My grandfather, Percy Hayes

When we were on holiday recently we stopped at Paulpietersburg to visit my grandfather’s grave. It is unmarked, but I know where it is, because back in 1977, when we were living in Utrecht, we went with my mother to  Paulpietersburg. When we got there we had lunch in the hotel. Then we went to the municipal offices, and asked if they had a plan of the graves in the cemetery, and the man who was probably the parks and gardens department came along to the cemetery with us, bringing the town traffic cop with him, and together we located the grave of my grandfather, Percy Wynn Hayes. He was buried next to Dr Lipscomb, who had treated him in his last illness, and was a great buddy of his, coming from Devon. Mum said that when they came for his funeral, they said he and a lot of old men used to meet and put their stamp collections together. We returned via Bivane and Viljoenspos, after going up the mountain to look at the Dumbe mine. We asked to look at the staff records, but the office was closed by the time we got there.

Paulpietersburg cemetery: Percy Hayes’s grave is just to the left of the two Lipscomb graves in the picture, which belong to Dr Lipscomb and his wife (who died a few months before my grandfather).

Percy Hayes died on 6 May 1948, and I remember travelling to his funeral from Ingogo via Utrecht and Vryheid. I was 7 years old at the time. We asked about the location of his grave nearly 30 years later, and that seemed an impossibly long time ago. Yet 1977 is now longer ago than 1948 was back then.

Lipscomb graves and Percy Hayes’s grave with Dumbe mountain in the background

Paulpietersburg is at the foot of the Dumbe mountain, and Percy Hayes was mine secretary of the Dumbe Colliery there. In earlier years, between the Anglo-Boer War and the Second World War, he had been a stockbroker in Johannesburg. There is more information about him on our Family Wiki here.

 

Frank Wynn Hayes (my father) with his father, Percy Wynn Hayes (my grandfather)

One of the minor mysteries of this branch of the family is where the name Wynn came from.

My mother told me it was an old family name, and very important. My father, Frank Hayes, and his sisters Vera and Doreen all had Wynn as a middle name. So did Percy — when he died. My father, when he died in 1989, had even taken to hyphenating it, and called himself Frank Wynn-Hayes.

But on his birth certificate Percy Hayes is listed as plain Percy Hayes. He was born in Bedminster, Bristol, England on 4 August 1874, and I’ve been looking, so far without success, for his baptism in Bedminster or Bristol churches. Not that it will help much, because English Anglican baptism registers, unlike South African ones, do not record the names of the sponsors (godparents). I wonder if one of his godparents might have been named Wynn, or if it was someone he had encountered whom he particularly admired. Certainly we have not discovered any earlier member of the family who bears that name. He grew up in Axbridge, Somerset, where his parents ran the Red Lion Hotel, and came to South Africa shortly before the Second Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902).

 

Changes in Melmoth after 30 years

We lived in Melmoth, Zululand, from 1977-1982, so it is almost 30 years since we left. Earlier this week we visited it again while on holiday, and drove past some of the places we had known, to see what changes there had been. I’ve written about some of the general changes on my Khanya blog, but there are some changes that are also linked more closely to the family.

In 1979 we had a Christmas tree in our sitting room, with decorations, and we put Christmas presents under it. After Christmas we took it outside, and decided to plant it outside the study window. One reason for doing this was that in summer the afternoon sun shone into the window and made the study too hot and the light made it more difficult to work in. Of course when we first planted the tree it was too small to give much shade.

Our Christmas tree when we planted it in January 1980: Val, Simon, Bridget and Steve Hayes

We planted it on 11 January 1980, and it was only a little taller than the children.

A different view of Bridget and the tree

The tree grew quite quickly.

After a year the tree was a bit taller.

But after 30 years, it was enormous, and had two tops.

July 2012 the Christmas tree towers above the flat-crown tree, which in turn has spread to stretch over the house.

Other trees had also grown, and Hammar Street has a much better surface, and there is actually a pavement, which wasn’t there when we lived in Melmoth, so back then people tended to walk down the street.

 

Hammar Street, Melmoth, July 2012

On 1 January 1981 we planted three cycad seedlings in the garden. They came from Val’s mother (Dorothy Greene) who lived in Escombe, Queensburgh, and had a couple of large cycads, which produced lots of seeds, and seedlings kept growing in her garden. She gave us some, and also had to give us special certificates for the nature conservation department, as cycads are protected plants.

All Saints Rectory, Melmoth, with cycad near the chimney. 23 July 2012

I’m not sure whether that was one of the cycads we planted — I thought we had planted them in more protected places, but perhaps someone moved one, or one of them grew up and produced seeds of its own.

Home from holiday in KZN

We got home from holiday in KwaZulu-Natal a couple of hours ago, after driving up from Melmoth. We stopped in Paulpietersburg to visit the grave of my grandfather Percy Wynn Hayes (1874-1948). We’ll post some photos later, though there’s not much to see, as there is no gravestone. I came back to about 730 e-mails that had accumulated while we’ve been away. Quite a number of the messages are spam, but one still has to go through them and delete them. We didn’t have web access for the last few days were were away, and we don’t seem to have access at home now “The server was reset while the page was loading”, which often indicates ISP problems. Oh well, bed with a book, and we’ll try again in the morning.

Ria Reddick’s 90th birthday

I nicked this photo from Fiona Carson Reddick Symth’s Facebook page, showing her mother’s 90th birthday. Her mother and my mother, Ella Hayes (born Growdon), were first cousins, and last met in Glasgow in 1967, and my mother died in 1983.

Ria Reddick’s 90th birthday party

Ria was born as Ria McFarlane Hannan on 9 November 1921, and married Hugh Cumming Reddick in 1943. They lived in Rhodesia after the Second World War, and their younger children were born their. Their eldest child, Craig, was killed in a car accident, and Hugh died in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia). Ria returned to the UK in 1966 after the Rhodesian UDI, as she did not want to bring up her children in that kind of society.

Bill Hannan of Durban

Ria is also first cousin to Bill Hannan, whom we met for the first time last Sunday. There are not many of that generation still alive.

Visiting family in Durban, July 2012

After spending a few days in Pietermaritzburg at the Aberfeldy B&B in Scottsville (which we can wholeheartedly recommend to anyone), we came down to Duban and visted Val’s aunt, Pat van der Merwe, formerly Terblanche, born Greene.

Val Hayes, Jared Alldred, Pat van der Merwe, 14 July 2012

We saw aunt Pat when we went to the Western Cape on holiday last year, but had not seen Jared since he was 9 months old, and now he is 12, so perhaps that warrants a special picture.

Jared Alldred, aged 12

Pat is Val’s father’s sister, and Jared is her great grandson (and Val’s first cousin twice removed). Pat is staying with her youngest daughter Edwina (Jared’s great-aunt) in Durban.

While visiting them we warched rugby, the Sharks playing the Cheetahs in the Super-15 tournament, and the Sharks won by a big enough margin to move on to the nextr stage in the competition.

On Sunday morning we went to church at St Nicholas Church in Durban North, and then went down to the Pirates Lifesaving Club to meet some Hannan cousins I do not think I had met before.

Bill Hannan was the son of Duncan McFarlane Hannan, the youngest brother of my grandmother Janet McCartney Hannan, and we met him and his two sons Shawn and Clyde, and had lunch with them at the lifesaving club. Shawn and Clyde are my second cousins, and our great grandparents were William Hannan and Ellen McFarlane of Glasgow in Scotland. William and Ellen had seven children, four of whom came to Southern Africa.

Bill Hannan, Val Hayes, Clyde & Shawn Hannan, at Durban, 15 July 2012

The children who stayed behind were the eldest son, Tom, a daughter Maria, and a son Stanley Livingstone Hannan, who was killed in the First World War.

Bill Hannan

Those who came to Southern Africa were Emily (or Amelia), who married first Charlie Mould and then Arthur Sharp; Janet (my grandmother), who married George Growdon; David, who married Agnes Irvine and lived in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia), and Duncan (Bill’s father) who married Margaret Helen Bain.

Earlier in our holiday we visited Peter Badcock Walters, who is descended from David and Agnes Hannan, and another of their descendants is Clyde Alexander Hannan, now an archiect in Mthatha in the Eastern Cape. Bill said that his Clyde was named after the other one, because they thought it was a nice name, and Shawn commented that it was a bit wet, since it was a river, but that was probably the origin, since the Hannans lived at Clydeside in Scotland.

We had not known that Clyde and Shawn were married, and Clyde’s wife and daughter are now living in Shropshire, UK, on the Welsh border, where Clyde hopes to join them , and Shawn’s daughters, Giorgia and Maxine are very active in sports, and Giorgia has played hockey for South Africa.

Clyde Hannan

Clyde and Shawn grew up at Scottburgh on the Natal South Coast, and swimming and lifesaving were very much part of their lives on the coast.

It was good to make contact with another branch of the Hannan family, one that we had had little contact with before.

We’ve had a fair bit of contact with the descendants of Tom Hannan, most of whom remained in Scotland. My mother told me about her uncle Tom, who was a conscientious objector in the First World War, and spent two years in jail for it. In my youth this made him something of a hero in  my eyes, even though my mother also told me that uncle Tom Hannan wasn’t a pacifist, but was a conscientious objector because he was a socialist, and she said he sent his children to the socialist Sunday School.

When I went overseas to study I met Tom’s son Willie Hannan, who was MP for Maryhill in Glasgow, and my mother’s Rhodesian cousin Betty regarded him as a terrible man, proposing sanctions against Rhodesia after UDI, so before I met him I pictured him as a wild-eyed Che Guevara-type revolutionary, but was slightly disappointed to find thad he wasn’t at all like that, but was very respectable and rather conservative.

Shawn Hannan

But he was very kind to me, and when my mother travelled to the UK he introduced us to the other members of the family, his sisters Ella, Tilda and Ria, and took us to see the small town of Girvan, where the Hannans had originally lived before they went to Glasgow. I’m still in touch with some members of that branch of the family on Facebook.

The biggest remaining mystery of the seven children of William Hannan and Ellen McFarlane is Maria (Ria) Hannan, born about 1893, and said to have married a Jack Cochrane, but we don’t know if they had any children, or what happened to them at all.

After lunch with the Hannans we then visited Frank and Erna Vause in Durban North. Their main hobby is the collecting of Royal Doulton China, and family history takes second place to that. They have a most amazing collection, which occupies many of the rooms of their house.

We spent quite a bit of time discussing a Vause family tree, which many different members of the family have variants of, which traces the origin of the family to Vaux, De Vaux, or De Vallibus families, but always shows a gap of a couple of hundred years between them and the known ancestors. Different branches of the family have slightlky different versions of this family tree, but I believe the original was drawn up by one Arthur Wyatt Ellis, son of Henry Vause Ellis, who was born about 1880 in Reynoldston, Glamorgan, Wales.

Frank & Erna Vause, Steve Hayes

 

Cousins in Clarens

We recently visited our cousins on the Hannan side of the family in Clarens in the Free State, Peter and Toni Badcock Walters. A few years ago they decided to retire there, and bought an old sheep-shearing shed in the grounds of the Clarens Golf and Trout Estate. Most of the houses on the estate are brand new rather posh dachas for rich city folks, but theirs was one of the orginal buildings, which they converted into a dwelling house, and three self-catering holiday apartments which they let out, and a fourth in an outbuilding, called “The Shepherd’s Loft”. The whole is called Clarens Country House, and you can learn more about it here.

Clarens Country House – the Shepherd’s Loft on the left

While visiting them we stayed in the Shepherd’s Loft, which is above the garage, and very comfortable. The other three apartments were also occupied.

The Shepherd’s Loft at Clarens Country House

Peter and Toni live in about a third of the building, and are also converting part of it into an art gallery.Their kitchen has walls build of sandstone from the surrounding hills, and on some of them are scratched the tally marks by which the sheep shearers kept track of the number of sheep they had sheared.

The village of Clarens, seen across the valley from the Clarens Gold and Trout Estate

Many of the Free State villages and small towns one passes through are suffering from the new highways that bypass them. Villiers, for example, used to boast several cafes that were patronised by motorists passing through between Johannesburg and Durban. But now they stop at the cafes beside the freeways, and Villiers is dead. Now you’re hard put to find a stale pie there.

Clarens, however, has reinvented itself as a tourist mecca. It boasts a number of very good restaurants (and none of the big chains, like Wimpy, MacDonalds, Spur etc), and an independent brewery. There are several art galleries, craft shops, and an independent bookshop. On most weekends the town is crowded with visitors. It’s about 330 km from Johannesburg, 400 from Pretoria. Peter and Toni’s son Craig (alias Knot the Juggler) has recently opened a novelty and magic shop called The Henn’s Tooth. It’s too new to have much atmosphere yet, but give it time, and it may look like something out of Diagon Alley.

Toni & Peter Badcock Walters and Val Hayes

It was good to see Toni and Peter again, and good to see the progress they have made in turning the old sheep shed into a habitable space.

Visit to KZN

We’re about to leave for a holiday in KwaZulu-Natal. We’ll go to church in Brixton, Johannesburg, and after that go to Clarens to see Peter and Toni Badcock Walters (Hannan cousins), and then on to Pietermaritzburg and Durban, where we hope to see more cousins.
I’m not sure how much Internet access we” have, but we’ll try to blog and Twitter as we go.
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