Francois Viljoen

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Francois Viljoen (Villion)

Also Known As: "Viljon", "Fignon", "Francois Signon - as per Marriage records"
Birthplace: Clermont, Belgium
Death: November 28, 1690 (39-48)
Cape of Good Hope, Cape Province, South Africa
Place of Burial: Stellenbosch, Caap de Goede Hoop, Suid Afrika
Immediate Family:

Husband of Cornelia Pasman. Viljoen
Father of Pieter Viljoen; Johannes Viljoen; Elizabeth Human; Cornelia Du Preez; Francina Cloete (Viljoen) and 2 others

Occupation: Wagenmaker en Boer van Idasvallei, Stellenbosch, Stamvader, Wagon Maker
Label: LWV3-D35
Marriage: 17 May 1676
Place of birth: Wallonia, Belgium
Managed by: Danie Viljoen
Last Updated:

About Francois Viljoen

Semantics : If he was from modern day Belgium he's not a Huguenot...Huguenots were only by definition French Calvinists.
As to his religious affiliation, no primary sources could be found to support the widely held assumption that he was a French Huguenot.
Neither could any primary sources as yet been found to support the possibility that he was a Protestant Walloon, or that he belonged to any other specific religion for that matter.
If in fact he was from Belgium and not from France, the term French Huguenot can in any case not be applied to him.

.2. Latest evidence regarding Francois Viljoen’s origin

New evidence, based on a primary source, quite recently appeared and points in the direction of Limburg and/or Wallonia in modern day Belgium, rather than to France, as the origin of Francois Viljoen.

The entry reads as follows:


“Francois Vilion van Mazeijck voor soldaat ende Camer Amsterdam anno 1672 pr.'t Huijs te Velsen aangelant, en 1673 den 18 Augustij als wagenmaker vrij geworden” 5 Maaseik, is a town in the modern day Belgian province of Limburg within the predominantly Dutch speaking Flanders region. 6,7. The coordinates for Maaseik are 510 02’ 09’’ N and 50 46’ 45’’ E. 8 The marriage entry indicating that he was from Clermont, does not exclude Belgium as possible origin since there are a number of towns with the name of Clermont in Belgium, i.e. Clermont de Walcourt; Clermont-sous-Huy, Engis; Clermont/Thierry, Cour Lahaut, Blegny and Thimister-Clermont. All four are situated in the Belgian Walloon Province bordering on the Limburg Province. The distances between Maaseik and the different Clermonts in Belgium vary from approximately 35 – 130 KM. 9

François was die stamvader van die Viljoens in Suid-Afrika. Hy land in 1672 in die Kaap van Goeie Hoop en vestig hom as vryburger 18 Augustus 1763 in Kaapstad. Hy was die eerste Franssprekende in die Kaap, en dus ook die eerste Protestantse Hugenoot. Ontvang in 1682 op n plaas in die Idasvallei (Stellenbosch) (sien pyl op Google Maps) van goewerneur Simon van der Stel, waar hy boer tot sy afsterwe.

Sy van was Vignon of Signon gespel (voor 1678); later verander dit na Villion, en uiteindelik na Viljon en die hedendaagse Viljoen.

Viljoen Family Website 200909

Francois Villion (Viljoen) v. Clermont, Frankryk a. in Okt. 1670 as Franse Hugenote-vlugteling aan die Kaap v. Goeie Hoop, "vrij wagenmaker", later boer v. Idasvallei, Stellenbosch sterf Stellenbosch c. 1689 x Kaapstad 17.05.1676 Cornelia Campenaar gebore c. 1655 sterf Stellenbosch c. 1713, jongedogter v. Middelburg, Zeeland (sy trou weer Stellenbosch 14.04.1690, met Wemmer Pasman.

Francois Villion arrived in 1671 at the Cape of Good Hope as a Huguenot refugee, who came from Clermont, France.

He was the first French speaking person to set foot in South Africa. This was 22 years before the French Hugenots arrived in 1688. In 1688 he was awarded a farm in the Idasvallei in the Stellenbosch district. The deed was dated 1692, already after his death. The farm was inherited by his wife.

His occupation is first given as that of "free wagonmaker", and later "Free Burgher" (free farmer). He was married in Cape Town on 1676.05.17 to Cornelia Campenaar, a young girl from Middelburg, Netherlands. In 1682 they received the farm Ida's Valley near Stellenbosch from Governor Simon van der Stel, where Francois Villion farmed until his death in 1689. The surname was initially spelled Villion (also Villon), and was later changed to the present spelling of Viljoen.

It is not quite certain from which town of Clermont Francois Villion originated, since there are a few towns in France with this name. The best known Clermont is situated 60 km north of Paris in the province Ile de France, and it is generally regarded to be his town of origin. All the Protestant church records were destroyed during the persecution of the Huguenots after revoking the Edict of Nantes in 1685, and therefore no baptismal records are available to confirm the facts.

Francois Villion fled France even before the Edict of Nantes was revoked in 1685, and which resulted in the large scale persecution of the Huguenots. Their persecution already increased in intensity as early as 1610, and large numbers had to flee from France for their lives even before the Edict of Nantes was revoked.

Francois Villion was in fact the first Huguenot who settled at the Cape of Good Hope permanently. (Maria de la Quellerie, the wife of Jan van Riebeeck who founded the Dutch settlement at the Cape of Good Hope in 1652, was also a Huguenot, but she left with her husband and family in 1662). Other early Huguenot arrivals (i.e. before the organised large scale immigration of 1688 - 1689) were the brothers François and Guillaume du Toit in 1685).

The large scale persecution of the Huguenots started in 1685, as a result of which some 180 fled to the Cape of Good Hope in 1688/89. Larger numbers emigrated to England, America, Germany, Switzerland, etc.

Francois Villion went to the Cape of Good Hope via the Netherlands in 1671. It is believed that he met his future wife, Cornelia Campenaar, whilst waiting for a passage in Middelburg, Netherlands, which was a harbour city at that time. She followed him to Cape Town five years later, where they were married in 1676 (the fifth marriage at the Cape according to the Viljoen Familieregister, HC Viljoen, RGN, Pretoria, 1978).

Six children were born from their marriage, four in Cape Town and two on the family farm in the Ida's Valley near Stellenbosch. Two sons, namely Henning and Johannes Viljoen, propagated the Viljoen surname. When the progenitor died in 1689, his widow Cornelia was left behind with six children (of ages 12, 11, 7, 5, 3 and 1 year old respectively). The youngest, Francina, was named after her father (who probably passed away even before her birth). As a widow Cornelia remarried Wemmer Pasman on 1690.04.14, with whom she had three more children.


Francois Villion(Viljoen) van Clermont arriveer in 1671 aan die Kaap. In die registers word die naam voor 1678 Vignon gespel, daarna Villion, vandag is dit Viljoen.


Geslagregister van Vroeë Kaapse families.

Cor Pama

VILLION, No mention in Distribution List 1690, but in the list of families in the Cape District 1692 is the ‘widow of Francois VILLION, with two children.’ There is in the Cape Town Church Books a marriage entry in May 1676, of Francois FIGNON, bachelor of Claremont, free burgher, and Cornelia CAMPENAAR, spinster of Middleburg. In the baptismal entries of the children of this couple the surname is mostly spelt ‘VILLION.’ The name is now generally written ‘VILJOEN,’ and there are now numerous descendants of this couple.


v. Clermont, Frankryk a. in Okkt 1670 as Franse Hugenote-vlugteling aan die Kaap v Goeie Hoop "vrij wagenmaker" later boer in Idasvallei, Stellenbosch

Aankoms Oktober 1670 as Franse Hugenote-vlugteling aan die Kaap

Stamvader van Viljoensin Suid Afrika. arriveer indie Kaap van Goeie Hoop vanaf Frankryk in 1671 as amptenaar van die HOIK. Vestig hom op n plaas in die Idas Vallei, Stellenbosch

Francois Viljoen in Boucher

A Cape settler whose original home continues to elude certain identification may possibly have come from Dauphine. Francois Villion reached the Cape in 1671. He was from Cleimont, a French place-name of frequent occurrence. However the surname appears among refugees from this region in the United Provinces and Switzerland. Was Francois Villion perhaps from Clermont in the Terres froides north of Grenoble, or from Monestier-de-Clermont south of the provincial capital?
• M. Boucher.M (1981). French speakers at the Cape: The European Background. Pretoria, UNISA: Ch 7: Cape Settlers III: from South-Eastern France and Adjoining Territories p182

  • Immigration: Francois VILLION (later Viljoen) arrives in 1671 at the Kaap van Goeie Hoop as a "vrij wagenmaker" from Clérmont, France as the first French Huguenot "vlugteling" that established himself in the Cape. - 1671 - Kaap de Goede Hoop, Kaapstad, Suid Afrika
  • Residence: Stellenbosch, Caap de Goede Hoop, Suid Afrika

Born in Belgium about 1646. Even before the large-scale arrival of the Huguenots at the Cape of Good Hope in the 17th century, a small number of individual Huguenot refugees settled there. They included Francois Villion, later known as Viljoen, and the du Toit brothers. In fact, the first Huguenot to arrive at the Cape of Good Hope was Maria de la Quellerie, the wife of governor Jan van Riebeeck, who started the settlement at the Cape of Good Hope in 1652 on behalf of the Dutch East India Company; however, she and her husband left for Batavia after ten years.

                                                                                               *********** Some additional information about the ship he sailed on and his registration in VOC records

Francois Villion Viljoen Family Progenitor - a1

b: abt 1645-1651, likely in Clermont near Mazeijck, Spanish Netherlands Present day: Maaseik, Limburg, Belgium

m: 17 May 1676, Cape of Good Hope Nederduitsch Gereformeerde Kerk, Cape Town

d: between 1 Feb 1688 - 14 Apr 1690, Stellenbosch, Cape of Good Hope

Family Wife: Cornelia Campenaar (abt 1653 - 1713)


Pieter (1677 - abt 1713)

Anna (1678 - 1713)

Henning (1682 - 1713)

Johannes (1684 - 1713)

Cornelia (1686 - )

Francina (1689 - )

Life 11 Oct 1671: Departed Texel, near Amsterdam on the ship 't Huis te Velsen.

23 May 1672: Arrived at the Cape of Good Hope on the ship 't Huis te Velsen (Recorded in the Vrijboek of 1681)

18 Aug 1673: Became a free burger, occupation: wagenmaker. (Recorded in the Vrijboek of 1681)

1674: Recorded on the yearly list of free burgers.

1675: Recorded on the yearly list of free burgers.

17 May 1676: Married Cornelia Campenaar. Francois was recorded as a bachelor from Clermont and Cornelia a spinster from Middelburgh.

7 Feb 1677: Baptism of son Pieter.

1677: Recorded on the yearly list of free burgers, with wife (Cornelia) and one child (Pieter).

19 May 1678: Baptism of daughter Anna.

1678: Recorded on the yearly list of free burgers, with wife (Cornelia) and one child (Pieter).

8-9 Apr 1679: Recorded on a list of free burgers, with wife Cornelia, one son (Pieter), one daughter (Anna), and two male slaves.

1679: Recorded on the yearly list of free burgers, with wife (Cornelia) and two children (Pieter and Anna).

8 Mar 1682: Baptism of son Henning.

1682: Recorded on the yearly list of free burgers, with wife (Cornelia).

24 Sep 1684: Baptism of son Johannes.

1685: Recorded on the yearly list of free burgers, with wife (Cornelia) and four children (Pieter, Anna, Henning, and Johannes) in the district of Stellenbosch.

13 Oct 1686: Baptism of daughter Cornelia.

1686: Recorded on the yearly list of free burgers, with wife (Cornelia).

1 Feb 1688: Witness at the baptism of Antonij Jansz.

24 Apr 1689: Baptism of daughter Francina at Stellenbosch.

14 Apr 1690: Widow Cornelia remarried.

Additional Resources Francois Villion's page on the Stamouers and Fifty First Years websites.

Ship information. Characteristics

Build built in 1667 for the Chamber of Amsterdam at the VOC shipyard in Amsterdam Use in use by the VOC from 1667 to 22/05/1682 (perished, Ternate?) Length 145 feet Width 34.5 feet Cavity 15 feet Load capacity 375 load (750 tons) Crew 184-225 cups


On the homeward voyage in 1674, the ship carried French prisoners of war. The ship was returned to the Company on April 21, 1676. "President of the Huijs te Velze after finding the camera good". This remark is in the List and the only voyage mentioned is the departure of September 14, 1676. Wrecked on a reef (near Ternate?) On May 22, 1682.

Travel data Travel data

	leave on	from	to	arrival at	room	skipper 	23/10/1667	Texel	Batavia	07/26/1668	Amsterdam	Pieter Jansz. Post mouse
	 through:	Cape of Good Hope	from 03/18/1668 to 04/19/1668 	01/12/1668	Batavia	Texel	06/30/1669	Amsterdam	Jan Hendriksz. Kim
	 through:	Cape of Good Hope	from 02/25/1669 to 03/24/1669 	07/12/1669	Texel	Ceylon	06/22/1670	Amsterdam	
	 through:	Cape of Good Hope	from 21/03/1670 to 01/04/1670 	07/12/1670	Ceylon	Texel	06/15/1671	Amsterdam	Sieuwert Roos
	 through:	Cape of Good Hope	from 11/02/1671 to 26/02/1671 	11/10/1671	Texel	Batavia	05/23/1672	Amsterdam	Sieuwert Roos
	 through:	San Tiago (Cape Verde)	
	Cape of Good Hope	from 02/14/1672 to 03/02/1672
	On the homeward voyage in 1674, the ship carried French prisoners of war. The ship was returned to the Company on April 21, 1676. 	09/14/1676	Texel	Tuticorin	06/10/1677	Amsterdam	Hendrik Bommer
	 through:	Cape of Good Hope	from 02/18/1677 to 03/09/1677 	12/31/1677	Ceylon	Texel	09/22/1678	Amsterdam	
	 through:	Cape of Good Hope	not affected 	07/06/1679	Texel	Batavia	12/14/1679	Enkhuizen	
	 through:	Cape of Good Hope	from 09/22/1679 to unknown


• Dam, Pieter, 1927. Beschrijvinge of the East India Company, First Book, Part I . - The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1927. - 772 p., [nl] • RGP-GS166, 1979. Dutch-Asiatic Shipping in the 17th and 18th centuries, Volume II, Outward-bound voyages from the Netherlands to Asia and the Cape (1595-1794) . - The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1979. - 765 p., [En] - ISBN 90-247-2270-5 • RGP-GS167, 1979. Dutch-Asiatic Shipping in the 17th and 18th centuries, Volume III, Homeward-bound voyages from Asia and the Cape to the Netherlands (1597-1795) . - The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1979. - 626 p., [En] - 90-247-2282-9

About the sailing port on the island of Texel in the Netherlands

The Rede van Texel, formerly Reede van Texel, was a roadstead off the Dutch island of Texel. It was of considerable importance to Dutch long-distance shipping between roughly 1500 and 1800.[1] The Rede van Texel was located off the east side of the island, near the town of Oudeschild.

Nederlandse schepen op de rede van Texel, a 1671 painting by Ludolf Bakhuizen Contents Functions At the roadstead ships from cities around the Zuiderzee safely anchored and waited for favourable sailing conditions, hired pilots and picked up provisions and sometimes parts of the crew. A lot of transloading was done at the Rede van Texel, as the shoals of the Zuiderzee prevented most ships from sailing to and from their ports fully laden.

The ships anchoring at the Rede van Texel, sometimes up to 150 together, were mainly merchantmen, most notably from the Dutch East India Company, but also whalers and war ships. For the island of Texel the roadstead meant a substantial source of income.

Safety The safety that the roadstead provided was only relative. Frequently storms would damage or sink ships, sometimes dozens in one day.[2] Some 44 fully laden merchantmen were lost on Christmas Eve 1593, littering the east coast of Texel with bodies and wreckage.[2] The Dutch merchant and poet Roemer Visscher suffered a sizeable loss that night and named his third daughter Maria Tesselschade (Texel Damage) after the disaster. In December 1660 upwards of 100 ships may have been lost in a storm at the Rede van Texel.[2] It is estimated that a total of between 500 and 1000 ships were sunk at the roadstead.[2]

In 1574 William the Silent had a fort built near Oudeschild to protect the Rede van Texel, which must have been one of the busiest ports at the time.[1]

Decline Edit In the course of the nineteenth century the Rede van Texel lost most of its purpose. Both the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War and the French occupation had already been disastrous for Dutch merchant shipping, with a decline of activity at the roadstead in its wake. This was followed by the opening of the Noordhollandsch Kanaal in 1824, bypassing Texel to some extent, and the introduction of the steamship, which didn't have to wait for favourable winds. The opening of the North Sea Canal finished what was left of the roadstead, as ships bypassed Texel altogether.

Sources Edit (in Dutch) Vos, A.D. (2012); Onderwaterarcheologie op de Rede van Texel, Nederlandse Archeologische Rapporten 041 (Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed, Amersfoort), p. 37-47.

(in Dutch) Fort De Schans op Texel (ca.1574),, 18 July 2017.
(in Dutch) Onderwaterarcheologie op de Rede van Texel, maritiem, 27 August 2015.
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Francois Viljoen's Timeline

Clermont, Belgium
Age 5
Clermont, Belgium
Age 25
France to South Africa
Age 25
Clermont, France
Age 30
Farm "Idasvallei", Stellenbosch, Cape Province

The location of the farm can be seen in Google Maps (at the arrow):,18.887679&ll=-33.9198...
The precise location of the original housing as well as the size of the original farm will obviously be different to what we see here today.

February 7, 1677
Kaapstad, Caap de Goede Hoop, Suid Afrika
May 19, 1678
Land van Waveren, Cape of Good Hope, South Africa
March 8, 1682
Stellenbosch, Caap de Goede Hoop, Suid Afrika
September 24, 1684
Caap de Goede Hoop, Suid Afrika