Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Growth of the Population

Prior to the arrival of the 1820 Settlers, it would have been an exaggeration to claim that Port Elizabeth was sparsely populated as that was an overstatement of the facts. Indeed, it was mostly depopulated. Apart from a dozen farmers in the whole area from the Sunday’s River to the Gamtoos River, there was an understrength company of soldiers based at Fort Frederick and thirty-five inhabitants mainly residing along the coast at the foot the Hill. 

Main picture: Port Elizabeth in 1833

At the dawn of the Settler’s Arrival

According to JJ Redgrave, in the years prior to the arrival of the 1820 Settlers, “the land was devoid of inhabitants and as new arrivals entered upon it, they had an understanding among themselves about locations and boundaries. The extent of a “farm” in those days occupied by a family varied from four to six thousand acres.

In his book The Cape Colony and the Eastern Province of Algoa Bay,  John Centlivres Chase states that in 1820, “the only buildings were the fort, a small barracks, a mess-house, the Commandant’s quarters, and a few temporary huts of perishable materials [probably wattle and daub], besides the original farm house belonging to a Boer by the name of Hartman. The population was about 35 souls.

painting-by-thomas-baines-of-the-settlers-arriving-in-algoa-bay

At this stage, the hamlet had nothing to commend itself and did not even possess a formal name. It was during a visit by the acting Governor of the Cape Colony, Sir Rufane Donkin in 1820 whilst assisting with the planning for the location of the Settlers, that he issued two momentous instructions. At his behest a pyramidal cenotaph as a perpetual token to his recently deceased wife would be constructed and secondly that the name of the wind-swept area was proclaimed as Port Elizabeth, also in her honour.
Redgrave describes the other residences and buildings apart from those of a military nature as follows: 

There existed a mere handful of other miserable dwellings. The Residency, a squat stone building with a sundial in front of it, stood at the foot of the present White’s Road on the site of the Colonial Mutual Buildings, a cottage occupied by the Commissary of Stores, on the site of the present St. Mary’s Church. A little above Hartman Road, stood the poor farmhouse of Hartman with a few other similar farms and mud huts scattered here and there”

Fort Frederick

Fort Frederick

Apart from the military, the hamlet consisted of only 35 people. The exact details of the population were recorded by a visitor to this nondescript village in 1819.

In this document, a Mr. Griffin Hawkins listed the names and occupations of the inhabitants in an unofficial census as follows:

 

Evatt, Francis                  Commandant

Henry                               His son

Creig                                Commissary

Camm                              His clerk

Nicholl & Chabaud        Merchants

Welsford                         Retailer

Benjamin Green            His clerk

Hunt                                Retailer

Frames                            Merchant

McPhail                           Mason

Board                              Contractor

Fortuin (Malay)             Blacksmith

Nicholas Hitje                Hotel-keeper [Red Lion Tavern]

Dunn, Gambol & son    Postmaster

Burchell                           Apothecary [Chemist]

Gambol Hartman          Field Cornet

Diesel & son                   Masons

Thomas Griffin               Shoemaker

Brown                              Shoemaker

Gurney                             Boatman & crew

Smith                                Boatman & crew

Hatcheloven                    Butcher

Younger, John                 Surgeon

Younger, Thomas           His brother

Mollineaux, Thomas      Whalefisher

Reid, James                Crew

De Mell, Joe               Crew

Hubbard, Joe               Crew

Kane                            Sawyer

La Harpe                      Retailer

Minto, Dr.                    Garrison surgeon

Hawkins, Griffin          A visitor

 

John Futter, a shoemaker

Like most settlers, John Futter, a shoemaker, came ashore in Port Elizabeth en route to Grahamstown

1824 Census

A census of the town indicated that its population consisted of:

73 Men
30 Women
44 Boys
33 Girls
75 Khoikhoi
64 Slaves

 

Presumably the races of the men, women, boys and girls would include the white, the coloureds and the Malays all resident in Port Elizabeth. The 75 people classified as Khoikhoi were probably the misallocation of the local Fingoes, as the Blacks resident in the area were known. Surprisingly 64 people were classified as slaves.

Candle maker

Candle maker

 

The reason why the population of Port Elizabeth had only increased marginally in four years in spite of the influx of thousands of settlers was due to the fact that the Settlers were immediately relocated to the Eastern Border. Many of those that found farming condition too arduous or were bankrupted by drought or pestilence, drifted back to the towns in the area.

1825 Census

For the first time, Port Elizabeth gives the impression of having a population of a functioning village rather than a temporary settlement.

Within another ten years, the number of houses had risen to 100.

Prominent citizens in 1842

By 1842, it was no longer possible to list all the citizens in Port Elizabeth as Mr Hawkins had done in 1819. The best that John Centlivres could achieve in his book, is to list the names of the most prominent citizens in Port Elizabeth in 1842.

Whereas the initial list in 1819 of citizens reflected mainly occupations such as artisans and merchants, with the increased wealth of the citizenry, most of the prominent people now occupied sedentary clerical, supervisory and management positions.

Captain Francis Evatt

Captain Francis Evatt

 

Position occupied Name Annual salary
Resident Magistrate Capt. W. Lloyd, R.N. £ 300
Clerk to Magistrate Mr. C.H. Huntley £ 80
Acting Messenger James Hancock
Distributor of Stamps Mr. C.H. Huntley
Clerk of the Peace F. Gie ESq £ 100
Acting Gaoler Thomas Sterley £  45
Police Officers J. Gillis, J. Wade & John Crown
Justices of the Peace D.P. Francis & W. Fleming Esqs
Field Cornet Mr. J.B. Board
Assistant Field Cornet Mr. A. Baille
Acting District Surgeon R.L. Davies £  60

 

Custom’s House Department

Position occupied Name Annual salary
Sub-Collector D.P. Francis Esq £ 300
Clerk Mr. Patrick Murray £ 90
Tidewaiter Mr. J. Stonelake £ 80

arrival-of-the-1820-settlers-in-pe02

Port Office

Position occupied Name Annual salary
Port Captain H.G. Dunsterville Esq £ 100
Officer of Health R.L. Davies Esq
Coxswain W. Warner £ 36
Post mistress Mrs. Mary Biggar £ 40
Market master Mr. Charles Gurney
Pound master Mr. N. Randall
Overseer of Convicts George Rye

 

St. Mary’s Church

Position occupied Name Annual salary
Chaplain Rev. F. McCleland, A.B. & TCD £ 200
Churchwardens Messrs D. Phillips & C. Andrews
Clerk Mr. Henry Shepherd
Organist Mrs. J. Rawlinson
Sexton & Bell-ringer Mr. Thomas Hunt
Reverend Francis McCleland

Reverend Francis McCleland

School Commission

Position occupied Name Annual salary
President Capt. W Lloyd
Members Revs. F. McCleland,  A. Robson, J.C. Chase & J.C. Welsford
Teacher Mr. J. Paterson, A.M. £ 150 & £ 40 for house rent

Legal

Position occupied Name
Attorney of the Supreme Court & Proctor in the Vice Admiralty Court Charles Whitcomb, Esq
Attorney in the Circuit Court Mr. F. Gie
Notaries Messrs. C. Whitcomb and J.C. Chase

Other

Position occupied Name
Private School for Boys Mr J.B. Frames
Seminary for Young Ladies Mrs Eedes
Medical Practitioners J. Chalmers & R.L. Davies Esq
Apothecaries Messrs. J.L. Tilbury & G. Dunsterville
Auctioneers Messrs. W. Harriers, Joshua Norton, Geo. Britton & George Mitchell

Directors of the Jetty Company

Position occupied Name
Engineer John Thornhill
Managers Pieter Heugh, J. Blackburn, Wm. Smith & J.C. Chase
Secretary Mr John Bailie
Managing Director of the Boating Company D. Phillips Esq
Clerk Mr Thomas Yatton
John Centlivres Chase

John Centlivres Chase

The Leper Institute of Baaken’s River

Position occupied Name
Superintending Surgeon R.L. Davies Esq
Superintendent Mr Richard Tee, Senior

 

Union Chapel, London Missionary Society

Position occupied Name
Minister Rev. A Robson
Elders Messrs. G Chick & D. Lewis
Deacons Messrs James Beans & J. Kitchen
Instructor of the Fingoes Mr. W. Passmore
Teacher to the Coloured People Mrs. Robson
A chromolithograph of Port Elizabeth in 1886 by Graham Winch

A chromolithograph of Port Elizabeth in 1886 by Graham Winch

Wesleyan Missionary Society

Position occupied Name
Minister Rev John Green
Committee Messrs. Wm. Cawood, Samuel Cawood, Joseph Cawood, Thomas Hancock & Thomas Sterley
Chapel Stewards Messrs T. Hancock & T. Sterley

 

Roman Catholic Church

Position occupied Name
Pastor Rev. George D. Corcoran O.S.F.
Clerk Mr James McCloughlan
Bill of Lading-Goods from Table Bay to Port Elizabeth-date 1828-Table Bay 24 May 1828

Bill of Lading-Goods from Table Bay to Port Elizabeth-dated Table Bay 24 May 1828

Other

Position occupied Name
Undertakers Messrs J.B. Board & Joseph Williams
Hotels Mr Nathaniel Randall
Phoenix Hotel Mr. E.H. Salmond

 

Military departments

Department Position occupied Name
Commandant Commandant of Fort Frederick Capt. F. Evatt
Commissariat Dep. Assist. Commissary G. Horne
Commissariat Assistant Clerk Mr. James Niven
Commissariat Storekeeper Mr J. Burchell
Barrack department Barrack master Lt Edward Philpott
Barrack department Barrack Serjeant J. Dalgleisch

 

Fort Frederick

Fort Frederick

Census in 1846

The census of the population of Port Elizabeth was taken on the 11th April 1846 for the purpose of ascertaining what amount of manpower could be mustered in case of a sudden attack on the town by hostile Xhosa hordes. For this purpose, the town was divided into nine wards and a few citizens were appointed to count the population, including the Hottentots and Coloureds.

The results were as follows:

population-in-1846

 

PE’s population in 1904

In the intervening period of 85 years, from a fixed population of thirty five people in 1819, Port Elizabeth  now had a population of 46, 576. The diamond mines in Kimberley and the gold mines on the Witwatersrand had surpassed Port Elizabeth in their growth.

Europeans     23,732

Coloureds      11,157

Natives           11,687

Total               46,576

St Augustine's Catholic Church in 1904

St Augustine’s Catholic Church in 1904

2011 census

The Nelson Mandela Metro which now includes surrounding towns such as Uitenhage recorded a population of 1,152,115.

According to the Census, 60,1% of respondents described themselves as black African, 23,6% coloured, 14,4% white and 1,1% Indian/Asian

recent

 

This makes Port Elizabeth the sixth most populous metropolitan area in South Africa.

population-of-pe

Related blogs:

Port Elizabeth of Yore: Murders most Foul

Port Elizabeth of Yore: Murders most Foul

 

Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Phoenix Hotel

Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Phoenix Hotel

 

Port Elizabeth of Yore: Echoes of a Far off War

Port Elizabeth of Yore: Echoes of a Far off War

 

Port Elizabeth of Yore: Main Street in the Tram Era

Port Elizabeth of Yore: Main Street in the Tram Era

 

 

Lost Artefacts of Port Elizabeth: Customs House

Lost Artefacts of Port Elizabeth: Customs House

 

The Great Flood in Port Elizabeth on 1st September 1968

The Great Flood in Port Elizabeth on 1st September 1968

 

A Sunday Drive to Schoenmakerskop in 1922

A Sunday Drive to Schoenmakerskop in 1922

 

Port Elizabeth of Yore: Horse Drawn Trams

Port Elizabeth of Yore: Horse Drawn Trams

 

Port Elizabeth of Yore: Trinder Square

Port Elizabeth of Yore: Trinder Square

 

The Sad Demise of the Boet Erasmus Stadium

The Sad Demise of the Boet Erasmus Stadium

 

Interesting Old Buildings in Central Port Elizabeth:

Interesting Old Buildings in Central Port Elizabeth

 

The Shameful Destruction of Port Elizabeth’s German Club in 1915:  

The Shameful Torching of Port Elizabeth’s German Club in 1915

Port Elizabeth of Yore: Cora Terrace:

Port Elizabeth of Yore: Cora Terrace

 

Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Grand Hotel:

Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Grand Hotel

 

Port Elizabeth of Yore: Whaling in Algoa Bay:

Port Elizabeth of Yore: Whaling in Algoa Bay

 

Port Elizabeth of Yore: White’s Road:

Port Elizabeth of Yore: White’s Road

 

Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Slipway in Humewood:

Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Slipway in Humewood

 

Port Elizabeth of Yore: King’s Beach:

Port Elizabeth of Yore: King’s Beach

 

Port Elizabeth of Yore: Russell Road:

Port Elizabeth of Yore: Russell Road

 

Port Elizabeth of Yore: Sand dunes, Inhabitants and Animals:

Port Elizabeth of Yore: Sand dunes, Inhabitants and Animals

 

Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Horse Memorial: 

Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Horse Memorial

 

Port Elizabeth of Yore: Target Kloof:

Port Elizabeth of Yore: Target Kloof

The Parsonage House at Number 7 Castle Hill Port Elizabeth

The Parsonage House at Number 7 Castle Hill Port Elizabeth

 

What happened to the Shark River in Port Elizabeth?

What happened to the Shark River in Port Elizabeth?

 

A Pictorial History of the Campanile in Port Elizabeth

A Pictorial History of the Campanile in Port Elizabeth

 

Allister Miller: A South African Air Pioneer & his Connection with Port Elizabeth

Allister Miller: A South African Air Pioneer & his Connection with Port Elizabeth

 

The Three Eras of the Historic Port Elizabeth Harbour

The Three Eras of the Historic Port Elizabeth Harbour

The Historical Port Elizabeth Railway Station

The Historical Port Elizabeth Railway Station

 

The Friendly City – Port Elizabeth – My Home Town

The Friendly City – Port Elizabeth – My Home Town

 

Port Elizabeth of Yore: Russell Road Methodist Church – 1872 to 1966

Port Elizabeth of Yore: Russell Road Methodist Church – 1872 to 1966

 

The Royal Visit to Port Elizabeth in 1947

The Royal Visit to Port Elizabeth in 1947

 

Port Elizabeth of Yore: Main Street before the Era of Trams

Port Elizabeth of Yore: Main Street before the Era of Trams

 

 

Sources:

Port Elizabeth in Bygone Days by JJ Redgrave

The Cape of Good Hope & the Eastern Province of Algoa Bay by John Centlivres Chase

Port Elizabeth: A Social Chronicle to the end of 1945 by Margaret Harradine


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