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South African Settlers - German

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Early German Settlers of South Africa

This project is devoted to the German Settlers in South Africa. Please only add the profiles of the Stamvaders/Progenitors who came from Germany. It is also a place where you can share links to online resources, tell other users where records etc. can be found and make queries or ask for help through the discussion facility.

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- you do need to first be a collaborator - so join the project. See the discussion Project Help: How to add Text to a Project - Starter Kit to get you going!

How to Participate

  • Please add the profiles of Progenitors from Germany - (not their entire families and descendants!) and also those of prominent, famous, influential South Africans from that part of the world. This is easily done from the profile page using the Add to project link.
  • If you have any queries related to these settlers please start a discussion linked to this project. (See the menu top right).
  • Please add related projects to the menu on the right.
  • If you have links to related web pages that would be of interest to others please add them in the relevant section at the bottom of the page. In order to do this use the drop down menu at the top left of the screen and Join the Project. If this option is not available to you then contact a collaborator and ask to be added to the project. As a collaborator you will be able to edit this page.
  • Add any documents of interest using the menu at the top right of the page, and then add a link to the document in the text under the heading below. If you do not know how to do this please contact one of the other collaborators to assist you.


In 1652 the Dutch East India Company's (VOC) established a supplies station at the Cape of Good Hope under the command of Jan van Riebeeck. The party was made up of 90 settlers. They arrived in the bay of today's Cape Town, on 6 April 1652, on board five ships, the Reijer, the Oliphant, the Goede Hoop, the Walvisch and the Dromedaris., A number of these settlers were from Germany, displaced from there by the 30-year war (1618-1648). While some were Calvinist, a number were also Lutheran, and continued to practice this confession until the founding of the Strand Street Lutheran congregation in 1771.

Pre 1700

(See a list of some of these very early settlers below0

In the 1680s 50 more Dutch and German farmers and women from orphanages arrived and at the end of the decade 200 by Hugenots arrived. In 1691, the population was 1000 Europeans and 400 Slaves. In 1695 there were still only 340 free-burghers. From this point onwards the white population increased naturally to about 1300 by 1700.

About 4000 Germans emigrated to the Cape during the Dutch period - almost all of them males. They came from all German-speaking areas of Europe. A number of books have been written about the early German immigrants, most notably Hoge's "Personalia of the Germans at the Cape".

The Germans who were at the Cape in the 17th C were not emigrants but worked for the Dutch East India Company, perhaps initially in Holland and then sent to the Cape.

18th Century

German missionaries established themselves at various centres in South Africa. The earliest efforts were made by George Schmidt, a Moravian whose work was carried on in the late 18th c by other Moravians at the famous Genadendal Mission Station.[1]

19th Century

A group of 74 Germans, (vine-dressers and wine-makers) selected by the Cape Emigration Commissioner, Mr Field, were among emigrants who sailed to South Africa on the ship Aurifera. This was during the era of assisted emigration to the Cape between 1857 and 1862. These German passengers’ names are given in Esme Bull’s book, ‘Aided Emigration to the Cape’ and an index to all names mentioned can be found at [1]


After the Bergtheil Settlers arrived in Natal in 1848 to grow Cotton. They established the settlement of New Germany, where they soon built a church and a school. A Berlin missionary Wilhelm Posselt acted as their first pastor. When the cotton growing scheme collapsed, some Germans turned to vegetable growing to supply Port Natal with vegetables. Others left and started the New Hanover settlement further inland.


German Military Settlers were sent to South Africa. These men had been recruited for service with British forces in the Crimean War (1854-6) and were stationed in England. From here it was intended they should sail to South Africa but the war ended before their departure. The soldiers (2362 in all) were instead sent to the Cape as settlers, arriving in East London in early 1857. It was suggested that the men marry, with the incentive being free passages for wives, resulting in last-minute weddings at the quayside. For names of those who married in England, on board ship or on arrival in South Africa see the free site: * [1]

During the 19th Century, a number of German Mission societies sent out Missionaries to South Africa. The Rhenish mission worked in the Cape and Namibia, the Berlin mission in Natal and Northern Transvaal, the Hermannsburg Mission in Zululand and Western Transvaal.


[1] Mole's Genealogy Blog - a wealth of information is explored - well worth a visit!

The following are some who arrived in the 17th C

Barend Löbe/Lubbe
Barend Burger

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