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Doubell Genealogy of South Africa

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Research into the Doubell family of South Africa, descended from Michael George Doubell and Aletta Maria de Lange. We're looking for people to add their thoughts; research; frustrations :-) below:

Michael George Doubell:


Y-DNA R-M269 (also called R1b1a1a2)

Dion Doubell's DNA results have been populated to the Doubell ancestor on our SA tree. If his paper trail is correct, then all male Doubells in SA carry the Y chromosome R-M269 (also called R1b1a1a2) - now concentrated in Western Europe, where "[t]he frequency is about 92% in Wales, 82% in Ireland, 70% in Scotland, 68% in Spain, 60% in France (76% in Normandy), about 60% in Portugal, 45% in Eastern England, 50% in Germany, 50% in the Netherlands, 42% in Iceland, and 43% in Denmark. It is as high as 95% in parts of Ireland. It is also found in some areas of North Africa, where its frequency peaks at 10% in some parts of Algeria. M269 has likewise been observed among 8% of the Herero in Namibia."

At the moment, the ancient path of R-M269 appears to have been a migration from Western Asia via southeastern Europe. [Sharon Doubell Oct 2016]


Tracking the Origins of Michael George Doubell in Kent

See Attached Maps, 1 & 2 compiled by Tony Leach, showing locations of Doubells born/christened in the UK, prior to around 1850 – (mostly 1750 to 1850). "Took the place names from the IGI Doubell list. Sproughton up in Suffolk (up North on the first map) seems the oldest known location at around mid 1600’s. Mostly they are grouped in a central area on the Sussex/Kent border, with some moving up in Surrey and London."

  • Lingfield
  • Hawhurst
  • Edenbridge
  • Hever
  • Penshurst
  • Epsom
  • Reigate
  • East Grinstead
  • Tunbridge Wells
  • Tonbridge
  • Maidstone
  • Wadhurst
  • Rolvenden
  • Rye
  • Crowhurst
  • Hellingly
  • Barcombe

Beyond Kent:

  • Chelsea
  • London
  • Marylebone
  • Walworth
  • Sproughton

Doubell Gravestone Photos from this time in Kent, Surrey, Sussex

The 'Hawkhurst Gang' Theory

Sharon Doubell notes: "My Mom had Michael George as coming from Kent from the Mormon ancestry records, and I've read about the Doubells being in the notorious Hawkhurst Gang in Kent." Felicity Sparkman in June 2003 says: 'I am also interested in Richard D. who was buried 11-8-1793 & was a member of the Hawkhurst (Kent) gang (notorious smugglers)"Chris Doubell in May 2004 replies "[I have] Richard the smuggler - details of his arrest and trial for the murder of a customs officer Thomas Carswell in 1740."



But our SA progenitor Michael George Doubell is born 50 years after the 1748/9 downfall of the gang So we still need a connection between:

our Michael George in Kent & his father, Michael George in the UK c 1770

and Richard Doubell born c 1711, & his father, Richard 'Double' in Lingfield, UK.

The 'Killed A Man in a Boxing Fight' Theory

From rootsweb archives in 2002 Millicent <> says " Hello All Doubells I'm looking for Michael George Doubell born apparantly in Kent 1799. There are various family legends as to how he came to be in South Africa: he 'jumped ship' and landed up in SA; he killed a man in an illegal boxing tournament & was sent here by his commanding officers; he was incarcerated on Robin Island & swam ashore. Whatever the circumstances, the first record of him that I can find is his marriage in Somerset East to Aletta Maria de Lange on 16 Sep 1827. His name is recorded as "George Dobell".

The fact that he was born in Kent in 1799 may have been a misunderstanding, as another ancestor of the family quite definitely was born in Kent in 1798. The family may have become muddled between the two. He may well have been in the army. He was an extremely powerful man, as were many of his descendents.

His grandon, also Michael George joined Filis' circus as a 'Strong Man' and performed at Earls Court in 1899. While in London, he married Sarah Ann Tant age 22 of 22 Pembroke Mews, London. This marriage took place on 25 Feb 1900 at St Philips, Kensington. Her father was Charles Tant. Could anyone advise me on how I could find out more information about her family? (Cautionary note about the grandson: There were 3 or 4 Michael George grandsons.)

On Ancestry, Raymond Doubell ( says "I have been given to undertstand the following. Many years ago, my mother, whose mother's maiden name was Doubell, told me that "Michael George" was the "family name". Anyway, a Michael Goerge Doubell was born in Kent in 1799 (in the version I heard) and ended up in South Africa (Fort Brown area) because of a nasty brush with the law back in the UK (the other guy died). In South Africa, "Doubell" is usually seen as an Afrikaans name, as are a few other English surnames (most notably Barnard). Apparently we are Normans and there are Doubells recorded in documents going back to the 13th century at least. We picked up our coat of arms almost exactly 400 years ago. It is a "canting" arms, the design of which is essentially a set of puns on the pronunciation of the name at the time. I have a copy on my hard drive. The name itself is Norman-French argot of the deep Middle Ages and almost certainly means exactly what it seems to mean: "double"; maybe "twin".

In May 2011, Felicity from Australia says on arootsweb message board "There was a Michael George Doubell (1799) who fled from Kent UK to Fort Brown South Africa after killing a man in a fist fight. All my doubell ancestors came originaly from Kent so there probably is a link. I have traced my lot back to around 1550."

Raymond replies: "I can confirm Felicity's account of Michael George, with this variation: the 'fist fight' to which she refers was an illegal boxing match in the armed forces. Michael George indeed settled in the Fort Brown area. He married a Dutch (nowadays we'd say Afrikaans) girl whose surname was De Lange. He became a farmer and transport rider (but didn't just about everyone who was a white settler in those days?) I'm not so sure that he was an 1820 Settler in the strictest sense, but he certainly ended up here (in S Africa) around about that time.

  • [ Using resaech from] Millicent Emslie.. This is how I dealt with it : " Susara’s father Michael George DOUBELL, if indeed that was his real name, was a most intriguing character. DOUBELL family historians wrestle with the fascinating challenge that he may, according to oral

tradition, have come to South Africa under an assumed name. He is said to have arrived under very mysterious circumstances. There are various family legends, but all agree on one aspect: Michael George DOUBELL was a criminal or prisoner, and came here, or was sent here, to evade the long arm of the law. According to one version he was in the British army and took part in an illegal boxing match, arranged by his superior officers, that resulted in the death of his opponent in the ring. As the DOUBELL menfolk were renowned for their strength, this version sounds entirely credible.His army unit was stationed at Fort Brown, and he was therefore probably one of the ranks of the dreaded Royal Africa Corps. When Lord Charles Somerset sought to restructure his defences after the British government drastically reduced the standing garrison at the Cape, he was sent two regiments of incorrigible jetsam, namely the Royal Africa Corps and the 60th Foot. They were described as an amalgam of deserters and criminals “of the worst type,” who had been offered military service as an alternative to long penal sentences. The RAC was posted on the frontier where, according to Somerset, their behaviour caused such terror that the Colonists feared the amaXhosa less than those who had been placed there for their protection. The unit was disbanded in 1821 after causing much mayhem, and some of their number were given Colonial passes and allowed to remain in South Africa. Donkin classed the vast majority as being “worthless and unmanageable people” and “congregated banditti”. He suggested that the only suitable domicile for them would be New South Wales. However, Michael George seems to have led an exemplary life in the Colony. [Peter Kirkman Oct 2016]


The 'Jumped Ship & Changed his Name from Dobell' Theory

Deserted his ship at Gibraltar & changed his name from Dobell to Doubell? -|ref Aunt Carrie's letter. [] who also has him as a farmer

"Michael George Doubell, (if that was his real name), came to SA as a member of one of the early military units to be posted on the frontier. His unit was posted at Fort Brown, which suggests that he was probably enlisted in the dreaded Royal Africa Corps." Peter Kirkman17 Oct 2016

Research: There were certainly Dobells in Kent at the time: [] but there are no Michaels on this list

The '1820 Settler' Theory

From Michael Doubell on rootsweb board "hi, I am a descendant of a doubell who arrived with the 1820 settlers. My late grandfather lived in standerton, Tvl,and I recall as a child back in ealy 1950s visiting his father in Steytlerville. I would assume that the settler was his father?" From Romey Doubell on rootsweb in mArch 2011 The Doubell family crest was registered to one Walter Doubell of Falmere Sussex in 1604. one Walter David Peter Doubell arrived in (Algo Bay now) Port Elizabeth,from Kent England with the 1820 Settlers.He settled in Port Elzabeth, married and his children moved in and arround Port Elizabeth, Uitenhage and Steytlerville. There was several generations (I will inform you ) and my Grandfather was Walter David Peter Doubell, I spent many holidays in Steytlerville (nick name of Steytlerville is Sakkies)my gradfather was married to Chatarina Van Staden and they had 6 six children, as follows:Eldest a boy Jones Doubell no children,Daughter Chatarina(Rina) spinster al her life, Daughter Rhoda married a Dr,Archer 3 daughters, Son Edgar 3 children one girl and 2 boys, Son Peter William (My Father, one son me, Romey Walter) Daughter Tertia married a du Pasanie 3 daughters. You will note that all the Doubell s come with the English names, such as Walter, Peter, William, Henry,Thomas,Edgar.


  • The SA settlers website has Michael George, not Walter David as a settler from Britain, but not on the 1820 Settler boat lists.
  • We have Walter David as Michael George's son, and BORN in SA in 1834.
  • Obituary in The Grahamstown Journal on Monday 25th September, 1871. Thanks to Sue Mackay for her transcriptions done in the archives in England. 'A WATERLOO VETERAN Mr. M.G. DOUBELL of Eland’s Poort, division of Uitenhage, died on the 10th inst. He was an 1820 Settler, and prior to arrival in the colony was a soldier, when he fought at Waterloo. He took up his residence in Port Elizabeth in 1826, at which time Port Elizabeth was part of the Uitenhage district. He has never resided out of the district since.'

Strongman of Fillis Circus

A Michael George Doubell, possibly son of Thomas Henry Doubell (1837 - 1909) and Caroline Elizabeth Magdalena Myburgh (1837 - 1920), performed as a Strongman in Fillis Circus in 1899 at Earls Court in England. Michael also married a Sarah Ann Tant, though the marriage does not seem to have lasted. In his marriage record, Michael is described as a Farmer, not a Circus Performer or Strongman; no evidence has yet been found that he was a part of Fillis Circus.

Other Scraps

Michael George Doubell was a Shop Keeper, according to his daughter, Sarah Johanna Doubell's 1838 baptism certificate. Source:


  • Our SA Prog doesn't have a daughter called Sarah. Perhaps this might be his sister?

Rootsweb carrieelaggan says "the Doubell family came from the Surrey area, all were Quakers. At some time their surname was Double." Ray Doubell from Southhampton says in 2003 "The daughter of my 3 times great Granfather married into the Quaker faith. She was born in Reigate Surrey, in 1817."


  • We know there were Surrey Doubells; and that there appears to have been a 'Double' father of Richard, the Hawkhurst Gang member ; but gangsters aren't usually Quakers?? Are they Quakers afterwards, I wonder? (As a result of their smuggler gang ancestors' narrow delivery from the gallows? :-)

Raymond Doubell ( says), "Apparently we are Normans and there are Doubells recorded in documents going back to the 13th century at least. We picked up our coat of arms almost exactly 400 years ago. It is a "canting" arms, the design of which is essentially a set of puns on the pronunciation of the name at the time. I have a copy on my hard drive. The name itself is Norman-French argot of the deep Middle Ages and almost certainly means exactly what it seems to mean: "double"; maybe "twin"."


A French Genealogy search

produces 23 possibles versions of the spelling, from Doubet, Doubey to Doubel:

The earliest is a baptism of the child of an Anne Doubet in 1655 at Loir-et-Cher Vendôme St-Martin

The closest spelling to our own Doubell is the death certificate of a soldier, Sabat Gaston Doubel, who ‘died for France’ in 1894, in or of Martinique


Mentions of Doubells in the rest of the world:

  • London c 1894: "Edward Henry Doubell, slide painter at the Royal Polytechnic in London, is known to have painstakingly added colours to Robert Paul films, at a rate of two or three frames per day."

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