Tag Archives: AYLIFF /


Harold “Carrots” Ayliff with his friend Frikkie Brink; Harold with his sister Margaret “Meg” in the cockpit and her friend “Beery” de Beer; Charlotte “Charlie” Ayliff

My great uncle, Harold “Carrots” Ayliff, wrote a short, and incomplete note with his reminiscences of his time in the Royal Air Force at the very end of World War I, and also his involvement in World War II. I was given a copy by his great-granddaughter, Georgia. Some time later, when visiting my cousin, Janet, in New Zealand, she showed me the photograph album that her grandmother, Charlotte “Charlie” Ayliff, Harold’s sister, had kept of this same period during World War I. I was struck by the overlap between the written record and the photographic record. The photographs brought life to the story and the writings put the photographs in context.

I was particularly struck by the photograph, in the banner above, of my grandmother in the cockpit of one of Harold’s training planes. She was obviously thrilled.

I was reminded of the reminiscences and photographs recently when I read this article on powered flight at Hermanus. Harold’s story is not that different from that of Henry Luyt of Hermanus.

I had already created an album combining Harold’s story with Charlotte’s photographs and felt that it would be good to publish it on our web site for everyone to see. Here it is with links to many of the places and events that Harold mentions. Please click HERE.

©Megan Stevens 2021

Shared ancestors and their shared experiences

Cape Town from Table Bay 1778

Megan and I are 8th cousins because of our shared 7th great-grandparents, Johannes (Jan Harmensz) Potgieter (1674-1733), Marthinus Jacobus van Staden (1706-1746) and his wife Catharina Botha (1714-1781). As I indicated in my last post, there is more to tell because there are interesting people with colourful stories associated with these ancestors. I have spent a few weeks putting those stories together.

The stories go back to the earliest years of European settlement at the Cape in the mid 1600s for which there are surprisingly good records. The records required some hard work in order to extract the stories because quite a few are in Old Dutch script and use an antiquated Dutch language. The perseverance was worth it and has revealed a rich group of characters.

The most impressive amongst them are the young slave women taken to the Cape from India, Madagascar and Africa. Yes, we have slaves as ancestors. Some died young. Most survived their enslavement and went on to prosper and to found a number of prominent Afrikaans families. Also impressive were the contemporary attitudes that allowed these ex-slaves to take their place in society. One was granted a block of land on what is now Castle Street in the middle of the Cape Town CBD. One owned Camps Bay. Another owned Groot Constantia.

There is the free settler from Cologne who received one of the first grants of land, but was murdered just outside the Castle on what is now the Grand Parade.

There is the rifleman from Rotterdam, with a green thumb, who married the murdered man’s thirteen year-old daughter, but only after he had fathered a child with a slave at Groote Schuur. You guessed it. He was a Van der Merwe. But not a Koos.

There is the young man, born a slave to a slave mother, who married an aristocratic Huguenot woman and had to rescue other Huguenot ancestors from a murdering soldier who took them hostage.

There is the young man’s father, a soldier from Germany, who kept running foul of the law and was banished to Robben Island.

There is the young man’s mother who washed Jan van Riebeeck’s clothes.

There is adultery and divorce and some very choice language.

There are ancestors that we don’t share, who jointly helped an Empress grieve the death of her son.

And more.

The stories are intertwined and complicated in places, but I have provided them with references and links to maps that hopefully help explain them and put them in context. Thanks to the internet, I was also able to source a number of fascinating old maps and pictures from the Netherlands Rijksmuseum and Nationaal Archief that provide a contemporaneous flavour to the stories.

Please have a look HERE and let me know what you think.

©Alun Stevens 2019