Johann Christiaan Yselle, SV/PROG

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Johann Christiaan Yselle, SV/PROG

Also Known As: "Johann Christian Ysell", "Yssel"
Birthdate: (87)
Birthplace: Hasle bei Burgdorf, Burgdorf, Canton of Bern, Switzerland
Death: May 18, 1807 (63-91)
South Africa
Immediate Family:

Husband of Johanna Dorothea Ysell, SM and Johanna Albertina Bien Vignon, SM/PROG
Father of Johan Christiaan Yselle, b1; August Ernst Yselle, b2; Godlieb Fredericus Yssele, b3; Gabriel Ernst Yselle, b4; Johanna Maria Yssele, b5 and 8 others

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About Johann Christiaan Yselle, SV/PROG

Yselle / Esseling / Yssel / Iseli, Jan Christiaan

Born in 1732 on the farm Bärgli near Hasle BE [Iseli of Hasle BE - also spelled Yssel after clergy who studied in Holland associated the name with the Yssel lake] arrived 22.1.1754 on Visvliet for Kamer Zeeland. 1754-1759 soldier, initially sick. Had part of his pay sent home.

810.7.1760 burgher earning his living as tailor. 8Married 26.9.1762 Johanna Dororthea van Daalen baptised 18.11.1742, illegitimate daughter of Gustavus Dale and Johanna Franken. They had nine children. Johanna died January 1781.

Only once, 12.10.1773 did Yselle loan a man from the Castle, namely the sailor Willem Steer of Hamburg, as servant at his house, but the contract was cancelled prematurely 31.7.1774. It appears from later census returns that he preferred to work with slaves.


Yselle prospered. He bought a house by T4913 dated 22.4.1777 from the estate of the late Lodewyk Trichtner (sold 1801 by T349 to Martha Hurlingh) and another by T7291dated 1.12.1797 from insolvent estate of Joachim Daniel Hiebner (sold 1818 by T647).

Then on 13.3.1793 he bought by T6696 a house on corner Berg and Church Street, possibly on speculation, as he sold it within a year to Catharina Johanna de Wet, widow of Pieter Ludovicus Le Sueur.

After the death of Johanna Dorothea, Yselle on 3.3.1782 married Anne Albertine Bienvignon of Morges VD, who may have arrived at the Cape at the beginning of 1780 as personal maid to Colonel Robert Gordon’s bride, Susanna Margaretha Nicolet of Lignerolle NE. They had four children.


In 1800 Yselle and his wife, togther with their nine children including those from Yselle’s first marriage, lived at 32 Longmarket Street in a house which besides using one room as tailorshop, they shared with two boarders – an English officer with two servants and a bottler with one slave. The Yselles also had six male slaves, six female slaves and 6 slave children of their own on the premises. Somehow Mrs. Yselle managed to cope with so large a number of people in the house and at the same time keep open house for officers of the Regiment Meuron who passed through the Cape. Anna was described by all and sundry as a kind hearted woman and maybe it was she who persuaded her husband to manumit two of their slaves: Carolina of the Cape in 1791 and the slave boy Lourens born in Pondicherry in 1807. Yselle died 18.5.1807, at the age of 75.

His children by Johanna Dorothea van Daalen:

  • Johan Christiaan baptised 1.4.1764, farmer in the Field Cornetcy Lower Zeekoei River, District Cradock.
  • August Ernst baptised 30.6.1765.
  • Godlieb Fredericus baptised 25.10 1767, died 11.2.1782 of enteric fever? See 7. below.
  • Gabriel Ernst baptised 18.2.1770, left Cape Town 29.10.1789 with attestation for Swellendam and became burgher of Graaff-Reinet, farming in the Field Cornetcy Upper Zeekoei River, District Cradock
  • Johanna Maria baptised 19.4.1772, died 30.5.1772.
  • Johanna Magdalena baptised 25.4.1773, died 1773? George Wanner of Schaffhausen and his wife were her godparents.
  • Johanna Magdalena baptised 4.6.1775, died 7.2.1782. See 3. above.
  • Christiaan baptised 4.5.1777, died 2.7.1779.
  • Petrus Albertus baptised 7.3.1779, burgher of Graaff-Reinet.

His children by Anna Albertina were:

  • Maria Louisa baptised 13.4.1783, married William Sturt of Dorestshire, British army officer. They left for England where Sturt became a clergyman. Later he took up an appointment at the Anglican Church, Simon’s Town where Maria died and lies buried.
  • Elisabeth Cornelia baptised 22.10.1786. She married Johannes Weidemann and had seven children.
  • Jacob Lodewyk baptised 2.11.1788. No further record found.
  • A child born 22.1.1791, died before baptism.


Yselle always gave Hasle in Canton Berne as his birthplace except once, on a legal document he named “Begle”. Imagine my excitement when letting my fingers do the walking on a map through the Emmental, they chanced upon a homestead near Hasle called “Bärgli”. Had I actually located the house where one of the early Swiss immigrants was born? During a subsequent visit to Switzerland I took the first opportunity to visit Bärgli. From the station the approach led through the village of Hasle, then curved around the foot of the Hasleberg, from where a track climbed the steep slope and tunnelled through a fringe of huge beech trees into a silent, semi-dark pine forest. Eventually the track emerged upon open grasslands on the Egg (watershed) where cowbells tinkled and a large farmhouse spread its roof between walnut trees.

My map directed me over the Egg and down the other side into a steep and narrow glen covered by an old and gloomy pine forest. Half-way down was a clearing where the homestead should have been – but there was none. All I could find after a careful search were odd bits of building-rubble, lower down an old neglected fountain and a small dam soiled with rubbish and the remnants of a small orchard. The house had been demolished only a few years ago. Sad and disappointed I turned to go back. I had set out on a trip into the past, and had arrived too late.

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Johann Christiaan Yselle, SV/PROG's Timeline

Hasle bei Burgdorf, Burgdorf, Canton of Bern, Switzerland
Age 44
Age 45
Age 47
Age 50
Cape Colony, South Africa
Age 52
Age 53
Age 55
Age 57