28 December 2010

De Buys' in the Boer War Concentration Camps

The Boer Wars (known in Afrikaans as Vryheidsoorloeë) were two wars fought between the United Kingdom and the two independent Boer republics, the Orange Free State and the South African Republic (Transvaal Republic).

The First Anglo-Boer War (1880–1881), also known as the "Transvaal War," was a relatively brief conflict in which Boer (Descendants of Dutch settlers. Translates as 'Farmer') successfully rebelled against British rule in the Transvaal, and re-established their independence, lost in 1877, when the Boers fought the British in order to regain the independence they had given up to obtain British help against the Zulus.

The Second War (1899–1902), by contrast, was a lengthy war—involving large numbers of troops from many British possessions—which ended with the conversion of the Boer republics into British colonies (with a promise of limited self-government). These colonies later formed part of the Union of South Africa. The British fought directly against the Transvaal and the Orange Free State. The bloodshed that was seen during the war was alarming. Two main factors contributed to this. First, many of the British soldiers were physically unprepared for the environment and poorly trained for the tactical conditions they faced. As a result, British losses were high due to both disease and combat. Second, the policies of "scorched earth" and civilian internment (adopted by the British in response to the Boer guerrilla campaign) ravaged the civilian populations in the Transvaal and the Orange Free State.

During the Second Boer War, the UK pursued the policy of rounding up and isolating the Boer civilian population into concentration camps.

The concentration camps of the South African War were formed by the British army to house the residents of the two Boer republics of the South African Republic and the Orange Free State. They were established towards the end of 1900, after Britain had invaded the Boer republics. The British Concentration Camp Database was designed to investigate mortality and morbidity in the camps during the war. Although it will include everyone listed in the registers during the war, it usually excludes returning prisoners-of-war and men who came back from commando at the end of the war, as well as the considerable movement of people which took place after 31 May 1902, when families were repatriated to their homes.

This database has several De Buys family members listed in it.

Johannes Gerhardus Hendrica Jeremias De Buys’ family::

  • Johannes was born in 1859 and was a blacksmith by trade
  • Elizabeth De Buys (Johannes’s wife), born 1864
  • Catherina De Buys, born 1886
  • Johannes De Buys born 1889
  • Carl De Buys, born 1891
  • Johanna De Buys, born 1892
  • Fredrica De Buys, born 1895
  • Maria De Buys, born 1897 and died in the camp at the age of 4 (09 April 1901)
  • The family all stayed in tent number 3943 in the Kimberly RC. They arrived in the camp on 29 January 1901 and left on 24 July 1902
Pieter De Buys’ family:
  • Pieter was born in 1854 and was a handyman by trade
  • Johanna Petronella De Buys (Pieter’s wife), born 1874
  • Susan De Buys, born 1886
  • Thomas De Buys, born 1886
  • The family stayed in tent number 3951 in the Kimberley RC. They arrived in the camp on 29 January 1901 and left on 24 July 1902
Conrad Wilhelm De Buys was born in 1858 and arrived in the camp on 24 April 1901. He was listed as surrendering on 20 April 1901 at Botha’s Berg. His occupation was given as a bricklayer and was held in the Middelburg RC.

Elsie Susanna De Buys was born in 1898 and died of stomatitis at the age of 3 years and 6 months while in the Potchefstroom RC camp. The farm she came from was given as “Lindleyspoort /Lindlyspoort /Linleyspoort, Rustenburg”.

I have not linked the first two families into the De Buys’ tree, but at this time the last two entries are of more interest to me. I believe that the Conrad Wilhelm listed here may be my great-great-grandfather as the dates seem to match, but, that said, there have been many Coenraad Willem De Buys’ in our tree! My great-great-grandfather Coenraad had three children, Petrus (born 30 August 1882), Coenraad Willem (born 24 July 1884) and Susara Gesina (born 12 July 1886)

Petrus De Buys also served in the Boer war and was listed on the Medal Roll of Boer Members of Artillery and Related Units 1899-1902.

What I find even more interesting is that Elsie Susanna, who seems to have no relatives with her in the camp, has “Lindleyspoort” as her farm of origin. My great-grandfather Coenraad Willem (born 24 July 1884) wrote a letter to the government of the Cape in 1907 requesting money from his mother (Johanna Dorothea nee Muller)’s estate. This letter was addressed from Lindleyspoort. Could Elsie have been Coenraad’s younger sister?

Sources: http://www.wikipedia.com


  1. Tony, this is fascinating stuff to read. Did you know that even after the war, many of the people living in Buysdorp displayed the pictures of Boer war hero's like de Wet and de la Rey against their walls.



  2. Hi there,

    I did not know that they display pictures of the hero's, but did you know that General Jacobus Herculaas De la Rey's maternal grandmother was a De Buys?

    She was Johanna Elizabeth DU BUIS. She was born in 1778 in Swellendam in the Cape Of Good Hope and died in 1820. She married Gerrit VAN ROOYEN on 15 February 1795 in Swellendam. Their daughter Adriana Wilhelmina VAN ROOYEN (born 12 April 1818, died 20 May 1913) was the General's mother.

    Maybe it was that dapper De Buys' gene which contributed towards General De La Rey's military prowess?

  3. Some of Coenraad De Buys' offspring acted as wagon drivers and attendants ­during the Anglo-Boer war.

    158 of them ended up in the Pietersburg concentration camp where a number of them, ranging in age from 2 months to 80 years, died.

    (If anyone has more information on this concentration camp please let me know...)