This is the epic tale of the Vaudois Huguenots from three little villages in Provence, France, who made their way via Switzerland, Germany and the Netherlands, where they boarded the Dutch East India Ship China to reach the Cape of Good Hope. Their names included Joubert, Mallan, Meinard, and Jourdan. The tiny village above is Belle Etoile, home of the Jourdan family in the 1600s. It still looks much the same as back then. The land across the road from the village is still called Joubert today.
Our Vaudois Huguenot ancestors return in AmaBhulu to tell their story of religious persecution and their flight to the Cape of Good Hope. We follow their descendants, first to the Eastern Frontier, and then to the capital of a despotic African king where they are killed and impaled. Entire wings of these families are slaughtered by the amaZulu.
Others fight Queen Victoria and win against all odds. Yet another takes to the skies to become the most prominent air ace in the Battle of Britain in WWII. The Vaudois descendants will loom large over the political landscape of South Africa from the late 1700s until the 1950s. They are key among the men who made South Africa, for better or for worse.
A detailed paper on this little group of people may be downloaded from a webpage dedicated to this subject at God Bless the Good Ship China.
This article first appeared in Familia (Journal of the Genealogical Society of South Africa) Vol. 47, 2010, No. 1, but is substantially revised and updated in this fourth edition.