While Jan Hoets might not strictly have been a resident of Port Elizabeth , he was closely connected to two residents who were intimately involved in business in Port Elizabeth and who were largely responsible for Port Elizabeth’s initial growth: These prominent citizens were John Centlivres Chase and Frederick Korsten with the latter person being Hoets’ son-in-law. This arose due to his marriage to Korsten’s eldest daughter. Of course marrying a Chase meant that Hoets was also related to the Chases.
By all accounts Hoets was a successful merchant in Cape Town with its more lanquid less frenetic lifestyle. Here the bureaucrat predominated unlike Port Elizabeth which possessed a more energetic business like mien, the very anthesis of Cape Town.
Main picture: Jan Marthinus Hoets, grandson of Jan Hoets, and his wife Arabella Helen Centlivres Chase
Source of information
This monogram was written by Dawie Metelerkamp and e-mailed to Tamzin Hoets in 2010 by Dawie Hoets who is mentioned in the document and edited and updated with further information by Penny Hoets during February 2023. I would like to profusely thank both Penny and Digby Chase Hoets for sharing this information with me.
A Life well spent
Jan Marthinus Hoets was born in 1751 in Loon-op-Zand in north Brabant, Holland. He was the son of Cornelis and Christina (born Holland). He had two siblings. Cornelis Hoets was a ‘koster en skoolmeester’ and Christina ‘had a little shop in which she sold thread and tape for a farthing.’ (CSC 2/1/1/34 no22).
Jan Marthinus Hoets arrived at the Cape in 1775. His first son Christiaan was born in Cape Town in June 1776. Christiaan’s mother was Candace van de Kaap, probably an ex-slave. On the 9th of February 1777 Jan married Maria van Middlekoop. They were to have fourteen children three of whom died as babies. Johanna Cornelia, Maria’s eldest child, was christened on the 25th of January 1778. Maria Christina, who married Rutger Metelerkamp, was born on the 30th June 1782.
Maria van Middlekoop’s eldest son Marthinus was born between the two girls, in 1780. He was later to marry Arnolda Gertuude Nalida van Rees. Their son was the Rev. John William van Rees Hoets (1824-1907). Maria van Middlekoop died in 1816, after which Jan lived for the last eighteen years of his life with Maria Cecelia van die Kaap, a former slave on his estate, with whom he had his last two children.
For nearly ten years after his arrival at the Cape, Jan Hoets worked for the governor as Hofmeester and has been described as ‘a steward in the Governors house until 1786’. Between 1776 and 1785 Hoets was ‘Kommissaris van die Buiteposte’, a position within the VOC with personal loyalty to the governor (the appointment was usually given to the Hofmeester of the governor’s household).Between 1771 and 1785 Joachim van Plettenberg was the governor. This position gave Hoets access to the resources of the VOC without direct loyalty to the company, and so he made much out of private trade assisted by the exploitation of equipment and labour of the VOC. In this way he bought salt directly from the pans near the Vishoek and Groenkloof posts and sold it to the butchers in town (making 210RD in 16 days). He sold fresh fish and pickled herring which was produced by the posts of Saldanha Bay and Vishoek – from his house and, through his slave, in the streets. He also sold a quarter of the Groenkloof grain harvest to the VOC grain storehouse in Cape Town.
When Cornelis Jacob van der Graaff took over the position of governor, Hoets requested to be discharged and was permitted to return home on the war ship Munnikendam. ‘At his further urgent request, the Directors would be asked should he feel inclined to return hither, in consideration of his being married here and is leaving six children here and of his giving satisfaction in his service, to allow him a passage on one of the Company’s ships’ (Leibrandt 1786:7.2).
The new governor was extremely unpopular having a violent, unpredictable temper and poor administrative skills, as well as being extravagant in his lifestyle. So, it is not surprising that Hoets chose to return home. Colonel van de Graaff, not only had a salary of £3,650 and an additional £1,500 as a special allowance, he had residences at the castle and in Newlands, horses and carriages and he also had the produce of the farm Visser’s Hok. (Ref.Theal) The latter could have led to an overlap of interests and some strife with his steward Jan Hoets. (The implications of this situation are interesting and needs further fact and comment.)
Hoets returned to the Cape in 1789 as a Junior Merchant on the Teiglingen. His ‘permanent malady, headache, is getting worse as he grows older and therefore, he wishes to retire from the Service and become a burgher.’ Clearly, he would be better suited making a living outside the controls of the VOC. His ‘malady’ did not prevent him from reaching the age of 85 (although he died blind, and legally declared mentally unsound.). During the next ten years he became an established merchant. An early indication of the goods he was selling is found in an invoice of 1798 among the papers of Andrew Barnard to whom Lady Anne Barnard was married and who was Secretary to the Cape Governor, Lord Macartney. Barnard purchased screws, nails, buttons, corks, a pair of shears, a file, a drill and a hammer.
By the year 1800 Hoets was purchasing the cargoes of visiting ships, either on his own or in partnership with his son-in law Frederick Korsten. The latter had married Hoets’ eldest daughter on 25.1.1799. These cargoes were either auctioned or exported to England and possibly the Netherlands. For example, in February 1800 Hoets and Korsten bought the cargo of a Danish ship comprising arrack, tamarind and ‘Jappan’ wood.
Between1803 and 1805 the two men were buying and selling a wide range of goods: these included ironware such as cooking utensils, cutlery, iron tools, genever, wine, tobacco, chocolate, rice, Batavian sugar, Java coffee, mahogany furniture, linen, clothing including hats, sewing thread, linseed oil and eastern spices such as saffron.
At the end of 1806 Korsten (Hoets’ son in law) sold his property in Cape Town and sailed off to visit England and the Netherlands, possibly among other things, to investigate new commercial ventures. He was out of the Colony until 1811. In his absence Hoets continued importing and selling Eastern goods and ironware, but expanded is purchasing to include various sorts of medicines and drugs, Dutch and French writing paper, gilded and coloured paper, pens, pencils, writing books, Bibles and coloured psalm books.
|“He made an impressive sight when journeying to Cape Town in his carriage with his slaves running alongside.” “Several people wanted the property (the site that eventually became Cecil John Rhodes’ Summerhouse), but when it became known that Jan Hoets wanted it, who was to compete with so opulent (or maybe “distinguished”) a gentleman?”|
|Relating to Jan Hoets (from e-mail to Tamzin Hoets by Dawie Hoets)|
Rutger Metelerkamp was born in 1780 in Zwolle in the Netherlands. He was the son of Johannes Jacobus a Dr. Of law, mayor of Zwolle (appointed by the crown). Rutger’s grandfather, born in 1720, was also a Dr of Law. His maternal grandmother was the countess of Hoogendorp.
In a speech at Rutger’s funeral, it was said that he had been given a job in Batavia and on his way to take up his appointment the ship had called at Cape Town where he had fallen in love with Maria Christina Hoets the second daughter of Jan Hoets. He promised to return to marry her. There is evidence in the shipping news of an unnamed “Onderkoopman in dienst van Die Asiaatise Raad” arriving in Table Bay in 1802. This could have been Rutger but what we do know is that he arrived in Simons Bay from Batavia in 1803. As soon as he had permission to remain in the Cape the young couple were married on the 19th of February 1804. Their second son Frederick John Alexander was born 25th January 1806 at Rustenburg Rondebosch. (The great grandfather of David Peter Metelerkamp born 1928)
The younger son of Jan Hoets was Rijnier (or Rynier) Charles 1795 – 1881 who married Catherina Jacomina Esterhuysen and went on to live for 86 years. They named their son John Marthinus (1821- 1885). Capt John Marthinus Hoets married Arabella Helen Chase the daughter of the Arabella Helen Eliot first wife of John Centlivres Chase.
Rutger resigned from the Asiatiese Raad and had a shop in Bree Street down on the foreshore. In 1807 he took his family to England and probably to the Netherlands. He returned to Cape Town before setting off to Mossel bay to build a new grain store.
In 1812 Jan Hoets entered into a partnership with CF Pohl, a Prussian saddler & wagon builder who had been farming in the George district since the late 1780’s and Hoets’ son-in-law Rutger Metelerkamp. They had been granted a government contract to supply 3,000 barrels of salt beef. Pohl and Metelerkamp went to the Algoa Bay district, which was good cattle country with large salt pan near by, and proceeded to buy up several loan farms, including Papenkuilsfontein, which was to be the center of the enterprise. They obviously had big plans as in February 1813 Hoets was asking the Governor for 20-40 prize Negroes to be apprenticed to him to be trained in the ‘profession for curing Salt Beef’. (CO 3892/40) These were people from captured slave ships who were technically not sold as slaves but had to be ‘apprenticed’ in some way or other. When Governor Cradock visited the farm in November 1813, he was ‘pleased with the public spirit, industry and activity evinced by the proprietors of this establishment which far exceeds and expectation I have formed, and bids fair to become a permanent source of wealth to this Colony’ (CO 3894). Cradock agreed to their request to be released from the Government contract and to sell their salted provisions privately. Hoets stood surety for the repayment of their 50,000-gulder government loan. Metelerkamp and Pohl and their families were living on the farm and a daughter was born to each of them at what was to be known as Cradock Place. Maria Johanna Cornelia Metelerkamp was born on the third of April 1813, and Dorothea Charlotta Pohl on 27 May 1814. By this time Hoets’ other son-in-law Frederik Korsten had joined the company at Algoa Bay.
Goods were shipped from Algoa Bay to Cape Town on board coastal vessels which sailed that route. For example, in October 1815, Hoets & Co. shipped 19 casks soap, salt, butter, 150 hides, 4 casks and 18 sacks of fat, as well as 152 stinkwood planks and 172 pieces of wagon wood, to Cape Town on board the Thomas (CCT 374). In 1816 Marthinus Hoets, Jan’s eldest son, was advertising butter, fat, salt, salt meat and tongue for sale at his Cape Town store. However, in 1816 the partnership was dissolved, and Frederik Korsten took over all the landed property of the firm (CO 4021/143). He continued to build a prosperous business at Papenkuilsfontein, now renamed Cradock Place, with a cooperage, tannery and windmill.
Hoets’ main role in the ‘salt beef affair’ seems to have been one of influence and finance. He wrote the memorials to the Governor on behalf of the partners as he was based in Cape Town and clearly had the necessary clout, or ‘opulence and power’. He owned the country estate of Rustenburg, at Rondebosch, which he had bought in 1803, as well as a townhouse in Longmarket Street and four warehouses in the town. (See D’Oyly’s drawing of Greenmarket square)
In 1826 Hoets (described as a grand old merchant and a music lover from Holland) offered the Kerkraad of the Groote Kerk in Adderly Street 10,000 Rixdalers (£750) to purchase a new organ ‘in gratitude of his prosperity’. The organ was commissioned from a well-known firm of organ builders, Bevington & Sons in England and eventually cost Hoets nearer £1,500.00. The organ arrived in December 1829 and was put into use on 11 July 1830 when it was dedicated by the Rev Dr Abraham Faure, in a service attended by a large crowd including the Governor, Sir Lowry Cole. (D.G. McIntyre Early organs & organists at the Cape, CT, 1934; QB 21(1), 1966, p.18-19).
When Die Groote Kerk replaced the Hoets organ they put a plaque on the wall commemorating Jan Hoets’ donation. They also produced a booklet about the organ that gave Jan Hoets honourable mention. (Source Dawie Hoets: correspondence with Tamzin Hoets).
It is interesting to note that at this time the Dutch Reformed Church had a service in the morning, and in the afternoon the smaller Anglican community used the building. This familiarity meant that it was quite possible to convert from one religion to the other – for instance, J.W. van Rees Hoets was an Anglican, although his extended family had such a close affinity with the Dutch Reformed Church. Not only did Jan Hoets donate an organ, but Rutger Metelerkamp was appointed an Ouderling of the Dutch Reformed Church when he was living in Humansdorp, by the governor.
In the ‘Cape Town Directory’ for 1833 Hoets is listed as an ‘ironmonger’ living at 22 Longmarket Street, which is on the corner of St. George’s Street and Longmarket Street, Facing Greenmarket Square, on the same side as the Burgher Senate (now Old Town House). Sir Charles D’Oyly’s drawing of Greenmarket Square on 16 April 1832 includes the house (below).
The Rev. J.W. van Rees Hoets had gone first to Leyden University, but later he studied theology at Cambridge, and obviously became Anglican at this stage. He obtained his M.A in 1849 and in 1850 was ordained a deacon in the Church of England. He is the founder of St. Peter’s in Mowbray (then Three Cups); the church was built at van Rees Hoets’ personal expense. St. Peter’s Church was consecrated by Bishop Robert Gray on Whit Tuesday, 6 June 1854 (Rhind 1994).
In 1836 Johanna Cornelia Korsten, Hoets’ eldest daughter, assisted by her husband, Frederik, applied to have her father declared to be of unsound mind so that curators could be appointed for his person and his financial affairs. The greatest grievance was that Hoets had cohabited for the previous 18 years with a former slave, Cecelia, who belonged to the estate, and that he ‘is surrounded by people of colour, Malays and other suspicious persons, who deny all access to him’. Johanna believed that the joint family estate due to his children would be dissipated unless someone was legally appointed to manage his affairs. Her brother Rijnier, supported her, and said that he had been unable to speak to his father for five years, despite repeated visits, and was on every occasion refused access by the woman of colour Celia and others. Jacobus Petrus de Wet, Hoets’ former confidential friend reported that Hoets had broken off their relationship without cause in 1824, and that he too had been denied access by the ‘Malays and people of colour’. One of Hoets’ grandchildren, Frederik J.A. Metelerkamp who was a lieutenant in the Dutch Navy reported that in October 1834, when he was describing his travels in Holland to his grandfather, the old man interrupted him incoherently with: “and my mother had a little shop in which she sold thread and tape for a farthing.” He also asked after Frederik’s wife and five children, when he should have remembered Frederik was a bachelor, and mistook his sister for this illusory wife (CSC 2/1/1/34 no 22 of 1836).
Hoets was judged incapable on the 10 May 1836 and died two weeks later, on the 25 May 1836. John Centlivres Chase was involved in wrapping up Jan Hoets’ Estate.
The Rustenburg Estate
Rustenburg Estate is described as follows. (Ref. ‘Rustenburg House- The Beginning’s’)
“Only four years after he had landed at the Cape, in October of 1656, Jan van Riebeek visited Rondebosch below Devils Peak then known as Windberg. Despite its name, it was decided to plant crops there as it was somewhat protected from the strong winds which often assailed the Table Bay area. In 1664 reference was made in the Journals and resolutions of the Dutch East India Company to the ‘Company’s House lying on the high road at Rondeboschyn. It was used as a guesthouse for high officials and visiting persons of importance and hence its name, Rustenburg or Castle of rest (sic) first appearing thus in the records of 1671. It was also a summer resort for the Dutch Governors. When visited by the Admiral of the French fleet in 1666 the house with its grand pillars was described as “well built and sumptuously furnished”.
In 1792 it was proposed that the whole property should be let as it was costing too much money to run the Estate. In the conditions of the lease the property is described as ‘comfortable mansion, carpenter’s house, stables, wine-cellar and slaves’ rooms and a covered kraal. It also included ‘free use of fountain – its source in the upper Oranjerie for watering of the Upper Garden and the water from the Liesbeek River for the Lower Garden. There were fine gardens, vineyards and orchards, kept at the Companies expense.
In 1795 when England and France were at war, Admiral Sir George Elphinstone was sent to take the Cape Colony to forestall the intentions of the French Republic to do the same. Resistance by the governor and the Commandant was overcome at the Battle of Muizenburg and after the capitulation the Treaty was signed in Rustenburg House on the 16th of September 1795. During the occupation of the Cape by the British, Lady Anne Barnard who knew the house mentions that General Dundas lived part of the time there “at Rustenburg, Rondebosch, a large country house with a fine plantation”.
In 1803 the Cape was handed back to the Batavian Republic and the Government in need of money decided to sell the Estate Rustenburg. Jan Hoets, a free burgher, trading as merchant in Longmarket Street, who was the most recent tenant, purchased the Estate of fifty morgen together with the house for 60500 guilders in October 1803. In June 1804 Hoets advertised in the Kaapsche Courant that he wished to hire slaves who could work with a spade and pick and later in the same month he was advertising a small quantity of red, white and Savoy cabbage and cauliflower seed for sale.
By 1809 according to the Opgaafrol (Census J42) Hoets had 35 male slaves and 23 female slaves. He has 8 horses and is growing vegetables on his estate, at that time listed as being 69 morgan. In June 1811 he was advertising firewood for sale. “A few thousand pounds dry weight of one or two years old, and cut agreeably to the size of firewood”, price: one Rixdollar per 100 pounds.
In 1814 the Land Commission strongly recommended an application by Hoets for a strip of Government land between Rustenburg and De Schuur along his southern boundary, referring to ‘the opulence and power of the said Mister Hoets’ (1957). In 1821 Hoets bought Lot 4 of De Groote Schuur estate from David Anosi, as well as a piece of Government land to the south. In 1827 Hoets’ daughter-in-law, Arnolda Gertruuda Nalida van Rees, widow of his eldest son Marthinus, married Abraham de Smidt (1793-1868) the new owner of Groote Schuur. According to Simmons, Arnolda had inherited from Marthinus Lot 4 of Groote Schuur estate bought by Hoets, thereby adding considerably to de Smidt’s estate (1996:11). Allegedly the Hoets family resented this.
Returning to Rustenburg house itself, it is believed that Hoets added the four large Ionic columns in front of the house that were spaced to correspond with the pilasters behind and extended the flat roof forward leaving the dakkamer intact (1980:94).
In 1831 Rustenburg was advertised for sale, including a quantity of very old wines made on the estate and 70 to 80 slaves. It was purchased in 1833 by P L Cloete former owner of Mount Pleasant situated above and to the south of Klein Schuur.
In the 1800’s candles were of very poor quality. Mostly local candles were used although sperm or paraffin wax candles were imported at a much higher cost. In the early Cape directories more than 20 ‘tallow chandlers’ are listed – these were normally ex-slaves from Bengal or Bougies who made candles from tallow (a by-product of the meat industry). The candles smoked excessively, and their production was an overwhelmingly smelly business.
In 1824 Baatjoe of Bougies, one of Jan Hoets’ slaves, found a way of making candles at Hoets’ expense. Baatjoe was the “overseer of the country estate of the said Hoets” (CSC 2/1/1/15 no.2). He was authorized to buy meat for the household and used this as an opportunity to buy tallow. In 1827 he was freed, and he set up a candle-making business. It was later discovered that the butcher Andries George Hendrik Teubes, who operated from the Shambles, from whom Baatjoe had bought meat, grease, and tallow on Hoets’ account, was still owed £107. Baatjoe went to court in 1831 but was absolved of responsibility for the debt because he had been a slave to Hoets at the time of the purchases. His contention was that he was not a ‘legal’ person in that as a slave he could not buy or sell property or enter into any legal contracts. The court then proceeded against Hoets. Hoets’ agents – RC Hoets and Adam Carstens – maintained that the bookkeepers were at fault, that Hoets owed nothing to Teubes but that on the contrary Teubes owed Hoets 500 Rixdollars, plus interest, for money advanced to him on the strength of a Promissory Note dated 1827.
The outcome of the Teubes affair is unknown, but it is very interesting that Rynier C Hoets is recorded as acting as an agent for his father in this legal situation, because in his later testimony he states that he could not gain admittance to the household. (This statement was used to indicate his father’s unsoundness of mind).
Guy Harold Hoets (1878 – 1944) was the 14th child of the Jan Marthinus Hoets and Arabella Helen Centlivres Chase. Courtland Guy van Rees Hoets was his son, born in 1904. Dawie was born in 1936.
Captain Jan Hoets by Joyce Murray
Captain JIan Hoets was the grandson of Jan Hoets who arrived at the Cape in 1775 and was appointed as Hofmeester to the Governor
In clearing out Family Papers several years ago, we had a most lucky find – a thick hardcover exercise book in which a boy of sixteen, Jan Hoets, kept an account of his voyage overseas in a Sailing Ship in 1837 and 1838.
Jan Hoets’ grandfather (also Jan) came to the Cape in 1775 as “Hofmeester” (steward) to the Governor, but resigned in 1789 to set up in business on his own in Longmarket Street in Cape Town, and by 1812 he owned “Rustenburg” at Rondebosch and Groote Schuur. He left only two sons: Marthinus who had one son, Van Rees Hoets, and Rijnier who also had only one son, Jan, so that when the old man died in 1836 his few heirs must have been left quite well off.
By this time Jan’s father (Rijnier) was carrying on the family merchant and shipping business in Cape Town with a Korsten brother-in-law. The boy had just left school, and his parents took the opportunity of sending him on a trip overseas with Captain George Robb, ex R.N., the Senior Commander of Hamilton Ross’s shipping fleet. Mrs Robb was a close relative of the Hoets, and she constantly accompanied her husband on voyages which took them as far afield as India, Australia, Java and the Americas. The Robbs had no children of their own and welcomed the young passenger.
The HAMILTON ROSS, the Company’s largest vessel of 300 tons, left Cape Town on 2nd December 1837, with young Jan Hoets off on his Travels, and with him this hardcovered Notebook to keep a record of his doings for the next year.
This Journal, as young Jan Hoets called it, was written up carefully each day in clear, regular handwriting. The remarkable thing is that there is some entry for every day of his holiday. The boat took almost three months to reach its destination in London, and until they reached the English Channel the passengers saw hardly any land, and very seldom any other ships. St Helena was passed in the distance, and they called in at Ascension for a few hours to fill up with fresh water, without landing however.
But as they entered the English Channel the tempo quickened and after making the Lizard Lights, there was all the excitement of “beating up channel” against unfavourable winds, in company with other vessels. Then into Portsmouth, the first port of call, with the Harbour full of ships, two lines of Battleships, the BRITANNIA of 110 guns and the VICTORY in which Lord Nelson was killed.” Sailing close along the South Coast they could see Brighton and Beachy Head “and the ditches and trenches and forts made to prevent the landing of Napoleon when he thought to invade England’; Dover Castle and a glimpse of the French Coast. Piloted through the Straits of Dover, they passed on round the North Foreland, and early on February 22nd, “while the Nore light was still shining we entered the river Thames with a light breeze. On both sides of the River there was lovely country, with gardens and green Felds between fine buildings.” The number of ships that I saw can only be compared to forests of trees.”
The vessel docked in the West India Docks and so close to the quay they could just step on shore, so different from coming on board in Table Bay. In London Captain Robb took Jan with him on his shipping business, all most interesting to the boy, the Custom House, the Royal Exchange in temporary quarters in the Guild Hall, an important meeting place for seamen and mercantile businessmen, the Bank and the Stock Exchange as well as the various Docks in the River. He met several friends and clients of his father’s who entertained him, Capt. Herbert, the Culverts, Mr. Jarvis, and with them he saw the Sights -the Zoo in Regent’s Park, newly laid out, the British Museum, Westminster Abbey and St Paul’s, St James’s Park. He watched the splendid Procession as the young Queen Victoria drove from the New Palace (Buckingham Palace) to her first Drawing Room at St James’s Palace, accompanied by Guards of Honour, nobles in carriages with splendid liveries and horses, the Lord Mayor and foreign Ambassadors.
But all through his stay in London the River and its marvellous shipping were Jan’s greatest delight. After a day of sightseeing, it was a relief to get away to his own boat and watch the wonderful new steamers and the tugs hauling their strings of boats upstream.
It was sad leaving all this with the long, long voyage home looming ahead. The HAMILTON ROSS put into Tor Bay, her port of origin on June 28th, and here Captain Robb heard that Queen Victoria’s Coronation was being celebrated that day, all over the country as well as in London. So, after hoisting all the flags they had, he and Jan went ashore and joined in the fun, decorations and processions and bands and feasting for all. On July 1st Land’s End gave them their last sight of England, and then they were out into the Atlantic. It was also Jan’s 17th Birthday. “For the first time in my life I had a Cherrypie, besides plum pudding and several other kinds of pastry.”
On the 21st of September 1838 Jan Hoets arrived home and obviously he was now a dedicated seafarer. A few pencil notes at the end of the Journal indicate that he had another trip with Capt. Robb, this time to South America. I have no information about any command he must have had, but in a letter to Mrs Hoets from a friend in Mauritius, dated 18th February 1848, there is a reference to the Hoetses having visited Mauritius earlier. She was very disappointed that Captain Hoets had not brought his wife with him on the latest voyage.
Jan’s father died in 1853, and possibly the business in Cape Town was sold then, for in 1858 Miller’s Point was sold to him by Carl Watermeyer. In Simon’s Bay he took over the Whaling Pits and owned a small Whaling Fleet. His practical experience of ships and shipping was combined with real business ability and good business connections. His father-in-law was the Hon. J.C. Chase of Port Elizabeth, important there in business as well as in politics, is definitely an asset. Capt. Hoets soon became an outstanding member of the community in Simon’s Town, which he served well. Details of his life history were given me by his granddaughter, Miss D. Hoets of Rondebosch, but old files of the “South African Commercial Advertiser” in the South African Library disclose some interesting items of his activities in its News Columns.
The Government appointed him Consular Agent for the United States. In September 1863, when the ALABAMA visited Simon’s Town, he fell afoul of the Captain, who accused him of encouraging members of the crew to desert. Then, as Vice-Consul for the Sublime Ports (the Ottoman Government in Constantinople) it was Captain Hoets who read the Loyal Address of Welcome from the local Malays to the Duke of Edinburgh when he arrived in Simon’s Bay in the GALATEA to visit the Cape in 1867.
The following is a copy of a letter in the Cape Archives from the Earl of Kimberley, Downing Street, to Governor Sir Henry Barkly on 3rd January 1872 (by the DANUBE 6th February):
Miller’s Point must have made a very pleasant family home. There was an ample supply of water from several wells, and a previous owner had made a garden and planted trees; he also kept cows and poultry and sold the dairy products in Simon’s Town. There was a magnificent view from the point over the Bay. Though the place was four miles from the town, along a bad road, the family was not cut off from the life of Simon’s Town: Mrs Hoets and the children could get around easily, and much more quickly by boat, the children to school and Mrs Hoets on social occasions. Indeed she was quite able to row herself across in an open boat, dressed in all her party finery to attend some or other function at Admiralty House. Once from the high stoep of the house she noticed a ship out in the Bay in distress, and managed to get in touch with her husband in Simon’s Town, who effected a rescue.
The eldest son, John Centlivres, was born in 1850. Most of the family of 14 were born at Miller’s Point or in Simon’s Town: ten children survived babyhood, with seven sons to put the Hoets name on the map of South Africa. The second son, George, however, went to sea and was washed overboard in the Bay of Biscay, at the age of 20 years, on the voyage to Sydney. His mother after this very definitely discouraged any more ideas of seafaring careers in her family.
Not long after this tragedy the family moved from Miller’s Point. For the last years of his life, Captain Hoets held the post of Marine Surveyor in the Table Bay Docks. He died in his home in St Andrew’s Square, at the top of Strand street, early in 1881, after being injured in an accident while on duty in the Docks.