The English Settlers in the Crags until 1900
Speaker: Clive Noble
The Read Family
James Read came to South Africa in 1808.He was a shipwright. He lived and worked in Cape Town. He went to George in 1823 where he married Anna Terblanche. They had 3 children. The 2 sons, Ignatius and James, in 1862 bought the farm Matjesfontein on the east side of the Keurbooms river from the Jerling family. They later owned the whole of the Keurbooms area.
Later they extended their property interests to the Crags. Lourens Read owned what is now called Loredo.
The farm house which is on Woodlands farm, now called Kurland was built by the Read’s in 1886.
He was the third son of Francis Newdigate and was keen to become a farmer. He set sail for South Africa in 1845 at the age of 21. He was given a capital of 3000 pounds and income of 100 pounds a year. He persuaded a number of English farmers and skilled artisans to help him.
The English Settlers 1850
The English Settlers 1850’s
He and his wife Mary and 3 children George, Joseph and Selina disembarked in Mossel Bay. They then travelled by ox wagon to Plettenberg Bay with an enforced stop in George. He built his own house at Ladywood overlooking the Piesang River Valley. He also bought land at Gansvlei which he subdivided for his 3 eldest children George, Joseph and Selina. Mary Anne and William were born when the family lived at Ladywood. Emma, the youngest daughter and her husband Frank Allahn, were set up with a store in The Crags. He earned 76 pound and 8 shillings a year. He was a farmer and millwright. He was the most senior of William Newdigate’s men
Redford Farm was a grant to William Derbyshire in the early 1850’s. It was 895 morgen in size. It was granted also to W.Smith, W.Hewitt, T.Preston and G. Shaw. On it William built a house and a watermill. The house later burnt down in the 1950’s. The watermill stopped working at about the same time. It became home for the Derbyshire’s for many generations. Apparently the original house and our house were similar in architecture. There was also an old barn on the farm. It is uncertain when it was built but it is still there.
It was built about 120 years ago. It was built for William and Mary’s granddaughter Amy Bern who married Samuel Cornelius van Rooyen. Her parents were Mary Anne Derbyshire and James Bern. A quarter of the whole farm was inherited by Mary Anne Derbyshire in 1894. Her husband James Bern also bought a quarter in 1891 and in 1904 another quarter in 1912
Amy Bern was left 19/48 of Redford. This most likely was the portion on which we are now. This was in 1926.
Billy Bern, her brother, inherited 19/48 as well. This portion was transferred to Samuel van Rooyen in 1937.
It was sold to Ena Behr in 1940 after which it was subdivided and sold off to others. Our portion was sold to Baren Dina McDonald in 1966.
In 1973 it was sold to Jan Willem Lotz.
Amy Bern lived on Redford all her life. She lived in our house until she was too old to climb the steep stairs.
The local coloureds called it the ‘upstairs house’. She built a single story house next door where she died. This house now belongs to Dr. Goedhals. He is a cattle farmer.
It was owned by the Behr’s for 26 years. They rented it out to tenants, many of whom worked for the Behr’s.
One of these tenants ran a shop from the Barn. We called it the barn because when we first saw it, it was the home to Portia the cow!
In 1976 Redford house was sold to John Ives. We bought it in 1980 in a sorry state.
The Noble family had never lived in The Crags. They left the Newdigates and went to Knysna.
William Newdigate came to the conclusion that there was no future in farming in the Piesang river valley. He had bought land at the Crags in 1859.
This was 2390 hectares and cost 895 pounds. He had inherited money from his father’s estate on which to build his manor house ‘Forest Hall’. He was asked why he was going so far from civilisation to which he replied ‘I am taking civilisation with me’
Daughter of Thomas Bain. A difficult journey to Forest Hall, only 12 miles - ox wagon along the coast
- At Keurbooms river the wagon was floated to an island and then to the other side on empty casks. The horses had to swim.
-Up Slate hill was difficult.
-took the whole day
At Forest Hall
-Formal Dress for Dinner.
-Procession into the dining room, arm in arm.
- China crockery
He married Caroline Duthie from Knysna in 1851.
They had 9 children, 6 of them were born
at Redbourne and 3 girls at Forest Hall
Frank 1852 Surveyor married Kate Barrington
Caroline 1853 Naturalist Unmarried
Constance 1856 Henry Home Capetown
Annie 1859 married Thomas Hopwood Beacon Island
William 1860 Surveyor Jean Grimmer Kimberley
Arthur 1863 Not a mental giant Longridge
Eleanor 1866 Stayed At Forest Hall Longridge
Frances 1867 Typiste In Knysna
The Newdigate Girls
They saved money from the sale of the Silver Spotted Ghost Moth [Leto Venus] to museums in England. With this money they built a school-chapel on the site of the present stone church ‘St. Michael’s and All Angels’ next to the Kurland township which was built in 1905.
The Parkes Lease .
When William Newdigate died in 1884 to raise money to pay out the non-resident family, they raised a bond for 5500 pounds. Parkes had the right to take the timber and pay a % to the Newdigates. No time limit was set, so when all the money was paid back they continued to harvest the timber, despite expensive court cases.
It was left with caretakers but gradually deteriorated. It was leased by a Dr. Sym in 1946 who agreed to repair the place. Again another legal rangle and more money was lost. The house was abandoned. When we first saw it in 1964 there were cows in the house.
Then along came Hillary Peter, a knight in shining amour, who set about the restoration. It was later used as a guest house and subsequently sold to Marius van Biljon, who died in a tractor accident. It was then sold to Michael Johnson who did further restoration. It was finally sold to an Italian Trust who are doing a good job in preservation.
Born in Graaf Reinet in1830
He never lived in The Crags but visited Forest Hall.
His great-granddaughter Lucinda Edwards
lives in The Crags
The Nobles worked for William Newdigate for about 10 years.
They then left and went to Knysna.
John Noble’s wife Anne died within a few years of arriving in Plettenberg Bay. She is buried in the grounds of St. Andrews Church.
My side of the Noble family lived in Knysna until the discovery of diamonds in Kimberley. From there my grandfather went to fight in the Boer War and later in the 1st World War. He died in Sabie chasing gold.
My father and I returned to Plett. [The Crags] in the 1980’s. He lived at Loredo and we at Redford.