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Rodolph von Hube

Anglican Priest at Panmure

Keith Tankard
Updated: 14 October 2009
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Rodolph von Hube, a German-speaking Pole, was the resident Church of England missionary at Panmure from August 1857 to April 1862.

He arrived in South Africa (Grahamstown) in May 1857, and was ordained a deacon on 7 June that year. He served at Panmure as a deacon until his ordination as a priest on 3 June 1860.

When the initial arrangements were made to bring out the British-German Legion in 1856, one chaplain was promised for every thousand soldiers. When the final conditions were drawn up, however, nothing was said about a chaplain.

On his arrival in Grahamstown in 1856, Bishop Cotterill found that there were indeed no clergymen at all to care for the German settlements which had been established along the Buffalo River at Panmure, Cambridge, Berlin and Potsdam.

He responded to this need by appointing a resident clergyman to be stationed at Panmure. The man was Rodolph von Hube.

Von Hube's frequent letters give the impression of a missionary who was struggling continuously to make ends meet on a mission station which was not considered to be of very great importance.

His work was complicated by the fact that, after the murder of Reverend Joseph Willson in 1858, and again after Reverend William Greenstock had been transferred from the port, he was also expected to provide for the pastoral care of the English speaking community at East London on the western bank of the river.

Because of the greater initial permanency at the Panmure mission in contrast to East London where its first priest was murdered, church matters were much more organised during the period in which von Hube was pastor.

By mid-March 1859, he had opened his Grace Chapel, situated on the corner of today's Fleet and Station Streets, with its cemetery behind the Lock Street Gaol. He commenced immediately with Sunday School. A day school came into operation in April 1859.

Von Hube paid great attention to charitable work, organising such things as a burial fund for the destitute. Ironically, his concern for others did not resolve his personal financial difficulties. His salary was 150 sterling per annum -- the Resident Magistrate at East London was paid only 100.

The problem, however, was not that his salary was inadequate but that he was paid per quarter in arrears, whereas most of the other missionaries received their salaries in advance. Furthermore, von Hube had financial troubles over the running of his school, partly because of a misunderstanding as to who would pay the costs.

As a consequence, payment for the school usually came out of his own pocket. Moreover, although the Grahamstown diocese paid 50 of his salary, this money began to decrease after 1860 as Government funding to the Anglican Church began to dry up.

Von Hube left Panmure in April 1862 and returned to England where he became a chaplain at Eastwood (Nottingham) from 1863-1864.

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