The Watney Family in South Africa , and “Blanco”
Watney of Sedgefield
Waterford, MI USA
“Blanco” Watney was the developer of Sedgefield. His descent comes
from the Watney family of brewers in England. Blanco was born on 20 Dec 1892,
and baptised as Johannes Gysbertus Blanckenberg Watney. In 1929 he married, in
the Transvaal lowveld, Florence Elaine Wallis. Florence was born on 2 Apr 1900
in Kent, England.
Keith Meintjes traces the South African Watney family:
John Pigot Watney (born 20 Dec 1774 Wimbledon, Surrey, the son of John
Watney and Barbara Rose) is the progenitor (“stamvader”) of the South
African Watney family. John Pigot was a British Army officer who served in the
Cape during the first British Occupation, 1795 – 1803. On 28 June 1801 he
married Helena Catharina Roux. Ten months later, Helena died in childbirth.
The story of the Watney family then becomes woven into the history of
South Africa. Helena Roux’s parents were Pieter Roux and Helena Catharina
Krugel. Helena was the owner of Simonsvlei, an historic Cape farm which is just
east of the N1 as you proceed north from Klapmuts to DuToits Kloof, near Paarl.
Margaret Cairns, the prominent genealogist and historian, writes
“... Helena Catharina (Roux), born 8 May 1785. She grew up on the farm
and at the age of 16 married John Pigott Watney. Helena Catharina was to die in
childbirth a year later. Watney, formerly of Wimbledon, England, had arrived in
the Cape in the British army. He took his discharge and became a flamboyant
local figure, friend of the Governor, Lord Charles Somerset, horse breeder and
one-time owner of Elsenburg, insolvent, popular and always in the limelight. He
and his second wife, Maria de Waal, had a very close relationship with
Watney’s former mother-in-law. They provided her with comfort and support
through the tragedies of the deaths of little Helena in 1801, her husband Pieter
Roux in 1807, followed by the bitterness and trauma engendered by Helena’s
third marriage to the Reverend J W L Gebhart.”
Helena Catharina Krugel was 17 years old when, on 8 Feb 1767, she became
the fourth wife of Eduard Christian Haumann, an immigrant from Riga and the
proprietor of Simonsvlei. Under their stewardship, Simonsvlei became a
prosperous estate. Haumann died in 1782, and the following year Helena (then 33)
remarried Pieter Roux, aged 22. Pieter Roux died 24 years later, Simonsvlei
having continued as a prosperous farm.
After four years as a widow, at age 60, Helena married for the third
time, to the Reverend Johann Wilhelm Ludwig Gebhardt. Cairns calls this union
“most disastrous”. Gebhardt was four years her junior, and had two sons. By
all accounts, Gebhardt neglected both the farm and his congregation in Paarl. By
1822 the eldest son, Willem, had become a supervisor on the farm. On the evening
of September 10, the slave Joris was severely beaten, and found dead the next
morning. Willem was arrested, tried within two weeks, and executed for murder on
November 15. Helena and the Rev. Gebhardt were divorced two months later and the
farm, her home for 56 years, was sold. She died in Cape Town on 5 Nov 1828.
Helena willed her entire estate to Pieter Watney and Maria Josina Watney, the
children of John Pigot Watney and Maria Wilhelmina de Waal .
When the British relinquished the Cape to the Dutch in 1803 and his regiment sailed for India, John Pigot Watney remained at the Cape. On 17 Apr 1803, he remarried to Maria Wilhelmina de Waal. Maria was baptised 10 May 1781, the daughter of Arend de Waal and Maria Josina van As.
John and Maria had three children:
Pieter Watney, baptised 15 Apr 1804
Helena Catharina Watney, born 14 Nov 1805, died 7 Feb 1806
Maria Josina Christina Watney, born 4 Nov 1806
It is interesting to note that the first two children were named for
Helena Roux’s parents, who were witnesses at the baptisms in the NGK Groote
Kerk in Cape Town. The third child is named for Maria de Waal’s mother who,
then a widow, was a witness at that baptism.
John Watney had the farm Bottelary, which is on the east bank of the
Langebaan at Saldanha. In 1806, the British arrived to re-occupy the Cape, some
landing at Saldanha. Legend has it that John Watney aided the British to find
water, and to guide them to Blaauwberg, where the Dutch were defeated.
John Watney seems to have become a wealthy man. Partly as a reward for
his aid to the British, he acquired numerous farms, including Klapmuts, which is
just south of Simonsvlei. He died 16 May 1824. It then seems that Maria remained
in control of the family estate for her lifetime
Maria de Waal died 27 Feb 1827. Two days before her death, she signed a
new will, with seven witnesses. This will left her entire estate to her two
surviving children, Pieter and Maria. The distribution and control of the assets
was later disputed by Pieter. The inventory of Maria’s estate shows
substantial assets, including the farms Bottelary and Klapmuts; the farm
Klipfontein and associated land (Slangekop and Gemsboks Kuil) in the Swartland,
the farm Cogelberg in Stellenbosch, two houses on an erf in Keerom Street, Cape
Town, and 29 slaves.
Maria Josina Watney married (1 Oct 1829) Joseph Trueman, but in six
months was a widow. She bore a son, Joseph John Trueman, from this marriage.
Maria remarried Hungerford Vowe on 22 Jul 1833, and had at least two more
children, Anna Maria Vowe and Georgina Vowe. She lived in Simonstown and
eventually owned (in her own name) the three estates at the southern end of the
town: Oatlands, Craddock Valley (Froggy Farm), and Rocklands. She died, in
Simonstown, on 8 Sep 1857.
Pieter Watney, then the only carrier of the family surname, married 14
Jan 1826 Anna Elizabeth Catherine Verschuur. Although Anna was born in the
Netherlands, her mother was born in South Africa and her parents were married in
Cape Town. Her father was Heyburt Verschuur, a sea captain from Tilburg,
Netherlands, who married 15 Sep 1805 Catharina Maria Blanckenberg. Anna is their
only known child.
Pieter and Anna lived in the Swartland (Malmesbury area) near Groenekloof
(Mamre). Possibly, they occupied Klipfontein, the Swartland farm that his
parents had owned. Pieter’s aunt (his mother’s sister), Catharina Cornelia
de Waal was married to George Kekewich, a judge of the Supreme Court. Pieter,
like his parents, seems to have been connected into the upper strata of the Cape
Pieter and Anna had seven children, five daughters and then two sons:
Catharina Maria Watney , born 15 Apr 1827, married Jacobus
Hendrikus van Tubbergh
Maria Josina Christina Watney, born 9 Feb 1830, married
Georgina Catharina Watney, born 20 Mar 1832, possibly died
Anna Elizabeth Watney, born 1 Jul 1834, married Arrien Pieter
Willem Benit, remarried Johan Hendrik Rabe
Josina Georgina Catherine Watney, born 4 Apr 1839, married
Thomas Frederick Charles Alexander
Hendrik Johannes Watney, born 17 Aug 1841, married 14 Apr
1876 Christina Alberta Johanna Mostert
William John Watney, born 27 Mar 1843, married 23 May 1866
Aletta Jacoba Johanna Augusta Blanckenberg
Hendrik Johannes and William John, who were to carry the Watney name into
the fourth generation, both lived, with their families, in the area of
Durbanville / Koeberg / Groenekloof (Mamre). Their children are documented in
the Durbanville NGK register, and there are a number of family graves in the
Durbanville cemetery. The family is associated with the farm Welbeloond in
Koeberg, and a house of the same name in the town of Durbanville.
Fourth Generation, and beyond
Hendrik Johannes Watney and Christina Mostert had six children, including
four sons. Their first son, Peter William Watney, married Anna Frederika
Slabber. Peter and Anna are both buried in the Durbanville cemetery, and had
William John Watney and Aletta Jacoba Blanckenberg had seventeen (!)
children, including six sons. Their first child, Johannes Gysbertus Blanckenberg
Watney (JGB I), was born in Aug 1866 (as calculated from his age at death). He
married Anna Barendina Boonzaaier. He was a bank manager in Ermelo, Transvaal.
At his death on 16 Oct 1918, there were two children:
Johannes Gysbertus Blanckenberg Watney (JGB II), born 20 Dec
1892 married 20 Aug 1929 Florence Elaine Wallis, born 2 Apr 1900 Kent, England
Aletta Anna Muriel Watney
JGB Watney II was known as "Blanco". As a young man, he lived
in the Nelspruit area, where he met his future wife, Florence Wallis. Florence
was born in England, and so is not a descendant of the Wallis family of 1820
JGB II then became the developer of Sedgefield, a coastal town near
Knysna. He died in Sedgefield on 15 Aug 1952, and Florence remained in
Sedgefield until her death in 1996. They had three children.