Retief Family

Welcome to the official landing page of the Retief family. We are a proud and close-knit family with a rich history and heritage.

Our family crest represents our values and traditions.

Retief Family Crest

The oldest Retief on record is Paul Retif b. 1537, Blois, Loir-et-Cher, Centre-Val de Loire, France; d. before circa 1645, Mer, Loir-et-Cher, Centre, France

His son was Paul Retif b. circa 1602, Aunay En Bazois, Nièvre, Bourgogne-Franche- Comté, France; d. September 8, 1677, Aunay, Blois, Loir-et-Cher, Centre-Val de Loire, France

His son was Jacques Retief / Retief / Rétif b. 1637, Blois, Loir-et-Cher, Centre, France; d. September 8, 1677, Aunay, Blois, Loir-et-Cher, France

His son was Francois Retif, StamVader of all Retief's in South Africa b. February 2, 1663, Mer, Blois, Loir-Et-Cher, France; d. September 24, 1721, Paarl, Caap de Goede Hoop, Suid Afrika.

Both his grandfather Paul and his father Jacques died in 1677 when Francois was 13 years old.

King Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes in 1685, causing a mass exodus of French Huguenots

Francois now aged 22 fled with his sister Anne 14 and a few more Protestants from Mer and Blois region fled to The Netherlands to escape violent outbreaks from the Catholics. It is possible that their grandparents Peijter Joubert and Dorothea Joubert (from his mother's side) joined the journey or at least joined them later, as both grandparents died in South Africa.

Governor Simon van der Stel from the Cape Colony complained to the Seventeen (leaders of the East India Dutch Company) that he needed wine farmers to produce wine and brandy. Since Francois and his family were wine-dressers, they were considered candidates to receive passage to the Cape.

The French Refugees in the Cape by Colin Graham Botha

The French Refugees in the Cape by Colin Graham Botha

The delegation sailed on the ship Borssenburg from Texel, an island off Holland on a cold winters morning 6 January in 1688, and arrived at the Cape about 4 months later on 12 May. No deaths were reported on this voyage.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 and hippos trampling crops at night, and 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. 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.

Learn more about us and our history on our full website.