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South African Towns and Cities - inc. Founders and Origins

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  • Cornelis Floris Johannes Meyer (1879 - 1932)
    Tydens Kerneels se leeftyd het hy ‘n gedeelte van die plaas aan Alberton verhuur vir ‘n Swart lokasie, en ná sy afsterwe het sy weduwee ‘n ander gedeelte van die plaas in er...
  • Henry Thomas Glynn (1856 - 1928)
    In 1880, Henry Thomas Glynn (1856-1928), the founder of Sabie (and known among his friends as H.T.), bought the farm Grootvantijn from P. de Villiers. The farm's original name was 'Sabi' but was later ...
  • Heinrich Julius Frederich Ueckermann, SV/PROG 1 (1827 - 1883)
    Founder of Heidelberg
  • President Marthinus Wessel Pretorius (1819 - 1901)
    Voortrekker to Natal on 1 OCT 1838. -------------------- The son of the famous Voortrekker leader Andries Pretorius, Marthinus Wessel Pretorius (17 September 1819 - 19 May 1901) was the first presi...

South African Towns and Cities - inc. Founders and Origins

The object of this project is to assemble information about South African Towns and Cities, and where possible record record information about the founders and origins. Where those who were instrumental in establishing the place have a GENi profile please link them to the project.

How to add a link is explained in the attached document - Adding links to Geni profiles in projects.

If you have anything to add please do so!

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See Project Help: How to add Text to a Project - Starter Kit to get you going!


How to Participate

  • Add the profiles of the founders of places in South Africa to the project. If the person is on Geni please add the link to their profile, and make this a bold entry. If the person is not on Geni add a link to an external source but do not make the link bold. This will help us to see who still needs to be added/found on Geni.
  • Add the Place name to the list below - arranged Alphabetically.
  • If you have links to related web pages that would be of interest to others please add them in the relevant section .

To join a project use the drop down menu at the top left of the screen and Join the Project. If this option is not available to you then contact a collaborator and ask to be added to the project. As a collaborator you will be able to edit this page.

  • Add any documents of interest using the menu at the top right of the page, and then add a link to the document in the text under the heading below. If you do not know how to do this please contact one of the other collaborators to assist you.

Adelaide

William IV of the United Kingdom

Adelaide's origins date back to 1834 when a British officer named Captain Armstrong established a military encampment which he named Fort Adelaide after the wife of King William IV Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen.

Albany

  • General Jacob Glen Cuyler, the Landdrost of the Uitenhage district, named the area between the Sundays and Fish rivers "Albany" after Albany in his native New York. *Albany became the destination for the 1820 Settlers by the Cape Colony's new British masters.
  • Jacob Glen Cuyler 1773-1854 Founder

Albertina

The town was named after the reverend Johannes Rudolph Albertyn of Riversdale, who planned the establishment of a separate church community.

Alberton

General Hennie Alberts, a veteran of the war, purchased a part of the farm Elandsfontein from Johan Georg Meyer and he decided on the name Alberton.

Aliwal North

The town was named in 1850 as a tribute to Sir Harry Smith, the then Governor of the Cape Colony. He named the town "Aliwal" in memory of his victory over the Sikhs at the Battle of Aliwal during the First Sikh War in India in 1846, and "North" in opposition to Aliwal South (now Mossel Bay). The town was laid out in 1849 on ground acquired by the government. This was auctioned and 38 lots were sold for £972.

Beaufort West

Henry Somerset, 5th Duke of Beaufort

The town was founded in 1818 and initially named Beaufort after Henry Somerset, 5th Duke of Beaufort, who was the father of [Henry Charles Somerset 6th Duke of Beaufort Lord Henry Charles Somerset], then governor of the Cape Colony. The town was renamed Beaufort West in 1869 to avoid confusion with Port Beaufort in the Western Cape as well as Fort Beaufort in the Eastern Cape.

Bedford

Francis Charles Russell, 9th Duke of Bedford (1819-1891)

In 1854, one of the leading inhabitants of the district, [who was this?] then in England, conceived the plan and laid out the erven for the village which he named after his good friend, the Duke of Bedford.

Bethelsdorp

Johannes Theodorus van der Kemp

Bethelsdorp Village, Port Elizabeth’s first organised settlement, was established in 1803 by Dr Johannes Theodorus Van Der Kemp, a missionary working among the Khoikhoi. (from the Hebrew Beth-El [House of God], the site of Jacob’s dream in Genesis 28)

Bloemfontein

Though historically a predominantly Afrikaner settlement, Bloemfontein was officially founded in 1846 as a fort by British army major Henry Douglas Warden as a British outpost. Although modern day Bloemfontein has a reputation for its flowers in an otherwise arid region, the origin of the city's name is unclear. Popular legends include an ox named "Bloem" owned by one of the pioneer farmers that was taken by a lion near a fountain on his property, while another story names Jan Blom (1775–1858), a Korana KhoiKhoi leader who inhabited the area. Bloemfontein literally means fountain of flowers or flower spring in Dutch.

Brakpan

The name Brakpan was first used by the British in the 1880s because of a non-perennial lake that would annually dry to become a "brackish pan".

Bredasdorp

The town of Bredasdorp was founded with the building of a Dutch Reformed Church in 1838 on the farm Langefontein. The town was named after Michiel van Breda, the first Mayor of Cape Town, who was also known as the father of South Africa's merino sheep industry. Van Breda and Pieter Voltelyn van der Byl could not agree on a location for the church; as a result two churches were built, and two towns, Bredasdorp and Napier, were established.

Colesberg

Sir Galbraith Lowry Cole (1772-1842)

Founded in 1830 on an abandoned station of the London Missionary Society, it was named after Sir Galbraith Lowry Cole, then Governor of the Cape Colony.

Cradock

Sir John Cradock

The town was founded on 27 August 1818 when a Dutch Reformed church (based on that of St Martin-in-the-Fields in London) was built; it is named after Sir John Cradock, governor of the Cape from 1811 to 1813.

Drakenstein

The Drakenstein Mountains were named in honour of H.A. van Reede tot Drakenstein who visited the Cape as Commissioner-General in 1685; Drakenstein (modern spelling usually Drakestein) was the name of his estate in the Netherlands.

Durbanville

Durbanville is a former town in the Western Cape province of South Africa, it now forms part of the greater City of Cape Town metropolitan area. Durbanville is a rural residential suburb on the northern outskirts of the metropolis and is surrounded by farms producing wine and wheat.


Durbanville was founded in the early 19th century around a fresh water spring and was primarily a watering station for travellers between Cape Town and the interior. Durbanville was originally known as Pampoenkraal (from the Afrikaans words pampoen meaning pumpkin, and kraal meaning corral - an enclosure for livestock).

In 1825 a group of local farmers requested permission from Lord Charles Somerset (governor of the Cape Colony at that time) to build their own church. The Dutch Reformed Church was commended in 1825 and inaugurated a year later on 6 August 1826. A small village grew between the church and the outspan (overnight stop). During 1836 the inhabitants of Pampoenkraal petitioned the Governor of the Cape Colony, Sir Benjamin d'Urban, for permission to rename the village D'Urban in his honour. Permission was duly granted and the new name persisted until 1886 when it was renamed to Durbanville in order to avoid confusion with Durban - a major port city in the east of South Africa.

Durbanville had its own court house, jail and magistrate from the 1870s and became a Magisterial District of Bellville. The court house complex still exists in altered form within the Rust-en-Vrede complex, originally erected in 1850. A village management board was established in 1897 and a municipality in 1901. The first mayor elected was John King.

The village grew rapidly after the turn of 19th century and a local wagon industry developed. The King Brothers Wagon Works' used to be South Africa's biggest wagon works. At the turn of the century, it employed more than 200 men, which just about accounted for the entire village.

East London

East London (Afrikaans: Oos-Londen,[3] Xhosa: eMonti) is a city on the southeast coast of South Africa, situated at 32.97°S and 27.87°E[4] in the Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality of the Eastern Cape province. The city lies on the Indian Ocean coast, largely between the Buffalo River and the Nahoon River, and hosts the country's only river port. East London today has a population of over 400 000, with over 1.4 million in the metropolitan area.

Lieutenant John Bailie of the Royal Navy, one of the 1820 Settlers, surveyed the Buffalo River mouth and founded the town in 1836, a memorial on Signal Hill commemorating the event. The city formed around the only river port in South Africa and was originally known as Port Rex. This settlement on the West Bank was the nucleus of the town of East London, which was elevated to city status in 1914.

During the early to mid-19th century frontier wars between the British settlers and the local Xhosa inhabitants, East London served as a supply port to service the military headquarters at nearby King William’s Town, about thirty miles away. A British fort, Fort Glamorgan, was built on the West Bank in 1847, and annexed to the Cape Colony that same year. This fort is one of a series of forts the British built, that include Fort Murray, Fort White, Fort Cox, Fort Hare and Fort Beaufort, in the border area that became known as British Kaffraria.

With later development of the port came the settlement of permanent residents, including German settlers, most of whom were bachelors. These settlers were responsible for German names of some towns in the vicinity of East London such as Stutterheim and Berlin. Today, German surnames such as Gehring, Salzwedel and Peinke are still common in East London, but the descendants of the settlers rapidly became anglicised.

The existing port, in the mouth of the Buffalo River, adjoining the Indian Ocean, began operating in 1870. In 1872, the Cape Colony, under the leadership of its first Prime Minister John Molteno, attained a degree of independence from Britain. The new government merged the three neighbouring settlements of East London, East London East and Panmure in 1873, forming the core of the current municipality, and in 1876 it began construction on the region's railway lines, commencing on the river's east bank. At the same time, it began construction of the East London harbour. This new infrastructure rapidly accelerated development of the area, into today’s thriving city of East London.

The unusual double-decker bridge over the Buffalo River was completed in 1935 and to this day, is the only bridge of its type in South Africa. Modern day attractions include the East London Museum housing the coelacanth, a prehistoric fish, thought to be extinct, discovered live at Chalumna Mouth near East London by fishermen in 1938, and numerous memorial statues. The city is well known as a surfing mecca, and its beaches are among the best in the country.

Fauresmith

The Freestate town of Fauresmith, was named after Lord Harry Smith and Rev Faure.

Flagstaff

Zacharia George Bowles

EXCERPT FROM the Memoirs of Kenneth Harvey Owen dated 1965 (in my possession - Neville Owen - grandson)

I am not sure of the chronological sequence of events of my father’s history but he at one time had a Trading Station together with his brother-in-law Zacky Bowles, at Flagstaff. Whether this was before or after his marriage to Miss Harvey I do not know.

I have often heard him tell of the way in which Flagstaff, in Eastern Pondoland, received its name. When he and Zacky Bowles had the Trading Store there, they decided to erect a flagstaff and on this they hoisted the Union Jack each Sunday in order that it might be known that their store was closed, and from this, the little village of Flagstaff derived its name. My father and his brother made a survey for a water furrow to lead water some 2 miles to their station. This water I believe is still flowing.

Florentia

Cornelis Floris Johannes Meyer

Florentia a suburb of Alberton was named after Cornelis Floris Johannes Meyer, son of Org Meyer, after his death his wife sold/donated part of their farm for the establishment of the suburb.

Fraserburg

Reverend Colin Fraser

Fraserburg was established in 1851 on the farm Rietfontein, and named after the Scottish immigrant Reverend Colin Fraser, and a church elder G.J. Meyburgh.

Glen Lynden

Thomas Pringle

In 1820 The Scottish settlers in Pringle's Party were sent to the Baviaans River area, where they settled and called the area Glen Lynden - a Scottish name. The countryside was perhaps reminiscent of a Scottish Glen. The Town of Glen Lynden was built in 1855. Glen Lynden is situated in Bedford, Eastern Cape.

The plaque on the small church reads : Old Glen Lynden Church. This church was built in 1828 by the Government through the influence of Thomas Pringle for the Scottish Settlers and their Dutch neighbours. It became a Dutch Reformed Church in 1829. (Erected by the Historical Monuments Commission).

Graaff-Reinet

Cornelis Sebastian Jacob van de Graaff (1734-1776)

The town was founded by the VOC Dutch East India Company in 1786, being named after the then governor of Cape Colony, Cornelis Jacob van de Graeff/Graaf, and his wife Hester Cornelia Reynet

Grahamstown

John Graham 1778-1821

Grahamstown was founded in 1812 as a military outpost by Lieutenant-Colonel John Graham as part of the effort to secure the eastern frontier of British influence in the then Cape Colony against the Xhosa, whose lands lay just to the east.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Graham_(British_Army_officer) http://web.mac.com/updeinva/Graham_WebPages_15/HTMLFiles/HTMLFiles_01/John_Graham_P330882306.html

Groblersdal

Jacobus Grobler

Groblersdal is a farming town is South Africa's second largest irrigation settlement.

Groblersdal was laid out on the farm "Klipbank" taking advantage of the Loskop Dam, and named after the original owner Jacobus Grobler.

Harrismith Freestate

Harrismith is one of three town named of Sir Harry Smith.

Heidelberg

Heinrich Julius Frederich Ueckermann, SV/PROG 1

Heidelberg began in 1862 as a trading station built by a German H.J. Ueckermann. A town was laid out around the store and named after Ueckermann's alma mater.

Humansdorp

Humansdorp was founded in 1849, and was named after Johannes Jurie Human and Matthys Gerhardus Human, who were joint founders of the Dutch Reformed Church congregation there. The town's residential streets are lined with trees that were planted before the First World War by the then mayor, Ambrose Saffery.

See Hendrik Spoorbek for a colourful person linked to Humansdorp.

Irene

Irene Violet Smit (Nellmapius)

In 1889 a controlling interest (2/3) of Doornkloof was purchased by Alois Hugo Nellmapius, a businessman. Nellmapius had previously established a transport business between Lourenço Marques and Pilgrim's Rest, as well as several industrial concerns (a gin and whisky factory, South Africa's first gunpowder factory, and the Irene lime works).

Nellmapius renamed the farm Irene Estate, after his daughter.

Johannesburg

Johann Friedrich Rissik

Christiaan Johannes Joubert

Johannes Petrus Meyer (1882-1919)

The generally accepted origin of 'Johannesburg' is that it was named after Johann Friedrich Rissik and Christiaan Johannes Joubert. But there is also a strong lobby behind a third claimant to the title, veldkornet Johannes Petrus Meyer, the first government official in the area, and the first to attempt to bring order to the area with a system to peg out mine claims.

Kestell

The town of Kestell is named after the Reverend John Daniel Kestell. Kestell was a descendant from 1820 settler stock, and was born in Pietermaritzburg.

Kimberley

"Colonial Commissioners arrived in New Rush on 17 November 1871 to exercise authority over the territory on behalf of the Cape Governor. Digger objections and minor riots led to Governor Barkly's visit to New Rush in September the following year, when he revealed a plan instead to have Griqualand West proclaimed a Crown Colony. Richard Southey would arrive as Lieutenant-Governor of the intended Crown Colony in January 1873. Months passed however without any sign of the proclamation or of the promised new constitution and provision for representative government. The delay was in London where Secretary of State for the Colonies, Lord Kimberley, insisted that before electoral divisions could be defined, the places had to receive "decent and intelligible names. His Lordship declined to be in any way connected with such a vulgarism as New Rush and as for the Dutch name, Vooruitzigt … he could neither spell nor pronounce it." The matter was passed to Southey who gave it to his Colonial Secretary J.B. Currey. Roberts writes that "when it came to renaming New Rush, [Currey] proved himself a worthy diplomat. He made quite sure that Lord Kimberley would be able both to spell and pronounce the name of the main electoral division by, as he says, calling it 'after His Lordship'." New Rush became Kimberley, by Proclamation dated 5 July 1873. Digger sentiment was expressed in an editorial in the Diamond Field newspaper when it stated "we went to sleep in New Rush and waked up in Kimberley, and so our dream was gone." Direct quote from Wikipedia.

Ladismith

Ladismith is a town and agricultural centre in the western Klein Karoo region of South Africa's Western Cape province. In 1852 the farm Elandsvlei was set aside for the town, and it became a municipality in 1862. It was named after Lady Juana María Smith. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ladismith

Linmeyer

Elizabeth Magdalena Meyer

The picturesque Johannesburg suburb of Linmeyer was named after Lynnie Meyer, real name Elizabeth Magdalena Meyer (de Lange) the daughter in law of Jan Petrus Meyer the owner of the original farm Klipriviersberg on which the suburb was built.

Louis Trichardt

Louis Tregardt (1783-1838)

Louis Trichardt (formerly Trichardtsdorp) named after the Voortrekker leader.

Malmesbury

The first settlers established themselves in the town in 1744. The settlement was given its present name in 1829 during a visit by the Governor of the Cape, who named it after his father-in-law the Earl of Malmesbury.

Meyerton

Johannes Petrus Meyer

With the discovery of gold in the Witwatersrand area in the late 1800s, a further discovery was made called “Black Reef”, which ran along the bank of the Klip River. Johannes Petrus Meyer, a council member for the Klip River District had a vision for a town in this area. In 1891, the town of Meyerton was officially proclaimed. It has a population of 12,000 and sits on the Klip River, a tributary of the Vaal River.

Ohrigstad

Georgius Ohrig (1805-1852)

The Amsterdam merchant Georgius Ohrig equipped in 1842 and 1843 the brig 'Brazilie' to South Africa and loaded her with a thousand and one articles which would presumably be welcome to the Voortrekkers, paper, ink and bibles included. The 'Brazilie' visited Port Natal in 1842 and 1843 'with J.A. Smellekamp (1812-66) as supercargo. The first visit excited the Voortrekkers. At the second visit the British had just occupied Port Natal and they commanded the Dutch ship to depart immediately. It sailed to Delagoa Bay to trade there with the Transvalers, but both voyages were commercially unsuccessful. Ohrig lost f.35 000, went bankrupt, emigrated to South Africa, but did not proceed past Cape Town and died there in poverty. His name is preserved in the name of the village of Ohrigstad in Eastern Transvaal, which was founded by the Voortrekkers in 1845

Paarl

Abraham Gabemma

Paarl is the third oldest European settlement in the Republic of South Africa (after Cape Town and Stellenbosch). Abraham Gabbema/Gabemma saw a giant granite rock glistening in the sun after a rainstorm and named it "de Diamondt en de Peerlberg” (Diamond and Pearl Mountain) from which Paarl is derived.

Parow

  • Parow is a northern suburb of Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa founded by Johann Heinrich Ferdinand Parow who arrived there in 1865.

Pirie

Pirie (EC 3227 CC) Region in the Amatole Mountains, 25km north west of King

William's Town, at 32 47S, 27 13E, incorporating an indigenous forest reserve. Named after the Pirie Missionary Station situated at 4km from Mngqesha and 17km north west of King William's Town, established in 1830 by Reverend Dr. John Ross and named in honour of Revd Alexander Pirie, then Secretary of the Glasgow Missionary Society, and one of its founders.

From - New Dictionary of South African Place Names Peter E. Raper

Port Alfred

Alfred, Hereditary Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha

Port Alfred was established in the early 1820s by British settlers who were moved into the area by Lord Charles Somerset as a buffer between the Western Cape and the Ama Xhosa. Originally it was two separate towns (settlers arriving on the west bank in 1820 named their settlement Port Kowie, and those arriving on the east bank named theirs Port Frances). In 1839, William Cock started to block the natural river mouth to the east and canalise the present opening to the sea. This allowed high-masted sailing ships with their heavy cargo to dock at the wharf. Later, in 1860, when Queen Victoria’s son Prince Alfred visited, the name was changed to honour him.

Port Elizabeth

Sir Rufane Donkin (1773-1841)

Rufane Donkin was given the task of organising the 1820 Settlers in Port Elizabeth. He was officially the first governor of Port Elizabeth from the 6 June 1820 - 1821. He married Elizabeth Markham in Yorkshire who travelled with him to India where she became seriously ill and died in August 1818 after their first son George David was born. Sir Rufane Donkin built a memorial to his wife Elizabeth known as the Donkin Memorial on top of a hill above the city center and named the city, Port Elizabeth, in her memory.

Simon's Town

Simon van der Stel (1639-1712)

The town is named after Simon van der Stel, early governor of the Cape Colony.

Smithfield Freestate

This is one of three towns named after SIr Harry Smith.

Stellenbosch

Simon van der Stel (1639-1712)

The town was founded in 1679 by the Governor of the Cape Colony, Simon van der Stel, who named it after himself. Stellenbosch means "(van der) Stel's forest or bush"

Swellendam

Helena Wilhelmina ten Domme

Swellendam was declared a magisterial district,in 1743 and was named after Governor Hendrik Swellengrebel and his 1st wife, Helena Wilhelmina ten Damme.

Tulbagh

Ryk or Rijk Tulbagh (1699 - 1771)

Rijk Tulbagh was Governor of the Cape Colony from 27 February 1751 to 11 August 1771. Tulbagh was the son of Dirk Tulbagh and Catharina Cattepoel, who moved their family to Bergen op Zoom when Rijk was still an infant. As a 16-year old he enlisted with the Dutch East India Company and in 1716 embarked on the ship Terhorst to South Africa. The town of Tulbagh was named after him.

In 1754 Ryk Tulbagh, the governor of the Cape Colony at the time, decreed a set of rules governing the control of slaves known as the "Tulbagh Code", which stipulated what slaves could or could not do.

Uitenhage

Jacob Abraham Uitenhage de Mist (1749-1823)

Uitenhage was founded on 25 April 1804 by landdrost (district magistrate) Jacob Glen Cuyler and named in honour of the Cape's Commissioner-General Jacob Abraham Uitenhage de Mist by the Dutch Cape Colony governor, Jan Willem Janssens

Willowmore

Bernhardus Zibee Stegmann (1832-1920)

Willowmore was laid out on the farm Willow in 1862, founded by Bernardus Zibee Stegmann.

Witsand (White Sands) and Port Beaufort

Benjamin Moodie, Captain (1789-1856)

A Genealogical background of some of the families during the early days of White Sands and Port Beaufort. A timeline starting from 1488 to 1943, photographs, a map and a list of vessels that sank in the mouth of the Breede River.

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