Flamme cousins

A couple of weeks ago Micha Hannemann, Val’s fifth cousin once removed on the Flamme side of the family, got in touch through a link found on the web, and now we have met Micha, her parents, Michael and Irene Birch, and Micha’s daughter Andrea. We compared notes on the family history, reaching back to Francina van de Kaap, slave of Pieter Hacker.

Irene’s mother, Johanna Maria Weilbach (born Steytler) had died last July at the age of 100, and they had found all kinds of family treasures, including portraits of the common ancestors, Johan Friedrich Wilhelm Flamme (1780-1831) and Johanna Sophia Breedschoe (1782-1836), and the commonplace book of their eldest daughter, Francina Dorothea Flamme, who married first Jonathan Joseph Burnard, and second Gerhardus Nicolaas Mechau, a Cape Town butcher.

Flamme cousins: Val Hayes, Irene Birch, Andrea Hannemann, Micha Hannemann, Michael Birch, 7 December 2018, Pretoria

The commonplace book was a historical treasure in itself, containing pictures of early Cape Town, and helping to clarify some family relationships that have long been a puzzle. One member of the the family, Anna Mechau, had been an artist, and here is one of the pictures she had drawn in the commonplace book:

by Anna Mechau, Cape Town, 13th February 1843

And here is an unsigned picture of a Cape Town scene, probably around the same time, or a little earlier:

Cape Town street scene, 1830s or 1840s

There were many snippets of poetry and drawings, some signed with names, some more obscurely by initials, and some just signed “A Friend”.

But best of all were two portraits of Val and Micha’s common ancestors, J.F.W. Flamme and Johanna Sophia Breedschoe (or Breitschuh).

J.F.W. Flamme (1780-1831)

Johan Freidrich Wilhelm Flamme was born on 3 October 1780 in Twiste, Hesse-Nassau, Germany, the son of Stephan Flamme and Maria Elisabeth Scharschmidt. He came to the Cape Colony as a soldier in the Waldeck Regiment, and 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, and wrote to the Governor and Commander in Chief of His Britannick Majesty’s troops in the Settlement of the Cape of Good Hope, Sir David Baird, saying that his “very extensive Butcher’s trade necessitates him always to have in his service a number of assistants either to dispatch the daily business of the Butchery or to go up into the country to buy for him the Cattle necessary for the Inhabitants of the Town as well as for the Ships in the Road”

Durr went on to say that he “had happily found out a certain Frederick William Flamme, formerly Soldier in the Batallion of Waldeck, who is still confined at Fort Amsterdam, and is ready to become your Petitioner’s Assistant, provided Your Excellency grant him leave for it.”

On 1 January 1809 Johan Friedrich Wilhelm Flamme married Johanna Sophia Breedschoe and in 1817 he applied for citizenship. They had 11 children, though several of them died young.

Johanna Sophia Breedschoe (c1782-1836)

Johanna Sophia Breedschoe was the daughter of another soldier, Johan Christoph Franciscus Breitschuh, who arrived in the Cape Colony in 1773 from Halle in Germany, and also worked as a carpenter. He had two children by Francina van de Kaap who was a slave of Pieter Hacker. He had the children manumitted in 1787, and possibly their mother had died by then.

Their eldest daughter Francina Dorothea Flamme (the one who kept the commonplace book) married Jonathan Joseph Burnard, but he was killed in a carriage accident, and her second marriage was to Gerhardus Nicolaas Mechau, whose mother Anna Mechau (born Jacobs) was the artist who filled the commonplace book with pictures, and presumably also painted the portraits of Francina’s parents.

There are many Mechau descendants that we have managed to trace.

Val’s great great great grand mother was a younger daughter of J.F.W. Flamma and Johanna Sophia Breedschoe. She was Petronella Francina Dorothea Flamme (1822-1893) who married Henry Crighton (1815-1870), and they too had numerous descendants.

The Flamme boys mostly died young, and so there are no cousins with the Flamme surname in southern Africa, but apart from the Burnard, Mechau and Crighton descendants, the other Flamme girls married into the Wright, Beningfield, Laing, and Tait families.

 

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.

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.