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German Settlers to the Eastern Cape

Johann Godeffroy's

Keith Tankard
Updated: 14 October 2009
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The Prospectus sent out by Johann Godeffroy to advertise the emigration was for both "the German Colony" -- British Kaffraria -- and the Western Cape. Indeed, the document treated both destinations as if they were the same, confusing each with the other.

An entire paragraph was devoted to the teenage daughters. Families with single daughters between the ages of 12 and 25 would enjoy the additional advantage in having to repay only half the passage fare of £12 10s., the other half being "borne by the Government".

This makes it perfectly clear that the plan hinged upon having a plentitude of teenage girls in the villages, which would make the soldiers think of the reality of sex and marriage, and then immerse themselves into years of hard work to market themselves as husbands to the girls.

The offer of "first class quality" land in British Kaffraria was made to appear most alluring. Each head of family would receive a free grant to a building lot in a legionnaire village. He would then also have 20 acres offered to him at the price of £1 per acre.

Families with children could buy more. Every child above one year of age would be entitled to two acres, while those above the age of 10 would be offered three. Teenagers above the age of 14 would be offered as much as five acres, which again held out a carrot to those emigrants with teenage daughters.

The climate in South Africa was said to be "similar to that of Germany". Consequently the farm produce would be "the same or similar". The colonists could therefore wear the identical clothing as in Germany and use the same bedding.

The Prospectus also detailed the menu for meals on board the ship. The fare was to be very limited and kept to an unchanging weekly routine. On Sunday there would be half a pound of beef, a pudding of dried fruit and a bottle of wine for every eight adults.

On Monday it was a half pound of pork plus potatoes and sauerkraut. Tuesday brought more beef with legumes, while Wednesday's fare was herring, legumes and potatoes.

Thursday saw the return of beef with legumes, and Friday reverted to pork with potatoes and sauerkraut. Saturday brought a meatless meal of barley or rice with syrup or dried fruit.

Each passenger would be supplied with one bottle of drinking water per day, in addition to what was needed for cooking. The cabin passengers would be supplied with half a bottle of red wine each with their midday meal.

Steerage passengers were expected to perform all the housekeeping tasks on board, with the men sweeping and scrubbing "between-decks" every morning, for which all passengers had to be up early and their beds made in anticipation of this task.

The passengers would sit in groups of 10 or 12 for meals, each group appointing a steward to acquire their rations of meat from the purser during the previous evening. He would affix the group's number to this and hand it over to the chef so that it could be soaked overnight.

As soon as the meal was ready at noon the next day, the steward would collect the rations and bring them to his fellow travellers. Each passenger was responsible for supplying and washing his or her own utensils. Bread and butter would be supplied to the steward for an entire week at a time.

Each group would elect someone to carve the meat and distribute the food. This person was likewise responsible for maintaining order at the dinner table. The groups would consist of passengers whose berths were close together, so that their luggage boxes could serve as tables.

The first ship to set sail was the Caesar Godeffroy, leaving Hamburg on 15 April 1858. The La Rochelle was due to leave soon thereafter but had to be delayed till 29 May because of unspecified "difficulties" put up by the Prussian Government.

Four more ships would depart at regular intervals: the Wandrahm (31 August), Peter Godeffroy (30 September), Wilhelmsburg (19 October) and Johan Caesar (1 November).

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