Hannan cousins in Fish Hoek

Nearly 40 years ago we went on holiday to the Western Cape. Val and I had been married for a year, and we had just started our family history research, so we visited whatever relatives we could find and badgered them with questions about the family history.

Alex Hannan, Fish Hoek, 19 October 1975

Alex Hannan, Fish Hoek, 19 October 1975

My maternal grandmother was Janet Hannan who had married George Growdon, and we visited Growdon relatives in the Eastern Cape and Hannan cousins in the Western Cape. We called to see Alex and Una Hannan in Fish Hoek. Alex was my mother’s first cousin, the son of my mother’s uncle David McFarlane Hannan, who lived in Rhodesia. I had only met Alex once before, about 10 years earlier, when I scarpered to England to avoid a meeting with Detective Sergeant van den Heever of the Security Police, and while I was changing planes at Salisbury airport (now Harare), some of the family came to see me.

This time we found their house in Fish Hoek, and managed to chat for longer, and stayed for tea. Alex’s wife Una was known locally as the Bird Lady — she took in sick and injured birds and nursed them back to health, and they had quite large aviary.

In his youth Alex had been a boxer and represented South Africa in the 1936 Olympic Games. His elder son Clyde has promised to tell us more about that.

While we were having tea there was a huge hail storm, and the whole garden was covered with hailstones about a foot deep, so that it looked almost like snow. Hail seemed to feature quite a lot in visits to Hannan cousins — more of that below.

My beautiful pictureTheir younger son Stanley was also visiting, with his wife Norma and two-year-old daughter Debbie, so we were glad to meet them as well. Stan was thinking of becoming a Baptist minister, and later he did, and I saw him a few times after that in Johannesburg. He and his family later moved to the USA.

We then went up the hill, still in Fish Hoek, to see Chris and Ivy Vlok. Ivy Sharp was the daughter of my mother’s auntie Em, and I knew them somewhat better. I’d first met them when I was about four years old, and they were living in Berea in Johannesburg. My mother and I went up from Durban on the train, and it was my first long-distance train journey, or at least the first one that I could recall. Ivy and Chris had two sons, Arthur and Terence. Arthur was about my age, and Terence was younger, and I don’t think he was born on that first visit.  Arthur is now a grandfather, living in Fish Hoek, and we visited him and his wife Jean, and their daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren a couple of years ago — picture here.

On that first visit Ivy’s half sister Nellie was also there, and she took me into the centre of Joburg on the tram one day. I can’t remember why, or what we did in town, but I do recall that on the way back there was the father and mother of all hail storms while the tram was climbing up Twist Street. The hailstones jammed the points where the tram had to turn into Kotze Street and the conductor had to get out in the downpour and clear it with a metal lever before the tram could turn. My mother later told me that Nellie was a kleptomaniac, and rather strange and mysterious. She married twice and divorced twice, and had no children, and nobody seems to know what happened to her. Her first marriage was to Edward “Scotty” Davis, and her second was to Ernest Edward Turner, but she was divorced from him when I met her.

Chris Vlok was in the army, and it was war time on that visit. Later we visited them again in Lyttelton, it must have been soon after the war, where they lived in long bungalows in the barracks. I would then have been about 5 or 6 years old, and my memory was that the Sunday newspapers were different, and had different comics. In the Sunday Tribune in Natal we had Brick Bradford, who travelled around in a “time top” that looked a bit like the rubber bulbs that mens’ hairdressers used to squirt talcum powder down the necks of their customers — a kind of predecessor of Dr Who, perhaps. There was also Rusty Riley, who lived on a ranch with lots of horses. But the Transvaal papers had the Katzenjammer Kids and Moon Mullins and Kitty Higgins and Jiggs and Maggie. One of the neighbours in the bungalow was a girl called Bridget, and she had a bicycle, and that was where I first learned to ride a bicycle.

Ivy and Chris Vlok, Fish Hoek, 19 October 1975

Ivy and Chris Vlok, Fish Hoek, 19 October 1975

Later the Vloks moved to Roberts Heights, later known as Voortrekkerhoogte, and now as Thaba Tshwane. Chris Vlok was an electronics fundi and taught people in the military about radar and such things. We used to visit them quite a lot there when we lived at Sunningdale, just outside Johannesburg. In the 1960s they were transferred to Simonstown, where Chris Vlok did the same with the navy, and when we visited them in 1975 he was semi retired, but still looked after the library of books on electronics.

Ivy & Chris Vlok

Ivy & Chris Vlok

Hannan cousins in Melmoth

Here’s a photo from 30 years ago, when we were living in Melmoth, and my mother, Ella Hayes, came to visit us with her cousins Betty Stewart and Nancy Badcock.

Nancy Badcock, Bridget Hayes, Betty Stewart, Jethro Hayes, Ella Hayes. Melmoth 14 February 1982

Several members of the Hannan family came to South Africa some time in the first decade of the 20th century including David McFarlane Hannan (1884-1951), the father of Nancy and Betty, and his sister Janet McCartney Hannan (1882-1946), who married George Growdon — Ella Hayes (1910-1983) was their daughter.

David Hannan married Agnes Lindsey Irvine, and Nancy’s full name was Agnes Lindsey Irvine Hannan (1925-1984). Betty was Elizabeth Hay Irvine Hannan (1911-2002), named after her maternal grandparents, Alexander Christopher Irvine and Elizabeth Hay.

David and Agnes moved around quite a bit. After coming to South Africa they returned to Scotland, where their middle children, Tom, Alexander and Stanley, were born, and then returned to South Africa and moved to Zambia, then known as Northern Rhodesia.

 

 

 

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.

Holiday trip to Free State and KZN

Last week I was in Pietermaritzburg for an academic conference, but there was no time for family history research. But we hope to be back there in mid-July on holiday, and to visit family and friends. We’re hoping to get together with some Hannan cousins in Durban that we’ve never (in my memory at least) met face to face. We’ll be leaving on 8 July and going to see Peter & Toni Badcock Walters in Clarens, and then on to Pietermaritzburg and Durban.
I’ve written an account of the joint conference on religion and theology, held in Pietermaritzburg last week (JCRT 2012), with some photos, on my blog at

 

Hannan cousins at the beach c1925

During our holiday earlier this month we visited lots of Hannan cousins, and here is a picture of their parents and grandparents at the beach, probably in the summer of 1925/26.

Hannan cousins at the beach Summer 1925/26 Back row: Betty Hannan, Ella Growdon Middle Row: Janet Growdon (nee Hannan), Agnes Hannan (nee Irvine) Front Row: Ivy Sharp, Nan Hannan, Phillys Growdon, Peggy Sharp

Betty Hannan, aged about 14, in the back row, married first John Fowler, and then Robert Stewart. Ella Growdon, aged about 15, in the back row, married Frank Hayes, and is the mother of Steve.

Janet Growdon (born Hannan), aged about 43, was the mother of Ella and Phyllis in the picture, and the aunt of all the other children. Agnes Hannan (born Irvine) was the mother of Betty and Nan (the baby in the picture). Nan was the mother of Peter Badcock-Walters.

Ivy Sharp, aged about 10, married Chris Vlok, and Arthur Vlok is their son. Phyllis, aged about 9, married Dennis Solomon in 1950, but they were divorced about two years later and had no children. Peggy Sharp, aged about 12, married Ted Gascoigne, and had a daughter Brenda.

Peggy and Ivy’s mother Emily Sharp (formerly Mould, born Hannan) is not in the picture.

The picture was probably taken at Durban beach, or at least some beach in Natal, and judging from the ages of the children, was probably taken in the summer of 1925/26.

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