On the website I can correct errors and add new information as they come to light. I am toying with putting the most interesting family stories together in a book, and then that advantage will be lost.
There are quite a few changes to make, and I shall do so over the coming weeks.
- Hennie Morkel from Sydney alerted me to “Jail Journal”, an 1854 account by Irish activist John Mitchel. It is interesting for us because he was on the unfortunate convict ship Neptune III which encountered the anti-convict agitation at the Cape. Our family was involved in our story “Breaking the Pledge”. Mitchel’s journal has about 50 pages (out of more than 400) about their stay at the Cape. Staunchly anti-British, he supported the anti-convict agitation, even if it caused him discomfort. The journal also has a letter written to the newspaper of the day by Hendrik Johannes Morkel about being ostracized and it also provides us a wonderful insight into the events. Reading the journal it is hard not feel outraged how badly the Irish were treated by their British overlords. During the potato famine more than a million Irish starved to death, and masses emigrated while the British exported large quantities of grains and sheep from Ireland to England.
- Fil Morkel is keen that we join him on family matters on Genebase. I am happy to cooperate and he has incorporated our genealogy onto that site. Fil also runs a wall for the family on Facebook. I have also incorporated his family line into our Genealogy.
- Our Genealogy has also been incorporated into eSagi which is a massive database (more than 600,000 names) of South African families run by Lucas Rinken. Also, Hendrik Louw of the Genealogiese Genootskap van Suid-Afrika has incorporated our genealogy into Omnibus 8, a CD of South African Families. Hendrik uses a wonderful program to convert a Gedcom into the alpha-numeric system used by many South African genealogies, such as de Villiers/Pama and GISA. Unfortunately it only runs on Microsoft Word and I use an IMAC. In all of this, we also discovered a few errors in our Genealogy which I shall attend to.
- Ron Morkel published a book “Rhodesia. Beginning to End” in 2010. It is available from several online bookstores. His grandfather, Arthur Loreth Morkel was one of the earliest pioneers with Rhodes and Jamieson. The book covers three generations of the Morkel family in Rhodesia until Ron left in 1978, first for Ireland and then the US. It is a great read and I recommend acquiring it. I shall correct a few errors in “Africa with Lions”. I am in contact with Ron who lives in North Carolina and hope to cooperate with him in a story about the Rhodesian Morkels.
- VOC ships sailed close to the coast of Western Australia on their way to Batavia. Some ran aground on the treacherous reefs and cliffs, including the Batavia, Zuytdorp, Zeewyk and Vergulde Draeck. The story of the Batavia is a harrowing one of endurance, mutiny and cruel punishment and have been told in several books. I have just read another one – “Carpet of Silver” by Philip Playford, about the Zuytdorp wreck. He has the intriguing theory that some of the survivors of the wrecks intermarried with local aborigines. According to him incidences of the genetic disease Porphyria Variegata, which occurs among some Cape families, came from these encounters. He mentions that Hendrik Biebouw, Stamvader Philip Morkel’s brother-in-law, may have been involved. However, research in South Africa show that Biebouw went to Batavia at a later date on another ship, and that he died there. Maria Biebouw was Philip’s first wife and her mother Arientjes de Wit was a Dutch orphan sent to the Cape because of shortage of females. Her half-sister has been associated with Porphyria among the van Deventer family. Philip and Maria’s daughter Elizabeth married Jan Louw and her granddaughters married back into the Morkel family. I have not come across any hint of Porphyria in our family, so hopefully the Biebouws were not involved.
- The West Australian Maritime Museum has extensive exhibits of the Dutch shipwrecks mentioned above – it is well worth visiting. Among their exhibits they also describe life aboard the ships and the weapons they used. They also explain the duties of the “Constable”. Stamvader Philip Morkel was constable on the Oosterstijn en Noordbeek . “The ships were equipped with cannons an other firearms. Apart from armour, equipments such as swords, halberds and pistols were available. On board the constable and his assistants were responsible for the weapons. Beneath the constable’s room was the powder room. An average ship carried about 2000kg of powder and other 4000kg of munitions”. I shall add this to our history of Philip.
- In our story “The Formidable Pasman Ladies” there is a conjecture that Sophia Pasman (Philip Morkel’s mother-in-law) had a son by her second husband Pieter Robberts. The child was born before their marriage and her father, Schalk van der Merwe had him baptised in the French Drakenstein church. Historians mistook the French “there has been a child baptized” (il ya eu un enfant baptisé) for his name and he is listed as Ilya van der Merwe. New research shows that Ilya was not Sophia’s child, but her sister’s. Sophia did not have children with Robberts. This would also explain why she left her farm to her grandson – she did not disinherit Ilya (which by then would have been Jan Robberts). A charming story spoiled by facts. Again a story to be amended.
- Some stories about the family have it that stamvader Philip Morkel arrived at the Cape in 1691. This is at odds with documentation that he first arrived at the Cape in 1708 on board the Oosterstijn. (He married that year to Maria Biebouw and had to serve out his contract with the VOC. So he returned to Holland, and finally arrived at the Cape on the return journey of the Noordbeek). Pieter van der Merwe of the SA Genealogie chatroom sent the following extract from the venerable Die Geslacht Registers de Oude Kaapsche Familien by C.C. de Villiers, 1894: De stamvader van deze familie was Philip Morkel, van Hamburg, in 1691 burger te Stellenbosch, gehuwd met Maria Bibon, weduwe van Hercules Verdeau, hertrouwd 17 September 1713 met Catharina Pasman. Apart from the date error, the author also incorrectly has Maria Biebouw (there are several spellings of her name) as the widow of Hercules Verdeau. Hercules was married to Maria Huibeaux, a similar sounding name, but a different person. Historian George McCall Theal, Geschiedenis van Zuid Afrika, perpetuates the error. On p. 98 he states that land was allocated to Philip Morkel in 1691. Again in his History of South Africa under the Administration of the Dutch East India Company [1653 to 1795] he states “According to the census of 1691, corrected by entries in the church registers, the most notable burghers in the Cape district were: (a long list including) “Morkel, Philip, with wife”. Thus, according to Theal, Philip was already established at the Cape in 1691. A careful reading of C.C. de Villiers says the same thing. They are clearly in error.