This project is designed to collect Research Information, Discussions, Queries etc on the Nel/ Nell family of South Africa.
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Overview of Family History / Progenitor Details
[Research Notes by Lee Cahill, 29 November 2012 (Updated 24 March 2013)]:
- Guillaume Nel (Neél) was born in Rouen, France in 1662 and was baptised the following year.
- As a young adult, he fled from religious persecution in France and went to Amsterdam, as the Dutch government offered Huguenot refugees safe passage to the Cape of Good Hope.
- He married in Amsterdam on 3 May 1685.
- On 19 February 1688, he, his wife and two young children left for the Cape of Good Hope on board the ship De Schelde. They arrived in Table Bay on 5 June 1688.
- On 9 November 1690, Guillaume (who was soon known as Willem in the Cape) purchased the farm Blaauwklip in the area of Moddergat in the District of Stellenbosch from Gerrit Jansz Visser.
- In 1711, he purchased the farm Bootmans Drift in Drakenstein.
- He died at the Cape of Good Hope on 17 June 1735.
- The details about this ancestor and his family are constructed from various MyHeritage family trees.
- In particular, the following source gives the name of Guillaume's father as Guillaume and not Pierre: http://www.worldvitalrecords.com/person/Guillaume-Neel/77401941-8010991. This older Guillaume is often left out of records that are contracted, and which give Pierre as the father of Guillaume SV/PROG.
- Further information is available from The First Fifty Years Project: http://www.e-family.co.za/ffy/g5/p5712.htm.
Nel/Nell Family History
- According to notes about the Nell family on Genealogy.com, which cite the Amsterdam County Office (Gemmentenarchief) as the source, the family is descended from Guillaume Nie'l, a Huguenot refugee who fled from Normandy to Amsterdam in the late 1860's. He settled in Bethaniensteeg (which is today in the Red Light District) and worked as a tailor. There he met Jeanne de la Batte of Toulouse, who was also a refugee. They married in Amsterdam and had two children there. Due to the influence of the Dutch language, their surname soon became contracted to Nel. The family emigrated to the Cape of Good Hope in the spring of 1869 aboard the VOC vessel, de Berg China. Guillaume and Jeanne received 80 rijksdaalers (guilders) from the Dutch East India Company to settle at the Cape, and started a farm in Groot Drakenstein, where they had eight more children.
- According to the same notes, while studying in the UK during the 1950's, one Marius Louis Nel commissioned a study of the Nell/Nel family history. While there is no documentation to support this, apparently the Nel family can be traced back to Ireland in around 1100. The Irish branch of the family was known by the surname of O'Niell, and they lived in Tara. The family fled unrest in about 1300. Some of them fled to France, where they dropped the 'O' from O'Niell. Later they apparently dropped the second 'l' too and the surname was contracted into Niel.
About the Nel Surname
The NEL surname originated from the Viking name NJAL. A clan of Vikings settled in Ireland c. 500 B.C. and became known as the UI NEILL/O' NEILL clan. According to tradition, they descended from HEREMON, son of MILLISIUS, the first absolute Monarch of Ireland. The O' NEILLS of ULSTER are the oldest traceable family left in Europe. NIALL is an Irish word which means CHAMPION. The O' NEILLS settled in the Tara area, now County Meath, Ireland. A branch of the O' NEILLS moved to LYONS FRANCE c.1300 A.D. where the name was modified to NEIL/NEEL. When the French Huguenots fled to The Netherlands, the FRENCH pronunciation of NE-EL led to the Dutch modifying the surname to NEL.
Queries & Discussion
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