Francois Retif, SV/PROG

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Francois Retif, SV/PROG

Afrikaans: Retief, SV/PROG
Also Known As: "Rétif", "Retiff", "Retif", "Retief"
Birthplace: Mer, Blois, Loir-Et-Cher, France
Death: September 24, 1721 (58)
Paarl, Caap de Goede Hoop, Suid Afrika
Immediate Family:

Son of Jacques Retif; Debora Retif and Debora Retif
Husband of Marie Mouy, SM
Father of Maria Rousseau, b1; Anna Hugo, b2; Jacques Retief, b3; Francois Retief; Pierre Retief, (b5) and 4 others
Brother of Anne Hanna Rossouw

Occupation: Boer- Wagenmakersvallei- La Paris Klein Drakenstein
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Francois Retif, SV/PROG

A brief look into the history of the farm Welvanpas


The very first owner of Welvanpas was a widower, the Huguenot Pierre Mouij. He had fled form St Armant in Calais with his wife and baby at the time of persecutions in France. They may have had several more children, but all we know is that when he came out to the Cape on the Donkervliet, he was a widower with two young daughters.

Donkervliet entered Table Bay in full sail on a cold July day in 1966. His daughter Mary was destined to become our “volksmoeder” [founding mother]

The locals called Pierre “Pieter”. He had to put up a fight for a certain portion of rich level land when his neighbor, Jan Louwrens tried to oust him in order to enlarge his portion. To cut a long story short, De Krakeelhoek, the name Pierre gave his farm, was formally granted to him in 1705. De Krakeelhoek means struggle or twist in Dutch, a name he gave probably because of his heated altercation with Jan Louwrens. The farms name changed later to Welvanpas, which means “well suited”.

Francois Retief was farming on his own on La Paris, when he met the Mouij family. It is likely to have been at a church gathering. Not long after they met, did Francois asked for the hand of Marie, the eldest daughter of Pierre Mouij. They married on 2 May 1700, two weeks before her 15th birthday. He was 37 years old. Francois and Marie became the founders of the Retief family in South Africa. They lived on La Paris in Drakenstein near Wemmershoek.

It was the third generation Retief, Jacobus who bought back Welvanpas, his great grandfather’s farm in 1780. He and Deborah, his wife gave birth to Piet Retief, the great Voortrekker leader. He stayed on Welvanpas until the age of 26.

The farm is steeped in history as shown by the grandfather clock in the main house, which belonged to Jacobus Retief.

The farm was handed down the family line from consecutive father to son, giving the business a unique consistency. It’s been in the family for for more than 305 years!

The history of the farm was recently captured in a book by a family member Helene Lombard, sister of Dan’s father and is called “The chronicles of De Krakeelhoek.”

She wrote “My need to write down the story of our farm has always been there in the background and some of the notes for this book were written in the diary I kept when I was a teenager. I imagined my father would always be there to tell me more, but when I was 25 years old , he died unexpectedly and I had missed the opportunity to record countless anecdotes about Welvanpas and its people. It was until I was in my fifties (around 1983) and my children was leaving home, that I seriously started to collect stories and taped people like my mother, my brother, Oom Kowie Rossouw of Wellington and Oom Jan Bosman of Lelienfontein, who all contributed priceless information.” (Helene)

The chronicles of De Krakeelhoek, is available to the public in cd form. For more information please contact Dan or Retha Retief.

Jacobus Retief was a farmer near Wellington, his original farm was called “Soetendal”. He also bought the farm “Welvanpas”, formerly known as “De Krakeelhoek” which belonged to his grandmother Maria Mouij, of whom presently. He had eleven children. His father, Francois Retief, was the eldest son of the founding father of the Retief clan in South Africa, Hugenot emigrant Francois Retif Snr. (1663-1721). This Francois Retief fled Mer in Blois, France during the recriminations of King Louis XIV with his young sister to Holland. Since the Dutch were looking for settlers for the Cape, they joined and arrived in Cape Town in 1688. He bought a farm and called it “Le Paris” on the northern banks of the Berg River near Wemmershoek. He married Maria Mouij, (1685-?, daughter of Pierre Mouij, also of France.), 23 years his junior.

1st Gen. Stamouer Francois RETIF

Francois Retif was born 2 February 1663 in Mer, along the Loire river in France Mer is a small tow about 15kms from Blois, a major centre in the Loire valley. When the Edict of Nantes was revoked by Louis XIV in 1685 the persecution of Protestant Huguenots intensified and Francois and his siSter Anne fled first to Holland and then to the Cape.They probably came via Switzerland, because he was recorded on arrival at the Cape as 'francois retijff d’Switser'.

When Francois and his sister Anne left France they would have been 17 and 13 respectively at the tie. As refugees, an invitation to emigrate to the Cape with a Mediterranean climate and the prospect of their own land would have been attractive, and they undertook the perilous journey to the Cape. They embarked on the fluteship Borssenburg at Texel, an island off Holland on a bitter 6 January in 1688, and arrived at the Cape about 4 months later on 12 May, a beautiful autumn day. Governor Simon van der Stel allocated farms of 60 morgen (3) in the Drakenstein valley. A year earlier land was allocated in that area to Dutch locals and the French refugees received what was left, which was not good for farming. Much of the land was rocky or swampy and of the 60 morgen often only about six could be tilled. Being unmarried Francois received less assistance than married couples – he had to share a plough, an iron pot, lead, rifles and shot for hunting and basics for the kitchen. He erected a basic structure of wattle and daub with a thatch roof and no glass for windows. The land had to be cleared for crops and they had to contend with marauding locusts, baboons, hippos, trampling crops at night and ‘wolves’(hyenas) raiding livestock. Life was not easy. About a year after their arrival, Anne Retif married Pierre Rousseau who had also been a passenger on the Borssenburg and who came from Mer or a neighbouring town, Menars-la-Ville. The new minister, dominie Simond took up the plight of the Huguenots with the governor, and they were allocated new and better land on both sides of the Berg River. Francois and his sister Anne and her husband had adjoining farms, which they called La Paris and L’Arc d’Orleans. Nostalgic and somewhat grand names for what was at that stage very humble settlements. In 1699, eleven years after Francois and Anne came to the Cape, Pierre Mouy and his two young daughters, Marié 14, and Jeanne 13, arrived in the Donkervliet in Table Bay. Pierre looked for a place of his own and, as a relatively late‐comer, had to move deeper into the mountain valley where, close to the Val du Charron, or Wagenmakersvallei he found suitable land watered by a constant stream from the Hawequa Mountains. Governor Willem Adriaan van der Stel allocated the land but soon Pierre was in strife with a counter claim from neighbour Jan Lourens of Rostock. The dispute was eventually settled and Pierre named his farm De Krakeelhoek . (At a later stage the Retief family acquired this farm, which by then was called Welvanpas.)



Francois RETIEF or RETIF, fr. Mer, nr, Blois (France), b. 2.2.1683. Arr. 1688, later farmer in Wagenmakersvalley (now Wellington), d. 24.9.1721. Marr. 2.5.1700 Maria MOUY, b. 15.5.1685, d. 21.9.1758 (9 children).

Source: Heraldry of South African Families / Coats of arms, crests, ancestry. C. PAMA and A. A. BALKEMA. Pg. 248.

Added by Y. DROST, 17 JAN 2013.


? paul retif son but hes a rousseau.......

In Mer too lived Jeanne Bourdon and her merchant husband, Isaac le Roux de Pommegorge. The Fouchers and the Bourdons were related. Philippe Foucher was attended at his wedding in 1677 by his uncle Etienne Bruere and his cousin, Jean Bourdon, usher at Mer. Amsterdam records also suggest a link between the Bourdons and the Basches. One of the Blois pastors, appointed in 1660, was Michel Janigon, later to serve at Utrecht. John Locke met him in 1678 and found him “a very ingenious and civil man”. Although they did not travel on the Voorschooten, the refugees Pierre Rousseau, Frangois Retif and his sister Anne Retif reached the Cape in 1688. All were members of the Mer congregation, but their parentage is uncertain. These were closely linked families and for the most part vine-dressers, although there was a surgeon Daniel Rousseau at Mer, while Jacques Rousseau, a royal usher, was a leading member of the consistory in 1668 and 1669.97 Those with vineyards included Daniel Rousseau and Marie Retif at Suevres, perhaps the parents of Pierre, who was born about the year 1666. Marie Retif died in 1682. It is worthy of note that Philippe Foucher stood godfather to Marthe, daughter of Daniel Rousseau and his wife, in July 1671. Two other vine-dressers were Jean Rousseau of Mer, married to Madeleine Retif, and Paul Retif of Aunay, whose wife was Frangoise Rousseau. Frangois Retif, born on February 2, 1663, may possibly have been the son of Jacques Retif, whose father Paul, the Aunay cultivator, died on September 8, 1677 at the age of some seventy-five years. There was also a Pierre Retif at Aunay. It seems probable that Pierre Rousseau's marriage to Anne Retif took place at Drakenstein and that he was not the refugee at Zierikzee in Zeeland who, with a young daughter, was helped by the Walloon church authorities in the winter of 1687-1688. This Pierre Rousseau was too poor to pay for shoe repairs. A Pierre Rousseau abjured with three of his children at Delft on December 7, 1687. No trace of the Marie Rousseau of Blois who came to the Cape has been found, if this indeed is the correct version of her surname, while the Cape burgher Frederik Roussouw, more properly Pieter de Wit, is not connected with the Rousseaus of the Blesois.

  • M. Boucher (1981). French speakers at the Cape: The European Background. Pretoria, UNISA: Ch 5: Cape settlers I: from the Loire to the Channel
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Francois Retif, SV/PROG's Timeline

February 2, 1663
Mer, Blois, Loir-Et-Cher, France
May 16, 1702
Drakenstein, Caap de Goede Hoop, Suid Afrika
October 29, 1704
Paarl, Cape, South Africa
October 16, 1706
Wellington, City Of Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa
April 7, 1708
Caap de Goede Hoop, Suid Afrika
November 13, 1710
Caap de Goede Hoop, Suid Afrika
May 27, 1714
Drakenstein, Kaap de Goede Hoop, Suid Afrika
December 13, 1716
Cape, South Africa
February 1, 1719
Caap de Goede Hoop, Suid Afrika