William Ainslie, SV/PROG (1790 - 1865)

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Birthplace: Jedburgh, Roxburghshire, Scotland
Death: Died in Bedford, Eastern Cape, South Africa
Managed by: Zoe Jeffery
Last Updated:

About William Ainslie, SV/PROG

http://www.1820settlers.com

from Ivan Mitford-barberton and Violet White's book, Some frontier Families:

The Ainslie family who came to South Africa in 1833 were from Jedburgh, Scotland. WILLIAM AINSLIE had married Jessie, the sister of Thomas Pringle, the poet, so the family was divided when the Pringles immigrated to South Africa with the 1820 Settlers. The Ainslie family was growing up and living was hard in Scotland, so William and Jessie decided to immigrate to South Africa with their three sons and two daughters.

From London they embarked on the brig Maria and were within sight of Algoa Bay when they encountered a severe storm which drove them off course and it was ten days before they landed in Port Elizabeth in June 1833. There being no railways or telegraph, it took some weeks to get news through to the Pringles, who sent wagons to take them to Clifton in the Bedford district, the home of old Robert Pringle, father of Mrs. William Ainslie.

The Ainslies moved to "Glen Thorn" (where Eric Pringle now lives) and were comfortably settled when the 1835 Frontier War broke out. Except for losing their cattle which was swept off in a raid, the farm houses were not damaged in any way. Most of the fighting was down in the Albany and Uitenhage districts.

After the war, William Ainslie started up a brewery on the Pringles' farm "Glen Thorn" and, although there was a regular demand for beer and ale by the thirsty soldiers stationed at Fort Beaufort, the thirty mile transport by ox-wagon was a great handicap.

In 1839 William Ainslie bought an undeveloped farm, "Spring Grove" where the family established themselves, building their houses and planting crops.

Then in 1846 the War of the Axe started. The young Ainslies joined the Burgher forces mustering at Fort Hare and Fort Beaufort. Commandos came in from Graaff-Reinet, Somerset, Cradock, Colesberg and other districts. By the middle of June a strong force under Sir Andries Stockenström commenced operations by clearing the enemy out of the Amatola mountains, but when they reached Klipplaat, the burghers were disbanded.

William Ainslie, the eldest son, married his cousin Mary Anne Pringle, and settled on his farm "Cavers", named after a Scottish border estate.

In 1850 the disastrous "Bont Oorlog" started, so called because the Hottentots rebelled and joined forces against the whites. The three brothers, William, Robert and George, fought all through this war.

While at "Spring Grove" the rebel leader, Uithalder, arrived with a commando of Hottentots and Xhosas. The Ainslies' Hottentots had joined Uithalder the evening before on condition that the Ainslies were allowed to live in peace. As there were a number of women and children they were allowed to take two wagons and their personal possessions. The unruly rebels were so busy looting everything that the Ainslies managed to smuggle their guns and ammunition into the wagons, wrapped up in bedding. Here the Ainslies were much more fortunate that the Nourse family, who were turned out of their house without even a horse to ride.

Their personal servant had been shot and all cattle, horses and personal possessions carried off. With heavy hearts the Ainslies started off in the direction of Dods Pringle's camp, but were met by Dods and a relief party who had set out to find what had happened to them. When the women and children had been safely settled, William Ainslie and about twenty volunteers returned to "Spring Grove" in the hope of catching the rebels. The once flourishing farm was in a state of complete desolation. Not a pig or a fowl was left, and all their possessions had been carried off. At the Nourses' farm they found the same desolation, with one white man shot dead in the front of the house. They then followed the spoor of the Nourse family but met a partrol under William Monkhouse Bowker who told them that the Nourses had reached the laager in safety. The Ainslies were also with William Monkhouse Bowker's commando when they rescued the isolated Winterberg families. William Ainslie was sent with a few men to relieve a party at De Waal's Kloof. They had been besieged for many days and were in a desperate state. They had plastered their thatch over and it was stuck full of fire-brands thrown on by the enemy. One man had been shot and they had buried him in the house.

Dods Pringle's and Walter Currie's commandos converged on Balfour, where a fierce battle was fought. The rebels were holding positions along the river but the burghers attacked as it was getting light and took them completely by surprise. The enemy lost 300 men, to 17 burghers. From Balfour the commandos approached Fort Armstrong, which was occupied by the rebels. General Somerset had arranged to meet them there at sunrise, but was three hours late.

When he finally arrived on the scene the burghers stormed the position, meeting with no resistance except some desultory firing from the river bed. Some of the rebels had barricaded themselves in the tower and only surrendered when they realised that there was no escape. That was the end of the Kat River rebels, but fighting continued in other areas for some time.

William Ainslie returned to his farm to harvest his mealies. Xhosas raided the district from time to time, sweeping off cattle and sheep. Ainslie then rejoined General Somerset's forces and was made a captain in the Fingo levy. In one skirmish with the enemy, William was wounded in the groin, and on another occasion, his brother Robert was shot through the foot. The Pringles, Ainslies and Hocklys were often in the fighting, trying to recover stolen stock. They patrolled the area from Blinkwater to Koonap and the Waterkloof, saw much service and had several narrow escapes.

view all 12

William Ainslie, SV/PROG's Timeline

1790
October 6, 1790
Jedburgh, Roxburghshire, Scotland
1818
1818
Age 27
1821
January 16, 1821
Age 30
1822
1822
Age 31
1826
1826
Age 35
1827
May 28, 1827
Age 36
Kuruman, Griekwaland, South Africa
1831
1831
Age 40
1833
1833
Age 42
South Africa
1833
Age 42
South Africa
1836
March 1, 1836
Age 45
South Afica