Morkel Family Stories

Family History Ch I PW Morkel
Chapter I from P W Morkel’s 1961 book about the family.

Origin of Morkel name
Where did the Morkel  name come from?  I found three explanations.

Family crest
The Morkel crest is 280 years old, going back to stamvader Philip Morkel.  In the old Dutch society, middle class families had crests, unlike the British tradition where it was exclusive to aristocracy.  Crests were part of the Cape society from the beginning.    An earlier manifestation would have been housemarks, and we have a Morkel housemark from 1535.

The Old Farm
Onverwacht or Die Bos was the oldest farm handed down from father to son in South Africa, until it was consumed by urban sprawl in the 1990s.   Many travellers on their way to the interior stopped by.  There are some good stories to tell.

The Dovecote at Die Bos
The dovecote with its Cape Dutch gables has become a family icon.   Were the side courts used for cock-fighting?

Vlootjesbaai to Strand
The town of The Strand is built on a Morkel farm originally called Vlooibaai (Fleabay) and then Mostertsbaai Strand.

The Wreck of the Schonenberg
Stamouer Philip Morkel and his brother Willem hosted 80 crew of the shipwrecked Schonenberg at Onverwacht in 1722.  On their return to Holland, one of them composed an epic poem which was printed in 1725, and which hangs at Die Bos.  Dr Jan Malan has recently completed extensive research about the event, and his two papers, in Afrikaans, are posted below.  We give a shorter version here.  There are also some spurious and discredited stories about the wreck.

Die VOC Skip Schoonenberg Deel I:  Die Stranding van 1722
Dr Jan Malan het die stranding van die Schoonenberg deeglik nagevors en opgeskryf in twee dele.  Hier is Deel I soos gepubliseer in die Suid-Afrikaanse Tydskryf vir Kultuurgeskiedenis 27(1) Junie 2013.    Die naam van die skip word in die ou dokumente soms as Schonenberg en op ander geleenthede as Schoonenberg gespel.

Die VOC Skip Schoonenberg Deel II: Strandroof na Stranding in 1722
In sy tweede deel vertel Jan Malan van die gebeure na die stranding – hoeveel strandroof was daar? wie was skuldig en die ondersoek van die VOC.

Vanities Fables and Foibles Pt 1
A collection of stories and anecdotes of the family.   Did Philip Morkel arrive in 1691 or 1708?,  sisters inheriting farms with a twist,  no vanity here, pecking order in the graveyard, a Moppie about rich mister Morkel, a Hottentot twin baby rescued from infanticide by Willem Morkel’s wife,  angry letters to the Elder,  brother-in-law Hendrik Biebouw – hero or scoundrel?

Vanities Fables and Foibles Pt 2
An unamusing and slenderly informed host, Sir Hendrik or would it have been Sir Daniel?,   the tall ones or the horrible Morkels,  we don’t go to church in a donkey cart,  the Tanglefoot squad and who was Mr Nobody?

Then the British Came –– then left, then returned to stay
The Morkel brothers and their cousins the Myburghs were seen as rebellious and had dragoons stationed with them – an episode worthy of Gilbert and Sullivan.  When the Dutch returned for a few years, the brothers were loyal militia supporting General Janssens to the end.

We need a town and church
The nearest town, Stellenbosch, was far away and the road atrocious   The Morkel brothers, together with neighbour M.W. Theunissen founded the town of Somerset West and the church, displaying remarkable comunity leadership and entrepreneurship, without personal gain.  Ook ‘n paar kostelike verhaaltjies oor de verzetten der stoele.

Breaking the Pledge
The family helped feed starving convicts on board the Neptune III.   In doing so they broke a community pledge and were ostracised.

Tough Times
The second half of the 19th century was a difficult time for the family.  Frugal ouma Bremsie saved the farm.

Cricket Morkels
Google “Morkel” and cricketers Albie and Morné dominate.  There is so much about them on the internet that our account is confined to few nice photos, brief accounts of their achievements and where they fit into the family.   Morkels were active in cricket already in 1886 and Denijs Morkel played international cricket in the 1920s and 1930s.

Rugby Morkels
Many Morkels played rugby football at international Springbok level – mainly in the early 1900s.

Morkel Wines of Bellevue. Die Stellenbosch Morkel Familie
The Bellevue Estate in the Morkel family since 1861, is known for Morkel Pinotage and other quality table wines.   Lees familie vertellinge oor Dik Daniel, Oom Jan, Dirkie en die Stellenbosch Morkel familie.

Africa with Lions Pts 1&2
Some amazing encounters with ferocious lions.  In Part 1 Dan Morkel rescued Ernest Brockman from the jaws of a man-eater – as told by Morkel and also by Brockman “The most appalling true narrative on record”, and in Part 2, being licked in the face by a lion.

Vet Pete Morkel as part of a team tagging wildlife against poachers.
AG black rhino translocation to NL
 Translocating a Black Rhino, and implanting a transmitter in its horn, Luangwa National Parh, Zambia.
Zakouma Elephant Collaring 2012
 Collaring an Elephant in Zakouma National Park. Chad
Rounding up Giant Sable for captive breeding in Gandangala National Park, Angola
Collaring an Elephant in The Democratic Republic of Congo.  While written in French, it contains great photos.

The Morkel Rhoda Connection Pt1.
Voorburg to Lower Gordonsbay Road
Rhoda Family Origins
The author of these two papers, Ebrahim Rhoda, has researched his ancestors and the Strand Muslim community.   He found that he is descended from slaves on the Morkel farms of Voorburg and Onverwacht, later Die Bos.  He also tells of his childhood in the Strand in the 1940s and the shops around the old market square.  In “Rhoda Family Origins” he describes the research journey he undertook to discover his family history.  Ebrahim has received awards for the quality of his research.

Morkel Rhoda connection Pt2 The Christian Rhoda Family
There is a strong and plausible tradition within the extended Christian Rhoda family that they are descended from a Morkel farmer, likely Daniel Johannes Morkel of Onverwacht, and Rhoda (formerly Kandaza), his slave girl.  We provide histories by Rodney Rhoda, Ebrahim Rhoda (see Part 1) and Dr. Timothy Visser (his mother was a Rhoda).   Kandaza later married Rhode, and they were slaves on Onverwacht and the ancestors of the Muslim branch as in Ebrahim Rhoda’s research in Part 1.  

Morkel Rhoda connection Pt3 family line
A partial family line of the Christian Rhoda family. We are keen to extend this,  if you spot errors or omissions, please use the “contact us” facility.

  1. Regarding Rhoda history. Abraham Johannes Rhoda M Beatrice Iris Ellick. Children were Cynthia and Brenda Maharg (nee Rhoda) – She is my mother .Dr Reginald Rhoda (GP) my grandfather’s brother had 1 child Ricky Rhoda former Attorney General of Gibraltar

  2. Thanks so much Robert for the information about the Rhoda family. I have entered it on my base file and will post it on the website when I do the next update. Sorry that it took so long to reply. I have been busy with several fmily hsitory projects which I hope to post soon.
    Regards, André

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *