The Info List - Swellendam

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is the 4th oldest town[3] in the Republic of South Africa, a town with 17,537 inhabitants situated in the Western Cape
Western Cape
province. The town has over 50 provincial heritage sites, most of them buildings of Cape Dutch
Cape Dutch
architecture. Swellendam
is situated on the N2, approximately 220 km from both Cape Town
Cape Town
and George.


1 History 2 Famous pioneer families of Swellendam 3 Climate 4 Fauna and flora 5 Agriculture 6 Varia 7 Architecture 8 Coats of arms 9 Ukwanda Center for Rural Health 10 References 11 External links


Boer Republic of Swellendam
(red) and other Dutch territories around 1795

Historical states in present-day South Africa

before 1600

Kingdom of Mapungubwe
Kingdom of Mapungubwe
(1050–1270) Kingdom of Mutapa
Kingdom of Mutapa


Dutch Cape Colony
Dutch Cape Colony


Mthethwa Paramountcy
Mthethwa Paramountcy
(ca. 1780–1817) Ndwandwe
(ca. 1780–1817) Swellendam
(1795) Graaff-Reinet
(1795–96) Cape Colony
Cape Colony


Dutch Cape Colony
Dutch Cape Colony
(1802–06) Cape Colony
Cape Colony
(1806–1910) Waterboer's Land
Waterboer's Land
(1813–71) Zulu Kingdom
Zulu Kingdom
(1818–97) Adam Kok's Land
Adam Kok's Land
(1825–61) Winburg
(1836–44) Potchefstroom
(1837–48) Natalia Republic
Natalia Republic


South African Republic
South African Republic
(1852–1902) Orange Free State
Orange Free State
(1854–1902) Republic of Utrecht
Republic of Utrecht
(1854–58) Lydenburg Republic
Lydenburg Republic
(1856–60) Griqualand East
Griqualand East
(1861–79) Griqualand West
Griqualand West
(1870–80) Diggers' Republic (1870-71)


(1882–85) Goshen (1882–83) Nieuw Republiek (1884–88) Klein Vrystaat
Klein Vrystaat


Cape Colony
Cape Colony
(1652–1910) Union of South Africa
South Africa
(1910–61) Transkei
(1976–94) Bophuthatswana
(1977–94) Venda
(1979–94) Ciskei
(1981–94) Republic of South Africa
South Africa

South Africa
South Africa

v t e

Early travellers and explorers who visited the Cape in the 16th century traded with the Khoikhoi people
Khoikhoi people
who lived on these shores and in the interior. When the Dutch East India Company
Dutch East India Company
established a replenishment station at the Cape in 1652, trade continued inland as far as Swellendam. In 1743 Swellendam
was declared a magisterial district, the third oldest in South Africa, and was named after Governor Hendrik Swellengrebel, the first South African born Governor, and his wife, Helena Ten Damme. This outlying settlement soon became a gateway to the interior, and was visited by many famous explorers and travellers including François Le Vaillant
François Le Vaillant
(1781), Lady Anne Barnard
Lady Anne Barnard
(1798), William John Burchell
William John Burchell
(1815) and Thomas William Bowler
Thomas William Bowler
(1860). In time, a village was established beyond the Drostdy, where artisans including numerous wainwrights and traders settled. Swellendam
was the last outpost of Dutch civilisation on the eastern frontier and thus the services of the residents of the town were of utmost importance. By 1795 maladministration and inadequacies of the Dutch East India Company caused the long-suffering burghers of Swellendam
to revolt, and on 17 June 1795 they declared themselves a Republic. Hermanus
Steyn was appointed as President of the Republic of Swellendam. The burghers of Swellendam
started to call themselves "national burghers" – after the style of the French Revolution. However, the Republic was short-lived and was ended on 4 November 1795 when the Cape was occupied by the Kingdom of Great Britain.[4] With the arrival of British settlers in the early 19th century the Overberg boomed, and Swellendam
was soon the heart of the mercantile empire of Barry and Nephews, created by Joseph Barry, which dominated trade in the area up until 1870.[5] The Breede River
Breede River
is the only navigable river in South Africa[citation needed] and ships sailed 35 km up river to Malgas to unload and load merchandise. By the middle of the 19th century, the eastern districts had been colonised by the British settlers and Swellendam
was a thriving metropolis. The town served as a useful refreshment station on the long, slow journey up the coast. Today Swellendam
is a flourishing agricultural area, and has many attractive and historic buildings which serve as a reminder of its past. The first known sketch of Swellendam
was of the Drostdy, by Johannes Schumacher in 1776, when he accompanied the son of Governor Swellengrebel to the town. Today the Drostdy forms part of a museum complex that consist of several heritage sites, namely the Drostdy, the old Goal and Mayville. In June 2011, the Swellendam
Municipality area, which includes Barrydale, Suurbraak, Malgas, Infanta and Stormsvlei, re-declared itself a Republic. This republic is dedicated to the principles of the New South Africa, and celebrates rural life, racial harmony, respect for nature and wildlife, and aims to promote sustainability and an "unplugged" way of life for all to enjoy. Famous pioneer families of Swellendam[edit] Some of the well known families that settled in the region and have stayed for decades are the Barry family, the Moodies from Scotland, the Steyns, the Streicher family, the van Eedens, the Rothmanns, the Tomlinson and the Dunn family Climate[edit] The region has a predominantly Mediterranean climate. There are long summer days in January and February. During February and March, summer draws to a close, with prevailing South Easter winds. April and May are autumnal months, with milder days and occasional showers. June and July bring the Cape winter, with mild weather, rain and possible snow on the mountain tops. August and September are the start of spring. Fauna and flora[edit]

The Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve against the Langeberg

Three nature reserves are situated near Swellendam, Marloth Nature Reserve, Sanbona Wildlife Reserve and Bontebok
National Park. Bontebok National Park is where the rare bontebok was protected when it was close to extinction. The population has increased from 17 individuals in 1931 to a sustainable number today.[6] The area is botanically diverse with an abundance of wild flowers and fynbos. The 250ha indigenous forest at Grootvadersbosch is the most noteworthy in the southwestern Cape. Woods like these are rare to find in the Cape this far west of the Knysna forests. Wildlife such as the formerly endangered bontebok and Cape mountain zebra inhabit the area. Other species include bushbuck, klipspringer, grey rhebuck, Cape grysbok, baboon, mongoose, genet and the occasional leopard, as well as a species of ghost frog and a unique forest emperor butterfly. Over 200 bird species found near the town include waterfowl, the crowned eagle, black eagle, Narina trogon, paradise flycatcher and the Knysna woodpecker. Witsand, a small coastal town about 50 km from Swellendam, is one of the best whale viewing spots on the South coast as it is the largest whale nursery in South Africa.[citation needed] The town is situated at the foot of the Langeberg, and there are many hiking trails, ranging from day-walks to a 5 to 7-day trail. Agriculture[edit] Wheat, canola, oats, sheep and dairy farming is practised in the area. Sentraal-Suid Koöperasie
Sentraal-Suid Koöperasie
serves as a co-operative in the area. Varia[edit] May 2007 the Swellendam
VOR SWV 114.4 MHz was permanently withdrawn.[clarification needed] Architecture[edit]

Building of the Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk
Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk
in Swellendam.Also known as the "Wit Kerk" by locals

The Old Drostdy

A restored mill

JVDS House

Coats of arms[edit] Drostdy arms — In 1804, when the Cape Colony
Cape Colony
was ruled by the Batavian Republic, the government assigned armorial seals to each of the drostdyen, i.e. administrative districts. Swellendam
was given the arms of its founder, Hendrik Swellengrebel, namely a golden shield displaying a blue fleur de lis with a red band. An anchor was placed behind the shield.[7] The British authorities discontinued the drostdy seals in 1814, and replaced them with the royal coat of arms.[8] Municipality (1) — The town of Swellendam
established a municipality in 1843. Some time later, the town council decided to adopt the old drostdy arms (although it was not the legal successor to the drostdy). It mistook the fleur de lis for a sheaf of wheat, and thus actually created a new design.[9] Municipality (2) — In 1929, the town council learned that the Swellengrebel arms actually depicted a fleur de lis and not a sheaf of wheat. It changed the municipal arms accordingly.[9] Both arms were depicted on cigarette cards issued in 1931. Divisional council — The divisional council, i.e. the local authority for the rural areas outside the town, assumed its own coat of arms on 15 November 1974.[10] and registered it at the Bureau of Heraldry in October 1975.[11] The arms - Per pale Azure and Or, a fleur-de-lis and in chief two mullets of six points counterchanged, i.e. a shield divided vertically into blue and gold, and a fleur de lis below two six-pointed stars - were designed by Cornelis Pama. The crest was an anchor entwined with a grapevine with the motto Lucem spero. Ukwanda Center for Rural Health[edit] The Ukwanda Center for Rural Health, through its logistics arm aligns to the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS) strategy, with the overarching focus on health professional training and research with community engagement that is relevant to the South African context. Central to the vision of this ongoing commitment is the continuous training of healthcare professionals with applicable knowledge and hands on experience of the health issues facing rural and under served communities in South Africa. Ukwanda Center for Rural Health offers a unique opportunity to a few students where they can develop their clinical reasoning skills, diagnostic skills, perform many procedures and be exposed to the realities of rural medical practice through the Longitudinal Integrated Model. Swellendam
Hospital serves as one of the Longitudinal Integrated Model sites. References[edit]

^ "Chronological order of town establishment in South Africa
South Africa
based on Floyd (1960:20–26)" (PDF). pp. xlv–lii.  ^ a b c d "Main Place Swellendam". Census 2011.  ^ Floyd, TB (1960). "What are the Oldest Towns in South Africa?".  ^ "The Swellendam
Republic accepts British rule". South African History Online. Retrieved 7 August 2014.  ^ Rosenthal, Eric. 1978. Encyclopaedia of Southern Africa. Cape Town and Johannesburg: Juta and Company Limited ^ van der Walt, J.M.; L.H. Nel; A.R. Hoelzel (2001). "Characterization of major histocompatibility complex DRB diversity in the endemic South African antelope Damaliscus pygargus: a comparison in two subspecies with different demographic histories". Molecular Ecology. Blackwell Science. 10 (7): 1679–1688. doi:10.1046/j.0962-1083.2001.01321.x. PMID 11472536.  ^ Pama, C. (1965) Lions and Virgins. ^ Cape Town
Cape Town
Gazette 418 (15 January 1814). ^ a b Western Cape
Western Cape
Archives : Heraldic Information (CAD 1/2/16). ^ Western Cape
Western Cape
Archives : Swellendam
Divisional Council Minutes (15 November 1974). ^ http://www.national.archsrch.gov.za[permanent dead link]

History of Swellendam
on Xplorio

External links[edit]

Media related to Swellendam
at Wikimedia Commons Swellendam
travel guide from Wikivoyage History of Swellendam

v t e

Municipalities and communities of Overberg District Municipality, Western Cape

District seat: Bredasdorp

Cape Agulhas

Arniston Bredasdorp Elim Hotagterklip L'Agulhas Napier Protem Skipskop Struisbaai Suiderstrand


Baardskeerdersbos Betty's Bay Birkenhead De Kelders Fisherhaven Franskraalstrand Gansbaai Hawston Hermanus Kleinbaai Kleinmond Onrusrivier Pearly Beach Pringle Bay Rooi-Els Sandbaai Stanford Van Dyks Bay Vermont Wolvengat


Barrydale Infanta Malgas Stormsvlei Suurbraak Swellendam


Botrivier Caledon Dennehof Genadendal Grabouw Greyton Riviersonderend Villiersdorp

v t e

Boer Republics
Boer Republics
and Griqua States in Southern Africa
Southern Africa

Est. 1795–1830

Swellendam Graaff-Reinet Philippolis
/ Adam Kok's Land Waterboer's Land

Est. 1830–1840

Zoutpansberg Winburg Potchefstroom Winburg-Potchefstroom Natalia Republic

Est. 1840–1870

South African Republic Lydenburg Republic Orange Free State Utrecht Republic Griqualand East Griqualand West

Est. 1880–1902

Goshen Small Free State New Republic Stellaland United States of Stellaland Republic of Upingtonia
/ Lijdensrust

Authority control

WorldCat Identiti