Crighton family: 10 years ago

Ten years ago we met some Crighton relatives for the first time. Nita Harris (born Crighton), who lives in the USA, had lost touch with her brother Roger, but ten years ago the reestablished contact, and she came to South Africa with her son Roger Harris to see Roger, who was very ill. We arranged to meet between Johannesburg and Pretoria, at BJ’s Restaurant, built over the freeway.

Val Hayes, Walter Crighton, Nita Harris, Roger Harris, at BJ's Restaurant, Midrand, 11 December 2002

Val Hayes, Walter Crighton, Nita Harris, Roger Harris, at BJ’s Restaurant, Midrand, 11 December 2002

Walter Crighton is Roger Crighton’s son (and Nita’s nephew). The common ancestors are William John Crighton (1842-1886) and Anna Maria MacLeod (1849-1917). William John Crighton was a saddler in Cape Town, and died when fighting a fire on Table Mountain, when his horse apparently stood on a burning ember and threw him.

William John Crighton was one of 10 children of Henry Crighton and Petronella Francina Dorothea Flamme, and three of those children married members of the MacLeod family of Cape Town. Petronella Francina Dorothea Flamme was the granddaughter of a slave, Francina van de Kaap.

When we first became interested in family history we asked Val’s grandmother about the Greene side of the family (her in-laws) and she said they were a Crighton family who were leather merchants in Cape Town. So in 1975 we looked them up in the Cape Archives, and in the files were found some correspondence from a Miss Nita Crighton (as she then was), who was interested in the same family, and had written from the USA asking for copies of the same records. We wrote to her at the address on those old letters, asking that they be forwarded if she had moved, and discovered that she had married William Harris and was living in California. So we corresponded for several years about the family history, and visited Nita’s mother and her aunt who were living in an old age home in Bertrams, Johannesburg, in 1986, but it was only 10 years ago that we met face to face.

There ia more information about the Crighton family on our family wiki here and in another post on this blog here.

Nita is Val’s second cousin once removed.

Swingewood family

This week we’ve been looking again at the Swingewood branch of the family, which we hadn’t looked at for many years, but it seems that quite a few members of that branch of the family have become interested in the family history, and have left messages on the Internet, so we hope to make contact with some of them and share family information.

The connection came about when Marian Winifred Crighton married Joseph Swingewood in Kenilworth, Johannesburg, in 1923.

Marian Winifred Crighton (1903-1967) was the daughter of  Frederick Crighton (1852-1916) and Helene Charlotte Ottilie Zeeman (1879-1929).

Frederick and Helene had four children, two of whom died fairly young. The remaining two, Arthur and Marian, married and had children. Marian married Joseph Swingewood and became Marian Swingewood, while Arthur married Marion Douglas who became Marion Crighton. Most of the information we have on the Swingewoods came from Marion Crighton (nee Douglas), who told us about her sister-in-law’s family, but that was 25 years ago now, so there’s a bit of catching up to do.

Helene Zeeman was Frederick Crighton’s second wife, and she was actually younger than his daughter by his first marriage (he was about 27 years older than she was). His first wife was Josephine MacLeod, and Josephine’s sister and brother also married into the Crighton family:

  • William John Crighton married Anna Maria MacLeod
  • Annie Crighton married Charles Augustus MacLeod
  • Frederick Crighton married Josephine MacLeod

The Crightons were saddlers and leather merchants in Cape Town.

For more about the Crighton family see our family history wiki here.

 

 

 

Death of Ron Hickman, car designer and inventor

We have just learnt of the death of Ron Hickman, Val’s fourth cousin once removed, at the age of 78. Ron was a fairly distant relation, but what brought us together was an interest in family history, and when Ron came to South Africa to do some family history research he came to see us at the beginning, and then, after visiting various archives and family members, he came to see us again for a kind of debriefing session, and shared his notes and findings with us.

When he visited he was a big hit with our youngest child, Jethro, then aged 7 going on 8, and crazy about cars, and Ron Hickman was a car designer, having designed the Lotus Elan sports car.

Val Hayes & Ron Hickman; Simon, Jethro & Bridget Hayes, Feb 1989

We learnt of Ron Hickman’s death through the alt.obituaries newsgroup, where someone posted an obituary from The Independent, and there are several others, including this one: Ron Hickman obituary | The Guardian:

The prolific designer and inventor Ron Hickman, who has died aged 78 after a long illness, made his fortune from an idea for a simple but multifunctional bench with a gap down the middle to grip wood. The Workmate enabled DIY enthusiasts to saw through pieces of timber without using the edges of chairs and tables for support. The idea had come to him in 1961 when he accidentally sawed through the leg of an expensive Swedish chair while making a wardrobe. Nearly 70m Workmates have been sold since Black & Decker put Hickman’s design into mass production in 1973.

and this one: Ron Hickman – Telegraph:

After spending three years as a styling modeller with Ford, Hickman moved to the Lotus company, run by Colin Chapman, and quickly became its design director. He headed the team that designed the trendsetting Elan sports car, with its fibreglass body and retractable headlights. This was followed by the Lotus Cortina, Lotus Europa and Elan Plus 2, a design of which he was especially proud.

Others were published on web sites that were linked to Ron’s interests, such as the Club Lotus one, which said:

It’s our sad duty to report that Ron Hickman died in a Jersey hospital on Thursday morning, 17th February. He was 78 and had been unwell since suffering a fall last autumn and his health sadly deteriorated in recent weeks.

Lotus sports car designed by Ron Hickman

Ron will probably be best known to Lotus enthusiasts as the man who created the legendary Elan but he also played a key role in designing the revolutionary Type 14 Elite. The Elite’s glassfibre monocoque was a groundbreaking piece of design and established Lotus Cars as manufacturers of world beating sports racing cars.

Colin Chapman originally wanted the Elan to have a glassfibre monocoque as well, but Ron knew this could not work in an open top car.  Ron therefore rapidly designed the backbone chassis for the Elan and this became the standard Lotus chassis design until Elise with its aluminium monocoque was launched in 1996.

The common ancestors were Johan Friedrich Wilhelm Flamme (1780-1832) and Johanna Sophia Breedschuh (1782-1836).

J.F.W. Flamme was born at Twiste in Hesse-Nassau, Germany, and came to the Cape Colony as a soldier in the Waldeck Regiment. He 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. In 1817 he applied for citizenship.

Johanna Sophia Breedschoe was the daughter of another German soldier, Johan Christoph Franciscus Breitschuh, and Francina van de Kaap, a slave of Pieter Hacker. Johanna Sophia and her sister Dorothea Francina were thus born into slavery, and manumitted by their father in 1787.

JFW Flamme and Johanna Sophia Breedschoe were married on 1 January 1809 in Cape Town, and had 11 children (that we know of). One of them was Petronella Dorothea Francina Flamme (1822-1893), Val’s great great great grandmother, who married Henry Crighton. Another was Johanna Louisa Christina Flamme (1814-1880), Ron’s great great grandmother, who married Samuel Beningfield.

The Beningfields moved to Durban and had eight children, one of whom, Johanna Dorothea Beningfield (1838-1900), Ron’s great grandmother, married Edward Hoste Hickman (1834-1901). One of the Beningfield sons, Reuben Widdows Beningfield, married his cousin Martha Crighton of Cape Town, and so that branch of the Beningfields is more closely related to us than the others.

This was the bare bones of the genealogy we were able to give Ron Hickman, and when he visited the Cape Archives he photocopied enormous quantities of documents to fill out the family story, with lots of biographical information on Sam Beningfield and some of the others.

Of the Flamme family, only the daughters married and had children, and most of the sons died young (one while a student at Heidelberg University in Germany) so there are no descendants with the surname Flamme. But some of the daughters were prolific, and, in addition to the Beningfields, Crightons and Hickmans, their descendants include members of the Mechau and Burnard families, who in turn married into the Enslin, Haupt, le Roux and de Villiers and von Backstrom families, and many more, far too many to list here.

We’ve met some of them, and corresponded with some, but Ron Hickman was the one who was most interested in the family history, and he also met many others on his visits home to South Africa, and we first came to know of many of the later generations of the Beningfield and Hickman families through him.

December birthdays

There is a genealogy blog carnival, in which people are asked to blog on family members who have birthdays in December, so here are some of  our family members with December birthdays:

Ralph Carr (1818-1862)

Ralph Carr was Val’s great-great grandfather, born in Whitehaven, Cumberland, England on 19 December 1818, the son of Ralph Carr and Mary Walsh. He was baptised on 24 January 1819 at Holy Trinity Church, Whitehaven.

Like his father, he was a seafaring man, and in those days Whitehaven was quite a busy port.

He married Isabella Little at St Bees, Cumberland, on 20 August, 1846. They had six children, Mary, Ralph, Edward, Elizabeth Renney, William Edward and Thomas. Mary Carr (1847-1897), the eldest, who married Thomas Ellwood, was Val’s great grandmother.

Ralph Carr died on 4 May 1862 on board the schooner Hematite of Whitehaven during the passage to Oporto in Lat 43 2 N Long 9 4 W, in the 42nd year of his age. He was buried on the west side of the harbour at Corunna, Spain, near to the grave of the celebrated General Sir John Moore who was killed during the retreat of the British Army to that place during the Peninsular War against Napoleon, which is the subject of a well-known poem by Charles Woolfe.

William John Crighton (1842-1886)

William John Crighton was Val’s great great grandfather. He was born in Cape Town on 25 December 1842, the son of Henry Crighton and Petronella Francina Dorothea Flamme. The family were saddlers and leather merchants, and William followed in the family business. They lived in Woodstock, a couple of miles out of Cape Town.

William John Crighton married Anna Maria MacLeod (1849-1917), daughter of William James MacLeod and Mary Kerwick, in January 1866. They had eight children: Mary Frances, Isabel, William John, Frank Percy, Daniel Jhon, Charles Joseph, James Percival and Percival.

The eldest, Mary Frances, was Val’s great-grandmother, who married Frederick Vincent Green.

George Coenraad Behr (1846-1902) and Charlotte Christiana Johanna Behr (1851-1944)

Not an ancestor, but the double brother-in-law of William John Crighton, George Coenraad Behr was born on 23 December 1836 in Cape Town, the son of George Hendrik Behr and Maria Magdalenia Steinhobel. He married Harriet Crighton (1851-1919), the sister of William John Crighton, and they had ten children.

George Behr’s sister, Charlotte Christina Johanna Behr (1851-1944) married Henry Joseph Burnard Crighton (1845-1887), the brother of William John Crighton and Harriet Crighton. They had no children. She also had a December birthday, being born on 21 December 1851.

Beningfield family

A Beningfield family group has recently been started on Facebook.

This is interesting to us because many of the South African Beningfields are related to us (though we are not descended from Beningfields) through Louisa Flamme, who married Samuel Beningfield in Cape Town in 1833.

In the early 1840s the family moved to Durban, and Samuel Beningfield became a well-known auctioneer, and some of his sons followed him in that occupation, and their descendants are cousins in varying degrees.

Some are more closely related than others, because Samuel and Louisa Beningfield’s son Reuben Widdows Beningfield married his first cousin Martha Crighton, whose mother, Petronella Francina Dorothea Flamme, was Louisa Beningfield’s sister.

Though you will not find any descendants of the Flamme family with the Flamme surname, we have managed to record 1683 descendants of Johan Friedrich Wilhelm Flamme (1780-1831) and Johanna Sophia Breedschoe (or Breitschuh) (1782-1836). Those on our side of the family are Crightons, but there are many descendants with other surnames as well, some of the most common (apart from Crighton and Beningfield) being Mechau/Michau, Haupt, Enslin, and von Backstrom.

Johan Friedrich Wilhelm Flamme came from Twiste in Hesse-Nassau, Germany. Johanna Sophia Breetschoe was the daughter of Johan Christoph Franciscus Breidschuh, a German, and Francina van de Kaap, a slave owned by Peter Hacker. Johanna Sophia Breedschoe and her sister were born in slavery, and were manumitted by their father. And they are the ancestors we have in common with the Beningfields.

Among the descendants of the Natal Beningfields are the Hickman, Grice and O’Flaherty families.

The 1683 Flamme descendants (565 of whom are Beningfield descendants) are only the ones we know about. We haven’t been able to trace the others yet. But we hope that some of them will be interested enough to help us add to the family history.

Robert Laing of Colington

The Scotsman Mon 19 Mar 2007 carries an obituary for a South African genealogist, Robert Laing of Colington, who died on 12 March, 2007, in Johannesburg, aged 58.

Robert Laing was sometime chairman of the Genealogical Society of South Africa, and was an enthusiastic researcher into genealogy and heraldry, though rather given to claiming dubious and even outright spurious titles for himself, though his friends and fellow genealogists usually good-humouredly granted them to him, and he was referred to in the Genealogical Society’s publications as Chevalier Robert Laing, and Robert Laing of Colington.

We had some common research interests as Dorothea Wilhelmina Katerina FLAMME (1816-1858) married Peter LAING in Cape Town in 1836, and they had three children, who went to Scotland with their father. Robert Laing never managed to establish the connection between himself and this Peter Laing, but he did spend quite a lot of time researching it. Dorothea Wilhelmina Katerina FLAMME was the sister of my wife Val’s ancestor Petronella Francina Dorothea FLAMME, who married Henry CRIGHTON.

Crighton or Creighton

When we started doing family history, soon after we were married, one of the first things we did was to ask Val’s grandmother, Emma le Sueur, (formerly Greene, formerly Chelin, born Decker), about the family. Val’s grandfather was her second husband, Allan Greene, and she couldn’t remember very much about her in-laws, other than that their name was Creighton, and they were leather merchants in Cape Town.

Creighton was the name of a small village in Natal, so we looked in the Natal archives, but none of the Creightons we found seemed to fit. Then we went to Cape Town, and looked in the archives there, and found that the spelling of the name was Crighton, not Creighton (with an exception to be noted below). Henry Crighton (1815-1870) was a saddler in Cape Town (Gran’s “leather merchant” came close enough), and there was even a newpaper obituary, though like many Victorian obituaries, it was full of padding and no substance. His wife was Petronella Francina Dorothea Flamme, whose grandmother was a slave, and probably the most indigenous South African ancestor we have between us.

The eldest son, William John Crighton (1842-1886), married Anna Maria MacLeod (1849-1917), and their eldest daughter Mary Francis Crighton (1868-1957) married Frederick Vincent Greene (1858-1949), and they were the in-laws.

At least three of the Crightons married into the MacLeod famioly, and we have quite a lot of information about the descendants of both families, so if anyone reading this is linked to any of these please get in touch, or at least leave a comment. There were numerous descendants of Charles Augustus MacLeod (1838-1909) and Annie Crighton (1850-c1934).

Both Henry Crighton and his son William John had several children, and so the Crighton family was quite numerous in South Africa. One of William John Crighton’s sons was Daniel John (1880-1939), and in the archives we found correspondence with his granddaughter, Nita Crighton, who lived in America, and was researching the family history too. We were able to make contact with Nita (now Nita Harris of California), and met her when she visited South Africa a couple of years ago.

Daniel John Crighton’s brother Frank Percy (1876-1953), however, adopted the Creighton spelling.

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