THE OLD BURYING GROUND (l813 to 1911) Seaforth – Simon’s Town
Establishment of the Old Burying Ground The Royal Navy transferred its headquarters to Simon’s Bay in 1814 and built a new hospital (Now Hospital Terrace). There was also a British Army contingent in Simon’s Town. The growing population necessitated providing a burial ground and the present site was granted, initially to the Anglicans.
21 men from HMS Glendower were originally buried here. Their remains were later re-interred in the Garden of Remembrance. They were drowned when the pinnace carrying them to their ship from the West Dockyard sank in stormy weather on 10 March 1826.
The land of the present Dutch Reformed and Catholic portions, which were added to the OBG, was part of a land grant to Captain Thomas Talbot Harrington of the English East India Company. He named Seaforth in honour of his wife’s uncle, the Earl of Seaforth. When Harrington moved to Calcutta his original house was sold piece by piece, and the original handsome gates are at Marist Brothers in Rondebosch.
The Garden of Remembrance This section was originally the Naval Cemetery, under the care of the British War Graves Commission and later the National Monuments Council, who made a grant to the Simon’s Town Municipality – while the Dutch section was looked after by the Bloemfontein Boer war authorities. The National Monuments Council ceased to exist in 1994 and care of the OBG has been largely sporadic, with The Simon’s Town Historical Society doing their best to maintain the OBG, including spending R15,OOO for the repair of the boundary wall.
The oldest grave in the Garden 0f Remembrance
is that of Rear Admiral Dundas (1757 -1814) and the latest gravestones are two from HMS Birkenhead, which struck the rocks at Danger Point off Cape Agulhas on 26 Feb. 1852. On 23 August 1993 and in 2002 the remains of 5 casualties were re-interred here
There are about 550 sailors, marines, soldiers and 50 Kroomen buried in the Garden of Remembrance. It is startling to see how young many of the crew were – some less than 15 years old. Unfortunately the Old Burying Ground is subject to vandalism and littering. The Society endeavours to keep it in a reasonably tidy state, as well as maintenance of graves when funds allow.
Some Interesting Gravestones & Monuments
During the Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902, many Boer POW were detained in Simon’s Town. Sadly more than 160 died – some from wounds, but the large majority from the complications of Typhoid Fever and Measles. They were nursed in the Palace Barracks Hospital, where Mary Kingsley was one of the dedicated nurses.
Heinrich Pieter (1820 – 1902) built the Hablutzel vault in the Dutch Reformed section of the OBG. He was quite a property owner; including at one time Imhoffs Gift.
Many Italians were employed by Sir John Jackson during the building of the Selborne and East Dockyards – 1900 to 1910.
William Froude was a naval engineer with an outstanding contribution to the modification of ships hulls to lessen resistance. He was a guest in Admiralty House, but sadly became seriously ill and died in May 1879, age 68.
A number of Russian sailors are buried here. Their names, in Russian and English are inscribed on this monument. The graves alongside are those of Fleet Navigator Nikolayu Petrovil and Seaman Pyetra Reshyeka
William Snr. (1824 – 1896) came out here with his two sons (William 1858-1936 and George Hoggett (1860 – 7) after the death of is first wife. He married a second time here to Alice Ann Black. His son William later married Elizabeth (Bessie) Sarah Black and they had 2 sons and a daughter. Walter Jnr. was a member of parliament for 17 years and on the Cape School Board for 30 years and Simon’s Town Municipality for 40 years. He started the first school in Simon’s Town. He did much for the town and was always available to listen to the people.
Joseph Gay was the first member of the family to arrive here – in the Windsor Castle. In 1885 he married Janet Thomson, 2nd daughter of James Thomson of Scotland. They had 2 sons, Lewis Charles Gay and Llewellyn James David Gay. There was also a daughter who married and settled in England in 1910. Both sons served Simon’s Town well, Lewis being Mayor for 25 years and also Member of Parliament for the South Peninsula for 25 years. Llewellyn was employed by the Municipality and was responsible for obtaining many artifacts for the Museum.
Edward Miller settled in Simon’s Town 1816, with his wife Mary and 8 children. Most became merchants. His eldest son Charles founded the well-known stationery firm Maskew Miller. Luiz Miller, a grandchild bought “Froggy Farm” from the Hugo family in 1931, Dorries Drive is named after his daughter Doris. Another grandchild, Arthur Miller was a dispensing Chemist & took many photographs in Simon’s Town, including Bellevue Boer POW Camp (1899-1902)
She was the wife of Sir Jahleel Brenton who was the Naval Commissioner from 1815 to 1822 and the first occupant of Admiralty House. Isabella, who was attended by Dr James Barry, died on 29 July age only 46. The tombstone was sculpted by Sir Francis Chantrey, and is inscribed She was to her beloved husband the richest treasure of indulgent heaven. The small gravestone alongside is that of Dacres Brenton von Donop (1845), infant son of Louise and Edward, nephew of Sir Jahleel Brenton.