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The eGGSA Passenger List Project

The eGSSA branch of the Genealogical Society of South Africa has embarked on a project to transcribe all the passenger lists in the South African Archives that the archivists can find for us and some wonderful information has been found at the Pietermaritzburg Archives Repository and at the Roeland Street Archives, Cape Town. We thank both of these Archive Repositories and their staff for their help in making these documents available to us and thus to you..

The Passenger List Project transcription is co-ordinated by Richard Wolfaardt. The transcriptions are being done by a handful of volunteers without whom this project could not be carried out. Due to agreements signed with the archives, we will only be publishing the transcribed data and not the original images.

So far transcribed are the Natal Immigration Board's lists of immigrants 1850 to 1911 (for more details please see  Immigration Records in the Pietermaritzburg Archives Repository ) and the series IPC 6 ,  twenty passenger lists of ships from an Emigration scheme of 1859-1864 and the series KAB PWD 2-401 to 420 from 1873 to 1884 and PWD 2-756 from 1884-1885 ( for more details of these see Passenger lists in the Western Cape Archives ).

Trisha MacLeod has been transcribing passenger lists from a number of 19th Century Publications. The following are searchable in this database:
The British Mail (a monthly newspaper) lists of departures from British ports 1879 to 1881
The Colonies & India (a weekly newspaper 1883 to 1888.

Allan Beeby has contributed transcriptions of four notices of new arrivals which he has transcribed from the newspaper The Cape of Good Hope Exchange Gazette which appears to have been published in Cape Town between 1850 and 1851 - these are the immigrant lists for the ships Dalhousie, Zenobia and Collingwood in 1850 and the Diadem in 1851.

Photography of the passenger lists in the Western Cape Archives is continuing and more transcriptions will be added.

Also being photographed  are the passengers lists that were published in the Cape Town Gazette and Government Gazette.

 We are also hoping to identify other primary sources, in order to expand the database.

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South African Passenger Lists

So far as we have been able to establish, complete records of all passengers arriving at South African ports do not exist. But we have decided to try to transcribe those that do.

For the period prior to occupation of the Cape by the British, that is the period of rule by the Dutch East India Company (VOC), 1652-1795, 1803-1806, the TANAP project transcript of the Resolutions of the Council of Policy of Cape of Good Hope has an index to ships' names. Sometimes the skipper of the ship will be mentioned and there are sometimes references to individual passengers, but generally speaking the majority of passengers to and from the Cape have escaped being recorded.

The VOC ships' pay registers survive in great numbers, although some are lost. Since many of those who settled at the Cape during this period originally arrived as employees of the VOC, these are valuable records for South African research. Most of these records have now been transcribed and are available on line on the  Netherlands National Archive site VOC - Opvarenden (VOC - Sea Voyagers) and may be searched here:Search Page

Corney Keller has also obtained and made available, with the permission of the Netherlands National Archive, some of these individual records on the eGGSA web site, in our Document Library section.

Shipping records of the Port Captain and Dock Superintendent, Table Bay (Roeland Street Archives, Cape Town reference PC) cover the period 1806-1913, record the arrival and departure of ships but do not record the passengers.

Passenger lists that do survive in the Cape Archives are of assisted immigrants but are far from complete.

Another source are the shipping lists in contemporary newspapers, some of which specifically list immigrants and advertise for employers, while others are general and usually only list the paying passengers.

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Gipsy Bride Passenger list added

Richard Wolfaardt's team of transcribers has transcribed Cape Archives IB7 and IB8 passenger lists. These are being compared with IB9 which, in some cases, contains extra information. Added today to the eGGSA Passenger lists database is that of the Gipsy Bride, transcribed by Ray Pitt. A list of the surnames contained in this list can be seen here ....

Londonderry Standard - Thursday 01 April 1858 - Emigration to the Cape. On Saturday, the magnificent 'Black Ball' ship Gipsy Bride, sailed for the Cape of Good Hope, with 500 emigrants, selected by the Hon. William Field, who has been deputed by the Cape Government to represent them in England. They were chosen almost entirely from the pastoral districts of Scotland, and a finer set of people have rarely left our shores. The Aurifera has been chartered for the conveyance of emigrants to Algoa Bay, and she will leave the Mersey on the 22d of April. Liverpool Albion.
Courtesy: British Newspaper Archive

Montrose, Arbroath and Brechin review; and Forfar and Kincardineshire advertiser. - Friday 09 July 1858 - Cape of Good Hope.
Dr Livingstone's expedition sailed from Table Bay on the 27th Apr8l, for the Zambesi. An elegant silver box, containing 800 guineas, had been presented to Dr Livingstone, as a testimonial, by the colonists. A proposal was made by the Governeor to establish five intermediate posts between the colony and the Zambesi, to ensure a line of monthly communication.
A fierce struggle continues on the frontier between the Bisutos and the Orange Free State. Sir G.Grey consented to act as mediator. Two Basuto towns and four French mission stations were destroyed. The colony was peaceful and prosperous.
The first batch of emigrants has arrived in the Gipsy Bride and gave great satisfaction.
Courtesy: British Newspaper Archive

Reynolds's Newspaper - Sunday 11 September 1859 - Emigration to the Cape of Good Hope.

The Cape Town Immigration Board at their last meeting, a few days before the departure of the mail, resolved to forward the following communication to the Emigration Commissioner in England.

Immigration Office, Cape Town, July 30, 1859.
The Honorable W.Field Esq., Emigration Commissioner, London.
Sir, I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of three letter from you of the 6th ultimo, acquainting me, for the information of the Immigration Board, of the departure of the Burlington with emigrants on the 30th May, and of your having chartered the Lord Raglan to convey emigrants to Table Bay, which were to embark on the 16th instant. The board instructs me to inform you that the immigrants per Bride have all taken employment, and with the exception of a few, have quitted the depot - those remaining being the parents of children suffering from measles. Several remained also for some days owing to the unfavourable state of the weather, and the difficulty existing at the present time in procuring conveyance for their removal to the interior. The wages obtained by most of them are quite equal to former rates, as will be seen by a list accompanying this. The board desires me to call your attention to the circumstance of one of the immigrants per Bride, named Simon Lucas, having died of consumption the day after his arrival, and would recommend a more strict inquiry into the health of emigrants generally, and that none be sent out but such as are and have been for some time in perfect health, and in the habit of working for wages. Lucas, according to the statement of the surgeon-superintendant, Dr Pearce, came on board in a very delicate and precarious state of health, showing evident symptoms of consumption; and it has come to the knowledge of the board that several sent out on former occasions, particularly of the Scotch per Gipsy Bride, were invalids in search of health, some of whom have died, and a few recovered. Lucas leaves a wife and six children, with the prospect of a seventh, all of whom continue at the depot at the expense of the Government. With regard to farm labourers, the board considers it most undesirable that such immigrants should be encumbered with large families, and particularly with any number of young children, such operation as a hindrance to their obtaining ready employment, the wages they receive are sometimes as inadequate to meet their expenses that they naturally feel dissatisfied, and become disheartened. The board deem sit necessary to remark upon the practice adopted in some cases by the immigrants themselves of describing a man incorrectly in regard to his trade or calling, in proof of which I herewith enclose a list of names of men who declared the were refused to be received under the head of their proper calling, but were allowed to enter themselves under some other head, in order to render themselves eligible. This false statement has given rise to considerable unpleasantness and disappointment in one or two cases; it misleads the public, and causes the immigrant who refuses employment to suffer.
...
W.Hampson, Secretary. The following is the scale of wages at which engagements were made in Cape Town by the immigrants per Bride: - Farm labourers £2 to £2.10s with board and lodging, and 3s to 4s per day without ditto; railway labourers, 4s6d to 5s per day; stonemasons 6s6d per day; wheelwrights 6s; sawyers, piece-work, equal to 6s to 7s per day; [s]bines makers, 5s to 7s per day; tailors, piece-work, 4s to 5s per day; painters and glaziers, £3.10s per month and found, or piece-work; brickmakers, piece-work; dressmakers, £1.10s per month and found; female cooks, £1 to £2 per month and found.

Courtesy: British Newspaper Archive

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Burlington, Matilda Atheling and Sedgemoorassenger lists added

IMG 0615These have been transcribed from Cape Archives classes IBC 7 and IBC 9 by Richard Wolfaardt and his intrepid team of volunteers, to whom our grateful thanks. A list of surnames on these three ships can be seen here ...  . Queries or corrections to Richard Ball

Evening Mail - Wednesday 01 June 1859. Government Emigration - The Government emigrant vessel Burlington, 676 tons, Captain Victor Howes, sailed from Southampton on Monday, the 30th ult., for Table Bay, Cape of Good Hope, with 267 emigrants under charge of Surgeon-Superintendant Samuel Leonard Crarie, M.D. The emigrants who embarked in this vessel were selected by the Hon. William Field, the officer appointed by the Colonial Government to conduct the emigrantion to the Cape of Good Hope.  (Courtesy British Newspaper Archive online)

Hereford Times - Saturday 20 August 1859. Emigration to the Cape of Good Hope. On the 12th inst. there were embarked at Liverpool, under the superintendance of the Hon. Mr. Field, in the ship Matilda Atheling, for Table Bay, 288 emigrants. They were principally agricultural labourers and female domestic servants, with some country masons, blacksmiths, and joiners. They comprise also 53 statute adults, under engagement with Messrs. Pickering, contractors for the Cape Town Railway. The emigration to this colony during the present year has now reached a total of 2,588 souls, exclusive of assisted passages.  (Courtesy British Newspaper Archive online)

London Evening Standard - Tuesday 21 May 1861. Free Emigration to the Cape of Good Hope. The Sedgemoor, of 920 tons, Captain M.W.Kett, being the 28th free emigrant ship dispatched at the colonial expense, sailed from Southampton for Table Bay on Saturday last, with a selection made from the artisans and agricultural classes by the acting emigration agent for the colony, Mr A.C. Saunders. They number 283 souls, equal to 223 statute adults, and are under the general charge of Mr. Surgeon Superintendent S.P.Chennell. Mr Saunders appointed from among them John M'Kay to be schoolmaster, Jane M'Connell to be matron, and Alice Wright to be sub-matron. The free emigration to the Cape, under the local act of 1857, has now reached a total of 8260 souls. (Courtesy British Newspaper Archive online) 

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