Groot Matewis Schilpadbeen (Eng: Matthew Senior of Tortoise Leg) was the owner of the historical farm Schilpadbeen – the farm for which we name him as per the culture of that part of the world. His proper formal name was Mattheus Booyens, the only Booyens grandson of the progenitor of the family in South Africa whose bloodline is still functional in the country. In his own generation no other Booyens man in South Africa had any children. In AmaBhulu he provides us with several of the men who we later follow through the Great Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902.
In this work, we trace Matewis’ earliest known ancestor, Joen Peter Boyens, to the tiny village of Katharinenheerd in the Eiderstedt Peninsula of 1670s Denmark. Pieter, the progenitor of the family in South Africa, is born to Joen and his wife Brechje in 1695 in the Dutch port of Blokzijl, shown above. Both Pieter and his father turn up at the Cape of Good Hope in the period 1710-1712. Father Joen is given leave from the Dutch East India Company to work for the retired Governor Simon van der Stel. We follow the family from Katharinenheerd to the bone dry gravel country of the Eastern limits of the Cape of Good Hope, where Pieter’s son and grandsons are listed in the local muster rolls and in the Militia by the late 1780s and 1790s.
Groot Matewis of the farm Schilpadbeen (shown above) and his progeny return in AmaBhulu. In that work we learn more about how the sons strike out north from the family home in the southern semi-desert of South Africa. They settle in the two 19th Century Boer Republics of the Orange Free State and the Transvaal to become cattle and corn farmers minding their own business. When the British Empire sets its sights on the gold discovered in the Transvaal, their lives fall apart as they are forced to fight the Superpower of the day. They eventually surrender and are shipped to the miserable island of St. Helena as prisoners of war – the same place Napoleon died in British captivity. Other Booyens family members lose their entire immediate families in the British Concentration Camps.
A comprehensive paper on the subject of the early Booyens family in South Africa and their European origins may be downloaded HERE.
This work was published in Familia (Journal of the Genealogical Society of South Africa) Vol 50, 2013, No. 1, p.3