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De Meillon Genealogy of South Africa

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This project is designed to collect Research Information, Discussions, Queries etc on the De Meillon" family of South Africa.

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Overview of Family History / Progenitor Details

Henry Clifford De Meillon 1800 - 1859. Little is known about his early life. He is thought to have been of French-English parentage but it should be noted however, that extensive research has not so far found factual evidence of his parents other than his mother (Anna Sophia Watts) who was English. He landed at the Cape after resigning from his duties on the 6 May 1823 and was discharged to hospital as result of ill health where he had been 2nd officer of the ship H.M.S. Leven at that time. The ship formed part of "an expedition for surveying the Eastern Coasts of Africa". As early as 21 Jan. 1824 the South African Commercial Advertiser referred to him as an "able draughtsman" who had undertaken to paint the portraits of the Bechuana chiefs Pedu and Teysho, who were in Cape Town at the time. These paintings were reproduced as engravings in G. Thompson's Travels and Adventures in Southern Africa (1827).

DE MEILLON painted many small watercolours of Cape Town and its people between 1823 and 1832, and six of these pictures are reproduced in Dorothea FAIRBRIDGE's Letters from Cape by Lady Duff GORDON (1827). The Cape printer George GREIG published sixteen uncoloured lithographs of Cape buildings in 1832 and inserted in his Cape Almanacks (1832-35).

Cape Views & Costumes by Anna. H. Smith ( contains a large number of reproductions of his watercolours as well as a speculative account of the family origins.

DE MEILLON appears to have left the Cape after 1832 and in the Almanac directories for 1842 he is listed as being in the Commissariat at Grahamstown. One of the few pictures he made after leaving Cape Town is of great historical importance. It is entitled Execution of the mutineers and represents the scene at the execution of two ringleaders of the Hottentot corps who mutinied at Fraser's Camp near Grahamstown in February 1838.

In 1850 DE MEILLON became a clerk at Fort Beaufort and later at Port Elizabeth, where he is presumed to have died of smallpox at an unknown date in or after 1856.

As above, some sources believe that HC De Meillon died in 1856. He lived on Hill Street, Port Elizabeth at the time but a letter of his was written on the 21st December 1858 to the Colonial Secretary Rawson regarding a Mrs. Gardner, an aged widow. This letter supports the probable date of HC De Meillon death being more likely in 1859 (letter has been attached). Apparently all his personal effects were burned including watercolour paintings. No reasons were given. According to Warren Morris of the Archives of the Catholic Diocese of Port Elizabeth, Henry Clifford De Meillon never died of any disease, but died as a result of a fatal fall.

The descendants of Henry Clifford DE MEILLON split into two branches after he married and had children with two women with South African roots: Grobbelaar/Grobler and Ensilen/Enslin. This has resulted in a large tree of 3815 people with 677 last names. Of note, is that his nearest living relative may be his great-granddaughter, Mignon (Mimi) De Meillon.

Top Surnames

Botha, De Meillon, Burger, Gouws, Kruger and Malan

Queries & Discussion

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