Tombstone Tuesday: Vause family of Durban

On our holiday in Durban last month we visited St Thomas’s Cemetery in Durban, high up on the Berea, where my great great grandfather Richard Vause is buried.

I’d visited his grave earlier, with my grandmother, in 1968, and she had told me that she wanted to be buried there too, though whether she ever was buried there I don’t know. I’d visited a few years later and had some photos of the grave, but we thought it would be nice to have some digital photos as well, so we went to look for it, and could not find it after looking at almost every other grave in the place. Had I imagined it? Had it been moved?

No, it was still there, but it was so big that we hadn’t seen it for looking. It was just about the most prominent grave in the place. In this picture you can see it, the one with the pillar and the urn on top. The Vodapine behind it is bigger — it is actually a cellphone mast owned by Vodacom, disguised as a pine tree. There are also Vodapalms and various other varieties of Vodadendrons.

The Vause family grave in St Thomas’s Cemetery, with an urn on top, dwarfed only by a Vodapine

The current St Thomas’s Church is a bit further down the hill. The original one on the cemetery site was a wood and iron affair, replaced in the 1920s by the stone chapel that is there today, but is not used much. Richard Vause was one of the first, if not the first, churchwarden of the old St Thomas’s, and he lived a little way down the hill in what may still be called Vause Road with his wife Matilda (nee Park) and their eight children.

Their son Charles Reynolds Vause was the very first to be baptised at St Thomas’s, and is the fiorst entry in the baptism register, and was probably one of the first to be buried in the cemetery also. He and his sister Matilda, the two youngest of the Vause children, died young.

Memorial to Charles Reynolds Vause (1864-1866) and Mary Martin Vause (1866-1866), the youngest children of Richard and Matilda Vause

The second son of Richard and Matilda Vause, William John Vause, who died at the age of 41, is also buried in the plot. He married Jessie Cottam, but they had no children.

Grave of William John Vause (1855-1896) in St Thomas’s Cemetery

 

William John Vause’s elder brother, Richard Wyatt Vause (my great grandfather) married Maggie Cottam, Jessie Cottam’s sister, and Maggie Cottam also died young (but was buried in Pietermaritzburg). Jessie Vause, then remarried Gordon Parkes, but had no children by him either, and brought up her dead sister’s children. Richard Wyatt Vause, known as Wyatt to his friends, lived as a widower.

Memorial to Wyatt Vause (1854-1926), my great grandfather.

There are several other members of the Vause family buried in the same plot.

St Thomas’s Cemetery, showing the current chapel, and the Vause grave, with the urn on top of a pillar.

The cemetery also contains the grave of Julia, the daughter of nCaptain Allen Gardiner, RN. After retiring from the navy, Gardiner became a missionary, and went to Zululand. There he met a hostile reception from King Dingane and his people, so he returned to Durban, and established himself on a hill above the town. After finding the people there more receptive to his message he named the hill Berea, after the place where St Paul met a better reception than he did in Thessalonica (Acts 17:10-12). Allen Gardiner is not buried at St Thomas’s Cemetery, however. He went on to South America, where he died of starvation on Tierra del Fuego, and the South American Missionary Society was started in his memory.

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

 

Vause family connections

Sandy Struckmeyer

On Saturday 30th April 2011 we visited Sandy Struckmeyer and her daughter Kerry at their home in Robertson in the Western Cape. Sandy is a cousin on the Vause side of the family, whom I had not met before, though we have corresponded about the family history for several years, and we had lived at some of the same places, though at different times, so our paths had not crossed.

Sandy is my third cousin, our common ancestors being our great great grandparents Richard and Matilda Vause (nee Park). Sandy married Tim Struckmeyer in Melmoth, Zululand in 1988 (we had lived in Melmoth from 1977-1982) and their daughter Kerry was born in Windhoek, Namibia, in 1993 (I lived in Windhoek 1969-1972).

Our ancestors Richard and Matilda Vause came to Natal in 1852, and Richard Vause was the proprietor of the Natal Mercury, and was five times mayor of Durban. His eldest son was my great grandfather, Richard Wyatt Vause (1854-1926), whose younger brother Robert (1859-1922) was Sandy’s great grandfather. Robert Vause bought the farm Argyle, at Ixopo, at auction in 1922, and it was inherited by Sandy’s grandfather Vic Vause.

Sandy & Kerry Struckmeyer

Park, Vause and Drake families of Hull and Bath

One of the long-standing mysteries of our family history is how my great great grandfather Richard Vause, who lived in Hull, met his bride Matilda Park, who was born in Belfast and lived in Bath. He was living in Hull in the 1851 census, and at the beginning of 1852 they were married in Bath and very soon sailed to Natal.

Now we’ve found a couple of census records that could explain how they met.

Matilda Park was the daughter of William Park (of Belfast, Bath and Quebec) and Mary Martin (daughter of John Martin of Belfast). There is more information about the family here and here.

One of Matilda Park’s sisters was Margaret Martin Park, who married James Drake, a surgeon dentist, at St Saviour’s Church, Bath, on 8 June 1848, and the 1851 census shows them in Hull, as visitors in the home of Simeon Mosely, also a surgeon dentist, at 15 Whitefriars Gate, Holy Trinity, Hull.  Their daughter Mary Edith Drake was born in Hull in about December 1850.

Perhaps James Drake and Simeon Mosely were partners in a dental practice, and perhaps Richard Vause was one of their patients, and maybe Matilda Park went to Hull to visit her sister. A lot of maybes, perhaps, or perhapses, maybe. But the fact that members of the Park family were living in Hull in 1850 could explain how Richard Vause met them.

In the 1861 census the Drake family were living at Castle Church, Staffordshire, and in 1871 in Warwickshire, where Margaret Drake appears to have died in 1878.

Mary Edith Drake was later known as Edith, and was single, living on her own means in Penge, London, in the 1891 census. She appears to have been the only child, and does not seem to have married, so there’s no point in looking for present-day relatives from that branch of the family.

Perhaps one thing that could be added is that last week I was contacted by Peter Henderson, who is researching a William Park/Mary Martin family for a friend. That family is in Scotland, and it is not the same family as the one I have been describing here. Peter said a Catherine Raw had a family tree that has conflated the two families. Richard and Matilda Vause’s eldest daughter Polly did marry a John James Raw, so there is a link between the Vause and Raw families, though I’m not sure where Catherine fits in. But the Park/Martin family of Scotland appears to be entirely separate, with no link to ours.

Early history of the Vause family

I recently came across another Vause cousin on the web, Penny Howell in Canada and have been looking again at the earliest Vause ancestors we have recorded.

The earliest member of the Vause family that we know of is Robert Vause, of Kelsey in South Lincolnshire, who voted in Epworth in the election of the Knights of the Shire, and died in 1748.

But that is open to question.

The information came from Arthur Wyatt Ellis who compiled (or had compiled) a family tree which made its way to several members of the family in South Africa. Don Stayt had a photocopy, as did Mollie Vause-Doyle. The information may have come from the will of this Robert Vause of South Kelsey, who apparently left his lands in Epworth to his son Robert. The tree shows two other sons, Richard and Thomas. Richard is our ancestor.

Arthur Wyatt Ellis was born about 1880 in Reynoldston, Glamorgan, Wales (according to the 1880 census), the son of Henry Vause Ellis, who was himself the son of Phineas Samuel Ellis and Fanny Vause. He obviously maintained some contact with the family in South Africa, since his family tree made its way here.

But it seems more likely that Richard and Thomas were the sons of John Vause and Anne Gilliott of Epworth, who were married in Epwoth in 1702. If  so, then there were two other brothers, John and Alexander, but no Robert. Perhaps this will be answered if we can find the will of Robert Vause of South Kelsey.

For more on this see the Vause family page on our family Wiki.

Cottam and Bagot and reading novels

I went to the LDS Family History Centre in Johannesburg today and transcribed more baptism records for the Cottam, Bagot and Mashiter families.

I reread Rider Haggard’s novel Allan Quatermain, and found that family history made me enjoy it more, as it had links with my great grandfather Wyatt Vause and Val’s great grandfather Daniel William Pearson. I’ve written about it more fully in my LiveJournal.

Vause marriage discovered

For more than 30 years I’d been looking for a Vause marriage, and I think I’ve found it. It’s been staring me in the face for the last couple of years, when someone sent me an index of Vause births, marriages and deaths from Lincolnshire in England.

My great great grandfather Richard Vause (1822-1886), who came to South Africa in 1852, was the son of John Vause (1784-1863) and Eleanor Wyatt. John Vause was himself the son of John Vause (1747-1823) and Elizabeth, whose maiden name we did not know. The elder John Vause was the son of Richard Vause (1720-1751) and Elizabeth Hill, who remarried Francis Whitehead in 1756.

I was checking the index again, to see if there were any matches to things I had found in the Crowle church registers and censuses, and there it was, staring me in the face: John Vause married Elizabeth Brooks in Epworth on 7 January 1780

I’m pretty sure this is the right one, because they had four children born to them in the 1780s, Richard, John, Samuel and Sarah. Samuel and Sarah died young (and Elizabeth died shortly before Sarah, possibly as a result of complications following childbirth).

Richard married a Fanny, and apparently lived in Hull, and it seems that his nephew and namesake lived with his aunt in Hull before marrying Matilda Park in Bath and emigrating to Natal.

Anywway, the next step is to discover Elizabeth Brooks’s parents. Another one whose parents are still unknown is Elizabeth Hill, but she is said to have been the sister of a John Hill, Gent., of Hull. A Mary Vause married a John Hill in 1770, and this Mary was probably a niece of the Richard Vause who married Elizabeth Hill, so the Vause-Hill connection needs to be followed up.

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