Early Settlers in South Africa - Other Europeans
This project is for Early Settlers in South Africa who came from European countries other than Britain, Germany, Holland, France and the Nordic countries which have their own projects. If in time individual countries get to be too large to be included in these pages we can move them to projects of their own.
The project is a work in progress - contributions are most welcome! Please add other countries as necessary.
See the Wiki list of countries by continent.
Countries included -
Austria; Greece; Hungary; Italy; Poland.
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. Please feel free to add to the information here and to correct any information which you consider to be incorrect.
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In 1994 the SABC announced that 'legend' had it that the first Greek settlers in South Africa were 6 sailors to come ashore at Port Elizabeth, South Africa, in about 1880. Not confirmed.
George Gervais settled in Port Elizabeth. He came from Kia (spelling) in the Aegean round about 1879. On his tombstone his name is also given as Jorgos Vranika Zervas (Possibly this later got changed to Gervais). The occupations of many of his sons are listed as longshoreman indicating that the family had a connection with the sea.
My great grandfather was one Joseph Venish. He was an Italian who came out to South Africa (Port Elizabeth). I was wondering if anyone has come across the same surname in other countries. Could it be a corruption of an Italian surname, or could it simply imply he came from Venice.
Incidentally I have a great-great grandfather George Gervais. He was Greek and his original surname Zervas had been anglicized to Gervais.
This query from C.D. Woolard, Department of Chemistry Chemists brave the elements, University of South Africa periodically Pretoria, RSA (1995 query on Rootsweb).
The Greeks have had a presence in South Africa since the late 19th century. After the expulsion of the Greeks from Egypt as part of Nasser's nationalization policy (1955/6) the Greek population of South Africa dramatically increased to around 250,000. Today the number of Greeks in South Africa is estimated between 60,000 - 120,000. [Wiki]
Greeks went to South Africa as diamond-diggers, railway workers, small traders, agriculturists and artisans played an important role in its social , economic, educational and cultural development. Greeks emigrated to Sudan as early as 1853 and to Ethiopa in 1900. The first Greek in South Africa was a person known as Stephanos who had become a prophet of the Kora people by 1900. Existing historical sources indicate that the first Greeks in South Africa went there around 1850. Official South African statistics suggest that there were at least 11 Greeks in South Africa in 1860 and more than 30 in the 1880s.
The numbers were larger by the turn of the 20th Century, with Cape Town attracting growing numbers of emigrants – mostly islanders, mainly sailors, from Ithaca. IN 1895 there were about 70 Greeks in the Transvaal, and 20 in Kimberley working as diamond-diggers. By 1885b there were at least 6 Greeks in Port Elizabeth, all of them disembarked sailors. The official yearbooks of the Cape Province indicates the presence of 931 Greek Males and 31 females by 1905, approximately 380 in the Transvaal, 140 in Natal and about 50 in the Orange Free State. Most of these people were involved in small shops, furniture factories, general dealerships and confectionaries, with several tobacco-producers.
Large numbers of Greeks participated in the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902) on both sides. Greeks living in the Western Province general joined the British fighting under the leadership of T Mitchell, C Mantzaris and T Chrysovelonis. Those in in the Transvaal mainly joined the Afrikaners.
The best known of the Greeks who fought in the Boer War was John Costas (Papacostas) from Epirus who fought for the Boers. He arrived in South Africa via Dar-es-Salaam in 1898 and immediately joined the Boer forces. He was taken as a prisoner of war to Ceylon, St. Helena and Colombo (India). He was released in 1903. (You can see his Prisoner of War Record at the Anglo-Boer War Museum database).
Another was Constantine Phytides from Cyprus who was also taken as a prisoner-of-war. After he was released he became a successful businessman and a leading member of the Greek community in the Transvaal.
There are 14 Greek volunteers listed in the Anglo-Boer War Museum database –
- ARTEMIOS, GEORGE
- AVOURIS, ANTHONY
- AVRANITAKIS, SPIROS
- CARALAMPIDES, GEORGE
- CHARALAHEDRON, STEPHANUS (V BERMUDA,18/03/02)
- COLYVAS, GEORGE GREECE
- COSTAS (PAPACOSTAS), JOHN
- KARAVAS, JOHN
- LOVARIDES, GEORGE
- MICHOS, JOHN
- PHITIDES, CONSTANTINE
- VAGIACOS, CHRISTOS
- VRANAS, CONSTANTINE
- XIPPAS, M.
Missionaries built churches which became centres for meetings as well as being used for Religious worsip, and this helped to maintain the Greek identity and cuklture in South Africa.
- Nikodimos Sarikas arrived in the Transvaal in 1907
- Archimandrite A Nikolopoulos arrived in 1911
References and Links online
Notable South African Greek People
- George Bizos - human rights advocate
- Stanley Christodoulou - international boxing judge and referee
- Ivan Gazidis - sports business executive
- George Koumantarakis - former football player
- Leonidas Messaris
- Dennis Philippides
- Nic Pothas - cricketer
- Anastasia Tsichlas - football executive
(Hungarian: Magyarország [ˈmɒɟɒrorsaːɡ]
László Magyar was born on November 13, 1818 in Szombathely, Hungary and died on November 9, 1864 in Ponte de Cuio, Angola. He lived in Angola for 17 years before his death. His geographical explorations as well as his ethnological research were greatly supported by his father-in-law, the king of Bié. The king's relations as well as his donation of 300 slaves enabled Magyar to go on six exploring journeys in Angola. Unlike other European travellers, he did not only explore one area, but also described the life of the people living there. He was an insider who stayed at a place for a long time and studied African societies, recorded geographical and especially ethnographical data. The African people called him "Mister What-Is-This", because he always put them questions and wanted to learn so much. His main interests were the local people, their habits and the way they administered their societies. This is what made his contemporaries as well as the succeeding generations consider his discoveries to be of international importance.
Let me mention just a few examples.
*Hungarian scientific circles of the time as well as Hungarian emigrants after the War of Independence in 1848 had a very high opinion of László Magyar and his achievements. *Ferenc Toldy and Antal Reguly (A. R. was a linguist who searched for the origins of the Hungarian language. The linguistic map he made as a result of his travels in the Urals and along the River Ob is known all over the world.) found Magyar's manuscript worth publishing and taking their advice, the Hungarian Academy published it in 1859 under the editorship of János Hunfalvy. [Magyar László dél-afrikai utazásai 1849-57. években, Pest, 1859. László Magyar's Travels in South Africa between 1849 and 1857, Pest (Hungary), 1859.] *The editor of the book, János Hunfalvy drew the attention of the Hungarian as well as the international scientific world to the importance of László Magyar's geographical discoveries. It is his German translation of Magyar's book that made the achievements of the Hungarian traveller known to the international world of science. [Reisen in Süd-Afrika in den Jahren 1849 bis 1857. Pest-Leipzig, 1859. László Magyar's Travels in South Africa between 1849 and 1857, Pest-Leipzig, 1859.]
Read more about László Magyar - a Hungarian explorer and map-maker of Southwest Africa.
- Rabbi Joseph Herman Hertz, (September 25, 1872 - January 14, 1946) was a Jewish Hungarian-born Rabbi and Bible scholar. He is most notable for holding the position of Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom from 1913 until his death in 1946, in a period encompassing both world wars and The Holocaust.
- Joseph Herman Hertz Wikipedia
In 1956 - the Hungarian Revolution had failed and mass exodus had begun. Over 200,000 Hungarians had fled to Austria. The number of refugees became almost unmanageable. The Austrian Minister of the Interior had to ask for international help. It had become urgent for the refugees to move on.
South Africa offered to accept 1,000 refugees, 500 carefully picked artisans and families, and 500 dependants on humanitarian grounds. The first contingent of 75 (which included selected workers, their wives and children, and 8 men to be trained as miners) arrived on the 18th December 1956; the second party (among them 23 children, the youngest being six months old) was due on the 21st; the third batch on Christmas Eve, the fourth group were expected on January 2nd. They had lost their homes and some of them nearly their lives. They arrived very tired, but free. Only three of the first group spoke English. But the gratitude of the immigrants lay in their eyes: “Thank You, South Africa.” Through Mr. J. Jankovics, a Hungarian who had been in S.A. for some time, and who acted as their liaison officer they promised, “We’ll prove worthy of your trust.” (The Star, 22.12.1956).
Read more about Someone Who Cared by Sophia Tellen.
There are 119 Italian volunteers listed in the Anglo-Boer War Museum database – Search
The battles in North Africa during World War II brought 93,000 Italian Prisoners of War to South Africa. These men were stationed in Prisoner of War Camps throughout south Africa. About 1,500 of them were sent to a camp on the farm "Keerweder" in the Klein Drakenstein Valley, at the foot of the du Toit’s Kloof Pass. They worked on building the du Toit Kloof pass through the mountains.
The first Italian Prisoners of War arrived in 1942, and stayed for the duration of the war. During this time mixed with the local farming community where they were employed as farm labourers, builders, chefs, gardeners, mechanics and various other tasks in Paarl, Worcester and Robertson area.
The friendships established were to be long lasting, many of the Italians returning after the war ended and taking up permanent residence.
They themselves became members of the family at these places, and not treated as the enemy in labour, or like slaves.
Their task was was to build the pass through those mountains.
See the attached article The Waldesians of our Valleys by Andre Martinaglia for some insight into Italian connections to South Africa.
Extracts from this article-
From the South African present day families who are associated with the Waldesians, are * Cronje (Cronier);
- de Villiers;
- du Rand;
- du Plessis;
- de Klerk (de Clerq);
- Gouws (Gauch);
- Minnaar (Mesnard);
- Jordan (Jourdan);
- Joubert (Jaubert);
- Theron (Therond).
One Italian, Ignace Mare from Calabria, was amongst the Huguenots and Waldesians, who was a widower, and settled in the Drakenstein area. He too had become a Protestant, and therefore also had to flee for his life. The surname is also spelt Maree to-day.
In the late 1800’s Louisa Malan and her husband Jacques Weitzecke, both natives of Torre Pelice, arrived in Kimberley, where they soon, after visiting the Italian diamond workers there, as requested by their government, were able to persuade the Boer Republic of the Orange Free State to set up trading links with their country, which lasted until the start of the Anglo-Boer War in 1899. They were able to fulfil their missionary duties in Lesotho, amongst the Sesotho people, and were to write a book of their experiences there.
Also active Waldesian missionaries in Barotseland and Zambia were the cousins Luigi (Louis David) Jalla and Adolfo Jalla. A photo of Luigi Jalla and his wife can be seen at the Africana Museum in Johannesburg, in the ‘’Hall of the Missionaries’’
- Guglielmo Martinaglia discovered the caves called "Wonder Hole" - part of a complex of natural caves which today is called the "Cradle of Mankind" and is among the South African sites recognized by UNESCO World Heritage Site. Home of Mrs. Ples
- John Martinaglia knighted for their achievements in medical research
Mattheus Abagostus. alias Mattheus Bogotski (Polish Bogacki German spelling: Bogatzki) Mattheus Hermanus Paroskie from Voters List. Western Cape 1878. Cape Colony Publication Vol 11\1\7 (Cape Town Archives Repository). According to this document Mattheus Hermanus Paroskie’s residence was Petersfontein near Uilenkraal and Caledon. Paroskie could be Mattheus Bogotski/Abagostus himself or one of his sons.