William, the eldest of five brothers to come to South Africa from Scotland, was born on 28th March, 1788, in Cockenzie, East Lothian, in the parish of Tranent, a tiny fishing hamlet on the coast, some seven miles from Edinburgh. He and his four brothers (David, James, John, and Thomas) became bakers, William having his premises in Citadel Street, Leith. These five brothers were the sons of William Cairncross and Janet Taylor. This latter William was born (1759) at Prestonpans, and the following testimonial was issued to him when he left that parish for Tranent:
That the bearer hereof, William Cairncross, lived in this our parish of Prestonpans for the most part from his infancy, behaving himself soberly and discreetly, and at Whitsuntide last removed from this place a single person free of all public scandal or ground of Church censure, so that no cause is known here to impede his reception into any Christian congregation where Providence may order his lot.
This in name and by appointment of the Kirk Sessions of Prestonpans is attested by
William Cairncross who was born on 27th May, 1759 in Prestonpans, and who married Janet Taylor, was a younger son of James Cairncross (born on 22nd February, 1722, in Ormiston) and his wife Margaret Conkar. James was a younger son of John Cairncross who married Isobel Burnet in Ormiston on 9th June, 1708.
According to family tradition, the South African Cairncrosses are descended from the Melrose Cairncrosses. Although it cannot be established, it is possible that Jonn Cairncross was a younger son of James the brother of Walter of Calfhill, Hillslope or Glendearg, who died in 1707 (vide Chapter XII, 6.66, and Genealogical Tree at page 169, also pages 71 and 90.
The offspring of John, James and William were as follows:
On 29th October, 1811, William the Elder married Elizabeth Wilson (of the boat-building firm of Wilsons) who died on 29th May, 1816, leaving three children:
See also pp. 125.1.
Emigration from Scotland was taking place at this time, 1816, due largely to the conversion of land around Edinburgh into sheep farms with consequent displacement of small-scale tenants. It so happened that in 1817 Captain Benjamin Moodie, 10th Laird of Melsetter in the Orkney Islands, was obliged to sell Melsetter. Mr. Moodie decided to move to the Cape of Good Hope and to take a batch of 200 Scottish labourers and artisans with him. When this became known, more than 1,500 Scots applied to join the expedition. Among the applicants were three, if not five, of the sons of William Cairncross, b. 1759, all bakers.
Three were chosen, David being excluded because he had a wife and family, and Thomas because of his youth. The emigrants were described as being "healthy-looking single men between the ages of 18 and 25, in point of character far superior to the subsequent parties which comprised the 1820 settlers." Each had to produce testimonials of efficiency and good conduct from his master and from his minister. The emigrants were divided into three parties, which sailed for the Cape at intervals, the first leaving Leith, Scotland, on 14th March, 1817, and arriving at the Cape on 4th June, 1817. They were all indentured to Mr. Moodie, some paying the amount of £30 before embarkation and others undertaking to pay £60 subsequently in cash or labour. In the upshot many evaded their obligations, but it is pleasing to be able to state that William, James and John Cairncross each paid his £30 before embarkation and landed free of debt at the Cape. The ships in which the emigrants came were the Brilliant, the Garland and the Clyde, the two latter carrying the Cairncross brothers, and reaching Cape Town on 23rd August and 27th September, 1817.
Mr. Moodie eventually wrote his autobiography (in the third person) and the following extracts, made from the original document in the Drostdy Museum, Swellendam, make interesting reading :
"Mr. Moodie then proceeded to Scotland to engage the emigrants. As the encouragement he met with from Ministers fell much short of his first expectations he did not think himself justified in engaging persons with families in the first instance; besides he found that taking such involved the loss of much time and greater expenses while he conceived they would be less disposable afterwards. Considering his enterprise as the forlorn hope of emigrants to the Cape, he selected from above fifteen hundred persons who in the course of a few weeks offered to accompany him from the South of Scotland, two hundred young men, most of them from the country, in preference to the town; and all producing certificates from their former employers of their qualifications and from their Parish Ministers of their good conduct. The price at which a single steerage passage could then be hired was £30 and it was not considered unreasonable if the emigrant could not pay this sum that he should bind himself to pay from the proceeds of his labour at the Cape, double that amount. Mr Moodie was, however, enabled by taking a number of passages together to bring the whole expense within £20 per head and he was assured through the same channel that whatever contract he entered into with the emigrants at home would be supported by the authorities at the Cape.
So that if the demand for Mechanical and Agricultural labour was really as great as he had been led by Mr. H(amilton) R(oss) and others to believe, his speculation was likely to prove very successful. Having arranged for taking 50 emigrants with him and for continuing the emigration at the rate of 50 every six weeks after his departure, and being furnished with a letter from Lord Bathurst to Lord Charles Somerset, and, what he was led to place greater dependence on, one from Mr. Burrows (Sir John Burrow) who had before encouraged them to proceed in the enterprise, and Col. Bird the Colonial Secretary, Mr Moodie set out on his voyage; and here it is necessary to say that the original understanding between Mr Moodie and his coadjutors was that they were to provide the necessary funds and to enter to the extent of one half into the whole speculation but when Mr. H. was called upon to give a written obligation to that effect he hesitated and only pledged himself and Mr H.R. to the extent of one half in the first 50, leaving it open for Mr. H. R. to engage him to the same extent in the others after their arrival at the Cape. Mr. Moodie had gone too far to retreat. He besides boasted to Mr. H.R. verbal assurance that he would join him in transporting 10,000 emigrants to the Cape and to the anxiety expressed to Mr. H, in a letter written on the passage on the subject. Besides which Mr. Moodie was a very young man and quite unaccustomed to transact business with Brokers and Merchants and was satisfied that they would find it in their interest to close with him to secure advantage of the whole speculation when he arrived at the Cape. But he overlooked one point that it might also be their interest to desert him in order to force him to relinquish the whole advantage to them. Whether this was the moving spring of their conduct he could not discover but it looked very like it. It is very probable however, that Mr. H.R. in refusing any concern in the speculation but what he was pledged for by Mr.H. was actuated as much by the coolness with which it was looked upon by the Servants of the Government and the Dutch population of the Cape at first.
"With regard to the voyage it is unnecessary to make any remark except that the emigrants were liberally provisioned and that notwithstanding their general good conduct, Mr. Moodie saw cause to regret that he ever promised them an allowance of Rum. Long before Mr. Moodie's arrival at the Cape, accounts of the enterprise considerably exaggerated as to the extent had been propagated by his coadjutor Mr. H.R. and many hostile feelings were excited by his boasting.
"In spite of these complications however, in the course of a few days the 50 mechanics and labourers he brought with him were engaged at very high wages and he had no doubt of succeeding equally well in disposing of the following."
This optimism of Mr. Moodie was, however, ill-founded, and he was stranded with the majority of his migrants. Eventually, many deserted, obtaining employment, but failing to pay Mr. Moodie their passage money and maintenance costs. After many adventures Mr. Moodie settled in the Swellendam district, where he died in 1856 at the age of 67, having exerted a great and beneficial influence there.
Reverting to the emigrants - William relieved Mr. Moodie of some of his indentured artisans, as the following undated receipt, in William's own handwriting, indicates: -
"Received from Mr. Moodie W. Mills indenture Jas Louvell and Dejagers note for 61 Rds Jas Bell's indenture John Dryden and Wm. Anderson for which I will be responsible.
The following three extracts were also obtained from the Moodie papers :
1. "Memr. of Bills and accounts deposited in my hands by Mr. B. Moodie
|W. Cairncross note due||30 Sep 1820||Rds||60|
|30 Oct "||60|
|30 Nov "||60|
|31 Dec "||60|
|31 Jan 1821||60|
|28 Feb "||60|
|31 Mar "||60|
|30 Apr "||47.4||467.4|
|W. Cutting||30 Oct 1820||788.6|
|John Cutting||9 Jan 1821||150|
|W. Cairncross||4 Jun 1821||100|
|James Bell||4 Sep 1821||559|
|W. Cairncross to be paid by Mr. Rukin..............||Rds||800|
|J. Lloyd or J. Johnson||196|
|A cart standing at J. Whitelaws Wynberg for sale||Rds||515|
|EE Cape Town 9 Sep 1820|
|(Sgd) E. Christian"|
2. From a Ledger Sheet :
|Oct.||By cash received Cairncross||60|
|Jan.||By cash received Cairncross||180|
This total equals the Bills and Accounts listed in the previous documents as being due by William (no doubt in respect of the indentures he took over from Mr. Moodie.)
B. Moodie Esq.
|To a Bill Delivered 11 May 1824||Rds||26-5-|
|To bread from 12th to 19th May 1824||4-1-2|
The words "Received payment, W. Cairncross" are in William's own handwriting. The date of the account should, of course, be 19th Jany 1825, and not 1824.
All persons taking up permanent residence at the Cape had to obtain a "Permission to Remain in the Colony". The records of those issued to the three brothers read as follows:
"March 30th 1818 William Cairncross - discharged from Mr. Moodie's Services.
Duplicate granted 7th Sept. 1820."
"March 30th 1818 John Cairncross - discharged from Mr. Moodie's services.
Duplicate granted on 1st July 1823. 27 years. 5' 5.1/2". Brown hair. Brown eyes. Fresh. Trade - baker"
"March 30th 1818 James Cairncross - discharged from Mr. Moodie's services.
Duplicate granted on 3rd July 1823, 33years. 5f t. 6 inches. Brown hair. Brown eyes. Fair complexion. Trade - baker". (The age is incorrect. James was born in 1792).
In 1906 William Cairncross, nephew of William the Elder, and son of his brother Thomas, dealt with in Chapter XXI, headed "Thomas of Swellendam 1800 - 1866", wrote a letter to Malvina Cairncross (Mrs. Townshend (P.139.5)) of Wellington, one paragraph of which reads as follows :
"What I know of the family at the Cape is as far back as 1847, when I was sent to Cape Town and indentured for four years (1847 - 1851?) to my cousins William and Thomas Cairncross, the confectioners of Herengracht, next to Thompson Watson's office (now Adderley Street). I afterwards returned to my parents at Swellendam, my father being the baker etc. there. My father's name was Thomas Cairncross and he was the youngest of four brothers.
1. William of Church Square (Grave Street), Government Baker;
2. John, a baker, back of Morning Market. His wife (Mary Ann Cartwright, 1807 - 42) and only child died shortly before I reached Cape Town in 1847. He never married again. (The child was Margaret. She died on June 12th, 1828, aged one month - Cape archives MOOC 6/3. John died at Somerset Road on 3rd May, 1872, aged 76, having been born on 19th May, 1796). In his business among half a dozen bakers in his employ was
3. my uncle James, who remained unmarried (an inebriate). He was sent to Robben Island by the Colonial Secretary to help the family. There he was employed as Government Baker and when my wife and myself with Mr. Richard Southey (afterwards Sir Richard) went out to the island in the Government tug, I visited the graveyard and saw a small stone slab with his name and dates of birth and death chiselled on it. (The Blue books for the years 1852 and 1853 have entries: "General Infirmary, Robben Island - Assistant Baker, J. Cairncross. Salary £13.10.0d per annum: free quarters and rations." James was born on 7th March, 1792. On 18th January, 1853, the Surgeon Superintendant, General Infirmary, Robben Island, wrote to the Colonial Office, "I have the honour to report for his Honour the Lieut. Governor's information that Jas, Cairncross aet. 65 the assistant baker died this morning at halfpast four. The immediate cause of' death was low fever supervening on Influenza…"). When in Cape Town with my cousins learning the art of a confectioner (then all done by hand) they told me we had an Uncle David who lived at St. Helena... William and Thomas were sons of my Uncle William of Grave St., Church Square, Cape Town."
William and his brother John no doubt set up in business in Cape Town as soon as possible. In the Almanac for 1823 appears the entry "Cairncross, Wm., Baker, 17 Ziekedwars Street"; and in the Almanac for 1826 there is the added entry, "Cairncross, John, Baker, 1, TownMarketstreet."; but there are no references to any Cairncrosses in the Almanac for the years 1817 - 22. An interesting "To Let" notice in the Gazette of the 25th July, 1818, reads "The well-known House, No. 13 Ziekedwars Street, calculated for a Baker, with or without the Baking Utensils; and for sale, a Biscuit Machine complete ....". In the Gazette of 26 December, 1818, there is a notice by the Burgher Senate, listing the five "Privileged Bakers" licensed for 1819, and enumerating the wards which each would serve. There are no Cairncrosses among them, but one of the "privileged" is the Widow Hendrik Everard Cruywagen of 17 Ziekedwars Street (possibly the same place). The Almanacs for 1817 - 21 inclusive have the "Widow Hendrik Cruywagen, Baker at No. 17. After that date she disappears from the Cape Town directory altogether. In the Almanac for 1822 "Joachim Willem Heynemann, baker," appears at No. 17 to be succeeded the following year, as stated above, by William Cairncross. It is possible that William, James and John were all employed by the Widow from 1817 to 1822, that Heynemann took over the business in 1822 and that William bought it from him shortly afterwards. This, however, is merely conjecture.
A Field Cornet's "opgaaf" of date 14 June, 1824, shows William, James and David together with the latter' s wife (Mary Laughton) three sons and a daughter, William Pintelberg (?), William Sprat and John McLeod all living together in Wynberg. This "opgaaf" must have been prepared before April 1823, for prior to the 10th of that month William was already residing at No. 27, Somerset Road; while by 20th April 1824 he was living in Barrack Street. The 1828 Almanac gives William's address as 4, Grave Street. In 1847 it was No. 5; and in 1848, 15 Heerengracht. (Grave Street subsequently became Parliament Street. Ziekedwars Street is now Barrack Street).
The Gazette of 4th November, 1825, contains the following interesting notice:
"Absconded on Monday afternoon, from the service of the Undersigned, the indentured apprentice James Shuttleworth (and is supposed to be on board some of the vessels in this Bay); whoever shall give information that he may be apprehended shall be rewarded.
The abovenamed Shuttleworth, is about 20 years of age, of a fair complexion, low stature, and speaks broad Irish.
Wanted a Journeyman Baker."
It must have been interesting to listen to William addressing Shuttleworth in broad Scots and being answered in broad Irish! Shuttleworth was one of the apprentices brought to the Cape in 1823 by John Ingram (CO 6143). William apparently paid Ingram the sum of £30 about January 1824 for "Shuttleworth' s services.
In the Gazette of 2nd October, 1819, the following notice, fixing the price of bread, was published: "It having been Resolved by the Burgher Senate, in a Meeting held this Day, to make the Baking of White Bread, a general Concern, from the 1st of October next, Public Notice thereof is given by these Presents, and it is further made known, that from the said date, the following Alterations in the Baking of Bread, and in the Prices fixed on its sale, will take place, viz.:-
|One pound of White Bread, of the first sort for||12 Strs.|
|One pound of fine flour||12 Strs.|
|Sixteen Ounces of White Bread, of the second sort, unmixed, for||6 Strs.|
|Fifteen ounces coarse Bread, mixed with one-third of Rice Meal, for||4 Strs.|
Done at a Meeting of the Burgher Senate, In Cape Town, at the Cape of Good Hope, 29th September, 1819. (Signed) P. J. Truter, Sec."
However, this was amended by a Proclamation of 6th December, 1822, in the Gazette of 7th December: "Whereas it has clearly appeared to me. . . that the Baking Regulations under which the Baking Business in Cape Town and Simon's Town., is controlled, have proved completely inefficient ..." The Proclamation states that any Burgher may take out a yearly license for baking; gives classes of bread which may be made; wares to bear bakery's name; penalties for infringement of regulations . . .
"Each baker shall fix the Price, weekly, at which he will sell Bread and Flour during the following week. . ."
A Town House notice of 4th June 1825, in the Gazette of the same date gives the following prices of bread and flour, sent in by William Cairncross (and two other licensed bakers): Flour, 8 stivers per lb. - 12 oz. white bread, 6 stivers - 12 oz. English Bread, 4 stivers; and 11 oz, coarse Bread, 2 stivers. (Ordinance No.2 of 6th June, 1825, gives: 1 stiver = 3/8d.; 6 stivers = 1 skilling = 2.1/4d.; 8 skillings = 1 Rixdollar = 1/6d. (vide Almanac 1837, p.51.)
On April 10th, 1823, by special licence, William (of No. 27 Somerset Road) was married in the English Church to Mary Elizabeth Fison (daughter of John Fison, 1775 - 1831, born in Ipswich, Suffolk, and a sergeant in the 72nd Regiment; and Elizabeth his wife, 1784 - 1817), and there were five children of the marriage. Special licences were the subject of a Government advertisement appearing in the Gazette of 21st March, 1818, reading as follows : - "Notice is hereby given, that in consequence of the numerous applications made to His Excellency the Governor to dispense with Banns of Marriage being called, His Excellency has come to the resolution, to grant special Licences for Marriage without Banns, upon a Stamp of Rds 200 to such Persons as have appeared before the Matrimonial Court, and obtained from the Court the necessary Certificate of the intended Marriage being unobjectionable".
(Incidentally, the title of the Gazette was "Cape Town Gazette and African Advertiser" from 16th August, 1800, "Kaapsche Courant" from 9th April, 1803, "Cape Town Gazette and African Advertiser" from January, 1806, and "Cape of Good Hope Government Gazette" from July 1826 to May 1910. The full title of the Almanac was "The Cape of Good Hope Almanac and Annual Directory".)
In 1825 William subscribed Rds 100 to the fund for the building of a Scottish Church in Cape Town, his brother John, together with the latter's partner, Laidlaw, subscribing Rds 50. William had apparently started a business at Wynberg, for in the Gazette of April 24th, 1824, there appears the following:
"The undersigned declining Business at Wynberg, on the 30th of this month, requests all Persons having Claims against him, or who stand indebted, to call at his Residence, in Barrack-street, Cape Town to settle the same, as early as possible. 20th April, 1824. W. Cairncross."
However, he made a second attempt, as the following notice in the Gazette of December 22nd, 1826, shows: "The Undersigned begs to inform his Friends and the Public in Wynberg and its vicinity, that he intends to re-open his late Baker's Shop in the Village, in partnership with Mr. P. Van Dyk, on the 1st of January next, and hopes, by keeping Articles of the best quality always on hand, to merit a share of that patronage he formerly enjoyed. Biscuits, Gingerbread etc., etc. William Cairncross." What the outcome was is unfortunately not known.
In 1834 a petition was drawn up in Cape Town, addressed to His Majesty the King of England, praying that the area around Port Natal should be annexed to the Crown (vide "Andrew Smith and Natal" by Professor P.R. Kirby, van Riebeeck Society Volume No. 36, 1955). Among the 190 signatories was W. Cairncross.
By Deed of Transfer No.179 of 23rd March, 1832, the Trustees in the insolvent estate of C.F. Hoffmann sold to William Cairncross for the sum of £1,000 (or 40,000 Cape Guilders), property "situated in this Table Valley, in Grave Street, now marked No.5, measuring twenty one square Roods and one hundred Forty one do Feet, Extending as Certain deed of Transfer with a diagram thereon, dated 19th December, 1776."
By Deed of Transfer No.86 of 9th March, 1838, the 3oard of Ordnance sold to William Cairncross for the sum of £1,525 sterling "certain Piece of Ground with the buildings thereon, formerly designated the 'Commissariat Grain Store', situated in Cape Town in Grave Street, between the Dutch Reformed Church and Residence of the said William Cairncross, Containing Seventeen Square Roods, Fifty-three Do Feet and Seven Do inches . . ."
In the Gazette of July 29th, 1847, the following appears:
"Notice of Partnership - The Business hitherto carried on by W. Cairncross will in future be carried on under the style of W. Cairncross and Son. Cape Town, July 1st, 1847". This son, John, was born in 1824.
By Deed of Transfer No. 256 of 23rd June, 1852, William sold to John for the sum of £2,200 sterling "Certain House and premises situated in this Table Valley in Grave Street now marked No. 5 measuring Twenty-one Square Roods and One hundred and forty-one do feet ... 2ndly. Certain piece of ground with the buildings thereon, formerly designated the 'Commissariat Grain Store' ..."
William' s three children by his first marriage, Helen (1813), William (1814) and Thomas (1816), had come out to the Cape (see p.132.4) some years before; and by 1840 the two sons were. in partnership as confectioners at 13 Long Market Street. Shortly afterwards the famous Anti-Convict Agitation took place in Cape Town. Briefly, the English Government, at the instigation of Lord Grey, decided in 1849 to make the Cape a penal settlement, and a ship, the Neptune, containing some 282 convicts, reached Simonstown on September 19th. In the preceding May the Anti-Convict Association had been formed to combat the project, and to boycott the ship, all merchants undertaking to refuse to supply the Government with provisions. So strong was the opposition encountered that Lord Grey was eventually forced to abandon his project, and the Neptune sailed from Cape Town with the convicts on board, on February 21st, 1850. The South African Commercial Advertiser of October 3rd, 1849, states that the pledge taken by members of the Association was as follows:- "We the undersigned, Colonists and Inhabitants of the Cape of Good Hope, hereby solemnly declare and pledge our faith that we will not employ and knowingly admit into our Establishments or Houses, work with or for, or associate with, any convicted felon or felons sent to this Colony under Sentence of' Transportation and that we will discountenance and drop connection with any Person (sic) who may assist in landing, supporting (sic) or employing such Felons".
At the public meeting held on May 19th, 1849, when about 7,000 persons were present, it was decided to submit the following memorandum: "Convicted Felons. We the undersigned, hereby guarantee His Excellency the Governor of the Colony (Sir Harry Smith, Bart., G. C. B.) to the extent of the sums set opposite to our respective names, in regard to any expense which he may incur by returning the Convicted Felons, whom the Secretary of State has directed to be transported to this Colony, either to the place from which they embarked, or by sending them to some Penal Establishment". In the subscription list that follows this there are twenty names with £100 against each of them; sixteen with £50; and 62 with amounts varying from £2 to £25. Against W. & T. Cairncross is the amount of £10. (These were the two elder sons of William).
The part played by William is described in the following three extracts from the South African Commercial Advertiser :
1. November 10th, 1849: Report of the Anti-Convict Association Meeting held on November 6th:- "Mr. Sutherland then stated that he had received a letter from messrs. Cairncross, stating, that having presented an account of £272 to Mr Breaks that gentleman has set against it a counter-claim of £620, being the amount of the penalty incurred by breaking the contract. They, therefore, requested to let them have that amount which could afterwards be deducted from the amount of the penalty. He would therefore request some member of the finance committee to propose a resolution empowering the treasurer to pay that amount. Mr. de Wet was in the same circumstance and should be included in the resolution. Mr. R. Solomon then moved, and Mr. Jarvis seconded the following resolution, which was unanimously carried: that the Treasurer be instructed to advance to messrs. Cairncross and De Wet, the amount due to them by the Naval Department, and detained on account of the penalties claimed for the non-performance of their contracts." (Mr. John Breaks was the Naval Storekeeper and Agent Victualler).
2. December 1st, 1849: Report of the Anti-Convict Association Meeting held on November 27th -"MIr. Fairbairn - I have to say only a few words upon this subject. From some of the observations of Mr. Sutherland, he appears to consider that Mr. de Wet and Mr. Cairncross had not acted in the manner they did upon their own responsibility, and at their own risk; but that we are the responsible parties. Nothing of the kind occurred. Mr Cairncross did act upon his own feelings. Before any meeting took place - the moment the Neptune came in - he stopped the supplies. He therefore acted as a true colonial. He did not come to us, and ask of us what shall I do? He knew his duty and did it. (Loud cheers).
He did not know that Government would so debase itself as to resist the only measure of which a poor and oppressed colony availed itself to defeat the worst act ever committed against a people. (Loud Cheers). He now finds that he has been mistaken, and that, instead of encouragement, every effort, is made to put the opposition down. (Hear, near.) He therefore comes upon his fellow-colonists, and throws himself upon their generosity and sense of justice for relief from the difficult circumstances in which he is placed. Every-one of us who feels any concern for his country, owes Mr. Cairncross a deep debt of gratitude. (Cheers). We all know that if the people had remained quiet, the convicts would have been landed long ago. The Governor, at least, never seemed to care much about this colony becoming a Penal Settlement, until it was plainly shown to him that it could not be made one. (Hear, hear) ...."
3. February 18th, 1850: Report of the Anti-Convict Association Meeting held on February 14th, the first speaker being Mr. Saul Solomon -"I think after this meeting today, we shall have little more to do but to pay the fines and penalties which have been incurred on account of the cause. We know a man' s sincerity by what he gives, and the people of this colony have given most liberally for this object. I think the thanks of the whole colony are due to Mr. Cairncross, Mr de Wet, Messrs, Morkel and Villiers, Mr. Kirsten, and some others, whose names I do not remember, who nobly threw up their contracts and submitted to heavy losses for the public good. It is true that the people would not have dealt with them if they had supplied the Government; but can ever forget the cheerfulness, the heartiness with which they entered into the spirit of the proceedings. (Cheers). We are now in such a state that it may be as well for both the Government and the people to pass an act of general amnesty. We are all in the forgiving mood. Our object is completely attained, and no good purpose can be served by our disunion. Let, then, all remembrance of our differences be banished. Let the Ultras sink, - let the Moderates be drowned - and looking upon each other only as friends and fellow-colonists, let us once more unite our endeavours to elevate and improve the fine country which has been so happily rescued from impending injury, degradation and ruin. (Loud cheers).
Mr. Landsberg. - I beg to second the motion. Although not an Englishman, knowing that the British Government is the most liberal in the world, I have not the least doubt that they will ultimately return these fines. Mr. Sutherland. - I doubt it very much! The Chairman. - As Mr. Cairncross's name has been mentioned, I may state that, without consulting anybody, the moment he heard the Neptune had arrived, he stopped supplies, and actually sent after a wagon-load of biscuits which was on its way to Simon's Bay, and brought it back. (Cheers). This he did without communicating with the Association; thus taking the whole risk of paying the penalty upon himself. (Great cheering). Mr. De Wet also acted in the best spirit ..."
So end the references to William in connection with the Anti-Convict Agitation.
The Gazette of 22nd February, 1849, lists, among others, a baker's licence issued to W. Cairncross & Co. at Rondebosch for the period 1st Jan. - 9th Feb., 1849.
By Deed of Transfer No.172 of 23rd December, 1842, G.W. Prince had sold to William Cairncross for the sum of £2,000 sterling "certain piece of land with the Buildings and Watermill erected thereon situated in the Cape Division at Rondebosch, being part of the divided Estate 'Ekelenburg' transferred to Hendrik Cloete, Hendrik's son, on the 20th July, 1810, measuring five hundred and thirty-five square Roods." The diagram of May, 1837, describes it as "extending East and West to the remaining extent of the said Estate, North to the Liesbeek River and South to the Road leading to the Camp Ground." There was a perpetual servitude in respect of the pump gear and leaden pipes leading from the waterwheel to Mr. Prince's private residence.
Further, by Deed of Transfer No.183 of 28th September, 1843, Thomas Tennant had sold to William Cairncross for the sum of £200 sterling a piece of ground, also portion of Ekelenburg, 415 square roods, 108 square feet, in extent.
The Gazette of 25th December, 1851, carries the notice: "General Infirmary, Robben Island. It is hereby notified that the Tender of the Party undermentioned, for the Supplies for the Establishment during the year 1852, has been accepted by Government, viz.: Wm. Cairncross & Son - Best Cape wheaten meal, at per 100 lbs, 16s.8d.; fine firsts flour, at per 100 lbs, 24s., seconds flour, at per 100 lbs., 20s. John Birtwhistle, Surgeon Superintendant, Robben Island, December 16th, 1851."
Half a dozen years later, in 1856, the business failed. According to a grand-daughter, Mary Cairncross, the failure was the result of speculation in sending shiploads of horses to Mauritius, the final crushing blow being the shipwreck and the drowning of the cargo of horses.
Liability being unlimited, the private estates of both William and John, together with that of their business, were sequestrated. Claims admitted were:
|2.||John's Estate||£5,273. 7. 10|
|3.||The Joint Estate||£6,466. 18. 1.|
|£11,740. 5. 11.|
Assets were valued as follows:
|1.||William||£275. 15. 6.|
|2.||John: Immovable property||£7,935. 0. 0.|
|Other||£324. 19. 6.|
|3.||The Joint Estate; Movables||£436. 14. 5.|
|Debts||£1,598. 3. 11.|
|£10,570. 13. 4.|
|and the deficiency||£1,169. 12. 7.|
|£11,740. 5. 11.|
However, John's property only realised £5,525.10. 0d, instead of the anticipated £7,935, and the difference, together with certain other shortfalls, eventually increased the deficiency to more than £4,275. The properties consisted of the Grave Street premises acquired by William in 1832 and 1838 (vide page 124), with an addition of a house and erf, also in Grave Street, bought by John on 1st December, 1855, from Ryk Le Sueur for £1,250 (Deed of Transfer No.22/1855); also store and yard "under the Lion's Rump in Cape Town in Somerset Road near the Burial place of the Roman Catholic Congregation" (£1,300), and various lots of ground at Sea Point, Rondebosch and Somerset Road. All the properties were heavily mortgaged.
The Cape Argus of 8th September, 1857, says: - "On Tuesday Mr. Jones sold the property of Mr. Cairncross, in Strand and Grave Streets. The bonding warehouse was sold to Messrs. Borradaile & Co. for £2,300, the shop and bakery to Messrs. De Pass, Spence & Co. for £2,200, the dwelling house for £1,050 to Messrs. Phillips & King, the yard and shed for .£600 to Mr. P.U. Leibbrandt. It is stated that this property was purchased two years ago, by Mr. Cairncross, for £3,250. He has, since then, however, built on an additional house in connection with it, worth some £1,200." (The sale figures given above total £6,150, and not £5.525.10.0d as stated in the estate papers).
The Grave Street property was thus described in a notice appearing in the Cape Argus of 11th February, 1857:
"General Estate and Orphan Chamber. Public Sale of these Well Known and Valuable Premises in Grave Street, with the Steam Mill, Bakery, etc., belonging to the Insolvent Estate of John Cairncross Will be sold on Friday 13th March next with liberal bonus, 1st. These SUBSTANTIAL DOUBLE STORES in Grave Street, with 10 horse-power steam mill of 2 pair stones, DRESSING MACHINES, SACK TACKLE and Machinery Complete and to which is attached the BISCUIT MAKING MACHINERY, all in excellent order. 2nd. The DWELLING House adjoining the Stores, containing 8 Rooms, with Shop, several Drying Rooms and Store Rooms and a large BAKERY complete, with 5 ovens etc. etc. There is an excellent WELL on the Premises, and WATER and GAS laid on. Sale to commence at 11 o'clock. J. Shepherd: R. le Sueur - Joint Trustees".
A week previously the creditors had considered an offer, subsequently withdrawn, of £3,180, by Mr. Thomas Sutherland, for the above properties. The Cape Town Municipal Assessment Roll for 1847 (not yet numbered by the Archivist) shows the following: "W. Cairncross - house and store 5 Grave Street -£1,800. Class B. Rate payable £3.15.0d."
It must have been a bitter pill for William, at the age of 68, to see everything swept away, after forty years of business in Cape Town, during which time he had lived comfortably and had accumulated some capital.
William was a deacon of St. Andrew's Church, St. Andrew's Square, Cape Town and a member of the Gentlemen's Branch Committee of the St. Andrew's Church Missionary Association. His wife was a member of the Ladies' Branch Committee, William was also a member of the Committee of the Sailors' Home and Seamen's Friendly Society; and his wife a member of the Committee of the Ladies' Benevolent Society, 68 Long Street.
William, the Elder, died at his residence, 27 Somerset Road, Cape Town, on 19th March, 1868, within a few days of his 80th birthday, and his widow on 4th September, 1873, in her 67th year. The following obituary notice appeared in the South African Advertiser and Mail of Friday, 20th March, 1868:
"Death of Mr. Cairncross Snr,: We have to announce the death of Mr, Cairncross, Snr., one of the very oldest and most respectable of the old citizens of Cape Town.
He died yesterday morning at the ripe old age of 79. He has been 51 years a resident of this city, and at one time, from the extent of his business, as a flour merchant and baker, he accumulated a very substantial fortune. He afterwards encountered serious reverses; but, whether in prosperity or adversity, Mr. Cairncross kept the even tenor of his way, and maintained a reputation for honour and integrity perfectly untarnished for more than half a century. For several years back he was an esteemed and venerable elder of the Scottish Church, and in every capacity he was always the same - a mild, gentle and thoroughly good and estimable man."
The joint will of William and Mary, dated 30th April, 1844 and signed by both, may be seen in the office of the Master of the Supreme Court, Cape Town.
William had eight children, the three eldest, born in Scotland, joining him in Cape Town on 6th October, 1832. (See p.125.5)
1. Helen, born in 1813, was married twice, first on 13th April, 1836, to Robert Palmer, and after his death to Henry Amm. She died at Sea Point in 1885.
2. William, born in Leith on 18th August, 1814, opened a confectionery business at No. 13 Long Market Street, Cape Town, in partnership with his brother Thomas on 1840, the partnership being dissolved on 1st May, 1850. Thomas thereupon opened his own shop at No. 62 St. George's Street. By 1856 they had apparently resumed the partnership, as the Almanac for that year gives both as being at No.14 Adderley Street. In 1868 William was at No.19 Adderley Street, and Thomas at No. 145 Loop Street. In 1870 William was at No.18 Adderley Street and Thomas at No.19, The following year Thomas was at No.83 Harrington Street. He probably died in 1872. In 1862 the Standard Bank of South Africa was started in Port Elizabeth. In 1863 a branch was opened in Cape Town, and "the premises of Mr. Cairncross in Adderley Street were secured on a ten year's lease…"(vide History of the Standard Bank of South Africa Ltd., by G.T. Amp R.C.H.; 1914), the premises being acquired by the bank in 1870
A notice in the Gazette of 19th August, 1870, states that the estate of William Cairncross, Junior, had been placed under sequestration; and on 18th December, 1874, the following liquidation account was confirmed and ordered for distribution (vide Cape Archives MOIB 2/1383 Est. No.141):
|1.||Debts due by the estate||£7,860. 11. 1.|
|2.||Property: a. Bank Premises Dwelling House and shop with Dwelling House, Adderley Street||£4,500. 0. 0.|
|b. Taunton Cottage, Hof Street, Gardens||£850. 0. 0.|
|c. Movables, (Stock, £211)||£303. 16. 9.|
|3.||Bills, etc., due to the estate||£51. 0. 9.|
|£5,704. 17. 6.|
|4.||Deficiency||£2,155. 13. 7.|
|£7,860. 11. 1.|
"The Insolvent has been carrying on the business of a confectioner for a number of years and attributes the cause of his Insolvency to the heavy expenses incurred in altering and improving his property in Adderley Street, to the fall in trade of late years, and to the depreciation in the value of landed property which cost him £6,300 and is now only valued at £4,500."
The Adderley Street premises were acquired by William and Thomas Cairncross by Deed of Transfer, for one-half, dated 26th August, 1841; and by William by Deed of Transfer, for one half, dated 15th March, 1850, for £2,500. These premises were mortgaged to the Standard Bank for £2,500, to A. McDonald for £2,800, and to Thomson, Watson & Co. for £200, i.e. for £5,500 in all (at 6%); and were let under lease to the Standard Bank at £400 per annum for ten years from 1st January, 1864. The offer of the Standard Bank to take over the Adderley Street property for the bonds of A. McDonald and Thomson, Watson & Co., amounting to £5,000, with all arrear interest, was accepted.
Taunton Cottage was apparently acquired by William in 1858, for the Gazette of 5th June, 1858, carries this notice: - "To be auctioned on 7th June, 1858, in the insolvent estate of F.A. Boon, Taunton House and Taunton Cottage etc., part of the Kt, Nelson Estate" (situated in Hof Street, next door to Mr. Le Camps, in the Gardens, 1870). At the time of the insolvency of William, it was let to Mr. Walter Bolus at £6 per month. On the day advertised for the sale (26.10.1870), Mr. Bolus refused admittance and the sale had to be postponed until the month's notice had expired!
The cottage was bought by B.W. Rouse for £625 on 8/12/1870. It was mortgaged to J.P.L. de Smidt on 26/6/1866 for £600 and to J. Maynard for £150 on 18/4/1869.
In 1873 William, after having been declared insolvent in 1870, was at No.2 Hout Street, in 1877 at No.8 Plein Street, and from 1880 to 1884 at No.6 Hart Street. In 1840 on 24th June, in St. Andrew's Church, Cape Town, he married Catherine Mary Elizabeth McDougal, who died on April 11th, 1889, aged 70, William dying at his residence at Rosebank on 15th May, 1884, leaving five children, William, Thomas Wilson, Robert Palmer, Helen Elizabeth and Jean Melville. Catherine Mary Elizabeth McDougal was born in Canterbury, England, in 1819, a daughter of Peter McDougal and Charlotte Perkins.
a. William, born in Cape Town on December 6th,1841, studied architecture at the South African College. In 1874 he joined the Public Works Department, becoming Clerk of Works on July 1st, 1880, and retiring on pension on October 1st, 1897. He married Mary Jane Herbert (1842 - 1902), and died in Cape Town on 27th January, 1915, leaving three sons and a daughter: Herbert William, James Lilburne, Frederick Andrew and Ida Mary. Mary Jane Herbert was a daughter of John Herbert and Agnes Elizabeth Pote (1813 - 1853) the latter a daughter of Robert Pote (1786 - ?), one of the 1820 Settlers.
i. Herbert William (1866 - 1941) studied architecture at first, but later he turned to carpentering, studying in Glasgow in 1888 - 90. He was the Government Armourer at Kingwilliamstown for many years, thereafter turning to farming and later to carpentering in Boksburg, Transvaal. He served in the Anglo-Boer War. He married Louise Schafer and had four sons and four daughters: Herbert James (born 1894) a book-keeper in Johannesburg, married to Bertha Smith and with three children, Arthur John (1923) a teacher, Margaret and Barbara; Douglas, bricklayer in Vereeniging; Reuben, electrician in Redan; Melville, an electrician in Johannesburg; Alice; Winifred; Ruth (married N. Johnstone); and Lilian (married A. Early) .
ii. James Lilburne (25th June 1868 - 6th January, 1940) studied mechanical engineering in Cape Town, and in Glasgow in 1890 - 91, being attached to the City Council Staff at first.
Later he joined the firm of Cunningham and Gearing of Cape Town and for many years roamed the Cape Colony and the Transvaal, boring for water. Between 1904 and 1911 he conducted his own water boring business. From 1911 to 1916 he managed a gold mine in the Lydenburg Mountains and in 1916 he joined the Government Boring Department, retiring finally in 1925 to "Glendearg" a small farm between George and Wilderness, after serving on the Kamanasie Dam, Oudtshoorn, and on the bridge-building operations for the George-Knysna railway. He was a born naturalist and was keenly interested in geology and archaeology, furnishing the South African Museum, Cape Town, and the Alexander McGregor Museum, Kimberly, with many boxes of fossils and stone implements, collected in different parts of South Africa. Two fossils were named after him: one a reptile, Archeosuchus cairncrossi (Broom, 1905); and the other a fish, Atherstonia cairncrossi (Broom, 1912).
He married Eliza Sarah Bobbins (1863 - 1940), leaving a son Bertram Lilburne (born 1899), a civil servant in the Accounts Branch of the Transvaal Provincial Administration, Pretoria, married Grace Simpson and with a son, Raymond Lilburne, born in 1925, a trader in the Lowveld.
 Bertram Lilburne CAIRNCROSS - co-author, with Arthur Fawthrop CAIRNCROSS.
iii. Frederick Andrew, (1879 - 1944) at one time assistant to the Sergeant at Arms, Houses of Parliament, Cape Town, was for many years Transport Officer in the South African Railways, being stationed at East London, Johannesburg and Cape Town. He served with Kitchener's Light Horse during the Anglo-Boer War (1899 - 1902) and married Elizabeth Snowball (d. 1941), leaving two daughters, Ida (m. R. Masters) and Constance.
iv. Ida Mary, married Edgar Brind and lives in Cape Town.
b. Thomas Wilson (1845 - 1918) studied engineering in Glasgow, eventually becoming the City Engineer of Cape Town. He was a Major in the Cape Town Highlanders (retiring on 1.1.1911. with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel), a foundation member of the Society for the Advancement of Science and of the Photographic Society.
A note of his military service appears in Appendix No. 8, p.183. He married Mary Emma Logie and had four daughters and a son - Mercy (m. Atwell, m. Millar), Gertrude (m. Steer), Florence (m. Ralling), Silvia (m. Stay), and Douglas Gordon (m. Edna Aldridge).
c. Robert Palmer, (1847 - c.1875), who died of fever on the West Coast of Africa. He was a marine engineer; and married Miss Buchanan, leaving a son Robert (1872 - 1954) who married Miss Gibson. They had two daughters, Flora (m. Edwards) and Ellen (m. Dowie ).
d. Helen (1852 - 1885) who married Cooney.
e. Jean (1854 - 1922) who married Merrington.
3. Thomas (1816 - c.1872) married Caroline Fison, half sister to his father's second wife. They were childless. Caroline died on 10th June, 1877, aged 57, at Mowbray, being described as the widow of the late Thomas Cairncross. Thomas and his brother William were partners in a Cape Town bakery at one time; but Thomas is said to have spent some time on the Kimberley Diamond Fields also, being robbed by an adopted son who was his secretary.
4. John (1824 - 1883) was William's first child by his second marriage. He showed some interest in the Cairncross history, and is reputed to have obtained a copy of the family Coat-of-Arms. This honour, however, has been claimed by several, e.g. William of Uniondale, in his previously quoted letter of 1906, p. 120 says "I have a photo of our Coat-of-Arms taken by Burton from the original, which my brother John and my cousin Charles (1836?, uncle William's son) got hold of somehow". Most branches of the family have a copy nowadays. Curiously enough, all have the motto "CERTAMINE PARATA" (in one case "PARATA" is misspelt "PARTA"), the motto of the main branch of the family. The motto for the South African branch, a junior branch, should be "RECTE FACIENDO NEMINEM TIMEO" and there should be a mullet or star above the cross, these being the distinguishing marks of the Melrose Coat-of-Arms, registered about 1672 by Andrew Cairncross, as set forth in the Chapter on Armorial Bearings.
The most widely distributed copy in South Africa is a photographic reproduction of an original drawing made by William the architect and based on a specimen provided by his brother Thomas, the City Engineer. This drawing was made about 1885, according to his son James. John received part at least, of his education at "Mr. Fears' Academy, Cape Town", and an interesting relic of those days is his exercise book with dates of 1837 and 1838. He joined his father in business in 1847. Ten years later the business failed. During the following years John set up as a baker at Strand Street (1879), Wharf Street (1860), No. 28 Plein Street (1861), No.24 Caledon Street (1862), Strand Street (1863), and No.2 Napier Street (1866), after which his name disappears from the Almanac. An interesting notice which appeared in the Cape Argus for 21st August, 1858, reads: - "The Undersigned, having commenced running Bread Carts, Parties wishing to be supplied with Bread of his Manufacture, will kindly leave their addresses at No.4 Strand Street, Cape Town - John Cairncross." In April, 1861, John Cairncross surrendered his estate for the second time, the Liquidation Account being confirmed and ordered for distribution on 30th May, 1862, (Cape Archives MOIB 2/952, Est. No. 59).
|Debts amounted to||£2,234. 18. 4.|
|Assets were:||a. Immovable property||£150. 0. 0.|
|b. Stock in trade||£53. 9. 10.|
|c. Household Furniture||£195. 8. 10.|
|d. Debts due to the estate||£225. 14. 7.|
|e. Life Policies and Mortgage Bond||£516. 16. 8.|
|£1,140. 19. 1.|
|Deficiency||£1,093. 19. 3.|
|£2,234. 18. 4.|
The immovable property consisted of Lots 10 - 14, Sir Lowry Road, Cape Town, £150, mortgaged for £33.6.8d. The inventory of furniture ends: - "N.B. The above articles were left to the Insolvent by the creditors under his former Estate for the use of his Wife and Children on the 10th April, 1857." (One item among the inventory of goods is a bag of mealies, said by John to belong to Sir George Grey!) The Plein Street premises were owned by L.P. Cauvin, to whom John paid £12.5.Od. a month rent.
He visited England and Scotland in 1850, returning to Cape Town on 9th January, 1851, per the "Hannah", schooner, 150 tons (!). He eventually settled in Wellington and married Hester Dodd, who died in 1884, a year after John. They had five daughters and three sons:
a. Hester Susanna (1848 - 1887)
b. Mary Elizabeth (1850 - 1934) who had the Order of the Royal Red Cross conferred upon her in 1902 for nursing services rendered to the British troops during the Anglo-Boer War.
c. Matilda (1855 - 1925) who married Wood.
d. William (1853 - 1915) a merchant, who settled in the Marico district of the Transvaal, of which he was a Burgher. Commandeered, he was among the Boer forces which invested Mafeking in 1899. He was in Johannesburg in its infancy, but did not prosper there. An interesting exhibit in the Africana Museum, Johannesburg, is a copy of the Diggers' News of February 28th, 1887. It contains an advertisement by W. Cairncross & Co. "Boeren Vriend Winkel". He was married twice, first to Johanna C. Lombard (1871 - 1894) and secondly to Martha C. Botha (1871 -1918), having a family of eight, three of them by his first wife:
i. Alexander Lombard (1891 - 1946), Telegraph Inspector of the South African Railways. He married Alida Ueckermann and had four children - Alexander (1919) radio engineer, married Eileen Brown and has a daughter and a son; Binti (1922) who married Growdon; Gwendoline (1926) who married Huson and later N. J. Thompson; and Michael (1930 - 1955) who married Alida Botha and left a son and a daughter. Michael, a pilot in the South African Air Force, was decorated with the American Air Medal in Korea in 1952. He was First Officer of the ill-fated East African Airways Dakota which crashed into Mount Kilimanjaro on May 18th, 1955, with twenty persons on board, all of whom were killed.
ii. Johanna, who married van Niekerk.
iii. Martha who married Niehaus.
iv. Lily, a civil servant in the Department of Posts and Telegraphs.
v. Hester, who married Munnik.
vi. John D. (1905). He has a son William (1937) and is a farmer at Zeerust.
vii. Josephus D.L. (1908 - 1937), who was killed in a railway accident at Waterval Boven. He was the stoker on the derailed engine.
viii. Matilda, who married Taylor.
e. John C. (1860 - 1928), a farmer in the Marico District.
f. Edward (1862 - 1948), Postmaster at Wellington, South Africa. He married Miss Marais and had three daughters: Elaine (m. Marais), Irene and Frances.
g. Malvina, who married Townshend. (p.120.4)
h. Hendrietta, who married Elson.
5. Mary, born in 1826, died at the age of 14, in 1840.
6. Elizabeth (1831 - 1902), married Dodd, brother to her brother John's wife.
7. Charles (1836 - 1889), married Agnes Graham and had four children. They were: Amy (1874 - 1948), well known in the Cape Province as a Sewing Mistress of the Education Department; Charles Anderson Fischer (1881 - 1948), a Civil Servant, who married Miss Potgieter and left a daughter Amy and a son Charles (1930); Elizabeth, well known Secretary in Corner House, Johannesburg, and Ronald G.T. (1873 - 1882).
8. George (1844 - 1903), married Mary Elizabeth Lawton (1860 - 1893), leaving a daughter Helen (1891 - 1900) and a son Douglas (1889), accountant in the Standard Bank, Pietermaritzburg. He has a son George, born in 1932.
When this chapter was written, it was thought that William, James and John were the first Cairncrosses to see Table Mountain. However, since then, Mr. Crail has supplied the following information, obtained from "The Gentleman's Magazine" of December, 1775, and other dates:
"Captain David Roche was tried at the Sessions House in the Old Bailey, by special commission, for the murder of Captain Ferguson at the Cape of Good Hope, for which murder he was tried by the laws of the country where the fact happened, and there acquitted. Andrew Cairncross, Surgeon of the Vansittart Indiaman, deposed that the prisoner and the deceased, having both had commissions in the East India Company's land service, were passengers on board the Vansittart; that they had several disagreements on their voyage to the Cape; that a day or two after their arrival there, as himself and several officers were drinking tea together, at about six in the evening, the deceased received a message that Captain Matthews wanted to speak with him; that the deceased went downstairs; and that, in five minutes after, word was brought that same persons were fighting in the streets; that the witness ran downstairs and met Captain Roach sheathing his sword, and, at about ten yards distance, found Captain Ferguson in the agonies of death ..." The jury brought in a verdict of Not Guilty.
 Who is this person ? Before 1775?
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