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1820 Settlers - Synnot's Party

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  • Sarah Spiers, SM/PROG (c.1791 - 1873)
    Spiers, William Last Name: Spiers First Name: William Date of Birth: b.1789 Place of Birth: Co. Down, Ireland Parents – Father: George Spiers Parents – Mother: Margaret McDoal Spouse:...
  • Mary Spiers (1814 - 1877)
    Spiers, William Last Name: Spiers First Name: William Date of Birth: b.1789 Place of Birth: Co. Down, Ireland Parents – Father: George Spiers Parents – Mother: Margaret McDoal Spouse:...
  • Captain Walter Synnot (1773 - 1851)
    1820 British Settler Capt. Walter Synnot 45, Leader of this Party, together with his wife Elizabeth Houston 20, and 5 children, were members of Synnot's Party of 25 Settlers on the Settler Ship Fanny...
  • William Spiers, SV/PROG (1789 - 1844)
    1820 Settler to South Africa with Synnot's Party on the Fanny. Death Notice : "South Africa, Cape Province, Probate Records of the Master of the High Court, 1834-1989," database with images, Family...
  • George Spiers (c.1807 - 1865)
    Notes: Synnot’s party of 1820 settlers. DN 7595/1844, 9807/1873, 1896/1865, 616/1851, 5263/1869, 8/1862. Children: George 1810 Ireland d. 5 Jun 1865 age 57y 8m Primrose Hill (q.v.) James 1812 I...

Synnot's Party

Main References - The Settler Handbook by MD Nash and 1820

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Party Details

  • Leader Captain Walter Synnot
  • Number 25
  • Area Party originated from Newtown Hamilton, County Armagh, Ireland
  • Area Allocated to the Party located in the Groot Seekoei Valley in the Clanwilliam district, at the junction of the Jan Dissels and Olifants Rivers.
  • 1820 Settler Ship


  • Dates
  • Departure Cork, Ireland 12 February 1820
  • Arrival Simon's Bay, Cape Town - 1st May 1820
  • Final Port - Saldhana Bay - Mid May 1920

(Other parties on this voyage - Butler, Ingram.)

M.D. Nash 1987 - Settler Handbook

"No 56 on the Colonial Department list, led by Captain Walter Synnot of Ballywalter, New­ town Hamilton, county Armagh in northern Ireland, an officer of the 89th Regiment on half-pay. Synnot was the second son of a baronet, and was described by Sir Rufane Donkin, the Acting Governor of the Cape, as 'one of the most respectable of all the settlers'. He had first enquired about the possibility of emigrating to the Cape in May 1818, and when the emigration scheme was advertised a year later, he applied at once to take out a propriet­ary party of 10 labouring families from Armagh, 'all members of the Church of Scot­land'. By late October, however, half his party had dropped out, and Synnot was given official permission to replace them with others so long as the number remained the same. Synnot's own family group comprised his 12-year-old son by his first marriage, his second wife and their two small sons (a third, Marcus, was born during the voyage), and Frances Houston, aged 15, a sister (or niece) of Mrs Synnot.

Arrangements were made for all four Irish settler parties, under Butler, Ingram, Parker and Synnot, to sail from Passage West, Cork. After travelling almost the length of the coun­try by road, Synnot's party, the only one from Northern Ireland, had to wait for permission from London before boarding the Fanny, be­cause of the late payment of its deposit money.

Deposits were finally paid for 11 men; and the Fanny and her consort, the East Indian, sailed from the Cove of Cork on 12 February 1820, anchoring in Simon's Bay on 1 May. It was official policy that the Irish settlers should be located separately from the main body of emigrants, and in mid-May they sailed on to Saldanha Bay where they were disembarked. Synnot's party was located in the Groot Seekoei Valley in the Clanwilliam district, at the junction of the Jan Dissels and Olifants Rivers. When the Irish settlers were sub­sequently given the option of relocation in Albany, Synnot chose to remain in Clanwil­liam. He was appointed a Special Heemraad (Justice of the Peace) for the district soon after his arrival, and became Deputy Landdrost of the sub-drostdy of Tulbagh in 1821. By 1825, Cowser and Kennedy were the only other men of the party still living in Clanwilliam. In that year Synnot decided to return to Ireland, and some years later he emigrated to Tasmania.

Members of Synnot's Party

[Bold links are to Geni profiles; other links are to other biographical notes]

William Caliston 28. Carpenter.

Robert Cowser 20. Labourer.

Frances Houston 15 (in the care of W Synnot).

James Kennedy 25. Labourer.

Patrick McDonald 25. Labourer.

Joseph Quin 21. Labourer.

Wife Mary 19.

John Scannell 21. Blacksmith.

Wife Johanna 21.

Robert Short 18. Labourer.

William Spiers 30. Linen weaver.

Wife Sarah Mark 28.


Walter Synnot 45. Capt, 89th Regt (half­ pay).

Wife Elizabeth Houston 20.


Robert Thompson 26. Labourer.

Robert Young 28. Labourer.

Wife Margaret 20.


  • Samuel Young 8.

Anne Synnot aged 16, has been identified by G B Dick­ason in Irish Settlers to the Cape as a maidservant named Ann Clerk.

Main source for party list

Lists of settlers under the direction of Capt Walter Synnot (Cape Archives CO 6137/2,55 and Public Record Office, London, CO 48/47,185). Although the Agent of Trans­ports' Returns for the other settler parties in the Fanny are available in the Cape Archives, the return for Synnot's party as it arrived at Simon's Bay could not he traced. However, the presence of all 11 men of the party at the Cape has been confirmed from colonial records.

Further reading

G B Dickason, Irish Settlers to the Cape (Cape Town, A A Balkema, 1973); The Reminiscences of John Montgomery, ed A Giffard (Cape Town, A A Balkema, 1981). Montgomery was a member of Butler's party on board the Fanny.

The 1820 Settler Correspondence Walter Synnot

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