Huguenots in South Africa

Huguenots in South Africa

A large number of people in South Africa are descended from Huguenots. Most of these originally settled in the Cape Colony, but have since been quickly absorbed into the Afrikaner and Afrikaans population, thanks to sharing a similar religion to the Dutch colonists.


After a commissioner was sent out from the Cape Colony in 1685 to attract more settlers, a more dedicated group of immigrants began to arrive. French refugees began to arrive in the Cape after leaving their country after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes.

On December 31 1687 a band of Huguenots set sail from France to the colony at the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa. Individual Huguenots settled at the Cape of Good Hope from as early as 1671 and an organized, large scale emigration of Huguenots to the Cape of Good Hope took place during 1688 and 1689. A notable example of this is the emigration of Huguenots from La Motte d'Aigues in Provence, France.

This small body of immigrants had a marked influence on the character of the Dutch settlers. Owing to the policy instituted in 1701 of the Dutch East India Company which dictated that schools should teach exclusively in Dutch and strict laws of assembly, the French Huguenots ceased by the middle of the 18th century to maintain a distinct identity, and the knowledge of French disappeared. [,M1 "History of the French Protestant Refugees, from the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes to our own days."] M. Charles Weiss (Translated from the French by Henry William Herbert), 1854. New York: Stringer & Townsend.]


Many of these settlers chose as their home an area called Franschhoek, Dutch for "French corner", in the present day Western Cape province of South Africa. The valley was originally settled in 1688 by French Huguenot refugees, many of whom were given land by the Dutch government in a valley called Olifantshoek ("Elephant's corner"), so named because of the vast herds of elephants that roamed the area. The name of the area soon changed to Franschhoek, with many of the settlers naming their new farms after the areas in France from which they came. La Motte, La Cotte, Cabriere, Provence, Chamonix, Dieu Donne and La Dauphine were among some of the first established farms — most of which still retain their original farm houses today.

A large monument to commemorate the arrival of the Huguenots in South Africa was inaugurated on 17 April 1948 at Franschhoek.


Many of the farms in the Western Cape province in South Africa still bear French names and there are many families, today mostly Afrikaans speaking, whose surnames bear witness to their French Huguenot ancestry. Examples of these are: Theron, Blignaut, Cronje (Cronier), de Klerk (Le Clercq), Visagie (Visage), de Villiers, du Plessis, du Toit, Fourie, Fouche, Giliomee (Guilliaume), Hugo, Joubert, and Labuschagne (la Buscagne), le Roux, Lombard, Malan, Malherbe, Marais, Terreblanche, Theron, Lange and [ Viljoen] (Villion) amongst others, which are all common surnames in present day South Africa. [Ces Francais Qui Ont Fait L'Afrique Du Sud. Translation: The French People Who Made South Africa. [ Bernard Lugan. January 1996.] [ISBN 2841000869] ] The wine industry in South Africa owed a significant debt to the Huguenots, many of whom had vineyards in France.

Many Afrikaans writers have Huguenot surnames, and were involved in setting up the Society of Real Afrikaners

Various French language names have also gained currency amongst Afrikaners e.g. Francois & Eugene - Francois Pienaar

List of South Africans of Huguenot descent

Some of the original forms of the surnames have been put in brackets.
* Aegidius Jean Blignaut, South African writer
*Jan F. E. Cilliers, Afrikaans-language poet, essayist, dramatist and reviewer.
*Sarel Cilliers, Voortrekker leader and a preacher.
*Hansie Cronje cricketer
*Piet Cronje leader of the Transvaal Republic's military forces during the First and Second Anglo-Boer Wars
*F.W. de Klerk (born 18 March 1936; "Le Clerc"), last State President of apartheid-era South Africa.
*Koos de la Rey, (Jacobus Herculaas de la Rey) (22 October 1847 - 15 September 1914) was a Boer general during the Second Boer War
*Fanie de Villiers, a former South African cricket player
*Abraham de Villiers, a South African cricket player (also known as AB de Villiers)
*Jean de Villiers, Springboks rugby player
*Morne du Plessis, Springboks rugby player
*I. D. du Plessis, poet
*Frik du Preez ("du Prez")
*Alexander du Toit, geologist
*Daniel du Toit, South African astronomer
*Christiaan du Toit, South African military commander
*D. F. du Toit, co-founder of an Afrikaans language movement named the Society of Real Afrikaners
*S. G. du Toit, co-founder of an Afrikaans language movement named the Society of Real Afrikaners
*Stephanus Jacobus du Toit, co-founder of an Afrikaans language movement named the Society of Real Afrikaners
*Jacobus Johannes Fouché
*Elsa Joubert, South African novelist in Afrikaans
*Gideon Joubert, South African author and journalist Afrikaans science non-fiction author
*Marius Joubert, Springboks rugby player
*Petrus Jacobus Joubert, boer commandant-general of the South African Republic from 1880 to 1900
*Piet Joubert
*Frederick Le Roux, South African cricketer
*Garth Le Roux, South African cricketer
*Adolph Malan (1910–1963), known as Sailor Malan, Royal Air Force fighter pilot in the Second World War
*Daniel François Malan, who was a Prime Minister of South Africa elected on apartheid platform
*Magnus Malan, former South African Minister of Defence (in the cabinet of President P. W. Botha), Chief of the South African Defence Force (SADF) and Chief of the South African Army.
*Rian Malan, celebrated South African author, journalist and political activist.
*D. F. Malherbe, Afrikaans novelist
*Gideon Malherbe, co-founder of an Afrikaans language movement named the Society of Real Afrikaners
*Ben Marais
*Eugene Marais
*Sarie Marais
*Beyers Naudé, Afrikaner anti apartheid cleric.
*Charle-Pierre Naudé, poet
*Jozua Naudé, acting President of South Africa from 1967 to 1968
*Francois Pienaar, former Springboks captain
*Piet Retief, boer voortrekker
*Esta TerBlanche ("Terre-Blanche")
*Eugène Terre'Blanche ("Terre-Blanche"), South African political activist and leader of AWB
*Charlize Theron, Hollywood actress
*Totius (Jakob Daniël du Toit) - poet
*Constand Viljoen ("Villion"), former leader of the South African Freedom Front (1994 - 2001) and SADF general
*Gerrit Viljoen
*H.D Viljoen (Former Inspector General SADF)
*Marais Viljoen
*Paul Visagie, athlete and direct descendant of General Piet Joubert

ee also

* Huguenot
* Huguenot Monument
* History of Cape Colony


Further reading

* Lugan, Bernard (1996). "Ces Francais Qui Ont Fait L'Afrique Du Sud ("The French People Who Made South Africa")". Bartillat. [ISBN 2-84100-086-9] .
* Weiss, M. Charles (1854). [,M1 "History of the French Protestant Refugees, from the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes to our own days."] (Translated from the French by Henry William Herbert) New York: Stringer & Townsend.
* Website of the Huguenot Foundation of South Africa [ History of the Huguenots in South Africa]

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