FLETCHER FAMILY ARCHIVE.   The Jura, Scotland - Southern African branch.

Data capture and research notes. A work in progress. 

NAMAQUALAND   Anecdotal.

Correspondence arising from the Keerom Diary 1861-1865
of Agnes Fletcher (Eaglesim) of Paisley, Scotland.
_________________________ Dorothy BrownriggJun 14, 2018 To: fletcher.neil.z@gmail.com Hello Neil As I mentioned in the phone conversation last night, I am interested in the Keerom Diary (Namaqualand) 1861-1865, as my relatives are mentioned in it! This is the information I have gathered for my knowledge of the NICHOLSONs, mentioned in the diary, who were married in Cape Town in 1853. .................... In November 1851, Charles Aiken Fairbridge, drew up a notarial deed of partnership, Aaron and Elias de Paas and John Granville NICHOLSON, for a firm described as de Paas and Nicholson, Merchants, Traders and General Agents, Hondeklip Bay. Aaron bought Lot 19, Hondeklip Bay in March 1851, and the firm operated from there. They also owned a farm, Namaqualand farm 293, on the slopes of the Anegasberge, in the Kamiesberg Mountains.

John Granville owned two farms in his own right, ?Rietveldt? and ?Strandfontein, two houses in Springbokfontein (later Springbok), and mining rights on other properties. The commencement of mining by Phillips & King at Springbok in 1852, and their choice of Hondeklip Bay as the point of entry to Namaqualand gave impetus to the development of the town. The business was later extended to Springbok where the business was known as Nicholson and Shaw. The Shaw who became his partner in business was John Shaw, brother of Ellen SHAW; how John Granville and Ellen met is not known. Entries from Bishop Grimley?s Journals describe the NICHOLSONs, after their marriage in Cape Town in 1853, living in Hondeklip Bay, a settlement central to further development of the copper mining industry. In 1856 the Civil Commissioner of Namaqualand, Josiah Rivers, urgently recommended the appointment of a gaoler and constable on the account of the amount of drunkeness and rioting. By 1857 Hondeklip Bay was the scene of feverish activity. All the buildings except for two or three trading establishments and a house belonging to the Namaqua Mining Company had been erected by Phillips & King. Andrew Wyley, the Geological-Surveyor, made the following comment about the village: The wood is covered with tar, which prevents decay, but does not improve its appearance. The ground on which it stands, and for miles around, is loose sand, which is blown about by the wind, and sometimes blocks up the doors like a wreath of snow. The frequent sea fogs are damp and unpleasant. Water for domestic use must be brought from Cape Town; that of the Zwartleenjes, three or four miles distant, is hardly drinkable by cattle, so it would be difficult to find a more disagreeable place. (Smallberger, p 80) In 1861 Hondeklip Bay consisted of about twelve wooden houses with a few ?native? huts scattered about. The magisterial records of Springbok and Hondeklip Bay provide most of the information of John Granville?s activities. For example, in 1862 he headed a deputation to the Magistrate asking for assistance in ?constructing a hard road for a distance of 300/400 yards out of the village of Hondeklip Bay?. He received the offer of about fourteen convicts from the local jail for this purpose. The family claims he was a ?venturesome spirit?. He held various contracts involved with the building of the railway from Cape Town to Wynberg, building commenced on 14 August 1862 and continued until 19 December 1864. In 1866 John Granville wrote a letter of protest, through the Magistrate to the Colonial Government secretary, with regard to certain irregularities in the parliamentary election. He was the Justice of the Peace for Clanwilliam in 1867, and held the position of post master in Hondeklip Bay; he administered insolvent estates and practised as an auctioneer and appraiser as far north as Concordia. He must have possessed a very extensive knowledge of the entire North-west Cape and was often away from home for long periods. During his absences he appointed various people, through powers-of-attorney, to act for him, among them his brother-in-law John SHAW and Thomas Hilder of Springbok, and Henry Roberts of Hondeklip Bay. According to Margaret Cairns, the magisterial records also show another side to John NICHOLSON?s character as a man who flouted authority. During his association with the de Paas brothers between 1851 and 1859 he was apparently the representative of the firm in Hondeklip Bay and was therefore responsible for any transgressions of the law that occurred there. These included illegal sales of liquor and possession of quantities in excess of the permitted legal amount; miscalculations in the auctioneers forms sent to the magistrate; occasionally failure to submit any at all, consequently avoiding the surrender of the requisite tax fees. On one occasion the magistrate wrote to his superiors in Cape Town that he ?rejected the argument of Mr Nicholson as altogether fallacious?. Magisterial records from 1867 reveal increasing demands on him by the authorities for the payment of arrear quitrent (rent/tax paid by a free-holder) and other monies due to the government. The final result was inevitable and by 1870 he had assigned his estate. From the writings of Rt Rev Thomas Grimley, and the official records it was evident that by 1868-1869 John Granville was well on the road to ruin. No record of the birth or the death of Caroline has been found, and the death notice of John Granville in 1876 fails to even mention Caroline. Ellen died in 1872, and it is believed she was buried in Hondeklip Bay. The circumstances that led to John Granville?s death are largely speculative, but it appears highly likely that his downfall was due to an over-indulgence in alcohol. John Granville?s death notice was filed in Springbok on 26 April 1876 and was signed by the field cornet. He died, aged 53, on 20 April 1876 ?at the house of Mr Bernard Malone? and he was described as a ?widower, agent-at-law?. The inventory of John Granville?s estate was filed on 5 May 1876 and it seemed that he had been living at Pella (285 km north east of Hondeklip Bay) at the time of his death. The association of NICHOLSON and Malone was probably a long-standing one, for Malone had run a hotel and canteen in Springbok for many years. He too was before the courts for the illegal sale of liquor and his canteen was repeatedly the scene of assaults and alcoholic brawls. Malone?s death notice described him as a ?shopkeeper, Pella?. The letter below is addressed to John Granville, and still remains within the family through the SHAW line, as does the cross/crucifix: Raamans Drift Orange River 18 July 1865 My dear Sir, I am writing to ask another favour from you. I hired the bearer waggon from Springbok to here but cannot now agree about the price of goods with which I intended to pay him therefore I am under the necessity of paying him money. The sum he must have is only 2 pounds 12 shillings which I ask you to be so good as to pay for me. I would like to write to Torbet but I don?t like to after the little affair with the draft. For fear you might be unwilling to lend it to me I send the enclosed cross for you to hold until I pay you, to me it is the most valuable thing in the world and I would not loose (sic) for more than ever I was possessed of for it was a present from my mother when I was but a child. I ask you to do this favour because I am better acquainted with you than almost anybody in Springbok and moreover I should not like to entrust the enclosed to anybody else. Please pay him Daniel van den Heever the money 2 pounds 12 shillings and oblige a friend in need. Yours sincerely, S.A.Gamble The cross, or more correctly crucifix, is handmade of two different types of wood, light and black, inlaid on the front with carved mother-of-pearl. The corpus is metal, and according to experts, factory made and probably not the original. The overall dimensions are two and a half inches by five inches. The above extract taken from The Quarterly Bulletin of the South African Library, Vol 38-40 p 86, confirms the family story about some in Springbok holding John Granville in esteem. https://books.google.com.au/books?lr=&id=rqcuNyJPR3oC&dq=editions%3ALCCN50021233&focus=searchwithinvolume&q=Nicholson+de+Pass+Gamble Efforts to trace the descendants of S.A. Gamble have failed, according to Margaret Cairns, however the original Gamble was possibly Irish, a trader in South West Africa and is documented in archives as operating between 1863 and 1876 at least. He is also mentioned in the journal of the American trader Gerald McKiernan (1844-1892) Vol 35 Van Riebeck Society, 1954. In Biographies of Namibian Personalities, Dr Klaus Dierks, 2004 makes the following comments: S.A. Gamble was a trader. He lived and traded at Nabauhauro on the Auob River from 1873, and was shot by Gobabis Orlams ca. February 1880. He appears as a creditor to Moses Witbooi and several Witboois in Hendrik Witbooi's "Debt Book", where the later in 1889 took over old debts owed to Gamble from 1869.[See Appendix 5] John Granville?s frequent and lengthy absences from home would have made the day-to-day family life even more difficult for Ellen. Travel to the Cape by sea to connect with family must have been a risky business in itself. _____________________________________ Keerom Diary mentions TORBET who is at the centre of the story about the crucifix above, and also HILDER whom I refer to above. My research has come from Margaret Cairns (SHAW relation who lived in SA) and Shelagh Nation?s recently printed book, OUPA, OBE, Family Man, Fighter, Friend: Major Richard Granville Nicholson which is about my great great grandfather. https://www.casematepublishers.com/distributed-publishers/30-degrees-south-publishers/oupa-obe.html#.WyIAv1OFOYU I have attached the extracts from the Diary that are relevant to the Nicholsons, and have a couple of questions?.. Was the Homestead used as a halfway house/hotel between Hondeklip Bay and Springbok? [Find remarks by Graham Ross and Kobus Kuypers regarding the ownership of Keerom. A Diary entry mentions payment of rent for Keerom, but without details. The family have never known or said Keerom ever belonged to them. There is good reason for thinking from the Diary that Keerom might have been some sort of a place for locals to break their journey, and in particular perhaps for people connected to the mining company. N.F.] Was Nicholson?s role to trade/deliver goods in the region? I understand it was a difficult life for Ellen, as her children were born: Ellen Mary Esther 1854 Cape Town John Granville 20 Oct 1856 Hondeklip Bay Richard Granville 8 Mar 1859 Rondebosch Charles Shaw 24 Oct 1860 Hondeklip Bay Anne Frances Josephine 1864 Hondeklip Bay (referred to in the diary in Dec 1864 I think) Francis William Michael 11 Jan 1867 Cape Town Caroline 12 Apr 1869 Hondeklip Bay What a wonderful effort has been made for your Fletcher Family Archive - it is a great achievement and I am so pleased to have stumbled upon it! Many thanks, Dorothy dorothy.brownrigg@gmail.com 96 Herron Crescent, Latham ACT 2615, Australia ================== I did manage to have a look at the Copper Mining book you recommended. Our National Library here in Canberra has an amazing collection, especially of books related to Commonwealth (at one time) countries. It was fascinating to read about the isolation and activity in the Namaqualand area over the years. I have such admiration for those early pioneers! I was also able to find another couple of books relevant to my family: - the photographs collection of Ellerton Fry?s record of the Pioneer Column?s journey (1889) to Salisbury for the proclamation of the capital of Rhodesia. My great grandfather, Richard Granville NICHOLSON, had his own copy and I read the copy in the Library numbered 926, so there were not too many printed! and - the reports of the Ladies Committee for the Concentration Camps during the Boer War. My great great grandmother?s last child was born, and survived the Howick Concentration Camp. ------------------------ Keerom Homestead Diary 1861-1865 and NicholsonShaw details. Dorothy Brownrigg Jul 12, 2018 To: neil fletcher Dear Neil Apologies for not getting back to you any sooner?.. somehow almost a month has passed! However, your email and advice gave me cause for some more research?. I am more than happy for you to pass on my email as you see fit, as it all helps to put the pieces of the puzzle together. So the stories keep building and I keep gaining rich and interesting details about my relatives. I am very grateful that your family left the website up, as I have learned so much from this connection! If ever you happen to come to Canberra, (not ideal in winter with -5 predicted overnight!) please let us know as it would be great to meet you. Sincere and best wishes, Dorothy -------------- Kobus Kuypers - correspondence with. Jul 24. 2019 Dear Kobus Apologies for not being in contact for so long. Anyhow, the so-called Keerom Diary on the website has been a welcome discovery to a descendant of the Nicholsons mentioned in the diary. Her name is Dorothy Brownrig and she now lives in eastern Australia. She writes that she has ancestry with a Tvl? family with an Afrikaans surname which I have temporarily forgotten and it occurs to me that you might be able to help her with a thing or two because of the similar family work that you mentioned you were engaged in. Do you mind if I put her in touch with you.? I am trying to drag myself back to the website work. There are only so many hours?/days?/years? left in life and things like fishing are so much more easy to do! And memory is hardly required. Hope you are well Neil F. ......... Kobus Kuypers Jul 27, 2019 Hi Neil ............... Agreed, fishing is a much better option. Unfornutately I am a restless soul which need to be occupied and will probably depart that way. I was sent a photo of a certain Jan Agenbach and wife who were at the Keerom time living on the neighbouring farm of Kookfontein and being the son of Gert Agenbach mentioned in the diary. Apparently this was taken in 1867 by the very first camera in the area by a certain Englishman map draughtsman on Keerom. Found it very interesting and still wondering if it isn't the same that took the Keerom farm picture. Will send it to you shortly. You are most welcome to refer the lady to me. I am very sure that I will find some stuff for her and in that for my own interest as well. My work reach extreme proportions at 900 pages and 1320 images at this point in time plus a huge amount of side interest. Will likely not reach the end soon! Keep well, enjoy nature and strive to be happy. Thanks for your communication and regards to your brother. --------------- Shelagh Nation Good morning Neil First ? I apologise -I am not a Fletcher descendant but an 89-year old descendant of the John Nicholson mentioned in your Keerom diaries. I was delighted to find these references, which cast a light on John Nicholson?s life MANY THANKS! My account of John?s son Granville was published recently ? it has no reference to Fletchers or to Keerom, but I will happily share excerpts about John, and his life in Hondeklip Bay if you feel they may be of interest. May I give your work as a reference in our Nicholson family tree? (This is private) Thank you again for your work Shelagh Nation. Muizenberg. South Africa --------------- 19.12.'19 Dear Shelagh Firstly, are you in contact with Dorothy Brownrigg who is in ACT, Aus.? She came across the Keerom Diary stuff earlier this year or so and she has sent me a lot of material on the Nicholsons which she has gathered, and which she has agreed to let us put up on our website, We have not done so yet, as I am a bit behind hand on so much that needs to be done. We have also had few internet technical changes and backlog. But I intend to put her material up as part of the Keerom Diary file. Dorothy in one of her emails mentions your recent book and gave a link to its address, but it would not work when I tried it. I gave Dorothy a link to someone who has been very helpful with our research of SA stuff generally. His name is Kobus Kuypers. I don't think he would mind if I gave you his email address. .........But Dorothy could probably let you know if he is likely to have anything more than she has already received from him. Feel free to mention our Keerom Diary material in your work. I would welcome any material you are prepared to give for our Namaqua era section, in whatever form. You have perhaps already seen the file of biological notes on Patrick Fletcher and Agnes Eaglesim, whose first four children were born on Keerom. There is also a file called Keerom Regained which outlines a bit of research history, and how the photo of Keerom homestead came to light. All these files are in need of update/revision. Unfortunately, the main part of my task is with Rhodesian matters, which are endless...... With best wishes Neil F. ----------------- Shelagh Nation To: Ian McAnleister DOCX45kB Granville.docx Dear Neil Yes, I got your link from Dorothy, who is my cousin?s daughter and pretty good as an archivist too! I leave much of the work to her. I have a fairly good record of our family history using a programme called TheBrain but it is not my first priority ? I am an architect and still partly engaged in spending other people?s money on alts and adds, and that sort of thing, in spite of my age. I?m sending you the first chapter (attached) of my book, which is the part dealing with John Nicholson in Namaqualand. If you read it you will see how his life must have been punctuated by visits to Keerom, which is what I find new and interesting in the Keerom story.............. Please remember that the attachment is copyright but you are welcome also to use whatever you may find useful. It was carefully researched and as accurate as I could make it. Interestingly note that the de Pass name crops up in both accounts. By the way did you know that Oupa (RG Nicholson) guided ? together with Selous ? the Mashonaland Expedition (the annexation of Rhodesia} and I have one of the original albums of Ellerton Fry photographs, which he signed and gave to Oupa? But you probably have all the information that you need on that. The Bodleian library in Oxford has 2 copies and there are (or were) several in Harare. I am still much in touch with close friends in Harare ? Raoul du Toit, who does sterling work on conservation, particularly of rhinos. I was uncertain as to which email address to use so used both ? I hope that is OK. Do let me know if all this has been of interest! Regards Shelagh POSTSCRIPTS: ___________ Last modified: 1 April 2020

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