Port Elizabeth of Yore: Caesar Andrews

Caesar Andrews was one of the many entrepreneurial settlers who set Port Elizabeth onto the path of greatness. Most were merchants and Caesar Andrews was no exception.

Main picture: The identical houses facing the sea are those of Heugh, Andrews’ father-in-law and Andrews

I have been unable to establish when Andrews emigrated to the Cape Colony, but it must have been prior to 1835 as Captain Andrews was the Secretary and Aide-de-Camp to Sir Harry Smith during the Frontier War that year. In the following year he married Maria Johanna Heugh on the 12 December 1836.

Civic affairs

Caesar Andrew’s interests were then expanded to include that of civic affairs. In his newspaper, the Eastern Province Herald, John Paterson promoted the idea of some form of local government as the requirements of the town had grown beyond the scope of the Resident Magistrate and his small staff.

At a meeting of householders on the 9th January 1847, chaired by William Smith, the future first mayor of Port Elizabeth, a committee consisting of Willem Fleming, W. Smith, Caesar Andrews, William Matthew Harries and John Centlivres. Chase was appointed to draw up possible municipal regulations. On 8 February, a meeting adopted the regulations and forwarded them to the Government.

Later that year on the 3rd December, the first Board of Commissioners was elected. The town was divided into 8 wards and the first Commissioners were appointed. Amongst them was Caesar Andrews and the others were J.W. Kemp, W.H. Coleman, W.M. Harries, J. Crawford, W. Fleming, W. Smith and T. Proudfoot.

Family matters

During 1851, Caesar and Maria received devastating news. Their eldest daughter, Catherine Frances, had passed away after an after an illness of only some eight or ten days.

Circa 1847 Andrews built a large house in Hope Street adjacent to his father-in-law, Pieter Heugh. It was almost an identical replica.  

Above: Castle Hill. Part of Walford Arbouin Harries’ drawing lithographed in 1850. Jarvis’s house and the present No.7, home of Rev. Francis McCleland (land bought at the end of 1827), are at the top left. Opposite are Henry Jones’s c1838 and William Sterley’s cottages. Facing the sea are Pieter Heugh’s large “Prospect House” and adjoining it Caesar Andrews’ matching one. The cottage at the centre was built c1838 by James Ellicott, sold to George Turner and later inherited by his wife, later Mrs Phillips. It is still standing in Hope Street.

During November 1852, The Commercial Bank of Port Elizabeth published its prospectus being the second bank to be established in Port Elizabeth with its offices were on the corner of Donkin and Main Streets. In 1853 the Directors were R. Black, A. Croll, C. Andrews, A. Wares and D.P. Blaine. Since its establishment in Port Elizabeth, Standard Bank had been on the acquisition trail and did not rely upon organic growth. In February 1863 The Commercial Bank was absorbed by the Standard Bank.

Caesar Andrews passed away at the age of 71 on the 17 March 1879 in Port Elizabeth.

Castle Hill. 1903, decorated for the Coronation celebrations. On the right is “Prospect House” built c1843 for Pieter Heugh & on the left the house built for his son-in-law, Caesar Andrews. By this time they were boarding houses. St George’s Club (1892) had its first premises in the former, then known as “Stanley House”.

The Eastern Province Herald

Saturday 8 November 1851

DIED at Port Elizabeth on the 3rd instant, Catherine Frances, beloved daughter of Caesar ANDREWS Esq, aged 14 years.

On the morning of Monday last the town of Port Elizabeth was suddenly thrown into deep gloom by the unexpected announcement of the decease of the eldest daughter of C. ANDREWS Esq., a fine young girl of 14 years of age, who, after an illness of only some eight or ten days, was then suddenly removed form our midst by the rude hand of death. Such an event was felt like a shock of warning to the whole comm-unity to be also “ready”; and although it was impossible for friends to enter into the poignancy and inten-sity of the grief of the bereaved parents, who had lost the cherished object of a father’s many hopes, and the beaming centre of a mother’s daily joy, yet there was a depth of sympathy excited, which, next to the true balm of heavenly consolation, must tend to soothe the wounded feelings of parents. Their loss is great, is [indescribable], but they “will not sorrow as those who have no hope”.

Pearson Street. 1923. Lot 163. Built c1863 for Caesar Andrews. Demolished for maisonettes.


Hills Covered with Cottages: Port Elizabeth’s Lost Streetscapes by Margaret Harradine (2010, Express Copy & Print, Port Elizabeth)

Port Elizabeth: A Social Chronicle to the end of 1945 by Margaret Harradine (1996, E H Walton Packaging (Pty) Ltd, Port Elizabeth, on behalf of the Historical Society of Port Elizabeth).

Leave a Comment.