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.

Gravestone of Gladys Nourse

Recently a picture of the gravestone of my great-aunt Gladys Nourse popped up on FamilySearch, with no indication of its location. It solved one family history mystery for me, because for over 40 years I had been looking for her date of death, but had been unable to find it.


The inscription reads:

In loving memory
of
Gladys Nourse (nee Vause)
Born 10th June 1891
Died 27th February 1964
Loving mother of Joy Gazzard and
Peggy Kyle

I had had a rough idea of when she had died because in January 1963 my mother and I had taken by grandmother Lily Hayes to tea at the Pepperpots in Kloof, then a pleasant country tea gardsn, but the site is now in the middle of a car park for a shopping mall. While we were having tea and cream scones, and warding off the bees that wanted to share it with us, my gran told us something of the family history — about her grandfather who was mayor of Durban. Afterwards we took her to see her sister Gladys, who was ill. And that was the last I ever heard of great-aunt Gladys while she was alive. I don’t recall ever meeting her in person, though I may have done when I was much younger (about 4 or 5).

I had heard snippets about her at various times. My father had once told me my uncle was a famous cricketer, Dudley Nourse. Much later, when we started doing family history, I discovered that Dudley wasn’t really an uncle, but was great-aunt Gladys’s stepson, from her husband Dave Nourse’s first wife. But Dave Nourse was a cricketer in his own right, having played for Natal for many years, and closing his first-class career by scoring 55 for Western Province against Australia at the age of 58, and at age 55 he scored 219 not out for Western Province against Natal (his old team).

When I was 12 I went to spend a holiday with some friends at the sugar experiment station at Mount Edgecombe, and my father told me that his uncle named Wilkinson owned a large house at Ottawa nearby. My friend and I rode over to Ottawa on bicycles to see it, and we saw it beyond a river, but we would have had to climb a steep hill through the bush to reach it. Perhaps it was just as well we didn’t, because I later learned that great-aunt Gladys had had a rather acrimonious divorce from Gilbert Wilkinson, her first husband, before marrying Dave Nourse.

Much later, in 1987, we spent some time with a cousin of my father’s, Don Stayt, who was also interested in the family history, and we spent a pleasant few days swapping floppy disks on our Osborne portable computers to share our discoveries. He was able to tell me more about great-aunt Gladys’s side of the family, but we still did not know when she had died.

Now I’m in contact with some cousins from that side of the family on Facebook, which does make it easier for family members to stay in touch.

So here’s the family, as we have it now:

Family Group Report
For: Richard Wyatt Vause  (ID=  232)
Date Prepared: 28 Sep 2017
NAME: VAUSE, Richard Wyatt, Born 10 Feb 1854 in Durban, Natal,
Died 28 May 1926 in Durban, Natal at age 72; FATHER: VAUSE,
Richard, Born 2 May 1822, Died 29 Aug 1886 at age 64; MOTHER:
PARK, Matilda, Born 29 May 1828, Died 12 May 1881 at age 52

MARRIED 3 Feb 1881 in St Paul's, Durban, to COTTAM, Margaret
Ellen, Born 25 Apr 1860 in Manchester, Died 7 Aug 1891 in
Pietermaritzburg at age 31; FATHER: COTTAM, John Bagot, Born
30 Jul 1836, Died 3 Jun 1911 at age 74; MOTHER: HERBERT,
Adelaide, Born 10 Oct 1831, Died 10 Aug 1909 at age 77

CHILDREN:
1. M VAUSE, Richard John Wyatt, born 23 Mar 1882 in
Pietermaritzburg, died 19 Aug 1924 in Bloemhof, Transvaal;
Married 7 Jul 1920 to HOOLE, Mabel; 1 child
2. F VAUSE, Ruby Wyatt, born 21 Mar 1883 in Pietermaritzburg,
died 7 Jun 1961 in Durban; Married 28 Apr 1904 to STAYT,
John; 3 children
3. F VAUSE, Lilian Wyatt, born 18 Sep 1884 in Pietermaritzburg,
died 9 Jan 1971 in Durban; Married 9 Jun 1904 to HAYES,
Percy Wynn; 3 children
4. F VAUSE, Kathleen Wyatt, born 30 Apr 1887, died 13 Aug 1887
in Pietermaritzburg
5. F VAUSE, Violet, born ??? 1888, died 4 Jun 1889 in
Pietermaritzburg
6. F VAUSE, Gladys Vere Wyatt, born 10 Jun 1891 in Natal, died
27 Feb 1964 in South Africa; Married 15 Feb 1911 to
WILKINSON, Gilbert Anthony Marshall; 2 children

King Solomon’s mines revisited

King Solomon's MinesKing Solomon’s Mines by H. Rider Haggard
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I think I’ve read this book before, as a child. I certainly saw the film as a child. The only scene I remember from my first reading of the book was Captain Good going around for half the story with a half-shaven face. For the rest of the story it was like reading it for the first time.

But re-reading a book after a lifetime of experience and acquisition of knowledge makes a difference to what you notice, and the significance of things that passed you by when reading it as a child. For a child, it was a straightforward adventure story; the heroes got into difficulties and dangers, and they got out of them. Reading it as an adult, the historical and political background moved to rthe foreground.

Richard Vause, Mayor of Durban 1883-1885

Richard Vause, Mayor of Durban 1883-1885

The book was published in 1885, and the action of the story seems to have taken place in 1883-84. The protagonist and narrator, Allan Quatermain, was living on the Berea in Durban then. And my great great grandfather, Richard Vause, was also living there, and was mayor of Durban at the time — he died the following year, in 1886. That gives a new and personal interest to the story. I didn’t know that when I first read the book. Yes, I knew I had an ancestor who had been mayor of Durban at one time (acually five times), but had little idea of the dates until I began researching family history.

Quatermain also mentioned fighting in the Anglo-Zulu War in 1879, and escaping from the Battle of Isandlwana (which the Zulus won pretty decisively) because he was sent back with some wagons — precisely what happened to my great grandfather, Wyatt Vause. Perhaps H. Rider Haggard himself lived on the Berea, heard the story from my great grandfather, and decided to incorporate it into his book;

Allan Quatermain also mentions having been an elephant hunter, and describes in some detail how elephant hunters travelled in those days — the kind of wagons they used, the features they looked for in buying them, and how they travelled. That sort of thing is rarely mentioned in contemporary primary sources — letters and diaries and news items and the like. The people who wrote those things assumed their readers knew about them. But a writer of fiction, who knew most of his readers would be in the UK and would be unfamiliar with them, takes care to describe them in some detail. My wife Val’s great great grandfather, Fred Green, was an elephant hunter in what is now Namibia and Botswana, and so those little details throw light on his life too.

In many ways the story is fantasy. It describes a country unknown to outsiders. In the 20th century, when most of the world was mapped, it was no longer possible to do that, and so such fictional countries were moved to other planets and other galaxies and became science fiction. But in other ways the story is not like that — the people in the strange country are hypothetical relatives of the Zulus, and speak a dialect of Zulu, so the travellers are able to communicate with them.

It is also a typical fairy story — the exiled prince who returns to overthrow the wicked usurper and reestablish justice in the land.

And there is also a darker side to the story, which takes place on the cusp of the New Imperialism and the Scramble for Africa. From about 1880 onwards the New Imperialism gave rise to an ideology of imperialism, which was racist at its root. While racism was not unknown before, it became much more ideologically driven after the rise of the New Imperialism, and a consciousness of ethnic superiority was actively promoted in the imperialist powers. Children’s literature abounded with it, and it was taught in schools.

There are some echoes of this in King Solomon’s Mines. Allan Quatermain disapproaves of the budding romance between one of his white companions and a young black woman. While in Natal, Quatermain is upset and annoyed when “natives” speak in a too-familiar manner with white men. In the fictional African kingdom they travel to, he describes the local inhabitants in terms of a somewhat grudging equality. At times I wondered whether Haggard was doing this consciously or unconsciously. Could he be consciously trying to show the changes in Quatermain’s attitude to black people the further he travelled from colonial Natal, as part of his character, and as a result of the influence of his less racist companions? But what is certain is that after 1885 there was a sharp increase in racism as part of the ideology of British Imperialism.

So re-reading the book was interesting for various reasons — as filler material for family history, but also as a mirror reflecting changing attitudes in the British colony of Natal in the 1880s.

View all my reviews

Meeting Vause cousins at Robertson

Continued from Kamieskroon to Robertson

Sunday 23 August 2015

We attended the Divine Liturgy (in Afrikaans) at Bedehuis Bethanië, and said goodbye to Fr Zacharias van Wyk and Macrina Walker.

After Divine Liturgy at Bedehuis Bethanië -- the Last Homely House

After Divine Liturgy at Bedehuis Bethanië — the Last Homely House

Then we drove in to Robertson, 6 km away, to have lunch with Sandy Struckmeyer and her parents. Wyatt and Evelyn Vause, and her daughter Kerry, and Ludwig.

Vause cousins at lunch, Robertson 23 Aug 2015: Eunive Vause, Val Hayes, Wyatt Vause, Steve Hayes, Sandy & Kerry Struckmeyer

Vause cousins at lunch, Robertson 23 Aug 2015: Eunice Vause, Val Hayes, Wyatt Vause, Steve Hayes, Sandy & Kerry Struckmeyer

We had lunch in the yard, where the weather was a bit warmer than earlier in the day. Sandy is my third cousin, and our common ancestors were our great great grandparents were Richard Vause of Hull (1822-1876) and Matilda Park of Bath (1828-1881). The Vause family came from the Isle of Axholme in north-west Lincolnshire, while Matilda Park’s family was originally from Northern Ireland. How they met and married in Bath is something of a mystery, and within a couple of weeks of their marriage in 1852 they were on their way to Natal on The Lady of the Lake.

Vause cousins Val & Steve Hayes, Sandra & Kerry Struckmeyer, Eunice & Wyatt Vause

Vause cousins Val & Steve Hayes, Sandra & Kerry Struckmeyer, Eunice & Wyatt Vause

They went to Tugela Drift, where they opened a store in partnership with J.R.M. Watson, and Richard Vause named the place Colenso after the controversial Anglican Bishop of Natal. The business failed, and Watson moved to Ladysmith, and the Vause family moved to Pietermaritzburg, and later to Durban, where Richard Vause founded the Natal Mercury newspaper in partnership with John Robinson, and was later mayor of Durban. The Watson family touched ours again later, when Frederick William Beningfield (Val’s 1st cousin 4 times removed) eloped to the Free State with J.R.M. Watson’s daughter Theresa, while another skelm relative, Alfred Dawson Francis, alias Alfred Francis Dawson, eloped with, or had an affair with Watson’s wife.

Wyatt Vause

Wyatt Vause

Richard Vause and Matilda Park had several children, and I am descended from their son Richard Wyatt Vause (also known as Wyatt Vause) while Wyatt Vause of Robertson is descended from their son Robert Vause, who was a farmer at Ixopo in the Natal Midlands.

Wyatt had five vintage cars, including a 1947 Studebaker, which I had known in my youth as the “back to front car” because you couldn’t tell whether they were coming or going. He had a Renault, which had belonged to a man who had been murdered on a farm in the district, and said he had been a Spitfire pilot during
WWII, based in Malta, and had survived all that, only to be murdered at home. He also had a Morris 1100, and I remembered when they had been one of the latest things in 1963, but they are now more than 50 years old. Wyatt told me a bit about the family too.

He said two of his elder brothers, Michael and Brian, had died, and that his eldest brother Trevor was now 90 years old. Michael had died of cancer after his son Philip had been killed in a car crash about 20 years ago. He showed us a couple of family photos inside the house, ane of which showed his uncle Frederick, who had died falling off a wagon at the age of about 3 or so.

Approaching Du Toit's Kloof Pass

Approaching Du Toit’s Kloof Pass

We left Robertson about 3 pm, and drove to Cape Town over the Du Toit’s Kloof Pass, which gives good views over the Paarl Valley. We booked in at the Sun 1 Hotel on the Foreshore, which is convenient for access to the archives, where we were planning to spend much of the coming week doing family history research.

Paarl valley from Du Toit's Kloof Pass

Paarl valley from Du Toit’s Kloof Pass

continued at In and around Cape Town

 

UK Trip 13 May 2005: Stockton to Cambridge

UK trip 12 May 2005: Edinburgh to Stockton-on-Tees | Khanya

After spending the night in Stockton-on-Tees with Chris and Nina Gwilliam, old friends from Durham University, I woke up about 3:30 am, and went downstairs to write up my diary. Nina came down just after 6:00, and we chatted until Val and Chris got up. It seemed an appropriate place for them to be living, as Chris was a railway enthusiast, and Stockton was the terminus of the first commercial railway line. He made his living painting model railway rolling stock in the authentic livery of various periods. We left just after 9:00.

Chris & Nina Grilliam, Stockton-on-Tees, 13 May 2005

Chris & Nina Gwilliam, Stockton-on-Tees, 13 May 2005

We drove to Leeds to see Pat and Rita Hayes. It was an uneventful drive along main roads and motorways, and the countryside looked much as it did down south, with fields of bright yellow rape seed alternating with pasture. The only difference was that here the roads tended not to be sunken, so one had less of a trapped-in feeling, of driving at the bottom of a furrow.

Patrick Hayes was my second cousin, and had retired after working as a microbiologist and food chemist for Birds Eye foods. He and Rita looked much the same, though 14 years older than when we had last seen them, when they stayed with us in Pretoria in 1991. Pat had had a pacemaker fitted to his heart, and was beginning to suffer from Parkinsons’s disease. Their son Stephen and his wife Cordelia were adopting another child, a girl aged 3, and were hoping to adopt a third. They were enjoying being grandparents as much as if it had been their own biological grandchildren.

Rita & Pat Hayes, Leeds, 13 May 2005

Rita & Pat Hayes, Leeds, 13 May 2005

We had lunch with them, of soup and salad, and left just before 2:00, and drove around a bit looking for the road to Hull, and eventually after getting caught up in quite a bit of traffic found the M62 motorway, and drove east, then turned down the M18 and went as far as Thorne, where the Vause family had lived.

My grandmother Lily Vause had married Percy Hayes in Johannesburg in 1904, and both she and her father Richard Wyatt Vause, had been born in Natal, so we knew of no living relatives on the Vause side of the family in England that we could visit. We did know that my great great grandfather, Richard Vause, had been born in Hull, but his ancestors had come from the Isle of Axholme in north-western Lincolnshire, and that was where we were headed. If there were no living relatives, we hoped to see some traces of dead ones. Actually the family moved around a lot, and so we said that they came from Humberside, though using that term seemed to get some English people riled up, and they insisted that there was no such place. People came from Yorkshire, or Lincolnshire, but never from a horrible artificial entity called Humberside. Nevertheless, the Vause family had lived, at various times, in Fishlake and Thorne in Yorkshire, and Crowle and Epworth in Lincolnshire, and “Humberside” seemed to cover them all. A useful resource for Isle of Axholme ancestry is the Red1st site.

We could not find the church at Thorne, and the traffic was quite heavy, so we drove on to Crowle, and looked at St Oswald’s churchyard. All the tombstones had been laid flat on the ground in a corner of the churchyard, and were hard to read, partly because one had to stand on them to read them, and partly because they seemed to get more worn and more mossy. We found a couple of Brunyee stones, but no Vause. The church itself was locked with a big padlock.

St Oswald's Church, Crowle, Lincolnshire. 13 May 2005

St Oswald’s Church, Crowle, Lincolnshire. 13 May 2005

We drove through Belton without seeing the church, but found the church at Epworth, St Andrew’s, and took some photos of Hill graves, though they were probably not related (an earlier Richard Vause had married an Elizabeth Hill). There seemed to be a lot of Maw families, but no Vause.

St Andrew's Church, Epworth, Lincolnshire. 13 May 2005.

St Andrew’s Church, Epworth, Lincolnshire. 13 May 2005.

The church is also of some interest in the history of Methodism. Samuel Wesley was the rector here, and his sons, John and Charles Wesley, were the founders of Methodism. John Wesley, like his contemporary St Cosmas the Aetolian, became an itinerant preacher.

We went to the town square and took some photos, and bought a copy of the local newspaper, but the woman who worked in the office was a Geordie from Newcastle.

Epworth, Isle of Axholme, Lincolnshire 5 May 2005.

Epworth, Isle of Axholme, Lincolnshire 5 May 2005.

From there we drove back to the A1 going south, and went as fast as we could to Harston, near Cambridge, where we stayed with Fr Michael and Jeanne Harper, the Dean of the Antiochian Deaner in the UK. We showed them photos of our work in South Africa, and Fr Michael showed us photos of the work of the Church in Britain, which seems, like America, to have problems of jusisdictionalism, and that seems to be preventing more English people from becoming Orthodox. The Russian jusrisdiction had been largely English-speaking until the end of the Soviet Union, since when thousands of Russian immigrants had flooded the church, and it was becoming more Slavonic. Fr Michael was involved in producing a course called The Way, which was similar to the Anglican “Alpha Course”, and was keen that we should launch it in South Africa. It seemed similar to the “Life in the Spirit” seminars we had had 30 years ago, though a bit more structured. Just before we went to bed Fr Michael showed us a chapel in a shed in his garden, and it showed what could be done with a small temporary space.

Continued at UK trip 14 May 2005: cathedral & monastery | Khanya.

Index to all posts on our UK trip here UK Holiday May 2005

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