Alexander van Breda, b1c5

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About Alexander van Breda, b1c5

Name: Alexander Van Breda
Baptism Date: 2 Nov 1755
Baptism Place: Cape Town, Cape of Good Hope, South Africa
Father Name: Michiel Van Breda
Mother Name: Wilhelmina De Cok
Entry Number: 115
FHL Film Number: 2214107

Alexander van Breda (born 27 Jul 1755, baptised 2 Nov1755) was the 5th child of Michiel van Breda, b1 and his wife Wilhelmina de Kock. He married Maria Johanna de Wet on 30 Sept 1781 and remarried Helena Hendrina Michiel(s) (widow of Quist Möllerström) on 5 July 1795.

Alexander became the owner of Rheezigt near the original Oranjezicht van Breda family estate in 1782. He obtained an additional grant for an adjoining 2/3 morgen on which he built the homestead.

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Rheezight was probably so called because the ‘reede’ or bay was clearly visible from its stoep. It is the only gabled homestead within easy reach of the city centre that has retained its original appearance. It remained in the van Breda family until late in the 18th century.

Rheezigt, as shown in Vintage Cape Town by C Pama (1974):
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One of the favourite walks of poet Langenhoven went past Rheezight. He even made a drawing of the lovely house amongst the trees, and it is believed to have inspired his work “Onder die Denne”.

Rheezight was also threatened by demolition in 1958, but fortunately was saved and restored. At the time this research was undertaken (1996) it was the ministerial residence of minister Roelf Meyer. (Martina Louw visited and photographed it then with his consent)

Rheezigt front entrance (1996):

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Painting of Rheezight Homestead in its entrance hall (1996):

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Old slave bell (1996):

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Rheezigt side entrance (1996):

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Rheezigt side view (1996):

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Rheezigt lounge (1996):

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Rheezigt bedroom (1996):

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Rheezigt seems to have been too small for Alexander, for in 1786 he sold it to his younger brother Arend Josias (who lived there life-long), and moved to a large timber estate called Boshof in Newlands. Boshof had obtained its name because it consisted mainly of woodland and initially derived its income from the sale of timber.

Alexander purchased 2 additional adjoining farms (Boschbeek and Paradys), united them with Boshof as one large farm and built a comfortable homestead on it.

Map showing Alexander’s 3 adjoining farms Boshoff, Boschbeek and Paradys:

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After Alexander van Breda became Boshofs owner late in the 18th century, it became a country estate. He farmed here on a large scale with livestock and had large orchards and vineyards.

The existing Boshof homestead has many later additions but part of it is built from riverstone, unbaked bricks and shell-lime dating from the 18th century. In 1996 it then belonged to plastic surgeon dr. W.D. Malherbe. (Martina Louw visited and photographed it then with the owners’ consent)

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The thatch roof was replaced by galvanised iron long ago already. The wooden floors were replaced by pine beams, except in one room which still has broad stinkwood beams. There are several original doors and door frames in the house still, typically made from yellowwood in a teak frame. Window frames date from several time periods - varying from the broad 18th century frames to the narrow British type. There are also 3 air vents - one from the 18th century, and two from the 19th. These additions form an integral part of the history of this house, lending to it a special character.

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According to an article in The Old Houses of the Cape (Dr Hans Fransen and Dr Mary Cook), Boshof's Cape-Dutch gables were thought to be contemporary copies. This is however strongly refuted by owners Dr Fransie and Mrs Wilma Malherbe, who are convinced the gables are original, as they believe inspection from the inside indicates without doubt.

The house was declared a national monument in 1984.

Photograph of Boshof Homestead by Wilma Malherbe (1995):

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On 7/6/1829 Alexander convened a meeting at Boshof, at which it was decided to establish the Dutch Reformed Church Congregation of Wynberg, the first daughter congregation of the Groote Kerk of the Peninsula. The Wynberg church was built a year later and Alexander was one of the first elders. As befitted a man of his standing, Alexander built the famous gates at Boshof's entrance, which were proclaimed a national monument in the 1940's.

Boshof gateway (1996):
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He also built very similar gates at what used to be known as the old ‘slave enclosure’, but what was later discovered to be the family graveyard. These are a short distance down the avenue, on the property now known as Tabora. Here gravestones were found of Jacobus Alexander, Servaas Francois and Hester van Breda and their spouses. Alexander snr. and his wives are suspected to have been buried in the vault that he built, which has now disappeared under the Tabora house.

The Boshof family graveyard (1946), now on Tabora (Cape Town Archives photo collection):

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From Alexander’s will it is clear that he farmed here on a large scale with livestock and had large orchards and vineyards. He had 14 children by 2 wives, and bequeathed his 3 farms to 3 of his sons. He left nothing in his will to his heirs to contest - not even the water rights of the 3 farms. The "Ieibeurte" were carefully specified, hour by hour, with different timetables for the dry and rainy seasons. Even the manure on Boshof was bequeathed!

After this patriarch's death, the wheel of fortune however gradually turned for Boshof's van Bredas. According to their death notices, Alexander's profession was that of a "gentleman", his son Jacobus Alexander was a "land proprietor", but the grandson Alexander Jacobus had "no profession" and his estate consisted only of movables and cash. On the very day Boshof was transferred to him, he already sold part of it to the owner of Boschbeek, now called Fernwood, and over the next decade he parted with the rest bit by bit.

By the turn of the century the city was encroaching and the 3 farms were again consolidated by a consortium, only to be subdivided for urban development under the name Fernwood Estate.

Alexander had 14 children, 6 from his first marriage and 8 from the second:

  1. Martha Catharina ~29.9.1782 x GH Meyer
  2. Michiel ~26.3.1786 x Cape Town 30.10.1808 Johanna Elizabeth Louw
  3. Jacobus Alexander ~18.9.1788 x Cape Town 6.2.1814 Johanna Maria Mollerstrom, xx 26.1.1848 Catharina Wilhelmina van Breda widow of Stephanus Hofmeyr
  4. Wilhelmina Catharina ~8.11.1789 x Cape Town 1.11.1812 Christiaan Nicolaas Neethling
  5. Pieter ~27.11.1791 + 8.10.1855, x Cape Town 12.1.1817 Catharina Wilhelmina Voigt xx 1846 Sibella Margaretha van Helsdingen
  6. Alexander Pieter ~7.12.1794 x Johanna Cloete
  7. Maria Jacoba ~27.3.1796 x Cape Town 12.10.1817 Adriaan Philip Cloete
  8. Johanna Isabella *28.12.1797 ~ Cape Town 21.1.1798, + 29.3.1874 x Cape Town 7.11.1818 Pieter Voltelen van der Byl
  9. Helena Geertruida Martha ~4.10.1799, died young
  10. Johan Adam Michiel ~8.11.1801 x Swartland 30.7.1827 Aletta Cornelia Anna de Waal
  11. Servaas Francois ~8.4.1803 x Yda Cloete
  12. Susanna Margaretha Elizabeth ~6.1.1805
  13. Gerrit Hendrik ~9.11.1806 x Gesina W Cloete
  14. Hester Susanna Jacoba ~7.2.1808 x Daniel Kuys

References:

  • Genealogy info from Pama & Heese/Lombard
  • Pama C., Vintage Cape Town = Historic Table Valley, 1973
  • Die Burger, 15 Jan 1962: Rheezigt is in Kaapstad uniek met Staandak en Geuwels”
  • Die Burger 4 Mar 1995: “Historiese Boshof in Nuweland in die Mark”
  • Information supplied by 1996 owner Wilma Malherbe

(Copies of some of the above references are attached in "Sources" section)

Compiled by Martina Louw, néé van Breda [Em Lo] (Descendant of Pieter's grandson Alexander, and his great-grandson Johan Adam Michiel van Breda)


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Alexander van Breda, b1c5's Timeline

1755
July 27, 1755
Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa
November 2, 1755
Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa
1782
September 29, 1782
Cape of Good Hope, South Africaa
1786
March 26, 1786
1788
September 18, 1788
Boshoff Estate, Newlands, Cape Town, Cape Colony
1789
1789
Boshhof Estate, Rondebosch, Cape Town, Cape of Good Hope, South Africa
1791
1791
Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa
1794
1794
Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa