Johann Christoph Friedrich Schwulst, SV/PROG

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Johann Christoph Friedrich Schwulst, SV/PROG

Also Known As: "Friedrich"
Birthplace: Funkenhagen, Zachodniopomorskie, West Pomeranian Voivodeship, Poland
Death: Died in Keiskammahoek, Amatole, Eastern Cape, South Africa
Place of Burial: Eastern Cape, South Africa
Immediate Family:

Son of D T Schwulst
Husband of Johanne Friederike Wilhelmine Schwulst, SM/PROG
Father of Johan Friedrich Wilhelm Schwulst; Carl August Friedrich Schwulst; August Friederich Wilhelm Schwulst and Wilhelmine Schwulst

Managed by: John Sparkman
Last Updated:

About Johann Christoph Friedrich Schwulst, SV/PROG

He was 35 years old on board the ship Wilhelmsburg from Hamburg, Germany 19-10-1858 arriving in East London, South Africa 13 January 1859 with his wife Wilhelmine 44 years old and four children, Wilhelm 14 years old Carl 9 years old August 5 years old and Wilhelmine 2 years old. Captain Muller. 121 families on board.

Death Notice: KAB MOOC 6/9/351 881

Death Certificate

This is most likely Friederich Schwulst who left Prussia with 3 (recorded) children on the ship 'Wilhelmsburg' which left Hamburg on the 19 October 1858 and arrived in East London, South Africa on the 13 January 1859. (Reference: Reading Room of German Genealogy)

The passenger list of the 'Wilhelmsburg' lists the following: Schwulst, Friedrich, Arbeitsmann (35), Funkenhagen (Pr.), mit Frau Wilhelmine (44) und Wilhelm (14), Carl (9), August (5), Wilhelmine (2).

An 'Arbeitsmann' is a working man or peasant farmer. Funkenhagen (Pr.) was a town in the then German (prussian) province of Pomerania. It is now known as Gąski, a town in the Polish county of Koszalin in North-Western Poland. Their final settlement destination was Stutterheim, Eastern Cape, South Africa.

The 'Wilhelmsburg' departed from Hamburg on 19th October 1858 under Captain I.C.H. Müller. It stopped in Cape Town were a total of about 150 families disembarked. It then continued to East London, in what was then Kaffraria, arriving on 13 January 1859 with 128 families still on board. 64 children and one adult are reported to have died en route.

The course of the High Middle Ages, however, saw a population explosion which meant that there came to be too many peasants and not enough work, and they therefore became more susceptible to exploitation and so lost much of their earlier gains. Moreover, unlike the earlier times, the peasants no longer lived communally on the manor but were forced to fend for themselves to a much greater degree. They now often had to pay rent for their rooms which further taxed their frugal income.

The peasants in northern Germany were always worse off than their counterparts in western Europe and especially France. With the onset of the industrial revolution, however, things could only get worse because peasants were still at the bottom of the working pile.

While cottage industries dominated the pre-industrial world, the rise of factories quickly eroded the ability of traditional manufacturers to make ends meet. Peasants were forced off the land to join the rising unskilled and shockingly paid workers in the growing industrial towns.

Those who remained on the land were doomed to a life of poverty, hoping only to earn enough during the summer months to carry them through the frigid winters. It was during these winter months, therefore, that thoughts turned to the attraction of overseas colonies.

Contrary to accepted belief, the concept of a German peasant emigration did not originate from Sir George Grey but rather from Lord Panmure, and from Professor Franz Demmler of the Royal Military College at Sandhurst whom Panmure had commissioned to investigate the legionnaire emigration.

The idea of soldier-settlers alone would never work, the Professor advised. Mercenary soldiers were by nature men who had joined the army to make a profit from war. There was no recorded case of soldiers becoming successful settlers, although settlers did at times become good soldiers. Even putting aside their chosen profession, soldier-settlers would simply not have enough knowledge or experience to become successful agriculturists. They needed to be taught, and who better to teach them but an equal number of peasant families settled alongside them?

The concept was logical. Furthermore, it had initially been believed that some 8,000 legionnaires would settle in British Kaffraria but this number had been drastically reduced to just over 2,300. There was therefore plenty of room for an equal number of peasant farmer families.

The idea of so many bachelor soldiers on the frontier was also fraught with danger. There would simply be no stability in such a group. Peasant families in their midst, on the other hand, would not only provide stability but the female children would become future wives for the soldiers.

So enthused was Lord Panmure that he went ahead and consulted German shipping magnate Johann Godeffroy, instructing him to start the groundwork for such an emigration. Godeffroy, in turn, made contact with William Berg in Cape Town and gave him power to negotiate with Sir George.

On 28 August 1858, the 1,000 ton La Rochelle arrived, bringing 91 families to British Kaffraria. When the Wilhelmsburg, the Peter Godeffroy and the Johann Caesar called in to Cape Town, each was visited by agents who signed up more families. Some went to work in shops, some became herders and not a few found employment on the many vineyards around Wynberg and Constantia.

There was nothing untoward about these visits to the ships and persuading some families to disembark. Indeed, the action was in accord with the Cape Parliament's Act 8 of 1857 which had legislated for such immigration to provide a supply of much needed labour.

The Government Gazette which followed the Act had stipulated that such immigrant labourers -- but especially vine-dressers and wine makers -- should be sought out in Europe. Several Germans aboard these ships fitted this description.

In March 1859 a letter from William Berg -- Johan Godeffroy's attorney in Cape Town -- was tabled before Parliament, giving the total number of German immigrants disembarking at Table Bay as "about two hundred". They had given "such general satisfaction" that "many residents of town and country" were begging for the introduction of more such people. This request would be acted upon so that, between 1860 and 1883, regular shipments of German agriculturists would arrive in southern Africa.

The next four ships arrived at East London in quick succession. These were the Wandrahm (6 December 1858), the Wilhelmsburg (13 January 1859), the Peter Godeffroy (19 January) and the Johan Caesar (1 February). All would have been eagerly expectant about their new life and hoped-for prosperity as landowners in British Kaffraria. They had been told that the climate would be much the same as that of Germany and so would have been surprised, therefore, by the warmth of the southern African winter.

Many of the immigrants did not bring much money with them. As a result many were unable to buy food or the supplies to work the land they were settled on. When the rations supplied by the government of the area quickly ran out many settlers began to starve. Many petitions were drawn up indicating “none was capable of supporting itself, nor could any find employment. They had brought no money whatever from Germany, had neither seeds nor tools to cultivate the land, nor had they the means of procuring materials for building their homes”.

The Colonists of 1858:

Most settlers came from Pomerania, the 'Uckermark' and the 'Wendland' - refer to the Ship's passenger lists for more details. Most of them had been poor peasants in Germany and were not accustomed to running their own farms. They were settled among the mercenaries of the Crimean Legion, mostly in remote areas. The farms allocated to them were consistently of very poor quality so that it was impossible to survive by farming alone. To survive, the German settlers were therefore forced to work for English farmers in the more fertile regions or to find jobs in the main centres.

In the long run, these colonists were the only Germans to remain in Kaffraria as they simply lacked the resources to start over again in another area. They remained poor and were generally despised by the more successful British settlers.


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Johann Christoph Friedrich Schwulst, SV/PROG's Timeline

March 27, 1823
West Pomeranian Voivodeship, Poland
Age 20
May 31, 1849
Age 26
April 17, 1853
Age 30
Funkenhagen, Prussia
Age 30
Funkenhagen, Prussia
February 26, 1896
Age 72
Keiskammahoek, Amatole, Eastern Cape, South Africa
Eastern Cape, South Africa