Lieut. Hamilton Ross

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Lieut. Hamilton Ross

Birthdate: (77)
Birthplace: Galway, Galway, Ireland
Death: February 16, 1853 (77)
San Souci, Rondebosch, Cape Town, South Africa
Immediate Family:

Husband of Catharina Elizabeth Ross, a2b3
Father of Olivia Elizabeth Brereton; Maria Johanna Ross; Alida Elizabeth Ross and Charlotte Ross

Managed by: Brendan Swemmer
Last Updated:

About Lieut. Hamilton Ross

Profile Photo: The 'big' House described in Group-Captain Hamilton Ross article by Miss J. Kenyon

Our History | Sans Souci - Sans Souci Girls' High School

  • In 1835 the Sans Souci estate, after which our school was named, was sold by its then owner, Chief Justice Menzies, to the Honourable Mr Hamilton Ross. Ross was a colourful character who began his career in the Scots Guards that participated in the Battle of Muizenberg; resulting in the first British occupation of the Cape in 1795 -- and raised the first Union Jack in the colony. After he resigned his commission, he became a respectable and prosperous merchant and importer and, in due course, a member of the Legislative Council of the Cape.
  • At Sans Souci, Ross built a spacious thatched country home, roughly where the tennis courts now lie, and extended the boundaries of the property until it stretched from the Liesbeeck River down to and over the railway line to where Claremont station now stands. He had a passion for gardening and developed the land into a model country estate which produced fruit and vegetables of every kind. It was also admired for its rolling lawns and magnificent views. In the fashion of the day, specimen trees from all over the empire were collected, some of which were still standing in the remains of an arboretum when the school was built. Ross provided cottages for his garden labourers, in what was called Rosscommon village; after which the present road in Claremont is named. He also established a school for his labourer’s children which eventually became part of the parish of St Saviours Church.
  • Ross became renowned for his generous hospitality at Sans Souci; the parties and banquets frequently held there were plentifully supplied with fresh produce from his estate. This hospitality was extended to many of the leading figures in the Cape Colonial Administration -- including the Attorney General of the Cape, Mr William Porter, and Governors Sir Benjamin D’Urban and Sir Harry Smith. The latter once wrote to Ross declaring that he had “worn a bridle path between Westbrook and Sans Souci, riding over to seek your advice on governing the Cape of Good Hope”. Among other distinguished visitors from Europe and the East to visit Sans Souci was the Duke of Wellington, architect of Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo.
  • Following the death of Ross in 1853, the estate, in possession of the Ross family and others remained a gentleman’s country residence until the land was subdivided for further development. The last part of this grand old estate became Sans Souci School some one hundred years later when Mr Norman Henshilwood, then a member of the Provincial Council, persuaded the Cape Provincial Administration to provide a school to relieve the pressure on girls’ schools between Rondebosch and Wynberg.

The Descendants of Jacobus Johannes van den Berg

  • Hamilton Ross, Lieut. Scottish Brigade, served SA 1796-1798.
  • Was a young man of very good character who had made fair and honourable proposals [of marriage] which [her] father objected to. (Lady A Barnard)(156) .
  • September 1798 we had next, the elopement of young ‘vrouw’ Van den Berg with Capt. Hamilton Ross.
  • January 1799 marriage, Fort St George, Madras, India of Hamilton Ross and Catharina Elisabeth daughter of Jacobus Johannes van den Berg (b. Stellenbosch, Cape, baptized 11 Nov 1781, d. 5 May 1842, Sans Souci, Rondebosch)
  • Lieut. 81st Foot, served SA 1801-02.
  • Hamilton Ross returned to the Cape in 1801 with 81st Foot; retired on half pay 1803.
  • They had two children.
  • 1808 -1820. Hamilton Ross, merchant, 54 Loop St. December 1808

National Archives of South Africa, Cape

  • DEPOT: KAB (attached)
  • VOLUME NO: 6/9/61
  • SYSTEM: 01
  • REFERENCE: 1826
  • PART: 1
  • STARTING: 1853
  • ENDING: 1853

From: "Jack WRIGHT" < Subject: Memorials of Old St. George's Cathedral, Cape Town Date: Thu, 15 Dec 2005

24. Hamilton Ross (1774—16 February 1853), was "one of the first British merchants in this Colony," an early member of the Legislative Council and died "at his country residence, Sans Souci, Rondebosch." The memorial was commissioned by his daughter Maria Johanna and her husband John Robert Ross and on 7 January 1856 he asked for leave to erect it above the central entrance door of the nave and it was in position by 12 March. There is a fine relief carving of Ross on his death bed, with a Bible on his breast, while above this scene angels fly upwards with his soul to Heaven. From 'A concise history of Port Beaufort & White Sands (also known as Witsand) including Family Trees White Sands & Port Beaufort' written by John McGregor Captain Benjamin Moodie's partner.

National Archives of South Africa, Cape

  • VOLUME NO: 1/164
  • SYSTEM: 00
  • REFERENCE: 2896
  • PART: 1
  • STARTING: 1844
  • ENDING: 1844

From: Patricia Frykberg <> Subject: Re: [ZA-IB] ROSS Date: Sat, 26 Jul 2003 13:44:03 +1200 References: <009f01c352c7$ac147fe0$b9d835d1@oemcomputer>

You struck gold there Joanna. p21 "among the sportsmen...Cape Town Turf Club where soon Hamilton Ross, the great Irish entrepreneur became a steward" p25.'....among those who left the country (Ireland) as young children took pride in their background. One such was Hamilton Ross, the great Cape merchant who had an Irish harper attached to his estate, "Sans Souci" near Cape town and who built a little village for his groundsman which he named Roscommon" p34. "Hamilton Ross was a nominated member of the Cape legislative council from 1834 to 1849. Born in Galway he joined the Aberdeenshire rifles as an ensign at the age of 16, participated in the capture of the Cape in 1795, eloped with a Dutch heiress aid to the connivance of lady Ann Barnard, became a merchant and amassed a fortune. he was one of the few British settlers who was fully bilingual. it was he who moved the first resolution which resulted in Natal being incorporated into the British empire." p164 "One of the most prominent early businessmen of Irish birth was Hamilton Ross, born in Galway 1774, who founded the leading firm of merchants Hamilton Ross & Co. in Cape Town 1806. In 1818 he had 12 slaves, three carriages and five horses. Soon he was to own Cape Town's first merchant fleet as the company handled exports of grain and wine from the Cape, imports from India and other places and was responsible for keeping Mauritius, Reunion and St Helena provisioned. Ross was one of the founders of the Cape of Good Hope Bank in 1826 and continued to play and active roll in Cape Town's business life until the late 1840s. His house, t Nelson was eventually sold by his nephew John Ross to the Castle Steamship company in 1894 and was rebuilt to become Cape Town's foremost hotel." From "the Irish in Southern Africa 1795-1910" South African-Irish Studies. Ed. Donal McCracken Vol 2. 1992

Pat - I have been researching my ROSS ancestors for the past ten years, first by snail mail and over the last three years by the internet. My great great great grandfather was Hamilton Ross, born Sept. 7, 1775 in Galway, Ireland. He was in the Scot's Guards and then retired on half pay to Cape Town, South Africa in 1803. He became a member of the Legislature and a prominent business man. He died in 16 February 1853 and is buried in Wynberg. There is a memorial plaque to him in St. George's Cathedral, Cape Town. My research started when I found an old letter written to my father about his ancestry.

Joanna H Smith 6126 Island Highway COURTENAY, BC V9J 1T5 Canada 250-334-4665

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Lieut. Hamilton Ross's Timeline

September 7, 1775
Galway, Galway, Ireland
Age 25
Cape Town, Cape
Age 26
At sea on British ship
Age 27
Cape Town, Cape of Good Hope
July 6, 1807
Age 31
Cape Town, Cape of Good Hope
February 16, 1853
Age 77
Rondebosch, Cape Town, South Africa