Benjamin Norden, Snr. SV/PROG 2

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About Benjamin Norden, Snr. SV/PROG 2

1820 British Settler


Benjamin Norden (21) a tailor, was a member of Thomas Willson's Party of 307 Settlers on the La Belle Alliance.

Party originated from London.

Departed London - 12 February 1820. Arrived Table Bay, Cape Town - 2 May 1820. Final Port - Algoa Bay, Port Elizabeth May 1820.

Area Allocated to the Party : Beaufort Vale on the Bush River

Benjamin Norden was listed as a member of a Jewish party formed by his father, Abraham Norden of Smithfield, London, whose application to emigrate was unsuccessful. He described himself in 1823 as one of Willson's party, but it is not known whether he sailed in La Belle Alliance under another man's name, or whether he reached the Cape some time after the 1820 settlers and joined his relative John Norton on the party's location. He was not a claimant for land.

NORDEN, family of South African pioneers (mid-19th century), consisting of five brothers – Benjamin, Joshua Davis, Marcus, Samuel, and Harry. They were among the 18 Jewish members of the party of settlers sent out by the British government in 1820 to the turbulent frontier of the eastern Cape Colony. The 1820 settlers endured great privations in a wild country exposed to depredations by African tribesmen. After some years many of them, including the Nordens, settled the small towns which had sprung up. BENJAMIN NORDEN (1798–1876), a man of adventurous nature, traveled into the interior, engaged in the ivory trade, and had dealings with the Zulu king, Dingaan in December 1835. He was a friend of the Boer voortrekker leader, Piet Retief. Norden was interested in plans for the development of Delagoa Bay and Port Elizabeth and joined in a gold prospecting venture. In 1840 he moved from Grahamstown, where he had a trading store with his brother MARCUS, to Cape Town and was associated with the De Pass family in exploiting the guano deposits on the west coast. In Cape Town he was active in civic affairs and was one of the municipal commissioners. He took the lead in forming Cape Town's first Hebrew congregation, Tikvath Israel (1841). When the first synagogue was built in 1849 Norden was president, holding the office until 1857 when he returned to England. JOSHUA DAVIS NORDEN (1803–1846) settled in Grahamstown as an auctioneer after leaving his frontier farm. Like his brother, he served as a municipal commissioner and was leader of the Jewish community. To defend the town from attacks by tribesmen he raised and captained the Grahamstown Yeomanry, which bore his name. In 1846 he was killed at the head of his men in a skirmish during the War of the Axe, one of a long series of "Kaffir wars." As a tribute to his "intrepidity and bravery," his former comrades erected a plaque to his memory on a wall of St. George's Cathedral, Grahamstown. A third Norden brother, SAMUEL, was killed while leading a charge in the Basuto War (1858). A nephew of Benjamin Norden was the famous San Francisco, California eccentric Joshua Davis Norton (1818–1880), known as the "Emperor Norton," who in 1859 proclaimed himself "Norton the First, Emperor of the United States."


L. Herrman, History of the Jews in South Africa (1935), index; G. Saron and L. Hotz, Jews in South Africa (1955), index; JC (July 24, 1846), repr. in: Jewish Affairs (March, 1953), 23–25; Mendelssohn, in: JHSET, 7 (1915), 192–4; Rosenthal, in: Zionist Record (South African, Sept. 30, 1932).

[Louis Hotz]

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.

Benjamin was one of the leaders in the anti-convict agitation in Cape Town in 1849. When the convict ship Neptune lay at anchor in Table Bay and the convicts on board were dying of scurvy, his compassion would not allow him to sign the 'ultra pledge' to withhold all supplies of food to the ship and garrison. At his own expense, Norden furnished them with food and medicine for 32 days. As a result he fell into disrepute. He was publically ostracized and boycotted except by a few staunch admirers. A libel suit was instituted against him which he lost. As he left the court a stone from the rioting mob caught him in the back. He did not recover from the effects of this injury which left him a partial invalid until his death 26 years later.

In 1858 he returned to England but continued to take an active interest in the afairs of the Jewish community in Cape Town. His wife Abigail died in England and was buried in the Ramsgate cemetery, which Norden then purchased for the Jewish community there. He died in 1875 and was buried beside his wife.

The Jewish Museum, Cape Town.

See Benjamin Norden (1798-1876) by Hazel Dakers

1861 Census

30 York Place, St Marylebone, Middlesex

Class: RG 9; Piece: 76; Folio: 11; Page: 23; GSU roll: 542569.

  • Benjamin Norden HD M 62 Retired from Cape born London City
  • Abigail Norden Wife M 59 born Berkshire Windsor
  • Joseph Norden Son u 19 born Cape of Good Hope
  • Joseph Levy, Visitor M 33 Merchant of Cape born London St. Martins
  • Abigail Levy, Visitor M 21 born Cape of Good Hope
  • Samuel Levy 2 born King Williams Town
  • Benjamin Levy 1 born King Williams Town
  • Simeon Alexander 11 born Cape of Good Hope

1871 Census

3 Victoria Parade, Ramsgate, Kent

Class: RG10; Piece: 994; Folio: 118; Page: 18; GSU roll: 838725.

  • Benjamin Norden HD M 72 Retired born London
  • Abigail Norden Wife M 62 born Windsor
  • Julia Norden, daur UM 49 born Cape of Good Hope
  • Joseph Norden, son, 29 born Cape of Good Hope
  • Julia Norden G.Daur 10 born Cape of Good Hope
  • Elizabeth Norden, G 7 daur born London
  • Alexander A Norden G son 5 born London

England & Wales, FreeBMD Death Index, 1837-1915

  • Name: Benjamin Norden
  • Estimated Birth Year: abt 1799
  • Date of Registration: Apr-May-Jun 1875
  • Age at Death: 76
  • Registration district: Thanet
  • Inferred County: Kent
  • Volume: 2a
  • Page: [53]21


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Benjamin Norden, Snr. SV/PROG 2's Timeline

London, England
March 6, 1825
Age 27
Cape Province, South Africa
Age 27
Age 28
May 8, 1827
Age 29
Cape Province, South Africa
December 24, 1829
Age 31
March 25, 1832
Age 34
Cape Province, South Africa
May 15, 1835
Age 37
Cape Province, South Africa
Age 38