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Surnames V to Z

VILJOEN Francois

Francois VILLION (later Viljoen) arriveer in 1671 aan die Kaap van Goeie Hoop as 'n "vrij wagenmaker" vanaf Clérmont, Frankryk as die eerste Franse Hugenote-vlugteling wat hom aan die Kaap vestig.


Hy tree op 1676.05.17 in Kaapstad in die huwelik met Cornelia CAMPENAAR, 'n jongdogter van Middelburg, Nederland. (Dit is die vyfde huweliksbevestiging aan die Kaap van Goeie Hoop). Uit die verbintenis is ses kinders gebore, waarvan twee (Henning en Johannes Viljoen) die stamnaam voortgeplant het. Sy trou later met Wemmer Pasman (Kyk ook onder hom)

Verdere Loopbaan

In 1682 ontvang die Viljoen egpaar die plaas Idasvallei buite Stellenbosch van goew Simon van der Stel as een van die eerste vryboere in die Stellenbosch distrik. Nog voor die grootskaalse emigrasie van die Hugenote na die Kaap van Goeie Hoop is Francois Villion in 1689 oorlede.

Viljoen Familieregister, HC Viljoen, RGN, Pretoria, 1978.

Bydrae te danke aan:

Webblad vir verdere inligting: Webblad


1. Generally held assumptions regarding Francois Viljoen’s European background

For many years South African genealogists had generally accepted the following regarding Francois Viljoen:
1. That he originated from one of the many towns with the name of Clermont in France;
2. That he was a French Huguenot refugee and the first of such to permanently settle at the Cape and
3. That he arrived here in 1671. 1, 2
Francois was indeed described as being from a place called Clermont when he married Cornelia Campenaar at the Cape on 17/5/1676.
The entry reads as follows:
Den 17 dito (Maij): Francois Signon j.m. van Clermont, vrijburger alhier, met Cornelia Campenaar j.d. van Middelburgh. 3
The generally held view regarding his French origin and Huguenot status might have been derived from the above mentioned entry, assuming that the Clermont referred to was one of the many Clermonts in France and also assuming that all French people who left France during the 17th century had done so due to religious pressure.
Up till now this specific Clermont had not yet been identified. 4
As far as could be established, no factual records exist regarding him being a Huguenot.

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

3 New questions regarding Francois Viljoen’s European background

Locating his possible place of origin in what is currently known as Belgium, rather than in France, opens up new questions regarding his nationality, his cultural background in general and his original religious affiliation in particular.

3.1 Francois Viljoen’s nationality
As far as his nationality is concerned, it stands to reason that, should he have been from Flanders or Wallonia, he would not have been a French subject when he left Europe. In the period before his departure for the Cape, Flanders and Wallonia were under the rule of the Habsburgs, who were often at war with France. France only occupied the vicinity of Maaseik shortly after the departure of Francois from Europe. 9, 10, 11, 12 ,13.

3.2 Francois Viljoen’s cultural background and mother tongue
Regarding his cultural background, no primary sources could be found to either support or discard the possibility that he was French speaking and bearer of the French culture.
If it is assumed that he was from one of the Clermonts in Wallonia, it could be argued that he was, culturally speaking, French. Both his name and surname are both French sounding and Wallonia was a predominantly French speaking region of the Low Countries.
This however brings another question to the fore, namely the subtle distinction between the French and Walloon cultures. If Francois was culturally speaking a Walloon, he was not fully French and belonged to a different culture, however slight this cultural difference might have been at his time.
On the other hand it could also be argued that, if he grew up in the predominantly Dutch speaking region in which Maaseik is situated, coupled with the genealogical and cultural mix that was brought about by, among others, the Thirty Years War and the specific geographical position of Maaseik within the Low Countries, he might have had a French sounding name and surname, but could just as well have been Dutch speaking and a bearer of the Dutch culture.
It is quite revealing that he settled well into the predominantly Dutch society at the Cape, married a Dutch woman and gave all his children Dutch names.
However, since nothing is yet known about his parents, the answers to the questions about his culture of origin and his mother tongue will have to remain unanswered until more information comes to light.

3.3 Francois Viljoen’s religion
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.

3.4 Francois Viljoen’s original name and surname
Should one endeavour to find Francois Viljoen in the records of the European archives, it would be important to know his correct original name and surname.
Francois Viljoen was entered into the records as among others Francois Vilion, Francois Signon and Francoys Vijon.
His signature, as it appears on the Viljoen website, does unfortunately not give a clear answer as to neither his first name nor his surname.14 It could possibly also be read as Franoift Million.
A scrutiny of the names of his grandchildren reveals that one of them, the child of his daughter Anna, was named Francois. The closest within the Viljoen line was Frans. 15

4. At the Cape

4.1 Voyage to and arrival at the Cape.
He left Texel in the Netherlands as a soldier on board the ship ‘t Huis te Velsen on 11/10/1671 and reached Table Bay on 14/2/1672. 16, 17

4.2 Occupation
After his arrival at the Cape he initially served as a soldier for about a year and a half before becoming a free wagon maker on 18/8/1673. 18
He later received a piece of land described as “Een plaats of hofstede gelegen aan Stellenbosch in Idas Valleij.” 19

4.3 Participation in public life
No records could be found regarding him ever having served as Heemraad, member of a Church Council or as an officer in the local Militia.

4.4 Marriage and family
Francois Viljoen married Cornelia Campenaar in Cape Town on 17/5/1676. 20 Francois and Cornelia had the following children:

Pieter = 7/2/1677. Never married.
Anna (Johanna) = 19/5/1678 x Hendrik Venter
Henning = 8/3/1682 x Margaretha De Savoy
Johannes = 24/9/1684 x Catharina Snyman.
Cornelia = 13/10/1686 x Hercules Du Preez.
Francina = 24/4/1689 x Jacob Cloete. 21

Francois passed away in 1689.

At this stage the children were still young, ranging in age from 12 years to a few months old baby.

No inventory of Francois’s estate could be found.

5. Cornelia Campenaar

5.1 European background
Nothing is known about Cornelia’s ancestors or her life before her marriage to Francois at the Cape, other than that she was from Middelburg in the Netherlands. Why she left Europe and exactly when she arrived at the Cape is also unknown.

5.2 Second marriage
After the death of Francois, Cornelia married Wemmer Pasman on 14/4/1690. 22 It is assumed that the Viljoen children were raised by their mother Cornelia and Wemmer Pasman as step-father.

Cornelia and Wemmer had the following three children:

Frederik = 8/7/1691
Margaretha = 1/7/1693 x Barend Burger
Gerrit = 27/9/1695 23

5.3 Family living conditions
After her marriage to Wemmer Pasman the couple lived on Ida’s Valley.
Judging by entries made in the records of the Stellenbosch church congregation, the life style of Cornelia and Wemmer was condemned by the church council during 1700 when they were reprimanded for drunkenness. 24
The only impression that can be gained about the house on Ida’s Valley and its contents is from the Inventory of Cornelia drawn up in 1713. One should keep in mind that this inventory was drawn up 24 years after the death of Francois Viljoen and that the original house and its contents as he knew it could have changed considerably over that period.
It nevertheless depicts the living conditions of Cornelia at the time of her death.
The house consisted of a voorhuis with two adjacent rooms and a kitchen.
The furniture in the voorhuis consisted of a table with 7 chairs and four wooden shelves.
The shelves contained 12 tin bowls and 24 tin plates as well as 2 copper candle holders.
The room to the right of the voorhuis contained, among others, two beds with bed linen, a mirror, an iron, two tin water buckets, a stove and two empty trunks.
The room to the left of the voorhuis contained, among others, one bed with linen, a table, 2 butter churns, one small and one big barrel, a hall stand and a rifle shelf, a copper kettle, two iron crow-bars, two chisels, a new plough shear, two saddles and four bags.
The kitchen contained, among others the following: A shelf on which were 2 tin basins, 4 tin plates; 4 iron pots; 3 water buckets; a table, a chest, a ladder, a shelf with 12 tin spoons and some gardening utensils. 25

5.4 Cornelia and the pox epidemic of 1713
The year 1713, during which the Cape was ravished by an epidemic of pox that killed a large number of inhabitants was an extremely tragic year for the Stammoeder Cornelia Campenaar.
Her inventory was dated in November of that year. But before she passed away she experienced the death of 4 of her 6 children with Francois, possibly 1 of her 3 children with Wemmer as well as that of two of her children in law.
The inventory of her son in law, Hendrik Venter was dated April 1713. Then followed that of her daughter, Anna (Johanna) (wife of Hendrik Venter) in June 1713, that of her son Johannes and her daughter in law Catharina Snyman, both in July 1713 and that of her son Henning in September 1713. According to her own inventory of November 1713 her son Pieter had also already passed away at the time of her death. 26

6. Conclusion.
Much further research will have to be done to maintain the assumption that Francois Viljoen was a French Huguenot refugee from Clermont in France.
The only available evidence does not support this and rather points in the direction of what is currently Belgium as the place of origin of the person who became known at the Cape as Francois Viljoen

1. Viljoen family web page at  Accessed 22/7/2016
2. Sastamouers at  Accessed 22/7/2016
3.  -Written by transcribed by Richard Ball and Corney Keller.
4. Viljoen family web page at  Accessed 22/7/2016
5.  - Written by transcribed by Richard Ball and Corney Keller
7.  (Belgium)
8. Google Earth
9. Google Earth.
10.  (Netherlands);
11. _(Belgium)
14. Viljoen family web page at  Accessed 22/7/2016
15. De Villiers and Pama.

17.  - Written by transcribed by Richard Ball and Corney Keller

18.  - Written by transcribed by Richard Ball and Corney Keller
19. Tanap - MOOC8/3.55 of 28 November 1713
20.  -Written by transcribed by Richard Ball and Corney Keller.

21. De Villiers and Pama.
22. De Villiers and Pama.
23. De Villiers and Pama
25. TANAP - MOOC 8/3.55 of 28/11/1713   

Compiled by Dr SB (Rassie) Rascher
23 July 2016

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