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In the 17th century, the southernmost point of Africa where the Atlantic and Indian oceans meet became a desirable half-way haven for the Dutch East India Company which was trading with India. By order of that company in 1652, Jan van Riebeeck arrived with a few other Dutch settlers at the Cape of Good Hope to establish this half-way station so that fresh vegetables and fruits could be provided to prevent scurvy among the Company’s sailors. Emigrants from Holland were then encouraged to settle and colonize, but they were soon joined by settlers from other countries, as the following list shows:
1657-1675: 49 settlers, comprising 34 Dutch, 7 German, 3 Swedes and others. 1675-1700: 152 settlers, comprising 57 Dutch, 38 German, 51 French [Huguenots) and others 1700-1725: 261 settlers, comprising 122 Dutch, 102 German, 22 French and others 1725-1750: 273 settlers, comprising 78 Dutch, 180 German, Scandinavians, and others 1750-1775: 399 settlers, comprising 88 Dutch, 267 German, Scandinavians, and others 1775-1795: 392 settlers, comprising 115 Dutch, 212 German, Scandinavians, and others
From 1795 onwards there were a few British residents at the Cape, many of whom were military personnel, but it was not until 1814 that Britain eventually gained formal possession of the Cape. Factors that prompted a substantial emigration of British settlers to South Africa 1819-1820, the most serious of which was the economic crisis in Britain following the Napoleonic wars which made emigration with promise of land and opportunity very attractive. Another was to settle the disputed eastern frontier of the Cape of Good Hope with a farming community to discourage the Xhosa tribe from crossing the colonial boundary. The British government also wanted to increase the English-speaking population of a recently acquired colony that was predominantly Dutch in its language and customs.
There are online resources for the British immigration to the cape. For example, there is a fantastic new website, "South African Settlers", for people who are tracing their ancestors in South Africa who emigrated from the British Isles. Although it covers mainly those who came in 1820, it is an on-going project with new names being added all the time. More information.
Williams, J. Robert. Hampshire Settlers in South Africa, 1820. Two Hampshire groups under Alexander Biggar and Captain Duncan Campbell formed part of almost 4,000 emigrants, who sailed from Britain in 1819, under a Govt. aided scheme. They sailed on the ship " Weymouth" and arrived in early 1820. There is a small list of the emigrants from Hampshire, giving surname, christian name, wife's christian name and sometimes the names of the children. Article is to be fount in The Hampshire Family Historian, vol. 10, no.1, May 1983, page 22, Family History Library Ref. 942.27 B2h
A Minority of a Minority of a Minority:the Irish in South Africa. This resource looks at this “forgotten” Irish community. It surveys what statistical information there is and looks at the jobs which attracted the Irish to Africa.
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