Arrival of the 1820 Settlers

Arrival of the 1820 Settlers

In 1826, after travelling to Port Frances to visit her young sister Sophie, Kate Pigot wrote:

Port Frances, I must own, is the loneliest, barrenest village imaginable, not above a dozen houses and these, small cottages of rough stone with thatched roofs.”

Katherine was the eldest daughter of Major George Pigot, an 1820 settler, who, on arrival in Albany, was granted a settlement at Blaauwkrantz, which he named Pigot Park.

Sophie was married in 1825 to Donald Moodie, the appointed civil commissioner for Port Frances.

The above observation was made only six years after the arrival of the 1820 settlers in Algoa Bay early in April 1820. This was the culmination of a long process of selection in Great Britain. Originally about 90000 applications were received for consideration under the Government-Aided Emigration Scheme. People were desperate to get out of the UK for reasons military (the Napoleonic Wars had just ended) and economic (the Industrial Revolution was in full swing, making many jobs obsolete).

Of these original 90000 applicants, only 4000 got the nod and they were organised in parties under a Party Leader to be shipped out to the Cape Colony, where they were promised parkland conditions in rolling countryside. After landing, they were taken by ox wagon to their destination: the Zuurveld (named after its sour grass) in Lower Albany or, roughly the area between the Fish  and Sunday Rivers.

Only about 1000 settlers remained behind on the allotted farms; the rest could not cope with harsh life on the farms, failing crops and marauding cattle thieves. They went to Grahamstown to take up a trade or moved out of the area altogether.

These were the pioneers in our area and many of the names still occur, carrying on a proud line of settler and farming tradition.