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Pieter Booyens
Died 1777

Geertruida Blom
Circa 1701- Circa 1730

Barent Booyens
Died Circa 1801

Elizabeth Catharina Strydom
Died 1814

Mattheus Booyens

of Schilpadbeen near Willowmore, George District, Swellendam "Colonie" 1
Postholder on the route between the Cape and the Eastern Frontier 2
Baptised 29 November 1750, Drakenstein 3
Died Circa 1816, George District, Cape Colony 4


Given that his two brothers' marriages are both childless, Matthys, like his father Barent, defaults to being the man to ensure the survival of the family name Booyens in the country.

We do not have much clarity on his location after his baptism, but in 1787 we find him and his brother Barend on the Muster Rolls ("Opgaafrolle") of the Graaff-Reinet "Colonie". In that year he is listed as having 200 sheep and 10 cattle and has to pay "tol" [#1]. Unfortunately the men of the entire massive "Colonie" are listed together, and we do not know exactly where he is. However, a very useful clue comes from a strange event.

On 26 January 1789 Mattheus files an affidavit [#2] at the Graaff-Reinet Drostdy, testifying in the matter of the attempted suicide of a Khoekhoe mother who murdered her own child in the process. He describes that he was on his way to a General Commando in 1788 and went past the farm Brakkefontein, when the local Master of the Watch called on him to witness the scene. It so happens that this is exactly where the later town of Jansenville will be proclaimed. It is at the eastern end of the so-called Black Ridges "Zwartruggens", the district where we find his brother Barend in later Muster rolls. Furthermore, in 1792, Mattheus and his two brothers all owe money to Elsje Visser, as recorded in her inventory [#3] of that year. The key point here is that the late Elsje owns three farms towards the eastern end of the Zwartruggens, near the Sondaghs River; that is, at the Jansenville of the 21st century. This supports the above conclusion.

This places Mattheus in the dry part of the South Karoo; a country of extremely drought resistant plants, such as the ubiquitous noorsdoring (euphorbia coerulescens), the beautiful vaal plakkie, and the odd-looking vingerpol. It is also the indigenous home of the succulent shrub known in North America as the Money Tree (plakkieboom in South Africa) and other strange, prehistoric-looking euphorbia species, dotted with the odd sweetthorn, or flowering boerboon. This is country better suited to sheep and especially goats (Angora in the 21st century), and is certainly not good cattle range. It is excellent kudu country. Nothing could be more different from the origins of the family in the Danish Eiderstedt, or even Wellington in the Cape.

Mattheus and his brother Barend, together with Mattheus' two eldest sons, Pieter Johannes and Barend Matthys, appear as members of the Second Company ("Tweede Compagnie") of the Militia Dragoons ("Dragonders") in an undated Muster Roll [#4] which we believe to be from around 1796, when the two youngsters were at least 16. They are led by men such as Tjaart van der Walt (later to die in battle near Hankey), Adriaan van Jaarsveld (later to die in the Cape Castle in the hands of the British), and the father of Louis Trichardt, the later Voortrekker leader.

An undated Muster Roll document [#5] has more detail and states that Mattheus has 4 sons and 3 daughters at this time. This checks with his recorded child baptisms by 1796/7. It also confirms his wife's name as being "Anna Gous".

Mattheus and his sons make an appearance--their first--at the end of Chapter 9 of the book AmaBhulu.

In 1803 we find Mattheus and his eldest son Petrus Johannes listed separately in the Swellendam "Colonie", possibly near Schilpadbeen at the eastern end of that Colonie [#6]. This census shows Mattheus with his four youngest sons and two youngest daughters.

By 1807 his name is listed as operator of the government post (mail stop and requisitioning post) at the farm Schilpadbeen, shown below [#7]. This is where a mail rider or government official can get a fresh horse, a bed, and possibly some lead and powder on his way to the unstable Eastern Frontier. This would be the route taken 27 years later at the end of 1834 by Quartermaster General Harry Smith on his dash to the Eastern Frontier to shore up the defenses against the amaXhosa in the 6th Frontier War; Hintsa's War.

Mattheus, elsewhere referred to as "Groot Matewis Schilpadbeen", dies around 1816, because that is when his wife Anna turns up as widow at a baptism. There is no death notice for him.

The five wings of the Booyens family are based on Mattheus' five sons, of whom three will depart the Cape Colony to seek their future in the Boer Republics. Today, the Frisian surname Booyens is largely a Free State and Transvaal name. Only a tiny fraction of the Booyens family of South Africa remains in the East and West Cape, descendants of the two eldest brothers. However, the names of those two eldest brothers, Pieter Johannes and Barend Matthys, are propagated by the rest of the Booyens families as a conseqeunce of the Afrikaans naming convention. Many of the descendants of Pieter Johannes and Barend Matthys have also moved to the north of South Africa.

The 1843 Inventory of Mattheus' wife's estate records about D Booyens (son Daniel Jan Andries) and M Booyens (likely son Matthys Stephanus) : "The above individuals have left the district for Natal and are stated to possess nothing". In fact, both were in the Free State.

For the references, see below#

Married 16 March 1777 5

Anna Gouws Died 1843
Great-granddaughter of French Huguenot refugee AndrĂ© Gauche 6

Elizabeth Catharina

Magdalena Geertruida

Pieter Johannes

Barend Matthys
1785 -

Matthys Stephanus

Daniel Jan Andries
1790 -

Anna Johanna

Maria Hermina
1798 -

Marthinus Gerhardus
c1801 -

Children of Mattheus Booyens and Anna Gouws

Elizabeth Catharina Booyens

Baptised 22 November 1778, Cape Town 7

Notes: In 1798 we find Elizabeth and David baptizing a child at Cape town [#1]. The entry states that they resort under "het Land van Waveren". That would be where Tulbagh is today. However, there was not yet a parish at George or Beaufort West, so their options were Graaff-Reinet, Tulbagh and Swellendam. Swellendam is behind the Outeniqua Mountains from the Lower Karoo, where we believe they resided. In 1808 we find Elizabeth and her husband in an Opgaafrol for the Graaff-Reinet "Colonie", which reads: "David Senecal de jonge ... Elisabeth Booyens" and notes that they have a daughter, one horse, 50 head of cattle, and 75 sheep [#2].

When they baptise daughter Geertruijd in George on 18 September 1813, they are listed as living at "Oosthuyskraal" in the Graaff-Reinet district [#3].

The 1814 Opgaaf has them living in the Traka District, east of what is now Prince Albert [#4]. At this point they have two sons and two daughters. There are nine "Hottentots" on the farm with them. They have a wagon and the obligatory ten draught oxen along with 19 head of breeding cattle. They also have 230 sheep and 45 goats.

The couple turns up as witnesses to a baptism by Elizabeth's younger brother, Daniel Jan Andries Booyens on 10 September 1821. The baptism is served by the Beaufort Parish of the Dutch Reformed Curch, but is conducted at home in what the entry refers to as "Winterhoek". We can only assume this refers to the little spot known as Winterhoek, squirreled behind the Groot Winterhoek Mountains near Steytlerville. It is situated at the foot of the highest mountain in the Southeast Cape, known today as Cockscomb [#5]. We do not know whether they have moved to this district.

In 4 July 1831 David Senekal turns up as witness for another baptism by Daniel Jan Andries, but this time he is without Elizabeth [#6]. There is no indication that the baptism is NOT conducted in the church at Beaufort West. This is the last trace we have of either David or Elizabeth.

We have thus far failed completely in our efforts to locate a death notice for either David or Elizabeth. They simply disappear.


#1. Baptism register of the Cape Town Parish of the Dutch Reformed Church (1795-1814). LINK [image 36]
#2. Cape Archives, Graaff-Reinet Opgaafrolle 1808, J130: LINK [image 145]
#3. Baptism register of the George Parish of the Dutch Reformed Church (1813-1825). LINK [image 9]
#4. Graaff-Reinet Opgaaf 1814 J142: p.91. (entry 50): LINK [image 47]
#5. Baptism Book of the Dutch Reformed Church Parish of Beaufort. Entry 329. LINK [image 45]
#6. Baptism Book of the Dutch Reformed Church Parish of Beaufort.LINK [image 139]

 x Married 12 June 1796  8
David Frederick Senekal
Baptised 21 July 1776, Cape Town 9

Notes: Son of David Senekal and Geertruyda Minne who own the loan farm Calbasse Fonteijn right next door to Schilpadbeen in what will later be the Willowmore district, along the upper reaches of the Olifants River, a tributary of the Gouritz. The 19 June 1806 Estate Inventory [#1] of Geertruyda lists P. J Booyens as a debtor to the estate in respect of the house ("opstal") on Calbasse Fonteyn and in respect of the rental of a wagon to go to the Cape. It is not clear whether this refers to David Junior's wife Elizabeth Catharina Booyens' 23 year old brother, or to her uncle of the same name. It is more likely to be the older uncle.

#1. Cape Archives, Inventories of the Orphan Chamber, MOOC8/26.23. LINK

Magdalena Geertruida Booyens
Baptised 4 February 1781, Cape Town

 x Married 15 February 1801 Cape Town
Johannes Bezuidenhout Died 1848
of Zwarteberg Wyk in the Graaff-Reinet "Colonie"

Pieter Johannes Booyens Died 1832
Baptised 12 October 1783, Cape Town
Died 4 August 1832, Ghoup

 x Married (1) 3 June 1809 Swellendam
Susanna Human Died 1820
 x Married (2) 12 May 1822 Graaff-Reinet
Sophia Aletta Jacoba Fredrika Snyman Died 1849

Barend Matthys Booyens 1785-1869
Born ca.30 March 1785, Cape Colony
Baptised 29 April 1786, Drakenstein
Died 20 July 1869, Bakoond, District Beaufort

 x Married 3 October 1807 Swellendam
Elizabeth Johanna Venter Died 1870

Matthys Stephanus Booyens Died 1871
Baptised 17 April 1788, Stellenbosch, Cape
Died 3 November 1871, Klipfontein farm, Bloemfontein district, Free State Republic

 x Married (1) 3 November 1810 Swellendam
Helena Aletta du Plessis 1793-1857
 x Married (2) 18 April 1859 Bloemfontein, Free State Republic
Susanna Catharina van den Berg Born Circa 1842

Daniel Jan Andries Booyens 1790- Circa 1863
Born 18 December 1790
Baptised 11 October 1791, Drakenstein
Died Circa 1863

 x Married (1) 5 March 1820 Beaufort-Wes
Maria Geertruida Catharina Janse van Rensburg
 x Married (2) 19 May 1855 Potchefstroom Hervormde Kerk
Judith Margaretha Susara Reineke Born 1838

Anna Johanna Booyens Died 1861
Baptised 7 June 1795, Graaff-Reinet 10
Died 5 February 1861, Zinking, Prins Albert 11

Notes: We do not know much about Anna beyond the fact that she serves as witnesses to the baptism of the first Booyens boy child from the next generation in faraway Swellendam on 27 November 1809 [#1]. The child is Matthys Booyens, first son of her second oldest brother Barend Mathys Booyens and his wife, Elizabeth Johanna Venter. Anna is barely 15 years old at this time.

Seven years later, on 6 October 1816, Anna marries Ockert Brits in George. Ockert is the son of Ockert Brits and his wife Hester Catharina Oosthuyzen. The Brits family is associated with the nearby farm Georgida, and Anna's mother, Anna Gous, will eventually die on that farm.

#1. Baptism book of the Dutch Reformed Church parish of Swellendam; UNISA Microfilm 33029099
--- Doopdatum 27.11.1809
--- Mattheijs *16.09.1809 sv. Barend Matheijs Booijens en Elisabetha Johanna Venter
--- Getuies: Mattheijs Stephanus Booijens, Anna Johanna Booijens, Daniel Jan Andries Booijens, Maria Hermina Booijens, Marthinus Gerhardus Booijens

 x Married 6 October 1816 George, Cape Colony 12
Ockert Brits Died 1859
Baptised 28 April 1795 13
Died 1859 14

Notes: Son of Ockert Brits and Hester Catharina Oosthuyzen, and brother to Pieter Brits who is married to Maria Hermina Booyens, sister of Anna Johanna.

Maria Hermina Booyens 1798-1873
Born 5 March 1798 15
Baptised 29 September 1798, Drakenstein 16
Died 5 March 1873, Klipdam, Rouxville District, Ornage Free State Republic 17

Notes: The 1826 "opgaaf" or census of the Beaufort district [#1] shows Hermina and her husband "Pieter Brits Ockert Son" living in the Traka wyk (or wick/subdistrict) immediately north of the Swartberg and east of the 21st century Prince Albert. They have at the time 2 sons and one daughter. They have 2 horses or wagons; 6 breeding horses; 12 oxen; 37 breeding cattle; and 135 goats. Her husband is also hereby identified as the son of Ockert Brits.

On 11 March 1855 Hermiena is witness to a baptism in Smithfield in the Free State by the eldest daughter of her youngest brother Marthinus Gerhardus [#2]. By 1857 we see her as baptismal witness, along with her husband Pieter Brits, in the Dutch Reformed Church in Aliwal North, in the far northeast of the Cape Colony. Most interestingly, the couple is again witness to a baptism in the same church on 20 June 1858, along with Pieter Adriaan Booijens and a lady whose name is given as Sebella de Winnaar. It is clear that this is none other than Pieter Adriaan Booyens, second son of Hermina's older brother, Matthys Stephanus. Pieter Adriaan is married to Isabella Duvenhage, the scribe obviously corrupting the rather rare surname Duvenhage to "De Winnaar", a mistake that will be understood by speakers of the Afrikaans language, much as Booyens is very often documented as "Williams" by English speakers.

This result shows conclusively that the sons and daughters of Mattheus Booyens are maintaining contact despite moving from the Cape Colony to the Orange Free State and Transvaal Republics, and despite being separated by hundreds of miles and international borders in the mid-1800s.

By 1864, when they draw up their will at Aliwal North, the couple is living on the farm Kalkfontein in the Caledon River District of the Orange Free State Republic.

When Pieter passes away in 1868, the couple is living on the farm Klipdam in the Rouxville region. When Maria dies in 1873, it represents the end of this generation of the family Booyens in the country. She has survived all her siblings.

#1. 1826 Beaufort Census Journal J11 : LINK; page 32, entry 78.
#2. NG Church - Baptism Book of the Parish of Smithfield: LINK

 x Married 5 October 1817 George, Cape Colony 18
Pieter Brits Died 1868
Baptised 9 February 1800 19
Died 9 July 1868, Klipdam, District Caledon River, Free State Republic 20

Notes: Son of Ockert Brits and Hester Catharina Oosthuyzen, and brother to Ockert Junior who is married to Anna Johanna Booyens, sister of Hermina.

Marthinus Gerhardus Booyens Circa 1801-1870
Born Circa 1801, Cape Colony
Baptised 1 May 1803, Stellenbosch, Cape
Died 8 May 1870, PietPotgietersrus, Transvaal

 x Married 23 November 1823 Graaff-Reinet
Catharina Maria Janse van Rensburg Born 1806

# References for the NOTES of Mattheus Booyens

#1. Cape Archives, Graaff-Reinet Muster Rolls, J113-J115 : "Lijst van Opgegewe beestiaal Anno 1787 No.32" : LINK : image 40

#2. Cape Archives, 1/GR 3/16 no. 91; Judicial declarations, interrogatories and insinuatien in criminal cases 1786-1802: Declaration by Matthys Booyens, 26 January 1789. The document describes the events of August 1788 when Mattheus was on his way to a "general commando", and he was called to serve as witness by Dawid de Beer, then local Veldwachtmeester. The author has consulted with Dr. Susan Newton-King, author of Masters and Servants on the Cape Eastern Frontier 1760-1803, Cambridge Press, 1999. She has researched the event and describes it on p.135 of that publication. Her work has revealed that the event took place on Brakke Fontein, farm of Dawid de Beer, and the present author has investigated the placement of the De Beer family of the region. The relevant Brakke Fontein is located immediately southeast of the present Jansenville, on the Sondagh's river - the eastern end of the Zwartuggens. Other farms owned by members of the family are located nearby. So is Kommandokraal, which is no doubt where Mattheus was headed to report for local "general commando" duty in August 1788.

#3. Cape Archives KAB MOOC8/51.40b : Inventory of Visscher, Elsje Sophia, dated 17 January 1792. LINK. The main farm is described as: "Klyne Brakke Fontain geleegen aan deeze seide van de Sondags Rivier inde Swarte Ruggens" . The implication is that it lies on the west side of the Sondaghs River (which runs right through the town of Jansenville today. The town lies against the southern foot of the Zwartruggens)

#4. Cape Archives, Graaff-Reinet Muster Rolls, J113-J115 : LINK : Image 12.

#5. Cape Archives, Graaff-Reinet Muster Rolls, J113-J115 : LINK : Image 149.

#6. Cape Archives, Swellendam Opgaaf 1803, J123: LINK : image 8. Oddly, the document bears the name "Graaff-Reinet".

#7. African Court Calender 1807: LINK. Posts in the Swellendam District : M. Booyens - Schilpad Been.

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