Alexander James Kidwell, SV/PROG (c.1782 - 1844)

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Birthplace: London, Middlesex, England
Death: Died in Grahamstown, Eastern Cape, South Africa
Managed by: Garry Marc Howard-Browne
Last Updated:

About Alexander James Kidwell, SV/PROG

1820 British Settlers

Alexander Kidwell 38, Labourer, together with his wife Phoebe Tubb 32, were members of William Holder's Party of 39 Settlers on the Settler Ship Kennersley Castle.

Party originated from Gloucestershire.

Departed Bristol, 10 January 1820. Arrived Table Bay, Cape Town - 29 March 1820. Final Port - Algoa Bay, Port Elizabeth 29 April 1820.

Area Allocated to the Party : New Bristol on the Bush River

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No. 44 on the Colonial Department list, led by William Holder, a yeoman of 7 Nelson Street, Bristol. This was a joint-stock party recruited in Bristol and consisting almost entirely of small tradesmen, although their leader assured the Colonial Department that 'all understood agriculture'. Only two of the names on the first list submitted - Holder himself and Webb - appeared on the party's final sailing list. Powell and Roberts were originally members of a party formed by John Staples of Bermondsey, London, who was unsuccessful in his application to emigrate; they were both Bristol men, and after Staples' party was rejected they joined Holder in place of drop-outs from his early list.

Deposits were paid for 12 men, one of whom did not in the event emigrate. Two of the party, Holder and Powell, were accompanied by servants (Currier and Woods; the latter's age was given as under 18 in order to avoid paying the full deposit).

The party sailed from Bristol on 10 January 1820 in the regular transport Kennersley Castle, reaching Table Bay on 29 March and Algoa Bay on 29 April. Eighteen children died on the voyage, many from measles; four children of Holder's party appeared on the London list but not in the Agents' Return, and may have been among those who died. In writing about his fellow passengers on the Kennersley Castle, Thomas Philipps described the party as 'mechanics from Bristol, we like all but the head, he and the Lieut (i.e. the Agent of Transports) often quarrel ...' This opinion of Holder was evidently shared by his people, who complained that they were 'dissatisfied with his general conduct and behaviour as also of his Gross ignorance and uncouth manner', and requested permission soon after arriving in Albany for Shepstone to take over the direction of the party. Their location on a tributary of the Bush River was named New Bristol.

THE SETTLER HANDBOOK by MD Nash

Main sources for party list

Agent of Transports' Return of settlers under the direction of William Holder (Cape Archives CO 6138/2,67); Special Commissioner William Hayward's notes (Cape Archives CO 8542). The first names of the women given in the Agent's Return differ in several cases from the names set down in the London sailing list.

Ship: Kennersley Castle

Scheme: the Government Settler Scheme

Tonnage: c 400

Departure: Port Bristol

Parties: Bradshaw, Greathead, Holder, Philipps, Southey

Number on Board: 202

Departure Date: 10th January 1820

Landfall Port: Table Bay, Cape Town

Landfall Date: 29th March 1820

Final Port: Algoa Bay, Port Elizabeth

Final Port landfall date: 29th April 1820

See: http://www.geocities.com/capecolonysettlers/holder.html

From The Grahamstown Journal, Thursday June 20 1844:

Died at Graham's Town on Thursday 13th June of an injury received from a vicious cow two days previous, Mr. Alexander KIDWELL, aged 60 years. The deceased was one of the British settlers of 1820 and formed one of the Committee for the Commemoration services recently held at Graham's Town. He had been for many years a widower, but was to have been re-married on the day of his death. For some years he was engaged in a rather extensive retail business at Graham's Town, under the firm of "STONE & KIDWELL", since which he has had to pass through many trying vicissitudes. He was much esteemed by his friends and maintained an unblemished character for integrity. He belonged to the Baptist Church which, together with his family and acquaintances, now have to deplore the loss of a valuable member of their respective circles.

DOWN THE YEARS

(Reprinted from 'The 1820', Official Publication of 1820 Memorial, Settlers' Association')

Cory Library Reference PR 2144

There are families which have made their mark in South African history in an unbroken chain, generation by

generation since the Algoa Bay landings of the British Settlers in 1820.

An excellent example is that of the Kidwell family, some details of which are appended. An ancestor who travelled on the Kennersley Castle was Alexander Kidwell, who was 38 years old at the time of his arrival. Four sons were born in South Africa, the eldest being Richard Thomas Kidwell, born at Salem in 1821.

The others are Charles James, Alexander Josiah and Alfred Benjamin.

It is told of Alexander KIDWELL that he was the first man in South Africa to set free a slave - a girl for whome he paid Seven pounds and ten pence and liberated immediately. The girl felt him to be so good a master that she remained in his service as a free woman.

The eldest son, Richard Thomas KIDWELL was a local preacher and played the 'cello at the Baptist Church at

Grahamstown. The cello is now in the possession of Miss Isma FINCHAM in Queenstown. Married to Mary Ann MATCHESON, they had seven children but he met an untimely fate while riding near Bedford in 1861, when he was set on and murdered by three Europeans who mistook him for a wealthy traveller. The killing gained them 1/-. They were not traced but many years after one of them confessed to a Mr. Webster of Queenstown, who described how they had set on him while riding to his farm at Baviaans Kloof. The man became insane, haunted by the face of the man he had killed and died before he could keep a promise to inform on the other two and there whereabouts.

Richard Thomas' eldest son, Alexander James KIDWELL, was a boy of fourteen at the time of his father's death and left school at Grahamstown to earn for the family. He, at the age of twenty-two married Jane Wills ORCHARD at Adelaide, Cape Province before the Presbyterian Minister, the Rev. P. Davidson. In time he became known as the 'Father of Jamestown' and the Kidwell Memorial Church in Jamestown, Cape Province, still stands to bear witness to him.

A merchant and Special Justice of the Peace, he commanded the burghers during the Morosi war and is recorded as having conducted services in the Primitive Methodist Church at Jamestown for thirty-five years. He died in 1912 and his body was driven to the cemetery by an old native servant, Rapass, of some fifty years service. He left three children, Clarice von Hirschberg, Archibald Alexander and Reginald Hilary.

The elder son, Archibald Alexander KIDWELL, was born in 1876 on 'Wepener's Farm' near Jamestown, educated

in Queenstown, Victoria College, Stellenbosch and Livingstone College, London. He played Rugby with Japie Krige in Stellenbosch as entire three quarter and at Stellenbosch University as centre three quarter and at cricket once made 144 not out at Imvani near Queenstown. He entered the Methodist Ministry in 1898 and has served thirteen years in England and 39 years in South Africa. He has visited Palestine, Canada and America as well as several European countries.

In 1920 he became the first official of the 1820 Memorial, Settlers' Association in the Transvaal, as Secretary of

the Johannesburg Branch and was very largely responsible for the raising of Four thousand pounds in fifteen months for their funds.

His outstanding work interested Lady Lionel Philips and later Sir Charles Crew and led to the firm establishment

of the Association. During the fifteen months for which he held the post as Secretary he paid his salary, untouched

into church funds. Once the area was established he became an Executive member which position he has held ever since. Married in 1903 to Kate HOLLIDGE of Norwich, England the Reverend Archibald Alexander KIDWELL has one married daughter, Mrs. W. Dutton of Springs and two grandchildren, Marion and alan Dutton.

This sketch of the generations deals only with the eldest son, the cadet branches are too numerous for more than

passing mention. The names of no less than 504 descendants of the original 1820 Settler appear on the Family Tree.

Such is the life of one family of Settlers whose monument is truly aere perennius and exists in more than the breath of Man.

Alexander Kidwell was a baptist and from the early days of the settlement, he was one of the principal persons composing the founders of the baptist cause in Albany. On the 24th of December 1823, it was decided that Holder's location was to be divided between William Holder, Frederick Hiles, James Powell and Alexander Kidwell. By the 31st of October 1824, Alexander Kidwell had a shop. On the 30th of May 1825, settlers who had left family in England made application to have their families join them. Alexander Kidwell was one of the men who supported the application.

When "The Frances" sailed for Cape Town in 1826, Kidwell sent a consignment of hides and butter. At this point Kidwell was in business with Charles Stone. On the 13th of June 1826, Major George Pigot submitted a letter from the settlers, praying that Major William Dundas be retained as magistrate. Alexander Kidwell was one of the signatories.

On 5th February 1831, his son Alfred Benjamin was born. In January 1831 he went insolvent. Between 1832 and 1838 Alexander Kidwell was Pound-Master in Grahamstown. By 1834 he was doing book-binding.

In October 1837, upwards of 40 head of cattle were taken from Mr. Kidwell's herd on the Fish River. The colonists recovered them. On the 12th of February 1844, Alexander Kidwell was appointed to the committee for the commemoration of the arrival of the settlers.

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Alexander James Kidwell, SV/PROG's Timeline

1782
1782
London, Middlesex, England
1816
October 9, 1816
Age 34
Christ Church Greyfriars Newgate, London, England
1819
February 6, 1819
Age 37
Bristol, Gloucestershire, England
1821
February 24, 1821
Age 39
Bathurst, Eastern Cape, South Africa
1824
September 8, 1824
Age 42
Grahamstown, Albany, Cape of Good Hope, South Africa
1828
June 25, 1828
Age 46
South Africa
1831
February 5, 1831
Age 49
Cradock, Cape of Good Hope, South Africa
1844
June 13, 1844
Age 62
Grahamstown, Eastern Cape, South Africa
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Grahamstown, Cape Colony, South Africa