Eliza Sophia Pigot, SM/PROG

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About Eliza Sophia Pigot, SM/PROG

1820 British Settler


Eliza Sophia Pigot 15, together with her father, who was Leader of this Party, her stepmother and her sister, were members of Pigot's Party of 54 Settlers on the Settler Ship Northampton.

Party originated from Berkshire.

Departed Portsmouth, 13 December 1819. Arrived Table Bay, Cape Town on 26 March 1820. Final Port - Algoa Bay, Port Elizabeth on 30 April 1820.

Area Allocated to the Party : a block of land, named Pigot Park, on the left bank of the Blaauwkrantz River.

Children :

  • Catherine Pigot 17
  • Eliza Sophia Pigot 15


Name: Eliza Sophia Pigot

Birth date: circa 1805

Birth Place: ‘Fox Earth’, Staffordshire, England

Date of Death: 26 Oct 1881

Place of Death: Pietermaritzburg, Natal, South Africa. Buried in the Moodie family plot in the Church of England Cemetery (aka Voortrekker Cemetery/Commercial Road Cemetery), Chief Albert Luthuli Road (formerly Commercial Road), Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa on 26 October 1881.

Parents: Major George Pigot (mother unknown).

Marriage: Donald Moodie.

Date: 29 March 1824; the ceremony was performed by the Rev William Geary at Pigot Park, and the official record is to be found in the Grahamstown Diocesan Office (entry No 49 in the earliest 'Register Book of Marriages, Baptisms and Burials at Graham's Town commencing from April 3rd 1823').


  • Sophia Eliza ‘Sophy’ Moodie (b. 15 May 1825, ‘Pigot Park’, Albany, Cape Colony; d. 20 Jan 1860, Pietermaritzburg, Natal)
  • Catherine Jemima ‘Minna’ Moodie (b. 11 August 1826, Port Francis, Cape Colony; d. 29 Sept 1860, Pietermaritzburg, Natal)
  • (William James) Dunbar Moodie (b. 13 November 1827, Port Francis, Cape Colony; d. 13 June 1903, Bournemouth, England)
  • George Pigot Moodie (b. 22 January 1829, Grahamstown, Cape Colony; d. 2 Nov 1891, Rondebosch, Cape)
  • Donald Hugh Menzies Moodie (b. 22 April 1830, Grahamstown, Cape Colony; d. 7 July 1911, Pietermaritzburg, Natal)
  • Charlotte ‘Lolotte’ Mary Moodie (b. 8 February 1832, Grahamstown, Cape Colony; d. 17 May 1888, Pietermaritzburg, Natal)
  • Benjamin Charles Moodie (b. 11 November 1833, Graaff-Reinet, Cape Colony; d. 21 Aug 1858, Pietermaritzburg, Natal)
  • Richard James Frederick Moodie (b. 23 January 1835, Graaff-Reinet, Cape Colony; d. 1 Feb 1836, Graaff-Reinet, Cape Colony)
  • John Bell Moodie (b. 6 February 1836, Graaff-Reinet, Cape Colony; d. 11 July 1876, Pietermaritzburg, Natal)
  • Duncan Campbell Francis Moodie (b. 24 January 1838, Cape Town, Cape Colony; d. 11 Feb 1891, died at sea)
  • Frederick Walter Octavius Moodie (b. 26 September 1839, Cape Town, Cape Colony; d. 20 June 1840, Cape Town, Cape Colony)
  • Caroline Maria Mackenzie Moodie (b. 13 September 1841, Cape Town, Cape Colony; d. ?)
  • (Edith Jessie) Georgina ‘Ina’ Moodie (b. 10 November 1842, George, Cape Colony; d. 20 March 1927, Camberley, England)
  • Alfred Harding West Moodie (b. 29 December 1846, Pietermaritzburg, Natal; d. 18 Feb 1882, Pietermaritzburg, Natal)


1820 settler, wife for 37 years, mother of 14 children, grandmother of 54, hostess, gardener, lace-maker and needlewoman of superb petit-point tapestry.


  • Sophia was the younger of two daughters of Major George Pigot, son of Lord George Pigot, 1st Bart and Baron Pigot of Patshull, and twice Governor of Madras. She was born in Staffordshire and grew up on her father’s estate of Chievely in Berkshire.
  • 1820 – arrived in South Africa on the 1820 settler transport Northampton’, one of the 54 members of the Pigot Party led by her father. Sophia kept a diary during the voyage and for the first couple of years in the Eastern Cape.
  • 1824 – marriage to Donald, an impoverished retired naval officer trying his hand as a farmer in the settlement. After a disastrous few years of crop failures and severe floods Donald gave up on farming and took a position as Acting Magistrate at Port Francis on the Kowie River, Eastern Cape.
  • 1825 – first of fourteen children was born.
  • 1828 – the family (including 3 children) moved into Grahamstown.
  • 1832 – (6 children) and a move to Graaff-Reinet.
  • 1834 – Donald’s job as Protector of Slaves for the Eastern Division of the Cape Colony ceased to exist after the emancipation of slavesand and he was employed by Sir Bejamin D’Urban to research, translate and transcribe early Dutch records concerning the relationships between the settlers and the indigenous peoples. This involved spending long periods of time away from Sophia and the family.
  • 1835 – a bad year for Sophia. Donald was away temporarily employed on a 6-month basis, baby Richard was born in January a sickly infant, all the other children were ill, Sophia had to manage a house move, and her father’s home Pigot Park was burnt to the ground with the outbreak of the Sixth Frontier War.
  • 1836 – Richard died, aged only 1 year, in February and, five days later, her ninth child was born.
  • 1837 – the family reunited when Sophia and the children joined Donald in Cape Town.
  • 1840 – a second child, Octavius, died aged 9 months.
  • 1842 – Donald given a permanent post as Resident Magistrate of George so everything and everybody was packed up for another move.
  • 1844 – first grandchild, a boy, born to daughter Sophy, but he only lived for 10 days.
  • 1845 – Donald’s appointment as Colonial Secretary to the newly formed Government of Natal meant that they all moved to Pietermaritzburg where, according to Ruth Gordon, “Sophia played her role as 4th Lady of the colony with grace and aplomb”.
  • 1852 – Donald was forced out of office after clashes with Governor Pine sohe and Sophia, along with George (21), Benny (18), Cary (10) and Alfred (4), moved away from Pietermaritzburg to ‘Doornkop’, Chievely, near Ladysmith.
  • 1856 – Donald was elected to the first Legislative Council of Natal.
  • 1857 – Donald was elected Speaker of the first Legislative Council, and Sophia was an official guest as the Salute of 21 guns marked the opening session of Natal’s First Legislative body.
  • 1861 – in May Donald and Sophia laid the foundation stone of their new home ‘Melsetter’ (named for Donald’s childhood home in Orkney), to be built just outside Pietermaritzburg on the road to Otto’s Bluff. Three months later, Donald died but Sophia saw the house completed and lived there for the following 20 years, which were “exciting, violent and often tragic”.
  • 1861-1881. Sophia’s son George found gold in Barberton which triggered a gold rush from Pietermaritzburg; daughter Lolotte married Dean James Green who came into conflict with Bishop Colenso; daughter Sophy, whose first husband had died, married John Wesley ‘Misjam’ Shepstone; grandson Malcolm Moodie died at Isandhlwana and his body lay unburied for 6 months; great nephew Marthinus Stewart died at the Battle of Majuba; four of her adult children (Sophy, Minna, Benjamin and John) pre-deceased her.
  • 1881 – Sophia, “the perfect Victorian matriarch”, died in straightened circumstances and was buried next to Donald, and near to her pre-deceased children, in the Moodie family plot in the cemetery in Pietermaritzburg on 26 October 1881.

Notes, References, Sources/Links, Family Trees etc:

The Journals of Sophia Pigot, 1819-1821 (published, 1974, for Rhodes University [by] A. A. Balkema).

Dark Bright Land by V M Fitzroy (published 1955 by Maskew Miller Ltd, Cape Town).

Petticoat Pioneers, Women of Distinction compiled by Ruth E Gordon (published, 1988, by Federation of Women’s Institutes of Natal and Zululand in association with Shuter & Shooter of Pietermaritzburg.

St Saviour's Church Burial Register: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1951-23610-26619-63?cc=1468076&wc=SFVZ-GPX:44975801,51425101,51856801,51850601

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Eliza Sophia Pigot, SM/PROG's Timeline

Staffordshire, England
May 15, 1825
Age 20
Cape Colony, South Africa
August 11, 1826
Age 21
Cape Colony, South Africa
November 13, 1827
Age 22
South Africa
January 22, 1829
Age 24
Grahamstown, Cape Colony, South Africa
April 22, 1830
Age 25
Grahamstown, Cape, South Africa
February 8, 1832
Age 27
Grahamstown, Eastern Cape, South Africa
November 11, 1833
Age 28
Graaff-Reinet, Cape, South Africa
January 23, 1835
Age 30
Graaff-Reinet, Cape, South Africa