How many people that you know in your family or friendship group know very little about their ancestral heritage other than who their grandparents were? Or even not who their grandparents were? I have been lucky enough that most of my paternal family trees are diligently traced and drawn up until well before the twelve hundreds, even though it is mostly on my mom’s side of the tree. Thankfully the same can be said for my hubbies family, their Italian heritage is very well cemented on who fits where and how, mainly because the old people where hoarders, not that the English side weren’t but the Liguori’s were prolific. But the great advantage of that is that for generations to come there will be a family tree that can be traced to understand their heritage.
So I waded into the murky depth of genealogy and tracing how my father’s side of the family, the Brunsdon family arrived in South Africa and how they made their way from Algoa Bay to the small town to Queenstown. Brunsdon is not a very common surname so I didn’t think that it would be a very difficult task, oh boy was I wrong! It was easy enough to find out that Thomas Charles Brunsdon arrived in the Eastern Cape from Gloustershire from the UK and he married in to a very prominent Uitenage family with the surname of Rudman. Thomas and Henriette Rudman had six children, four of which where boys and there the trail goes cold. Somehow from that point the family spread over the Eastern Cape, lived in Jamestown and finally settled in Queenstown. My grandfather, William Daniel Brunsdon, met my gran, Imelda Mombourgh, in the small town of Aberdeen. Of course, Im aware of my great grandparents but the death of my great grandfather at a young age left very little trace of the family history and those who knew the story are long dead and it is the mistake of my youth for not remembering the stories that where told to me by my gran when I was a little girl.
So the focus shifted from the Brunsdon family to my gran’s family, which was also murky but it yielded far more results thanks to living relatives of my gran, some more helpful than others. My gran’s surname was Mombourgh and there is little evidence of their family and that is because my great grandfather was no great shakes at spelling and spelt his last two children’s surname differently from the rest of their brothers and sisters. The family was born and raised in Aberdeen from before the Anglo Boer war, it seems that one of my relatives was a turn coat and was a state witness against one of the boer gorilla units based near Aberdeen to escape prosecution after being caught by a British battalion. http://www.oocities.org/athens/rhodes/1266/historical-rebel.htm
Another turn of events that generally the eldest son in each family was called Daniel and strangely enough my son’s name is Daniel to. My gran was the laat lammetjie of the family so she lost her parents at a very young age and spent the latter part of her childhood being raised by her eldest sister, Faith, affectionately called Bubbles. My great gran, Gwen, grew up in a little town called Komga, ironically this is where I went to primary school and later lived in East London where I went to High School. She moved to Aberdeen to marry her husband, Impi, and is buried there.
In another twist of fate is that after discussing this with my mom in law she interjected with surprise that her father, a Slabbert, was born and raised in Aberdeen as well. And in a town that small it is impossible that the two families did not know each other. It is also a great testament to the interwoven links of the genealogy of the settler history of South Africa and that without of knowledge how we are all connect on some level or another. Im sure that if I was able to spend more time researching the history of these two families I would be able to find more information but finding the time between a toddler and work is rather difficult. In addition to all of this I would welcome any information that might already be recorded.
The histories of the South African families who settler and toiled to make a living from our beautiful country is a tail of bravery and fortitude that should not be allowed to be eroded through time or by politics, it should be celebrated and taught to the new generations because whether they care to realize it or not it is their history to share with their grandchildren one day.