A SH0RT ACC0UNT of The Lives of The Rev. JOHN PEARS M.A. and His Wife LOUISA ANN PEARS (nee ASHCRAFT) by their great-granddaughter Maude Everitt Moorshead - 1975
I meet my great-grandparents - Two coincidences -
Full thirty years ago a friend of mine, Sylvia Nourse, took me to spend a short holiday on the farm of her Uncle and Aunt - Jockie and Gertrude Pears. The farm was "Leeuwendraai", in Wolwehoek, O.F.S. There, on the wall of the passage opposite my room hung the portrait of an exceedingly good-looking young man, a Victorian gentleman. This was "Uncle" Jockie's grandfather and my great grandfather, the Rev. John Pears, aged about 30. A strange coincidence it was - for had Sylvia's Aunt not married my mother's cousin, I should probably never have met my handsome young ancestor. Indeed there was little resemblance between him and the rather grim-looking old gentleman whose photograph graces many a family album. Was there an amused recognition of me in those dark and dreamy eyes? Maybe. Anyway, I'm grateful to the fates-that-be for organizing that meeting - especially since that portrait has been lost!
My encounter with Louisa Ann, his wife, was almost an uncanny experience - a coincidence "stranger than fiction". One Sunday morning not long afterwards I accompanied another young friend, Clemency Symons, with whom I was spending a weekend, to the King William's Town Cemetery. We were not on the main path but "tacking" to the right towards her family plot. We were chatting of this, that and the other - when suddenly I stopped dead and swung round: The tombstone just behind me read:
LOUISA ANN Widow of the Revd JOHN PEARS
of the Dutch Reformed Church Somerset who
died at Frankfort on 1st February 1857, aged 68 years.
I took some of the flowers Clemency was carrying and placed them on my great grandmother's grave. Did she know I was passing by? Maybe.
Many many years later it was that I read in the Port Elizabeth Evening Post of Mr Birch's venture and I said to myself "I shall write the story of John and Louisa for the Somerset East Museum and incidentally, the family."
So I have and this is a summary of the account I have written.
John Pears, son of George and Mary Pears, was born in the village of Duns, Scotland, in 1790. (1)
Duns is renowned as being the home of John Duns Scotus, famous mediaeval philosopher. (2) (3)
Pears, originally Spiers, is a name connected with Scotland's "hero of heroes", Sir William Wallace. (4)
John Pears graduated at Edinburgh University with an M.A. degree in Classics. (5)
In 1817 he was the Schoolmaster at Abbotshall on the outskirts of Kirkcaldy.
Edward Irving, also a teacher, shared the upper floor of Abbotshall Schoolhouse with him. The two young men had one ambition - to become Presbyterian Ministers.
It was during this time that Edward Irving and John Pears often went hiking among the Scottish lakes and mountains with Thomas Carlyle, that famous, if eccentric, historian.
Thomas Carlyle, in the chapter on Edward Irving in his "Reminiscences", says of John Pears - "He was a cheerful, scatter-brained creature who went out ultimately as preacher or professor of something to the Cape of Good Hope." (6)
Shortly afterwards the two friends achieved their ambition and became Ministers in the Presbyterian Church. They preached in many Churches in both Scotland and England.
John Pears had been established for some years in Malings Rig Chapel, Sunderland, within the Presbytery of Newcastle-on-Tyne, when he accepted a Call to a Scottish Church at the Cape. (7)
Edward Irving's name became headlines when he was excommunicated for preaching the imminence of the Second Advent. He was one of the the group that founded the Catholic Apostolic Church, the adherents of which are often referred to as Irvingites.
He and John Pears corresponded regularly even when 6000 miles apart - until Irving's untimely death in 1834. (8)
Meanwhile in South Africa the 1820 Settlers were not finding life easy, placed as they had been between the existing Colony and the "Kaffirs" -
The Pringles, leaders of the Scottish group, had established themselves at Glen Lynden on the Baviaan's River. In 1828 they built a Church -
Thomas Pringle (most famous of them all) among others, was commissioned to find them a minister. He had but recently returned to Scotland
The choice fell on the Reverend John Pears. His (John's) was a difficult decision. He was popular and happy in his present Church, he was already 38 - and he was engaged to be married.
Was it the Call of Adventure as well as the Call of the Church that made him say "Yes"?
John Pears arrived in Cape Town on 3rd March, 1829, and reached Glen Lynden two months later. For a year he was with the Pringles sharing their joys, hardships and ever-present danger of the black men beyond the boundary. (9)
Almost exactly a year later he set out for Cape Town again to meet his bride-to-be, Louisa Ann Ashcraft of Bird-in-the-Hand Court, London. Louisa Ann was lovely to look at and courageous indeed to brave the perils of the high seas is a sailing ship - and thereafter to face a lifetime of unknown dangers in a savage land. She must have loved John Pears very much! (10)
Here is John Pears's own entry of the important event. "Cape Town. Cape of Good Hope, Southern Africa. 2nd day of June 1830. This day I was joined in Holy Wedlock to Louisa Ann Ashcraft elder daughter of Thomas Ashcraft Esquire by the Revd. Jas. Adamson D.D. in the Scotch Church Cape Town. Sgd. John Pears." (11)
She was 31 years of age and he 40 when they began life together in Cape Town. Fate had decreed that they would not travel to the troubled Eastern Cape for many years. It happened this way -
In October 1829, the "South African College and Zuid Afrikaansche Athenaeum" had been opened. There were three "Chairs" - Dr. James Adamson D.D. (Mathematics), Dr. Abraham Faure B.D. (Classics - Dutch) and Professor Edward Judge M.A. (Classics - English). (12) (13)
Before the commencement of the new year all three had resigned - Dr Adamson because of an accusation of tyranny, Dr. Faure owing to ill-health and Mr Judge because no Scripture appeared in the curriculum. (14a) (14b)
Dr Faure agreed to return if he was given an assistant (agreed) and Mr James Rose-Innes was summoned from Uitenhage and his flourishing school there to take the Chair of Mathematics. But who could occupy the third chair? (15)
When the Rev. John Pears providentially appeared in Cape Town to meet his bride he was offered the post and accepted.
The College was housed in the Orphans' House, Long Street - the orphans being moved to the rooms at the back!
For five years John Pears was Professor of Classics (English Section) with a salary of £200 p.a. supplemented by £2 per pupil per year. It was not much!
Louisa and John were probably very happy in Cape Town, the only "big" town in their new Homeland. There were 18000 inhabitants - 9000 whites, 3000 free blacks and 6000 slaves. Townspeople and burghers were well-to-do and gay.
There were numbers of small towns throughout the Colony but none had more than 1000 inhabitants.
During this time three daughters ware born to John and Louisa Pears. They were: Ann Christina (1st May, 1831). Louisa Harriet (6th September 1832) and Mary Georgina Magdalena (29th May 1834). John Pears recorded their births in his diary with many and profuse thanks to the Lord. Between the lines one can read his great desire for a son. (16)
Meanwhile the College had its ups and downs - and - in 1835 the numbers were so low that it was decided to halve the salaries of the Professors. John Pears, having already complained that the students' fees were sadly in arrears, could not afford to carry on.
He opened a private school in Buitencringel, Cape Town.
During this time (1836) a son, John Ashcraft, was born but he lived only 90 days.
Towards the end of 1836 he was approached by the Authorities in the Dutch Reformed Church to join their ranks - as so many Presbyterian Ministers had already done - among others, the Rev. Andrew Murray and the Rev. George Morgan. (17 )
John Pears accepted gladly as his school was not proving a success financially.
He was sent to Albany, on the borders of Kaffirland. The 6th Kaffir War had not long been over when 500 farms had been destroyed, their owners fleeing to Grahamstown. Now they were rebuilding their homes. (18)
The Pears family made many friends among the Settlers. (19)
In 1839 another son was born but he lived only a few minutes.
In 1839 John Pears was sent to Holland to learn the language of his adopted church - legend has it that he never learnt to speak Dutch well. (20)
Their sixth child, Emily Anna, was born at sea - she always said "in the Bay of Biscay" - on board "The Atlas".
When they returned, John Pears was sent as Predikant to Somerset (now called Somerset East) where he lived, at "The Parsonage", till he died in 1866.
The Parsonage was a beautiful Georgian House built by the Methodists in the 1820's and bought by the DRC in 1834. The Rev. George Morgan was the first DRC Minister to live there and the Rev. John Pears was the second. (21)
A beautiful Church was built in the Village of Somerset. Mr Hofmeyr (son of John Pears's successor) told me it was often used as an arsenal and shelter against the marauding blacks.
There was always trouble with the tribes across the Great Fish River - fighting, bartering, parlaying, retrieving stolen cattle and more fighting!
The Kaffir Wars continued - there was the War of the Axe (1846 - 1848) the 7th Kaffir War (1850 - 1853) the 8th Kaffir War in 1858 - all in John Pears's time. (The 9th and last Kaffir War was in 1879). (22)
Louisa Ann must have met the Pringles at last. Presumably they had long forgiven her husband for deserting them. Actually it was not till 1834 that they acquired a replacement. This was the Rev. Alexander Welsh, who mentioned in his diary the kindness of Mr Pears who met him in Cape Town. (23)
How was life at "The Parsonage"? John and Louisa Ann were at last able to live comfortably and when he died in 1866 his estate was valued at £3000, no mean amount in those days.
To crown their happiness on 4th February, 1845, George Ashcraft Pears was born. A son at last! (24)
John Pears had to cover many miles by cart or on horseback to minister to his widely spread flock.
Pearston was named after him. To quote Eric Rosenthal: "Pearston. Town in the Eastern Cape Province, established in 1859, and named after the Reverend John Pears, who ministered to the 1820 Settlers in Albany and later to the Dutch Reformed Congregation in Cradock" - he meant of course, Somerset East. (25)
Mrs Bertha Miles (nee Pears) who lives in Queenstown today, is the youngest child of George Ashcraft Pears and the only living grandchild of John and Louisa Pears. She has told me a number of interesting tales that her father once told to her -
It seems that one day John Pears was riding to Queenstown when he fell off his horse and broke a couple of ribs. He rode on his way, completed his mission, then rode back to Somerset East to have his hurt attended to!
Mrs Miles also showed me a charming gold brooch that had belonged to her grandmother. Louisa Ann had been wearing it when "The Waldensian" was wrecked off Struys Point in 1862. No lives were lost - but no possessions were saved. The superstitious sailors blamed the clergy on board for the disaster! The Pearses and a number of other Ministers and their wives were on their way to a Synod in Cape Town. (26)
For many years Louisa Ann Pears held a school for young ladies at the Parsonage, her four daughters forming the nucleus thereof no doubt. One of Dr Andrew Murray's daughters was a pupil. No doubt Louisa would have had the help of her husband, the erstwhile teacher and professor. It is said that he had much to do with helping his friend Dr William Gill to found Gill College (high school and University training centre for boys) though it was not officially opened until the year after he died in 1867.
What did Louisa Ann teach at her school as well as the 3 R's? Undoubtedly music, painting and fine needlework. We, her descendants, all have examples of her exquisite studies of flowers and birds. Bertha Miles has a fine portrait (in pencil) of Sir George Grey. My grandmother Ann Christina, their first born, was also no mean artist and she played the organ in the Church at Somerset East for many years.
I used to have a letter (in Dutch) thanking her for her services. It was sent to her on the occasion of her marriage to Alfred Murray.
A happy family grew up at The Parsonage and in time the Reverend John married his children to the children of other settlers round about.
In 1855 Ann Christina married Alfred Everitt Murray, a Land Surveyor. They had ten children, the youngest of whom Jessie Ashcraft Moorshead was my mother. In the middle 70's they settled in East London. (27)
Louisa Harriet married a Martinus Smuts Bergh. There were three daughters and a son. The daughters never married. I know not what became of the son. (28)
Mary Georgina Magdalena married John Tudhope, later the Hon. John Tudhope when he became a Member of Parliament and Colonial Secretary. There were eight children.
Emily Anna (she who was born at sea) married Will Anderson, a School Teacher. There were six children. (30)
George Ashcraft Pears married Jessie Rennie. He had been sent overseas to train for the ministry but had returned after a year to become, in time, a prosperous farmer. His only son John (Jockie) followed in his footsteps. There were three daughters: Totum, Lulu and Bertha who lives in Queenstown today with her daughter, Lel Filmer. Jockie also had only one son, Alan - but Alan, I believe, has more than one to carry on the name of Pears. (31)
The Rev. John Pears and his devoted wife Louisa Ann seem to have been loved and respected by all who knew them during the 25 years they lived and worked in Somerset East and the district around it.
In their joint will, drawn up by their son-in-law John Tudhope, the £3000 was left to be divided equally among the surviving spouse and the five children - except for £839 which had been settled on Louisa Ann when they were married in 1830. The survivor was to save usufruct. There is much more (ten pages in all) but that is the gist of it. The signature of John Pears is hardly legible. The date is only six days before that of his death. (32)
The Rev. John Pears died at The Parsonage, Somerset East on 18th June, 1866 and was buried in the DRC Church there. Above his burial place a tablet on the wall carries the only English words in the Church. It was placed there by his children. The tribute from his Congregation is elsewhere in the Kerk. (33)
Louisa Ann went to live with her eldest born, Ann Christina and her Surveyor husband, Alfred Murray. They were living at Frankfort then.
Great must have been her love for the man she had stood beside for thirty-six years for, it seems, she was unable to live without him.
She died five months later and was buried in the King William's Town Cemetery. The tombstone reads -
(Her John had been 75).
The inscriptions to John Pears in the Dutch Reformed Church in Somerset East are at the North West Entrance door and in the South-East Corner near the floor - above the place where we have always beers told he was buried - and indeed no other grave has been found.
The former is in Nederlands the other in English. The former was erected by the congregation the latter by his children -
These two lovely people had 5 children, about 30 grandchildren and over 100 great-grandchildren. Add to these the great-greats and great-great-greats and you'll find that John and Louisa Ann Pears, more than a hundred years later, have a goodly array of descendants in South Africa. Bless them.
Two years ago I read in the Port Elizabeth Evening Post that Mr K. Birch (with Government assistance) had bought "The Parsonage" in Somerset East in order to turn this gracious historical house into an Eastern Province Museum.
I have always regarded The Parsonage as a "sort of" ancestral home - because it was there that my great-grandparents spent the last 25 years of their lives.
That day I decided I would bring them to life again by finding out all I could about them and their times.
"No one is dead as long as someone remembers ----" I like these words from a contemporary play, don't you?
To start my research I had a handful of books - Vol I of The History of the South African College, John Bond's "They were South Africans", Eric Rosenthal's Encyclopaedia of Southern Africa -
Then I began to write letters and am very grateful to sundry friends and relations for their replies and interest.
I discovered an old friend (from Rhodian days) head of the Archives in Cape Town, Miss Joan Davies and she spent hours delving among historical records. An ex-pupil appeared as wife of the present Pringle of Glen Lynden. Mr K. Birch himself was encouraging -
My cousin, Helen Kernick, let me browse among her treasures one exciting week-end at Hermanus. Her mother had been a great collector of family "gen".
Interesting letters arrived from some distant relatives whom I've never met - among them Mr Edgar Tudhope of the Cape and Mrs Edith van der Merwe of Port Elizabeth. They are also great-grandchildren of John and Louisa.
I met for the first time my mother's cousin, dear Bertha Miles (now nearly 90) daughter of George Ashcraft Pears. She is the only living grandchild and her home is in Queenstown.
About a year ago Mrs Eileen Kent, descendant of Mary Georgina Magdalena and the Hon. John Tudhope, sent me a colour print and slide of a portrait of Louisa Ann herself. So I learnt for the first time that she was "lovely to look at" when she was young. Eileen also sent me a picture of a bird painted by Louisa and a recent photo of "The Parsonage" - there were also notes from the History of St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Cape Town, mentioning Glen Lynden, John Pears and all. In them it is stated that Carlyle and Irving were teachers at the Burgh School in Kircaldy while Pears was at the Abbotshall School there.
Jocky Pears was the proud possessor of the "twin" portrait, that of his grandfather John Pears. Unfortunately since his death, it has been mislaid. Luckily we have black and white snaps of it.
My mother sent a photograph of this portrait to Prof. Ritchie (author of the History of the South African College) to show what John Pears looked like when he was professor - not the aged and dour DRC Minister, the portrait of whom is in the book! They were a very handsome couple when they lived in Cape Town.
I received from the Cape Department of Nature Conservation (Report No. 29) their magazine containing the photo of the wedding of Christina Ann Pears to Alfred Everitt Murray (2nd Jan. 1855 - not 1854 as stated). The bride and groom are on either side of the big door of "The Parsonage" with Louisa Ann and the Rev. John Pears further along. A Cape Cart is waiting to take them on honeymoon! Even if one cannot make out the faces one can recognize wide crinolines and high top hats!
Last, but not least, I have found a new friend - Miss S. Erasmus, Secretary of the new Somerset East Museum (The Old Parsonage). We have had talks (long ones) on the telephone and her interest in the Pears family is so genuine that I have parted with quite a number of my treasures and have had photostats made of others for her.
It is mainly for her that I have written this rather long summary of the "book" which I have recently completed on Louisa Ann and the Rev. John Pears, last address "The Parsonage", Somerset East.
A very big "thank you" to all my friends and relations who have helped to re-incarnate two lovely people.
Notes of Interest
1. Mary Pears's maiden name was Anderson. I had this information from Mrs Pam Cole of Utah, U.S.A., a great-great-granddaughter of John and Louisa. In her I have found another member of the family really interested - actually, she found me!
2. I wrote to the Provost of Duns and in return he sent me a delightful brochure and half a dozen postcards of this interesting small town, the chief Burgh in Berwickshire, Scotland. In 1314 King Robert Bruce gave the land of Duns to Randolf, Earl of Moray, his nephew. That is but one of its stories.
3. A Cairn marks the spot where John Duns Scotus was born. Not long ago (1966) a beautiful bronze statue of him was given to the town by the Franciscan order of monks to commemorate the 700th Anniversary of his birth. He was one of them.
4. Legend has it that a certain "younger son" came to blows with his family, left home and changed his name from, Spiers to Pears. Another story goes back to 1312 when Scotland's "hero of heroes" Sir William Wallace was betrayed to the English and executed. His favourite property Elderslie on the Clyde went to his cousin Alexander Spiers. An ancestor? The Rev. John must have told the tale as his son George Ashcraft Pears named his first farm "Ellerslie".
5. Some say he went to Glascow University and others Aberdeen. Edinburgh is surely more likely as it is nearer to Duns.
6. Thomas Carlyle also says of John Pears that Edward Irving used to laughingly remind him that "Born i' Dunse" was like unto "Born a Dunce"!
7. John Pears seems to have held office it a number of towns, to whit Newcastle, Shields, Alnwick and Sunderland where he answered the call "to the Colony of Baviaan's River, Africa". He had a glowing testimonial from the Presbytery of Newcastle.
By a strange coincidence, on Christmas Day 1830, Edward Irving christened George Everitt Murray, in the National Scotch Church in London - the eldest son of Alfred Thurtell Murray and his wife Mary. George's brother Alfred (1832) would in 1855 marry Ann Christina Pears in South Africa.
9. I wonder why it took him so long. Did he tarry overlong in Cape Town? Did he go overland by wagon or by sailing ship to Algoa? Who knows?
10. We know little about she Ashcrafts (with an "a") - Louisa was the daughter of John Thomas Ashcraft and his wife had been a Miss Tongue. They had property in London called Bird-in-the-Hand Court but the family seams to have come originally from Dawlish near Exeter. There is a story of an unclaimed fortune (belonging to the Tongues) in Chancery! Something about a brooch belonging to the Andersons at Assegaai Bos and an advert in the News of the World! Nothing however came of the enquiry.
11. The Rev. Jas. Adamson always said the idea ot founding the South African Collage was his. He probably persuaded John Pears to join the Staff.
12. Note the College was not only the first Higher Education establishment but it was also the first to have "dual medium" tuition.
13. The accusation of tyranny that resulted in Dr Adamson's resignation is amusing to an ex-teacher. He accused a pupil of writing his own "reason for absence" note!
14a. Corporal punishment was not allowed at the Collage but there was talk of "building more cells" and a diet of bread and water for a fortnight! The crime for the latter is not recorded.
14b. It has been suggested that the Government gave no assistance to the College because Prof. Judge was a friend of the Governor.
15. James Rose-Innes was one of those dozen or so teachers sent out by order of Lord Chas. Somerset to teach English at the Cape as he had made English the official language of the Colony. Others were the Rev. Andrew Murray and Rev. George Morgan, Scottish ministers who became DRC Predikants.
l6. This recording of his marriage and the births of his seven children in John Pears's Diary tells a rather pathetic story of one who so badly wanted a son. He thanked the Lord with many words for his first three daughters and after his two baby sons died his wife took ever the recording -- as if he hadn't the heart to do so. However in 1845, a son was born at last. Louisa Ann was 46.
17. Rev. George Morgan, also a Scot, was the first DRC Minister at "The Parsonage".
18. Eric Rosenthal calls it the 4th Kaffir War but all others say 6th. About this time the Alfred Thurtell Murrays had settled at Salem on their farm "Layton". It was burnt down by the Kaffirs - twice I believe.
19. Eric Rosenthal speaks of John Pears ministering to the 1820 Settlers. He certainly knew the Murrays even then as he christened their youngest child Jane (Jinny) at Somerset East. Some fifteen years later their families would be united by the marriage of their eldest born to Alfred Everitt Murray, Surveyor.
20. Mrs Edith van der Merwe (nee Anderson) said her grandmother Emily Anna Anderson (nee Pears) loved to tell her grandchildren this story.
21. The original story that it was the house on Lord Charles Somerset's Experimental Farm and later "The Drostdy" evidently lacks foundation. Miss Erasmus assures me that it was built as Methodist Manse and Chapel.
22. Eric Rosenthal's facts and dates differ. He calls the 1835 War the 4th and makes 8 Kaffir wars in all. John Bond calls it the 6th and so do others.
23. The great grand-daughter of the Rev. Alexander Welsh, (the late Miss Joyce Welsh) was a personal friend of mine and a colleague at Cambridge High School. When she retired I took her place as Chief Secondary Assistant there. She used to say "we've been friends for over a century".
24. His birth is recorded in his mother's writing. Was his reverend father too overcome with joy to do so? Louisa Ann was 46 by this time and had been very ill before and after the difficult birth.
25. I wrote to Eric Rosenthal about this and he wrote a charming reply saying that the error would be corrected in the next edition of his Encyclopaedia.
26. I believe Lawrence Green has a chapter on wrecks, including this one, in one of his books - but I can't find out which book.
27. My mother, born in 1877, was the first baby christened in the Presbyterian Church on the West Bank, East London. She was guest of honour at their 75th anniversary. The 10 children were all at the Golden Wedding of Ann Christina and Alfred Everitt Murray in 1905.
28. I know but little of the Berghs though I knew "Cousin Amy" well. She was a delightful old lady - quiet, unassuming and she carried herself like a queen. My mother used to say that she had been the "plain Jane" who had done all the work while her beautiful sister "sat on a cushion and sewed a fine seam"!
29. Mr Edgar Tudhope told me that he was the son of Alfred Tudhope who was the son of John Tudhope who had married Mary Georgina Magdalena Pears. His Aunt Maribel played International Tennis when skirts swept the ground - an interesting fact as the Tudhopes of East London are "super" tennis players today.
30. I had forgotten that one of the Pears daughters had married an Anderson until one day my sister, Norah Gardner, who lived in Port Elizabeth sent me a cutting from their daily paper. It described the Golden Wedding of a Mr & Mrs van der Merwe. Mrs van der Merwe in an interview said she was a great-granddaughter of the Rev. John Pears - so I wrote to her.
31. George Ashcraft Pears eventually had a farm called "Leeuwendraai" near Wolwehoek in the O.F.S. It passed to his son Jockie - whom I met there (see preface). His nephew, Howlett Nourse, was here earlier this year and he said Alan had at least two sons, maybe three, so the name Pears will certainly carry on. Jockie's daughter Gwyneth Purdon lives in Port Elizabeth.
32. The shares to Ann Christina and Emily Anna were entailed! Were Surveyors and teachers not considered a good risk? If so, times don't change!
33. The Rev. Mr Hofmeyr showed these inscriptions to Mom and me. He was proud of the fact that in a hundred years there had been only three Predikants, my great grandfather Pears, his father and himself. He was disappointed that his son had elected to become a doctor and not a minister. I believe it was after his death that "The Parsonage" passed into other hands until bought back for Town and State by Mr Birch.
34. Mr Birch very kindly copied out these inscriptions for me - the one in Nederlands reads "Ter gedachtenis aan der WEL. EERW. HEER JOHN PEARS M.A. oorledende 18 de June 1866 in den oudendom 76 jare. Gedurende 26 jare Herderen Laeraer den Nederduitsche gereformeerde gemeente te Somerset opgeright door zyne gemeente die zyne nachtenis in eenhoudt".
35. So - it's good-bye to the Rev. John Pears and his lovely wife Louisa Ann. It's been great fun "getting to know you" - good-bye from one of your many great-grandchildren,
With love and respect
Maude Everitt Moorshead
Some extra notes made after re-reading my Pears correspondence -
Mr & Mrs Pringle both wrote lovely letters to me. Alan got a friend at Rhodes to unearth a lot of Pears data. I wonder if it was Professor Rennie who is connected with both the Pears and Pringle families? George Ashcraft Pears married Jessie Rennie.
Mavis told me that the original Church was still there with the original pulpit and all - but that it was no longer in use.
There is now an 1820 Settlers' Memorial Chapel on their farm Eildon. In 1970 (150 years' celebrations) the remains of Thomas Pringle were re-interred in the Chapel Vestry, having been brought from Bunning Fields, Scotland, where he died in 1834.
Mr Norman Anderson (retired Cape Town Bank Manager) has a "teething coral", engraved "L.A.A. 1799" - surely the oldest relic of all?
He also has a telegram from "Tudhope, Colonial Secretary" - appointing his father Sergeant of the Cape Mounted Police at Jansenville - at an increased salary of 5/- a day!
I was also interested to hear that his grandmother, Emily Anna (she who was born at sea) taught at her mother's School and she it was who admitted Maria, daughter of the Rev. Andrew Murray "if only for one year to further her studies". The Rev. Andrew Murray (Sen) had eleven children. He died in 1866 - the same year as John Pears.
Nowadays special trains are laid on when the Andrew Murrays celebrate Family Reunions in Graaff Reinet!
Many of the English Murrays (our tribe) farm in the Graaff Reinet district but the two families have never inter-married.
Edith van der Merwe (Mr Anderson's sister) has a framed "Head of Clorinda" (in helmet and flowing locks) -- a Jewess who fought in the Crusades. It is signed L.A. Pears 1849 and on the back in beautiful copperplate writing (presumably L.A.'s) are the words - "Proud were her looks yet sweet, though stern and stout."
Their grandmother (Emily Anna) was married by her father to Will Anderson (aged 23) in 1863, two years after he had come to Algoa Bay on the S.S. Salvia after a 72 day voyage. On his way inland by cart he had spent one night at "The Parsonage" where he'd met Miss Emily Pears. Love at first sight? He taught first at a farm called Swagger's Hoek, then in Graaff Reinet and finally at Gill College in Somerset East. Edith has his diary in which he mentions meeting Andrew Murray and other famous "South Africans" at the Parsonage.
Their father's sister, Emily Payne, had a Guest Farm at Assegaai Bush, near Port Elizabeth, and her daughter Enid after her. Emily Anna, their grandmother, died there and is buried in Humansdorp. Strangely enough I remember dropping in at Assengaai Bos to meet Enid, a relation of my mother's and I can remember a picture on the wall, done by Mrs Pears, an ancestor of mine! I was not very old but I was impressed. Edith remembers seeing a photo of Thomas Carlyle there.
She, Edith, is a true great-granddaughter of an intrepid great-grandmother. She made news headlines a year or so back when she passed her Driver's Licence Test at 77!
Dolly Stewart promised (years ago) to send me a photograph of the wedding of Ann Christina Pears to Alfred Everitt Murray in 1855. I'm still waiting! Luckily the print, which appeared in the Nature Conservation Magazine, is quite good.
Eileen Kent used to own a New Testament in French that had belonged to Louisa Ann. She presented it to the U.C.T. Library because of the Pears' association with S.A.C. (So French was on the curriculum of the Finishing School too!)
She says that the original portrait of Louisa Ann is owned by a Mrs Lucia Seale (nee Tudhope). The slide I have is of a copy painted by "Aggie" Tudhope. Jean Malan has it and also locket miniatures of John and Louisa. She and Eileen have some pieces of L.A.'s jewellery too I believe.
Eileen has sent an early picture of Simonstown by Louisa Ann Pears to the Africana Museum in Johannesburg.
Helen Kernick had a letter from Pam Cole (Utah U.S.A.) saying she had traced John Pears' parents - "On the 15th April 1785 George Pears of the Parish of Dunse was married to Mary Anderson of the Parish of Swinton" - there are records of the births of their daughters Agnes (1791) and Mary (1794) and James Pearce (1797) - but none of John! There must have been children between 1785 and 1791!
Helen also says our grandmother (Ann Christina Murray) used to tell her how she and her father (John Pears) used to ride over Bruintjies Hoogte Mountain to take services at Pearston. Granny played the organ, remember?
At last I have found out something about the Bergh family also from Helen. On the front page of an old Bible in her possession is written:
William Ferdinand 17th July 1861
Bertha Louisa 28th March 1863
Anne Catherine 8th May 1865 (Cousin Amy Irene was born in 1867)
Martinus Smuts Bergh died at Burghersdorp in 1868
Bertha Miles, only this week (mid June 1975) sent me an interesting photograph of John Pears in the midst of a number of Predikants and "Diakenen" - he being president. I have sent it on to Miss Erasmus. She'll probably be able to trace the other reverend gentlemen.
When I was staying with Bertha I read about Sir William Wallace and his favourite estate, Elderslie on the Clyde, in a old book called "Scottish Chieftans".
About her father, George Ashcraft Pears, she writes that, he was for a while at Edinburgh University. During the Boer War he was farming in the Queenstown district and only afterwards went to the O.F.S.
She says her mother, Jessie Rennie, (after whom my mother was named) was a pupil at Louisa Ann's School. Was that where she fixed things up with George?
Jessie Rennie's father (an 1820 Settler) married a half-sister of Thomas Pringle. Her name was "Haitlie". Bee's sister Totum was named after her (Haitlie Louisa). Why Haitlie?
Eric Rosenthal says of John Tudhope:
Sir John Tudhope: born in London of Scottish descent - mining pioneer - business man in King William's Town - came to S.A. in 1820 - in the Cabinet of Sir Thomas Upington - Colonial Secretary in 1885. (Why Sir John?)
Edgar Tudhope writes that the whole story of the Rev John Pears is to be found in the "Gedenboek van die N.G. Kerk, Somerset-Oos" - by the Rev A. Dreyer. There are a few conflicting facts - to whit - that he graduated at Aberdeen, that he was admitted to Mission Service in 1817, that he was sent by the D.R.C. to Grahamstown. They could all be true.
Edgar Tudhope was very fond of his Aunt Maribel, the international tennis star. She too was a true granddaughter of Louisa Ann. During the First World War, she travelled Third Class by Mailship to become a worker in a Munitions factory in Scotland. I wonder whose voyage between England and Africa (and visa versa) was the more uncomfortable.
Edgar also adds that John Pears was well-known for his learning and his interest in Current Affairs.
Field Marshall Smuts quoted him on the subject of "Veld Fires" and Brown (Gordon-Brown?) on Water Supplies, John Pears being a great believer in reservoirs and dams.
An interesting family indeed - the Pearses of the Parsonage.
M. E. M.
Links for More Information
Susan T. Miller's Genealogy Home Page
Index to pages with photographs
Family Group Sheet of Ann Christina Pears and Alfred Everitt Murray
Last updated October 9, 2000