in his service a number of assistants either to dispatch the daily business of the Butchery or to go up into the country to buy for him the Cattle necessary for the Inhabitants of the Town as well as for the Ships in the Road”

Durr went on to say that he “had happily found out a certain Frederick William Flamme, formerly Soldier in the Batallion of Waldeck, who is still confined at Fort Amsterdam, and is ready to become your Petitioner’s Assistant, provided Your Excellency grant him leave for it.”

On 1 January 1809 Johan Friedrich Wilhelm Flamme married Johanna Sophia Breedschoe and in 1817 he applied for citizenship. They had 11 children, though several of them died young.

Johanna Sophia Breedschoe (c1782-1836)

Johanna Sophia Breedschoe was the daughter of another soldier, Johan Christoph Franciscus Breitschuh, who arrived in the Cape Colony in 1773 from Halle in Germany, and also worked as a carpenter. He had two children by Francina van de Kaap who was a slave of Pieter Hacker. He had the children manumitted in 1787, and possibly their mother had died by then.

Their eldest daughter Francina Dorothea Flamme (the one who kept the commonplace book) married Jonathan Joseph Burnard, but he was killed in a carriage accident, and her second marriage was to Gerhardus Nicolaas Mechau, whose mother Anna Mechau (born Jacobs) was the artist who filled the commonplace book with pictures, and presumably also painted the portraits of Francina’s parents.

There are many Mechau descendants that we have managed to trace.

Val’s great great great grand mother was a younger daughter of J.F.W. Flamma and Johanna Sophia Breedschoe. She was Petronella Francina Dorothea Flamme (1822-1893) who married Henry Crighton (1815-1870), and they too had numerous descendants.

The Flamme boys mostly died young, and so there are no cousins with the Flamme surname in southern Africa, but apart from the Burnard, Mechau and Crighton descendants, the other Flamme girls married into the Wright, Beningfield, Laing, and Tait families.

 

Gammage cousins visit

Yesterday we had a visit from Val’s cousin Arthur Gammage, his wife Jenny and daughters Sonja and Hilda. We hope to see more of Sonja, as she is moving here to start working at the University of Pretoria, and the rest of the family came to help her with the move. We hadn’t seen them for about 10 years. Arthur has retired from the town planning department at Durban, and Jenny from teaching.

We took Sonja and Hilda on a kind of orientation tour of the town, along the ridge to the south, which has a small nature reserve.

Zebras in the nature reserve on Johan Rissik Drive

Somewhere in the middle distance in the picture is Centurion, also part of the Great City of Tshwane, and beyond that, on the horizon, is Johannesburg.

 

Hilda, Sonja and Val, looking over Pretoria from Johan Rissik Drive, above Waterkloof.

Then we crossed to the Union Buildings, on the other side of the valley, and looked at everything from the other side.

Sonja, Hilda and Val at the Union Buildings, all over spring flowers

We reminusced about the Union Buildings. We visited here in 1976 to visit the state artchives to do family history. The archives were then in the basement, with the reading room under the west wing, and one could go to the civil service canteen on one of the upper floors for lunch.

When we moved here in 1983 P.W. Botha was in charge, and he wanted the entire building for gis office, so gradually all other departments were moved out, and the archives eventually moved to their own building a couple of miles away,

Then came democracy, and Nelson Mandela moved in, and the public still had access to the exterior of the building, and on a couple of occasions he invited a whole busload of school children to see his office.

Vire from the terrace at the Union Buildings, with statue of Nelson Mandela Below, and view over Sunnyside

But then the main building itself was fenced off, and so ironically in the democratic South Africa the public has less access to the seat of government than it did at the height of the authoritarian Vorster regime.

Arthur Gammage with Sonja, Val Hayes, Jenny and Hilda

Pony-trekking in the Maluti mountains, 1958

In April 1958 a group of pupils from our School, St Stithians College, went on a camp to Caledonspoort in the Eastern Free State. We were under the supervision of some of the teachers, Steyn Krige, Derick Hudson-Reed and David (Daffy) Dent, and also the headmaster’s nephew, Louis Kernick.

We had been there the previous year, and had stayed at Wyndford Guest Farm, on the banks of the Caledon River. On the other side of the river was Lesotho, then more commonly known to outsiders as Basutoland. In those days one did not need a passport to cross the border, and there was a single gate in charge of a single customs official on the Lesotho side, and nothing on the South African side.

In 1958, however, some of us were going on a pony trek up the Maluti Mountains to see the Ox Bow Lake on the Malibamatso River — that was the educational part of the trip, as we learned about ox-bow lakes in geography lessons.

As it was 60 years since it happened, I wrote to remind the only classmate of that time I am still in touch with, Mike Nayler, of our journey, and he sent me some of his recollections of it. So I decided to compile some extracts from my diary to send to him with some of my photos, and my wife Val suggested that I would put them into a blog post, in case anyone else might be interested. And for what it’s worth, we’re planning a reunion of the Class of 58, so if anyone who was in that class sees this, please get in touch.

Diary Extracts

The summaries in italics are mostly taken from what I wrote in an appointment diary on the trip. The longer bits I wrote in a bigger book after getting home.

14-Apr-1958, Monday

Left on the train for school camp at Wyndford guest farm

In the evening we went to the school camp at Wyndford again. David Curtis and I went in the same compartment, with Nayler and Lundie.

15-Apr-1958, Tuesday

Arrive at Wyndford, climb the mountain behind it, sleep under the stars.

We travelled through the night, stopping at every milk can, [1] and changed trains at Bethlehem in the morning, and arrived at Wyndford guest farm just before lunch, travelling the last six miles fron Fouriesburg station in the back of a lorry.[2]

After lunch David Curtis and I climbed the mountain behind the hotel, and took photographs there. There was no room in the inn for those of us who were going up the mountains, so we had to sleep under the stars, which we studied through David’s telescope, while lying in bed. Great balls of fire! [3]

16-Apr-1958, Wednesday

Choose horses for our ride into the mountains

In the morning we crossed over the Caledon Bridge with several others, and went up into the village, and for some time watched a guy chopping up stone to build a wall with.

Watching a stone mason at work. Derick Hudson-Reed on the left

Then a guy called Lif brought a horse for Mark Rushton, and he got on to ride it. Derick Hudson-Reed took Mark’s camera, and took a photo of him on the horse, the first time he had ever ridden one. He rode off, and I also took a photo of him as he went down the way we had come, with a little black foal trotting along behind.

Mark Rushton’s first ride on a horse

Then the rest of us went down the side of the hill, and across a stream running through a donga, where some women were washing clothes.

Old man drinking beer

On the other hill, near the school, we talked to an old man who was sitting outside his house drinking beer, but he didn’t know much English and we knew even less SeSotho, so it was rather corny conversation. In the afternoon the horses arrived for our ride into the mountains. I chose a little black stallion who looked a bit like Tom. I had fourth choice and everyone thought I was nuts for choosing such a little pony. I didn’t know his name, so I called him “Pony”. In the afternoon I rode him and led him around so I could get to know him. Most of the others chose big horses.

17-Apr-1958, Thursday

Set out on our mountain ride, from Caledonspoort to Butha Buthe, and then north through the foothills of the Malutis. Camp at a crossroads.

Amid frantic preparations for our ride we eventually managed to get everything packed and set out, but had scarcely gone a mile when Terry Ryan’s saddlebags came adrift.

We took about two-and-a-half hours to cover the six miles to Butha Buthe, and had lunch at the district commissioner’s house. The lunch consisted of cannonballs made from “weeds” — a Basotho dish. Derick Hudson-Reed and a few others were crazy enough to try swiming in the swiming bath there. They stripped naked and jumped in, and then yelled as they froze.

Leaving Butha Buthe. Derick Hudson-Reed on right, in Mosotho hat. Steve Hayes in centre, looking back.

After lunch we rode through Butha Buthe, and turned north-east along a winding dusty road, which reminded me of Ingogo a bit. On our right was the Maluti range towering above us, and we rode along the foothills till we should come to the pass which would take us over the Maluti to the Ox-Bow Lake, where we were to stay as guests of Mr Read, who was doing a hydrological survey there.

After a while we straggled out in a long line, and my pony, with his short legs, was near the back of it. Some blokes would try an occasional gallop to get up to the front, and then their saddle bags would fall off and they would have to go back to retrieve their scattered belongings. The sun got lower and its rays got redder, and still we hadn’t nearly reached the place where we were supposed to spend the night. The hills became steeper and we started winding down into a valley, and then crossing rivers and then climbing out again.

At sunset we stopped at a bleak and desolate crossroads, where there was a deserted road-builders’ camp, and there we spent the night. There was a village nearby, where we could get water from the well, the local headman having given us permission. David Curtis and I slept together, and I put my own halter on Pony, and tied him to a concrete block, which we used as a windbreak. I gave Pony some mealies, and we got into our sleeping bags. Pony ate his mealies, dropping a good many over me. Then we went to sleep, and so did Pony, but not for long. At about midnight I woke up with his nose on my face, and he was snuffling around trying to reach the loose mealie pips he had dropped. I smacked his nose and went back to sleep. About an hour later I felt my saddle (Brassie’s, actually) jerking under my head. I was using it as a pillow. Pony had discovered that I had a loaf of bread under it, and grabbed it, and then trotted off to the end of his rope and began to eat it. I hauled him in on the rope, and grabbed what was left of the bread out of his mouth, and tried to get back to sleep.

18-Apr-1958, Friday

Ride up the Malutis to the Ox Bow Lake over the mule track, to stay with Dick Read of the hydrological survey

When the sun came up, David and I had a great greasy breakfast of fried eggs and bacon, while the others had bread. Some had had eggs, but they had broken on yesterday’s journey. We had taken the precaution of wrapping ours in newspapers, and so had cause to gloat, until we tried to wash our dishes.
After breakfast we continued on our way, and in the morning rode straight towards the mountains instead of along them. We rode up the Caledon River, or one of its tributaries, and it looked very different now from the dirty brown stream that formed the Free State border. It was icy cold and crystal clear. At one place we stopped to let the horses drink, and three exceedingly brave souls, Terry Ryan, Tom Sutcliffe and Peter Wood, tried to swim. Needless to say, they froze.

Brave souls swimming in the icy mountain water

We came to a notice which said “Ox Bow jeep track. Vehicles enter at their own risk” and started to climb. We crossed some hills covered with very green grass, and Mr Read met us there, riding an enormous horse. He had a big bushy beard, and out of his shorts came sunburnt legs which looked like tree trunks. He was quite a guy, and wore a slouch bush hat. A little while later a pack mule met us and took our bedding, and then we started to climb the steep pass up to the top. Now I rode with Dick Read in front of the line as we climbed the steep mule track, which was shorter than the jeep track. Pony with his short legs had better stamina for mountain climbing, and left the others far behind. The track crossed numerous streams, with bushes going up the slopes on either side, where only goats were grazing. The hills rose up and up in tumbled profusion, like an enormous green wave 5000 feet above the rest of the ocean, frozen in the moment of breaking.

The Maluti mountains looking like a breaking wave

We stopped on a flat rocky ledge near the top of the pass to let the others catch up, and there was a steady stream of sweat running off Pony’s belly.

Pony, at the top of the pass.

Most of the others were leading their horses now, and only Dick Read and I remained mounted.

Riding up the jeep track

Just before sunset we rode over the top, 9000 feet above sea level, and the scene suddenly changed. On the other side of the mountain, instead of coarse bushes, there was short springy turf, with hundreds of streams all over the hillside. There were hills, and beyond them more hills as far as we could see. Just behind the escarpment was a river, running south-west, parallel to the range, and this was called the Malibamatso.

View from the top, looking back over the way we had come

Two miles further, and we arrived at Dick Read’s house. When I got there, still ahead of the others, Pony had stopped sweating completely, and was not even damp under the saddle.

19-Apr-1958, Saturday

At the Ox Bow Lake in Basutoland, listening to Dick Read telling stories.

We slept in a half-built rondavel, which was Mr Read’s new house. His old one had one room and was too small. Early in the morning I climbed the mountain behind his house, and then after breakfast Dick Read took us to the Ox Bow Lake, and explained that a dam would be built there for hydroelectric power. He talked about the future of Basutoland while we were sitting there on the hillside. It seemed a wonderful country, and it seemed a pity if it were to become incorporated in the Union. Dick Read said its economic future wouldn’t be very bright unless it did join the Union.

The ox bow — the river had originally run around the hill in the centre, but then wore a new course behind it, leaving the old course as an isolated ox bow.

Then, after messing around all day, we gathered around Dick Read at five o’clock, and talked. There seemed to be no subject on which he could not talk. He talked about the basis of astrology — mutations in the newly born caused by cosmic radiation.

Dick Read, hydrologist

He told us of a woman at university who was not easily frightened, “So,” he said, “some bloody fool from the medical school got an arm and put it in her bed one night. They waited outside about half an hour after she went in, expecting to hear screams. When nothing happened they eventually opened the door, and found her sitting in a corner gibbering and gnawing at the arm.” He talked about other things too — diamonds in the Basutoland rivers, philosophy, God, time, space, and the prophecies of Nostradamus, the formation of different races, geography and geology. We had a break for coffee at 8:00, then went on discussing, but mainly listening and questioning, until late at night.

20-Apr-1958, Sunday

At the Ox Bow lake in Basutoland, taking photos

I walked up to the pass with David Curtis, and we took photographs. In the evening Dick Read and David Scott both had colds, so they sat around drinking Drambuie and eucalyptus oil. Scott seemed to think the eucalyptus oil was terrible, but I tried it and it wasn’t too bad.

21-Apr-1958, Monday

Return to Wyndford from Ox Bow, riding through the night in the last part.

We set out on the return journey to Wyndford, and were all sorry to leave Dick Read and the mountains. We travelled the 14 miles to the bottom of the pass, and then some of us were going much slower than the others.

Going back down the mountain

About 10 of us decided that we would go to Wyndford today, while those with tired horses or stiff legs were going to camp the night on the road. So at 1:00 pm we parted from the rest, and took a short cut over the veld to above Butha Buthe, which was a long way round anyway.

When night fell we had left the road, and it was overcast and pitch dark. A couple of lightning flashes and thunder rumbles made us think it would rain. On we went, in single file, across open veld and through many fields, down dongas and up the other side, hardly able to see the guy in front, but the horses knew how to follow. Leading the column was Sello, a Mosotho guide. Once or twice he stopped, and said he had taken the wrong way, but how he knew that in the pitch dark we never knew. He would then change direction, and in the middle of that trackless wilderness assert that we were on the right track.
The 10 schoolboys following him were rather subdued, and even awed, by this night journey on horseback. Suddenly we came onto the Butha Buthe road about a mile from Wyndford, and realising that we knew where we were again, started chattering. On the open road we began to trot. Tubby Ewing, saddlesore, groaned with every step his horse took, and every ten steps would say “Fuck you man! Ow Ow! Fuck you, you lousy animal!”

The customs post was deserted at that time, but we opened the gate and went through, and cantered the last hundred yards up to the hotel singing “Come to Wyndford”, words someone had invented and put to the tune of “Clementine”. Daffy was giving a sermon to those who had remained behind, but never finished it. Everyone rushed out to greet us, and though it was 9:00 pm Mrs Boswell, the hotel keeper, got us a meal. While I ate Mark Rushton stood next to me, wearing an enormous red and black blanket that covered him completely. He said he had bought it with some money an aunt had given to him.

22-Apr-1958, Tuesday

The rest of the mob arrived back at lunch time, David Curtis among them. We agreed it was the best holiday we had ever had.

23-Apr-1958, Wednesday

Hitchhike to Butha Buthe to post letters.

David Curtis and I hitched a lift to Butha Buthe on the back of a truck. I bought some rope, and posted some letters and postcards. On the way back we got a lift with Robert Boswell, the landlord’s son. We had a braaivleis party in the evening, and Robert spat petrol out of his mouth and lit it.

24-Apr-1958, Thursday

Played netball against a local girls school

In the afternoon we had a netball match against the village school over the border. Being girls, they hammered us sadly in the first match, but we got the idea of the game then, and beat them by a narrow margin in the two following games. Then they sang songs for us, and we sang songs for them. Louis and Daffy had us laughing when they sang the duet from “Iolanthe”.

25-Apr-1958, Friday

Left Wyndford, got the 11:00 am train from Fouriesburg, which got to Bloemfontein at sunset.

We left Wyndford, very sadly, and got the 11:00 am train to Bloemfontein. We played Monopoly most of the way over the flat Free State veld, and then went looking round Bloemfontein for an hour while waiting for a train to take our coaches to Johannesburg. That train had a dining saloon, so Lundie and I went and had a big grill at 10:00 pm

26-Apr-1958, Saturday

On the train from Bloemfontein to Johannesburg

I had bought a newspaper in Bloemfontein, The Friend, and read the reports of the election results, in which the Nats had won with an increased majority, and the leader of the United Party, Sir de Villiers Graaff, said it wasn’t too serious — 15 years in the life of a country was like a short burst of hysteria in an invidivual.

Notes and references

[1] The train went from Johannesburg to Bethlehem overnight, on a line that no longer exists, as on our last couple of road trips that way we had observed that the rails had all been pulled up. At Bethlehem it was joined to a train from Durban, and crawled on a steep incline out of the town. We got off at Fouriesburg, where a truck was waiting to take us the 12 miles to Wyndford, at Caledonspoort on the Basutoland border. Fouriesburg station was six miles from the town, and from there it was another six miles to Caledonspoort, with its cylindrical sandstone cliffs.

[2] The distance was actually 12 miles – six from the station to Fouriesburg, and another six miles to Wyndford, which was at Caledonspoort.

[3] The song Great balls of fire! By Jerry Lee Lewis was currently popular.

 

 

Heavy Plant Crossing

For the last week our quiet little cul-de-sac neighbourhood has become the proverbial heavy plant crossing.

It began on Tuesday, when  this appeared outside our front gate.

They broke a hole through the concrete fence at the end of the road and started clearing the ground on this side of the railway line. Over the next couple of days more pieces of earth-moving equipment came and went, with the beeping of reversing lorries, the crash of stones being offloaded.

By Thursday there were rows of railway sleepers, and piles of ballast, so what was going on?

Were they building a new station over the road? Convenient for public transport, if they are, but also the noise and in the increase in traffic could be a bit much. Or are they building a new siding, or re-aligning the tracks on the main line?

On Friday they worked right through the night, with trains passing slowly and hooting all the time. They had generators going to light up the scene, providing this view from our bedroom window.

And when dawn was breaking they were still at it.

Perhaps we’ll only know what it is when they’ve finished. Or perhaps not. Anyway it’s provided a lot of entertainment, even for the dogs, who bark with each new piece of equipment that arrives, and then watch to see what it does.

Ellwood and Pearson Families

This past week, stimulated by the visit of Zania and Ian from Edinburgh,  I have been looking through boxes of old family photos and making scans.  Zania and I are “double-cousins” as our grandparents were brothers who married sisters, and that started us off talking about the older generations.  Our Grandfathers were the sons of Daniel William Pearson and his wife Sarah Walker.

daniel william pearson family

The family of Daniel William Pearson and Sarah Walker

Daniel William Pearson,  the son of William Pearson and Sarah Johnson was born in 16 Nov 1855 in Whitehaven  he married  Sarah Jane Walker, born 10 Dec 1957, the daughter of William Walker and Agnes Duke.

Daniel William died on 26 Jan 1929

Obituary from the Whitehaven News

DEATH OF FORMER OFFICIAL

The death occurred on Saturday, after a long illness, of Mr D.W. Pearson, of Victoria Road, Whitehaven. Mr Pearson, who was well-known in the town and district, filled the position of sanitary and m,arkets inspector for 27 years, having been appointed in 1897, three years after the incorporation of the borough. He retired about four years ago, owing to failing health. Previous to his appointment as a council official, he carried on business in Duke Street, Whitehaven, as a butcher. Mr Pearson, who was 73 years of age, belonged to an old and respected Whitehaven family. He leaves a widow and grown-up family of six sons and one daughter.

He left school early, and was a butcher, and was appointed Sanitary Inspector for Whitehaven, a post he held for the rest of his working life.

They had nine children, eight sons and one daughter  (I have always loved this picture)

pearson family

from left to right:  William Walker Pearson, Edith Pearson, Henry Pearson, Charles Pearson, Frank Pearson, Ernest Pearson, Gilbert Pearson, John Pearson and Victor Octavious Pearson

My grandfather was William Walker Pearson, the eldest and Zania and Maxine are the granddaughters of Ernest, the fifth son.   Dear little Victor Octavious married the niece of our grandmothers ( the daughter of their eldest brother John)

Our  grandmothers were the daughters of Thomas Ellwood and Mary Carr, daughter of Ralph Carr and  Isabella Little, she was born 16 November 1847 in Whitehaven.

thomas ellwood 1845-1914

Thomas Ellwood  was born 17 March 1845 in Wingate Grange, County Durham, the son of John Ellwood and Bridget Anderson,

The Ellwood family moved to County Durham in about 1844 to work on the coal mines, and four of their children were born there. They returned to Cumberland about 1852, where Thomas worked with his father as deputy overman at Croft Pit, before going to sea in the 1860s.

Three of Thomas’s uncles also went to Durham, but they and their families did not return to Whitehaven. His uncle Thomas Saxon Ellwood went to America, while William and Isaac stayed in Durham.

Obituary notice in the Whitehaven News – 1914-12-10
DEATH OF MR T. ELLWOOD, WHITEHAVEN
The death was announced on Saturday of Mr Thomas Ellwood of Duke Street, at the age of 69 years. Mr Ellwood was a native of Whitehaven. He was the eldest son of the late Mr John Ellwood, Low Road, an overman and master wasteman at Croft Pit. The father used to be greatly interested in astronomy and other scientific pursuits, and the son inherited some of this intellectual bent and continued a long connection with the Whitehaven Scientific Association.

john ellwood 1819-1892

John Ellwood 1819-1892

Mr Thomas Ellwood began life by seafaring, in the Maiden Queen under Capt. Smith, of Parton. But he soon left this, and began again in the Whitehaven Colliery. After some years he obtained a manager’s certificate, and then went to a colliery at Dearham as manager, and subsequently to collieries at Wrexham and Workington. He then returned to Whitehaven, and retiring from mining, took over a pawnbroking business in Senhouse Street that had previously been carried on by Mrs Carr, he wife’ mother. This he continued to carry on until the time of his death.
He was twice married. His first wife was a daughter of the late Captain Carr. The Carrs were then living in Senhouse Street. By the first marriage there was a large family – twelve in all, of whom two died and ten survive, who are all grown-up. His second wife was Mrs Jackson, of Duke Street, who survives him.
At one time Mr Ellwood took a very great interest in party politics, and was an active and strong partisan on the Conservative side, in local as well as imperial affairs. In local affairs he used to be one of the foremost spirits in elections for the old town and harbour board; and in imperial affairs he was one of the original promoters of the Whitehaven Conservative Association. In those days Whitehaven Conservatism had no popular organisation, while Liberalism had; and a movement was taken up by twelve of them, who were at once dubbed the twelve apostles, to found an association, which resulted in the establishment of the Club in King Street.
Mr Ellwood also took a great interest in Odd-fellowship. He was a member and officer of the Whitehaven lodge, and has served as Provincial Master of the Whitehaven District.

 

Thomas Ellwood married Mary Carr, the daughter of Isabella Little and Ralph Carr (he died at sea in 1862).

isabella little carr and family

The Carr Family – taken 12 June 1874 (original on glass)   note on the back gives ages -Left to right top:  William Carr (14), Bessie Carr (17), Ralph Carr (23), Thomas Carr (12), Thomas Ellwood (30)  Sitting:   ?    , Isabella Little Carr (63),  Mary Carr Ellwood (31), Isabella Carr Ellwood (on lap), John Ellwood, Ralph Carr Ellwood.

Thomas and Mary had twelve children two of whom died.  William born 22 Sep 1883 who died 5 Nov 1885 and William Edward born 4 Aug 1890 and who died 1 April 1891

thomas ellwood family

Back Left to Right,  Thomas Ellwood, Ralph Carr Ellwood,  Isabella Carr Ellwood, John Ellwood, Mary Carr Ellwood.   Middle L-R :  Elizabeth Renney Ellwood, Martha Ellwood, Margaret Ellwood, Thomas Ellwood.  Front L-R :  Bridget  Ellwood,  Mary Ellwood,  Robert Ellwood

My grandmother Martha (Mattie) was particularly close to her younger sister Margaret (Maggie) and as she left  Whitehaven for South Africa in 1913 to marry  William Walker Pearson, kept up a correspondence with her for the whole of her life.   Unfortunately I do not have portraits of all of her brothers and sisters but will go on searching through the old boxes in case I can find any of John and Mary  when they were young and of Thomas and Robert.

The portraits that I do have are:

ralph carr ellwood 1871-1957

 Ralph Carr Ellwood

born 28 Jan 1871, at New Yard, Workington, Cumberland and he died at 9 Scotch Street, Whitehaven on 18 May 1957

He was interred in Whitehaven Cemetery after a service in the Congregational Churchralph carr ellwood 29 jul1950

 

 

He was a well-known runner in his youth. He lived with Ernest and Maggie Pearson until he died. He had a superb collection of semi-precious stones which he collected on Fleswick Beach near St Bee’s Head.

Zania said that she remembered him as an old man,  at her grandmother’s house


isabella ellwood 1873-1958

 

 

Gran’s eldest sister was  Isabella Carr Ellwood   

born 29 Jul 1873 in Whitehaven and died in Whitehaven in 1958she was married to James Hurst,  they did not have children
As I was growing up I knew of her as “Aunty Belle”  she was a matron in a hospital, and lived in an old terraced house in New Road Whitehaven near the cemetery.     My gran used to tell us tales of Whitehaven and the family and my Mum and Aunty Molly used to say to her that she really should go on a trip and see them all, but she always had a reason why she could not go. isabella ellwood - 1873-1958 One year Aunty Molly had jaundice and Gran went and helped with the children while she was ill.   We had a wonderful old family doctor, the old fashioned kind, and Mum and Aunty Molly told him that they thought that Gran should go and see her sisters.  He then told her that she had been working so hard helping with the family that he thought she needed a trip and that the best thing would be for her to go overseas.  Lo and behold, she and an old friend were gone within 6 months and went again a couple of years later.  It was very good as she was able to see Aunty Belle before she died.


mary ellwood addison 1875-1964

Mary Ellwood 1875-1964 with Jonathan Addison

Mary Ellwood, born 20 May 1875 in Whitehaven, .  Mary died in Belfast on 9 July 1964.   She married Jonathan Addison in 1896 and they had 7 children.  The eldest, Mary was a great friend of my gran, in fact she was only 13 years younger than her.

martha and mary 1956

 

 

 

 

 

My gran managed to visit her in Belfast  when they were both old

 

bessie jupp - martha - mary - john hayes - mary addison hayes

Left to right: Elizabeth Addison Jupp,  Martha Ellwood Pearson, John Hayes, Mary Ellwood Addison, and Elizabeth Addison Hayes

 

 

Mary Addison (b 1898) married John Hayes (no relation to Steve)  and they visited us twice in South Africa.  They had no children of their own and travelled a good deal,  they were really great fun to be with.  John had the most remarkable memory for places. We would be travelling down a road and he would say, “sure and around that corner is ……”  and he was always right.  He had only been there once before!

martha with bessie and len jupp

 

Martha Ellwood Pearson with Elizabeth “Bessie” Addison Jupp and Len Jupp

 

 

When we went to the UK in 1971 we stayed with her sister Elizabeth (b1908) and her husband Len Jupp

(unfortunately the only picture I have is rather blurred)

 

 


elizabeth ellwood 1877-1968

 

Elizabeth Renney Ellwood

was born 26 Jul 1877 in Whitehaven,  she died in 1968

she married Isaac Nicholson (1874)  in Whitehaven on 6th August 1900.

( He was the brother of Catherine Nicholson (b 1871) who was married to John Ellwood the eldest of Thomas Ellwood’s children. (it was their daughter Edith who married Victor Octavious Pearson))

they had two children.  Doris Nicholson and John Ellwood Nicholson.

She married a second time to a man called Tom Caddy.


bridget - bessie - ellwood 1879-1959Bridget Ellwood

(known as Bessie)  was born 8 Aug 1879  in Whitehaven and died 11 Mar 1959

she left Whitehaven and moved to Liverpool in 1916 and lost contact with most of the family.  She married William Fee on 1 Jan 1907 and had two children  Leonard Fee (b1908) and Elsie Fee (b 1917)

she married a second time to   T.W Wilkinson

M4034S-4211

L-R:  Geraint Jones, Vivienne Hall Jones, Allison Jones, Val Hayes

 

Her daughter Elsie married Arthur Hall and they had a daughter Vivienne.  Vivienne married Geraint Jones and they live on a farm in Deiniolen, Caernarfon.  When we were in the UK in 1971 we visited them

 

 


Thomas Carr Ellwood was born on 17 Sep 1881 in Whitehaven.  He married Margaret McMeehan, who was born 25 Dec 1879 in Northern Ireland,  in 1902.  They had 6 children (two daughters and four sons).  We do not have a lot on this branch of the family.  We probably have not worked on it for nearly 40 years so we need to go back and do some more searching!


My beautiful picture

 

Martha Ellwood

was born 17 Nov 1885 in Whitehaven,  she followed her fiance William Walker Pearson to South Africa where they were married in St John’s Church, Pinetown, on 3 November 1913.

William Walker Pearson, the eldest son of Daniel William Pearson and Sarah Walker was born 9 Dec 1883 in Whitehaven.

 

william walker pearson 1883-1956He  was a ship broker in Whitehaven, where he managed a fleet of five or six steamers. He came to Natal in 1909 and on 16 November began working for the forwarding office of the Natal Government Railways. When the forwarding office was closed in 1917 he was transferred to the Harbour Revenue Department and ten years later he was in control of shipping intelligence – allocating berths to the ships arriving in the port of Durban. After his marriage in 1913 he and his wife lived in Pinetown, and later at St Thomas’s Road Extension, in Durban. In 1923 the family moved to 315 Main Road, Escombe. He was a member of the United Grand Lodge of Free Masons of England, having been admitted to the Third Degree at the Temperatia Lodge No 2054 at Whitehaven.

Fleswick 315 main rd escombe c1947

“Fleswick”  –  315 Main Road, Escombe  c 1947    the home was named for the beach near St Bees where Martha and her sisters collected semi-precious stones as children.

William and Martha had four children,  William Ellwood Pearson  (1915-1984),  Mary “Molly” Pearson (1918-2003) and her twin Arthur, who died of diptheria, (1918-1919), and Dorothy (1923-1984).

pearson family - escombe boxing day 1935 - smaller


william ellwood pearson 1915-1984

 

 

William Ellwood Pearson  (Billy) –  Born 8  Aug 1915 in Durban, South Africa and died in England in 1984.

He married twice,  first at the Magistrates Court in Durban on 18 Jun 1939 at the age of 23  to Edith Marion Woods  – he is shown as a teacher and her as a music teacher.  This marriage ended in divorce.

 

Luigia Sonetti Pearson with Francis Alan and Rosemary 1952

Alan Pearson, Liuiga Sonetti Pearson with Rosemary Pearson, Francis Pearson,  at Escombe in 1952

On the 13 Jan1948  he married Liuiga (Louisa) Sonetti (b 1927 in Italy) in Cape Town.   They lived for some time in Nigeria, and also in Italy before settling in England, where he worked for Lever Brothers. They had three children,  Francis (1948), Alan (1951) and Rosemary (1952).  They visited William and Martha in Durban in 1952.

Billy spent some years in Guatamala and Belize prior to his final return to the UK.

 

 

 

The last time we met our Pearson cousins was in 1971 when Elaine and I went to the UK, and we have only recently made contact once again.  We are hoping to find out more about that side of the family again

salerno 1956

Sorrento 1956

 

francis alan and rosemary pearson

England 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Mary Pearson 1918-2003

 

Mary “Molly” Pearson

was born on 22 August 1918 in Durban and died in Pinetown on 13 December 2003

Molly married Sydney Weston Gammage who was born in Whetstone, Leicestershire, England on 2 July 1918.  Mary Pearson and Sidney GammageThey were married in  Durban on 16 Mar 1946.   and spent the early years of their marriage at Waschbank in the midlands of Natal, later moving to 35 Rycroft Avenue in Queensburgh, Natal where they spent most of their lives. Sydney died on 15 Jan 1997

Molly and Sydney had 4 children,  Enid, Arthur, Douglas and Margaret.

 

Gammage family

Left to Right:  Back – Douglas Gammage,  Sydney Gammage, Arthur Gammage ,                         Front:  Margaret Gammage, Molly Gammage, Enid Gammage

Enid Gammage Christmas 1974

Enid Gammage  b 1947 married to Justin Ellis with 2 Children Hugh and Bronwen

My beautiful picture

Arthur Gammage b 1951  married to Jennifer Caithness – they have three children,  Keith, Sonja and Hilda

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Douglas Gammage and Margaret Gibb Nov 1979

Douglas Gammage  b 1953 married to Margaret Gibb, they had 4 children.  Kenneth,  Daniel (died young), Richard and Laura.

margaret foley 2003

Margaret Gammage b 1957 married to Douglas Foley,  they have two children, Candice and Dylan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Dorothy Pearson and Keith Greene

 

Dorothy Pearson

was born 10 February 1923 in Durban and died  on  9 Mar 1984

She married Keith Greene on the 23 June 1945 at St Paul’s Church, Durban.  (they were the first couple ever to have their wedding photographed inside the church)  Keith was born in Johannesburg on 4 July 1922.Keith and Dorothy Greene

 

They lived all their married life at 37 Seymour Road, Queensburgh.   Close to William and Martha’s home Fleswick at 315 Main Road

They had two daughters , Valerie and Elaine

 

Valerie Greene Hayes

Valerie Greene b 1948  married to Stephen Hayes in 1974 they have three children,  Bridget,  Simon, and Jethro.

Elaine Greene Machin

Elaine Greene  b 1951   married to John Machin in 1973.  They have three children, Gregory, Alan and Lesley.  (seen in this picture with her granddaughter Abby, daughter of Gregory)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

greene and gammage descendants 1978

Greene and Gammage families in 1978.     Left to right:  Top – John Machin,  Douglas Gammage, Doug Foley, Arthur Gammage, Sydney Gammage, Enid Ellis holding Hugh, Keith Greene, Stephen Hayes,  Ella Hayes (his mother)  Front:  Margaret Foley, Elaine Machin holding Gregory, Molly Gammage holding Simon Hayes,  Dorothy Greene holding Bridget Hayes and Valerie Hayes.  This was the last time that we were all together for a very long time.


margaret ellwood pearson 1892-1958

 

Margaret Ellwood

the youngest child of Thomas Ellwood and Mary Carr was born in Whitehaven on 23 Apr 1892 and she married Ernest Pearson, the fifth son of Daniel William Pearson and Sarah Johnson in 1916.   She died in 1958

After her death Ernest remarried in 1961 to May Smith,  he died in 1975

 

Ernie and Maggie had four children,  Gilbert (b 1917),  Ralph (b 1920),  John (b 1923) and Margaret (b 1929)


gilbert pearson 1917-1944 - June 1942

Gilbert Pearson June 1942

 

Gilbert Ellwood Pearson

was born in Whitehaven 17  Dec 1917.  He was killed in a munition accident right at the very end of the war, in Burma  on 5 June 1944

he is buried at IMPHAL WAR CEMETERY

 

 


Ralph Pearson

was born at 60 Victoria Rd,  Workington.  He was educated in Whitehaven. Served in Royal Air Force in Second World War, mainly in personnel management. After the war spent most of his working in Navy, Army & Air Force Institutes (NAAFI), in Egypt, Middle East and Singapore. Retired in 1983.

He married Jean Mary Bearn (b 1921)on  9 Aug 1952,  and they had three children, Joseph, Susan and Gordon.

jean and gordon pearsonLike us Ralph was extremely interested in the Family History and did an enormous amount of research.  We corresponded regularly.  We are still looking for a photo of Ralph (anyone in the family who has a good one, it would be most welcome)

In 1996 I won  a ticket to the FA Cup Final between Manchester United and Liverpool and was in London for a week.  I went to Berkhamstead visit.  Ralph had died  about 4 months before but I met Jean and the family.  We are in touch with Gordon.


john pearson sept 1941 aged 17

John Pearson June 1942 aged 17

 

John Pearson

born 30 Oct 1923 in Whitehaven.  He married Christiana Rose Nora Lees on 4 Aug 1947.   We knew her as Nora and corresponded for many years.  We were able to visit her in 2005, she gave us a lot of information on the family and told wonderful stories.  John died on 12 March 1984 and Nora on  1 February 2017,  we are so glad to have known her.

John and Nora had two daughters Maxine and Zania.

 

maxine nora and zania 90

Nora Pearson celebrating her 90th birthday with Maxine and Zania

maxine

Maxine Pearson b 1948 married to John Wincott,  they have two children,  Emma and Paul

zania mckenzie

Zania Pearson b 1953  married to Ian McKenzie,  they had three children,  Twins Litza and Alexander ( Alexander died at birth) , and Andrea.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had a wonderful visit with them in 2005 in Edinburgh and have been lucky that both Maxine and John  and Zania and Ian have been able to visit South Africa, and spend an hour or two with us

with maxine and zania in edinburgh

Left to right:  Maxine, John, Val, Ian, Zania,  in Edinburgh  2005


is this Margaret Pearson Worsley 6 jun 1949

 

Edith Margaret Pearson

the youngest child of Ernest Pearson and Margaret Ellwood was born on 15 Sep 1929

she married Edward Worsley on 4 April 1943

They had two children,  Caroline b abt 1954  and Michael born 24 Oct 1957

We had very little contact with her side of the family.

So this is just a little bit of the Pearson/Ellwood tree – mostly that which links the two families.  Anyone who has anything further to add we would love to hear from you.