David, born in Dundee, Scotland, in 1826, was a younger son of Robert Cairncross, born 4th March, 1792, Robert being the son of Robert Cairncross and Jean Rolls; the latter Robert, born in 1771, died on 9th February, 1929, in Dundee.
David, who was a mason, emigrated to South Africa when very young. He took up residence in Haarlem, in the Uniondale District of the Cape Province and there, in 1850, he married the first of 3 wives, as the records of the Haarlem Mission Station testify. He had eight sons, and those eight sons had 32 sons and nine daughters. David died at Haarlem on 11th June, 1900. The 32 grandsons have also produced numerous sons and grandsons - how many is impossible to say, as they have become dispersed all over the Cape Province and cannot easily be traced. Such as have been traced are listed in the family tree attached. It is thought that their numbers equal, if indeed they do not already exceed, those descended from William of Prestonpans, the latter numbering 55 males living at the end of 1952. David was known to at least two members of the first branch. William the Architect, about 1895, when supervising the building of the jail at Uniondale, found he was one of the masons; and Thomas L. L. writing 23.2.1939, said, "While I was teaching at Krakeel River, Lower Longkloof, I was introduced to a David Cairncross residing at Haarlem, Longkloof. This must have been around 1890. This Mr Cairncross appeared to a man of 50 or 60 years of age at that time. He once called on my late father on legal business at Uniondale. Naturally my father questioned him on his history. He said he landed at Algoa Bay and tramped all the way from there until he got to Haarlem, a German Missionary Station. He settled there and must have died there. My father told me there was no doubt that he belonged to the Cairncross clan." A letter of 1st October, 1850, from the Colonial Office to the Central Road Board conveys the Governor's approval of the following appointments "at Bain's Kloof Convict Station, viz: David Cairncross to be Sub-Overseer from the first ultimo inclusive, vice Doran, resigned. John Murphy to the Constable from the first ultimo inclusive, vice David Cairncross, promoted."
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