oa Kronos : Journal of Cape History - Kaapse stamouers: die voorsate van Machtelt Smit, 1661-1749

Volume 23, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0259-0190



This article traces the immediate ancestors of the mission helper Machtelt Smit (' Matilda Smith') (1749-1821), well known in her day both at the Cape and in England and the Netherlands for her personal piety, her practical support of the early missionaries to South Africa, her work at Bethelsdorp, and her close friendship with the missionary J.T. van der Kemp. What appears clearly from the families dealt with, is the low social standing of many early white colonists, the prevalence of Germans (usually brought out as soldiers in the service of the Dutch East India Company (VOC), and the regular occurrence of relationships between white men and women of other races (usually slaves): one of Machtelt Smith�s grandmothers was born in the Slave Lodge in Cape Town. This corresponds to what the present writer has found to be a common pattern at the Cape in the eighteenth century. The author also remarks on the fact that in the two or three generations preceding Machtelt Smit, the women seem to have been noticeably more energetic, enterprising and resilient personalities than the men, culminating in Smit herself, who survived the deaths, within a period of some twenty years, of both her husbands, all ten of her children and her only grandchild.

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