Henry John van Lelyveld (1838 - 1905)

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Birthplace: Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, South Africa
Death: Died in Vryburg, North West, South Africa
Occupation: Farmer, and a builder by trade
Managed by: Hazel Griesel
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Henry John van Lelyveld

"The discovery of rich diamond mines at Kimberley, brought people flocking from all parts of the world and also South Africa to try their luck, amongst these being the van Lelyveld family of the Eastern Province, who were farmers, transport riders and artisans. There was no railway,all supplies, provisions and equipment had to be transported from the nearest port, Port Elizabeth and loaded at Grahamstown. From Kimberley to the north and Vryburg area was the next line of transport, Kimberley being barren country, the wood for firing mine boilers and the pit props had to be carted from Vryburg where the famous hard-wood, known as Camel Thorn, grows. This was how the van Lelyveld family made contact with Vryburg. Though Henry John van Lelyveld was a transport rider his qualifications as builder confined him mostly to the Vryburg area. Vryburg was already established in 1881, and by 1882 the Republic of Stellaland was in full force.It was annexed late in 1884 and President Gert van Niekerk was given the title of Administrator with the British Government.

Henry John van Lelyveld arrived in early 1882 and was VeldKornet, fully fledged burger and member of the Volkskomitee. Amonst the buildings he constructed in Vryburg were, the Old Fort, now a national monument, commenced in 1883, partially completed by 1888, finally being completed in 1890; the Old Post Office and Magistrates Court still exist.

He was a Luitenant In the Dennison Scouts (a military unit at Vryburg) and was involved in several "Kafferoorloe". Also amember of the Republic of Stellaland

He was a builder by trade. He, his son (James Cornelius van Lelyveld) and a Mr. Knoetze built the original gaol at Vryburg. This Knoetze, (no relation) was the first person to be incarcerated In the new gaol where he was found guilty of Illegally acquiring a "vaatjiebotter". The gaol's door and frame, is today a Monument on a hill just outside Vryburg, on the road to Kuruman.

Henri John van Lelyveld figured as a very important person connected with the colourful history of the area he lived in and was most certainly not accorded the recognition that he deserved. This can be illustrated by the following historical details:

"President Gerrit Jakobus van Niekerk (1849 -1896)

Eerste en enigste President van Republiek van Stellaland.

Die Republiek is in 1882 uitgeroep, maar is in 1884 ingelyf

onder die destydse protektoraat van Betsjoeanaland."

These words appear on a monument in the grounds of the Municipalbuildings of Vryberg.

This vast area right up to the South West Border, North to the Molopo River and South to the Vaal River was first the "Republiek van Stellaland" with the President Gerrit Jakobus van Niekerk and his parliament called a "Volkskomitee", (In other Republics such as the Transvaal and Free State, they were called a "Volksraad"). This Republic was annexed as a British Crown Colony, "British Bechuanaland", the British Government recognizing and maintaining the "Volkskomitee". Through representation it was later annexed to the Cape Colony which was also a British Crown Colony.

Henri John van Leiyveld was firstly a Field Cornet, in those days a military officer cum Justice of the Peace, and more important, a member of the "Volkskomitee".

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Henry John van Lelyveld's Timeline

1838
May 20, 1838
Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, South Africa
June 26, 1838
Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, South Africa

Congregational Church Chapel Street by Rev Robson

1867
August 21, 1867
Age 29
Uitenhage, Eastern Cape, South Africa