Pres. Hermanus Steyn d'Jonge from the Republic of Swellendam

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Pres. Hermanus d'Jonge Steyn, b1c3d6

Afrikaans: Pres. Hermanus Steyn, b1c3d6
Also Known As: "Hermanus d'Jonge", "Hermanus de Jonge", "d'Jonge"
Birthdate: (61)
Birthplace: Bruintjiesrivier, Swellendam
Death: Died in Swellendam, South Africa
Cause of death: Died before 3 August 1804
Immediate Family:

Son of Hermanus d'Oude Steyn and Martha Potgieter, b7c2
Husband of Anna Margaretha Steyn, b1c2d8
Father of Hermanus Steyn, b1c3d6e1; Marthinus Steyn, b1c3d6e2; Martha Catharina Steyn b1c3d6e3; Johanna Margaretha Steyn, b1c3d6e4; Aletta Maria Steyn, b1c3d6e5 and 2 others
Brother of Hans Jurgen Steyn, b1c3d4; Jacobus Arnoldus Steyn, b1c3d5; Maria Johanna Steyn, b1c3d7; Douw Gerbrand Steyn, b1c3d8; Cornelia Willemse (formerly Wessels, born Steyn) and 7 others
Half brother of Johannes Steyn, b1c3d1; Petronella Steyn, b1c3d2 and Sibella Steyn, b1c3d3

Occupation: Farmer at Janharmansgat; Heemraad; President, Boer en President van Swellendam, Pesident Swellendam Republic
Managed by: Chris Steyn
Last Updated:

About Pres. Hermanus Steyn d'Jonge from the Republic of Swellendam

Hermanus STEYN b1c3d6 was born on the farm Bruintjiesrivier of his father, Hermanus STEYN d'Oude. When he was about nine years old, the family moved to the farm Doornfontein adjacent to the Sondagsrivier. For fifteen years they lived there, facing the rigours of living to the east of the Cape. In 1789 he return back to the Cape and settled on the farm Jan Harmansgat (see article below).

Source: Die Families van Ou Swellendam Deel 1 Steyn.


10 Mar 1765 1765, den 10 Maart Hermanus Steijn van Cabo de Goede hoop, jongman burger aan Swellendam met Anna Margaretha Van Staaden van Cabo voorrnt:, Weduwe Source: Nederduits Gereformeerde Gemeente (NGK), Tulbagh, Western Cape. marriage register, 1744-1839, page 14, entry no 4. Repository: NG Kerkargief, Noordwal-Wes, Stellenbosch, G4 9/1. Transcribed by Trysie Joubert, Marelize Keyter, Marie Greyvenstein and Annatje Erasmus as part of the eGGSA Project, from VC 664, Cape Archives Repository


Hermanus STEYN and the Swellendam Republic:

The first republic in the country’s history, was declared at Swellendam during 1795. In those days, the Overberg was very thinly populated. The Dutch East India Company (DEIC) ruled the Cape and had outposts, commandos, and magistrates in various places. They agreed to buy the farmers’ grain at a fixed price for fifteen years.

When the DEIC introduced toll gates and taxes, farmers struggled, and to increase their distress, the DEIC grain stores were closed to farmers. The unsafe situation for farmers on the eastern border with the Xhosa tribes, as well as mismanagement and economic suppression by the DEIC, caused the pot to boil over. While the court at Swellendam was in session on 17 June 1795, nine armed men appeared and ordered the heemraad (council) to leave the Drostdy court building. Officials were dismissed and DEIC rule rejected. An independent republic was declared with a National Assembly and Hermanus Steyn as president. It was a momentous event, but within no time, they were called on to assist in a battle against a British army attacking the Cape. The republicans refused initially, but a commando of 70 soon left for the Cape.

This first Republican commando left for Muizenberg in the Cape and fought well. It was however, an uneven fight which ended on 4 November 1795 when the British occupied the Cape. British rulers tried everything to appease the Swellendam people. No more taxes were imposed and after a short 4½ months the Swellendam Republic was ended.

It took quite a while until peace reigned in the Swellendam district. The two leaders of the revolt, Delport and Pisani were arrested and deported to Holland.



Hermanus STEYN and his connection to JAN HARMANSZ SCHAT which later became known as Jan Harmansgat.

In 1674, east of the current town of Bonnievale, on a farm nestled under the towering Langeberg Mountains, Johannes Harman Jansz Potgieter was born.

Johannes married in 1714, and the farm appears on the grant of 1723 as Jan Harmansz Schat (treasure)- from which it was apparently corrupted to Jan Harmsgat.

In 1731 we find the grazing rights being granted to a famous hunter, Jacobus Botha. His hunting career was brought to an end a couple of years later, when he shot a lion, and the lioness (which he had not seen) attacked and mauled him, leaving him for dead. Botha recovered but was never able to hunt again, and in 1734 Governor de la Fontaine made a freehold grant to Botha, for services rendered, of the farm Jan Harmans Gat which he was then occupying. The farm was described as "vier uur te perd van die dorp Swellendam" Jacobus Botha lived to the age of 90, dying in 1782, and his 12 sons gave him 190 grandchildren.

The farm is situated along the slopes of the Langeberg, between the mountain and the Breede River. The modern road from Swellendam to Ashton runs along this beautiful valley.

In 1789 the farm passed into the hands of Hermanus Steyn de Jonge. In 1765 he had married the widow Margaretha van Staden, and by the time the farm was occupied by him, he was already a man of some stature in the area. In addition to farming, he also did some Trustee work and sat on the District Council of Swellendam.

In 1795 the farmers of the District rebelled against their Dutch masters, and declared themselves independent of the Cape Government. Hermanus Steyn was chosen as the president of the new Republic, which lasted only a short while before the British assumed control of the Cape Colony, and Swellendam again reverted to their original status.

Hermanus Steyn lies buried on the farm Jan Harmsgat in a small plot marked by a granite gravestone, which can be seen a few hundred meters from the main house.

A grandson of the old President, Gideon van Zyl, changed the name of the farm to the gentler name of Nooitgedacht. The old building with its three gables under thatch, was again changed by a cousin, one Piet van Eeden. He removed the upper floors and rebuilt the house with a corrugated iron roof.

The original wine cellar and old slave quarters were retained, but again the thatch was replaced by corrugated iron. This has subsequently been changed back to thatch and is the form in which the buildings now exist.

The wine cellar reminds us of the days when Jan Harmsgat was a large wine farm. The owner of the farm during that time, one F.J.van Eeden was a member of the Legislature, and inherited the farm from old Gideon van Zyl.

One day, while sitting in a meeting of the legislature, he became so angry about a proposed excise duty, that he had all the vineyards cut down, and planted orange trees in their place.

Jan Harmsgat became famous for it's oranges, which thrived in this climate. Four giant old orange trees which had been planted by Hermanus Steyn, de Oude, produced wagon loads of oranges for 150 years, but were then cut down by van Eeden, and 5 dozen orangewood chairs made from the timber.

Today the farm is still in the hands of a van Eeden, after a short time when ownership was not in the family. Judi Rebstein (nee' van Eeden) and Brin are the present owners, and have been responsible for the extensive renovations to both the buildings and orchards, as well as the remaining 680 ha. of farmland.

· Extracts from: Geskiendkundige Swellendam. L.L.Tomlinson

· In the Footsteps Of Lady Anne Barnard. Jose Burman



The following text comes from Suid-Afrikaanse Biografiese Woordeboek Vol V, p. 780-781:

Hermanus het op die plaas Bruintjesrivier naby Swellendam opgegroei. In 1773 het hy hom op die plaas Doornfontein, langs die Sondagsrivier, gevestig. In 1776 is hy tot heemraad van Swellendam verkies en het die boere van die oosgrens in die hoedanigheid verteenwoordig. In 1789 het hy egter na Swellendam teruggekeer waar hy sy boerdery op die plaas Janharmansgat (tans Nooitgedacht) voortgesit en saam met die boere van die omgewing finansieel moeilike tye beleef het vanweë die besuinigingsmaatreëls van die bankrot VOC. Die militêre poste in die distrik is onder meer afgeskaf en die koring depot op Mosselbaai gesluit. Die boere het landdros A.A. Faure en sy amptenare as die sondebokke uitgesonder in in Junie 1795 het die uitbarsting gekom. Burgers, veral van die oosgrens, het onder leiding van P.J. Delport en A.L.A. Pisany opgeruk na die drosdy, waar die hof van landdros en heemrade op 17 Junie sou vergader. By die vergadering (wat nie deur Hermanus bygewoon is nie) is 'n brief van goewerneur A. J. Sluysken waarin die burgers gemaan is om niks met die ekstremiste van die oosgrens te doen te hê nie, behandel. Net voor die vergadering sou verdaag, het Paul Fouché met agt gewapende mans die vertrek binnegekom en die lede van die 'collegie' beveel om Swellendam nie te verlaat voordat die klagtes van die ontevredenes aangehoor is nie. Faure het ingestem en 'n vergadering vir 18 Junie belê ten einde die klagtes van die burgers aan te hoor. By hierdie vergadering was Hermanus wel teenwoordig. Die segsmanne van die opstandige burgers het geëis dat Faure en sy apmptnare hul betrekkings moet neerlê en dat alle dokumente, registers en geld aan Hermanus, wat tot 'praesident' dit wil sê voorsiteer van die nuwe 'collegie' (die Nasionale Vergadering) en 'nasionale landdros' gekies is, oorhandig moet word. Nuwe heemrade is ook aangestel, aangesien die oues hulle nie by die nuwe bedeling wou inskakel nie, en op 17 Julie het die nuwe liggaam onder Hermanus vergader.

Die vernaamste taak was om 'n manifes op te stel. Die dokument wat deur die Italiaan Pisany opgestel is en waarvan Hermanus die hoofondertekenaar was, getuig volgens G.D. Scholtz van die 'besonder klein geestelike wêreld' van die opstellers en dat hul 'politieke denke nie verder (gegaan het) as hul daaglikse boerderybedrywighede nie'.

Uit hierdie en daaropvolgende gebeurtenisse blyk dat Hermanus geen sterk figuur was nie en eintlik maar net as die gewillige houtpop van die opstandelinge opgetree het. Sy vader was egter 'n gesiene heemraad.

Hierdie gebeure in Swellendam het met die eerste aanval van die Britte op die Kaap in 1795 saamgeval en ofskoon die rebelle teen die bewind van die VOC was, het Delport met sewentig Swellendammers vertrek om die Kaap te help verdedig. Skaars het hulle Swellendam verlaat, of Pisany het sy kans waargeneem en homself as kommandant aangestel terwyk Hermanus die nuwe wending van sake maar gelate aanvaar het.

Na die oorgawe van die Kaap op 16.9.1795 het Hermanus hom aan die nuwe bewind onderwerp en sy kantoor aan Faure wat deur die Britte as landdros herbenoem is, oorhandig. Hy het die daaropvolgende vergadering wat op 4.11.1795 deur Faure belê is, bygewoon en voor die afsluiting die eed van getrouheid aan koning George III afgelê. Hiermee het hy uit die openbare lewe getree.

Herman Steyn was the President of the Swellendam Republik

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Pres. Hermanus Steyn d'Jonge from the Republic of Swellendam's Timeline

December 15, 1743
Bruintjiesrivier, Swellendam
December 15, 1743
Swellendam, South Africa
Age 23
March 25, 1769
Age 25
March 3, 1771
Age 27
Tulbagh, Cape Winelands, Western Cape, South Africa
February 7, 1773
Age 29
April 16, 1775
Age 31
October 12, 1777
Age 33
April 30, 1780
Age 36
Swellendam, Overberg District Municipality, Western Cape, South Africa