Francois Villion/Viljon/Viljoen, SV/PROG 1

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Francois Viljoen (Villion/Viljon/Viljoen), SV/PROG 1

Also Known As: "Villion", "Viljon", "Fignon", "Signon", "Viljoen"
Birthplace: Belgium
Death: November 28, 1690 (39-48)
Cape Town, Cape Winelands District Municipality, Western Cape, South Africa
Place of Burial: Stellenbosch, Caap de Goede Hoop, Suid Afrika
Immediate Family:

Son of Francois Villion, LBVY-X35 and NN Unknown Villion
Husband of Lijsbeth Viljoen and Cornelia Viljoen, SM/Prog
Father of Pieter Viljoen, b1; Anna (Johanna) Venter, b2 SM; Henning Viljoen, b3; Joannes/Johannes Viljoen; Elizabeth Human, b5 and 2 others

Occupation: Wagenmaker en Boer van Idasvallei, Stellenbosch, Stamvader
Label: LWV3-D35
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Francois Villion/Viljon/Viljoen, SV/PROG 1

2. Latest evidence regarding Francois Viljoen’s origin

New evidence, based on a primary source, quite recently appeared and points in the direction of Limburg and/or Wallonia in modern day Belgium, rather than to France, as the origin of Francois Viljoen.

The entry reads as follows:


“Francois Vilion van Mazeijck voor soldaat ende Camer Amsterdam anno 1672 pr.'t Huijs te Velsen aangelant, en 1673 den 18 Augustij als wagenmaker vrij geworden” 5 Maaseik, is a town in the modern day Belgian province of Limburg within the predominantly Dutch speaking Flanders region. 6,7. The coordinates for Maaseik are 510 02’ 09’’ N and 50 46’ 45’’ E. 8 The marriage entry indicating that he was from Clermont, does not exclude Belgium as possible origin since there are a number of towns with the name of Clermont in Belgium, i.e. Clermont de Walcourt; Clermont-sous-Huy, Engis; Clermont/Thierry, Cour Lahaut, Blegny and Thimister-Clermont. All four are situated in the Belgian Walloon Province bordering on the Limburg Province. The distances between Maaseik and the different Clermonts in Belgium vary from approximately 35 – 130 KM. 9

François was die stamvader van die Viljoens in Suid-Afrika. Hy land in 1671 in die Kaap van Goeie Hoop en vestig hom as vryburger in Kaapstad. Hy was die eerste Franssprekende in die Kaap, en dus ook die eerste Protestantse Hugenoot. Ontvang in 1682 die plaas Idasvallei (Stellenbosch) (sien pyl op Google Maps) van goewerneur Simon van der Stel, waar hy boer tot sy afsterwe.

Sy van was Vignon of Signon gespel (voor 1678); later verander dit na Villion, en uiteindelik na Viljon en die hedendaagse Viljoen.

Viljoen Family Website 200909

Francois Villion (Viljoen) v. Clermont, Frankryk a. in Okt. 1670 as Franse Hugenote-vlugteling aan die Kaap v. Goeie Hoop, "vrij wagenmaker", later boer v. Idasvallei, Stellenbosch sterf Stellenbosch c. 1689 x Kaapstad 17.05.1676 Cornelia Campenaar gebore c. 1655 sterf Stellenbosch c. 1713, jongedogter v. Middelburg, Zeeland (sy trou weer Stellenbosch 14.04.1690, met Wemmer Pasman.

Francois Villion arrived in 1671 at the Cape of Good Hope as a Huguenot refugee, who came from Clermont, France.

He was the first French speaking person to set foot in South Africa. This was 22 years before the French Hugenots arrived in 1688. In 1688 he was awarded the farm Idasvallei in the Stellenbosch district. The deed was dated 1692, already after his death. The farm was inherited by his wife.

His occupation is first given as that of "free wagonmaker", and later "Free Burgher" (free farmer). He was married in Cape Town on 1676.05.17 to Cornelia Campenaar, a young girl from Middelburg, Netherlands. In 1682 they received the farm Ida's Valley near Stellenbosch from Governor Simon van der Stel, where Francois Villion farmed until his death in 1689. The surname was initially spelled Villion (also Villon), and was later changed to the present spelling of Viljoen.

It is not quite certain from which town of Clermont Francois Villion originated, since there are a few towns in France with this name. The best known Clermont is situated 60 km north of Paris in the province Ile de France, and it is generally regarded to be his town of origin. All the Protestant church records were destroyed during the persecution of the Huguenots after revoking the Edict of Nantes in 1685, and therefore no baptismal records are available to confirm the facts.

Francois Villion fled France even before the Edict of Nantes was revoked in 1685, and which resulted in the large scale persecution of the Huguenots. Their persecution already increased in intensity as early as 1610, and large numbers had to flee from France for their lives even before the Edict of Nantes was revoked.

Francois Villion was in fact the first Huguenot who settled at the Cape of Good Hope permanently. (Maria de la Quellerie, the wife of Jan van Riebeeck who founded the Dutch settlement at the Cape of Good Hope in 1652, was also a Huguenot, but she left with her husband and family in 1662). Other early Huguenot arrivals (i.e. before the organised large scale immigration of 1688 - 1689) were the brothers François and Guillaume du Toit in 1685).

The large scale persecution of the Huguenots started in 1685, as a result of which some 180 fled to the Cape of Good Hope in 1688/89. Larger numbers emigrated to England, America, Germany, Switzerland, etc.

Francois Villion went to the Cape of Good Hope via the Netherlands in 1671. It is believed that he met his future wife, Cornelia Campenaar, whilst waiting for a passage in Middelburg, Netherlands, which was a harbour city at that time. She followed him to Cape Town five years later, where they were married in 1676 (the fifth marriage at the Cape according to the Viljoen Familieregister, HC Viljoen, RGN, Pretoria, 1978).

Six children were born from their marriage, four in Cape Town and two on the family farm Ida's Valley near Stellenbosch. Two sons, namely Henning and Johannes Viljoen, propagated the Viljoen surname. When the progenitor died in 1689, his widow Cornelia was left behind with six children (of ages 12, 11, 7, 5, 3 and 1 year old respectively). The youngest, Francina, was named after her father (who probably passed away even before her birth). As a widow Cornelia remarried Wemmer Pasman on 1690.04.14, with whom she had three more children.


Francois Villion(Viljoen) van Clermont arriveer in 1671 aan die Kaap. In die registers word die naam voor 1678 Vignon gespel, daarna Villion, vandag is dit Viljoen.


Geslagregister van Vroeë Kaapse families.

Cor Pama

VILLION, No mention in Distribution List 1690, but in the list of families in the Cape District 1692 is the ‘widow of Francois VILLION, with two children.’ There is in the Cape Town Church Books a marriage entry in May 1676, of Francois FIGNON, bachelor of Claremont, free burgher, and Cornelia CAMPENAAR, spinster of Middleburg. In the baptismal entries of the children of this couple the surname is mostly spelt ‘VILLION.’ The name is now generally written ‘VILJOEN,’ and there are now numerous descendants of this couple.


v. Clermont, Frankryk a. in Okkt 1670 as Franse Hugenote-vlugteling aan die Kaap v Goeie Hoop "vrij wagenmaker" later boer van Idasvallei, Stellenbosch

Aankoms Oktober 1670 as Franse Hugenote-vlugteling aan die Kaap

Stamvader van Viljoensin Suid Afrika. arriveer indie Kaap van Goeie Hoop vanaf Frankryk in 1671 as amptenaar van die HOIK. Vestig hom op die plaas Idas Vallei, Stellenbosch

Francois Viljoen in Boucher

A Cape settler whose original home continues to elude certain identification may possibly have come from Dauphine. Francois Villion reached the Cape in 1671. He was from Cleimont, a French place-name of frequent occurrence. However the surname appears among refugees from this region in the United Provinces and Switzerland. Was Francois Villion perhaps from Clermont in the Terres froides north of Grenoble, or from Monestier-de-Clermont south of the provincial capital? • M. Boucher.M (1981). French speakers at the Cape: The European Background. Pretoria, UNISA: Ch 7: Cape Settlers III: from South-Eastern France and Adjoining Territories p182

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Francois Villion/Viljon/Viljoen, SV/PROG 1's Timeline

Age 5
Age 25
France to South Africa
Age 25
Clermont, France
Age 30
Farm "Idasvallei", Stellenbosch, Cape Province

The location of the farm can be seen in Google Maps (at the arrow):,18.887679&ll=-33.9198...
The precise location of the original housing as well as the size of the original farm will obviously be different to what we see here today.

February 7, 1677
Kaapstad, Caap de Goede Hoop, Suid Afrika
May 19, 1678
Riebeeck Kasteel, West Coast DC, WC, South Africa
March 8, 1682
Stellenbosch, Caap de Goede Hoop, Suid Afrika
June 24, 1684
Stellenbosch, Caap de Goede Hoop, Suid Afrika