Kaapstad in 1705 - Samuel Walter(s) werksaam in die Kasteel



Welcome to the Walters family history-Introduction



Where to we come from?

The story of the Afrikaner Walters families starts with Samuel Walters, born in 1673 in a lesser-known European country, Slovakia, which was originally part of Hungary and later Czechoslovakia.  The Walters name originates from the patrimonial use of the name Walther.  Walther comes from walt-hari (walt meaning reigning and en hari meaning army or nation).  Walther are kept in surnames such as Walter, Walters, Wolters, Wouters(se) and Wouterson.  Samuel and his three sons are mostly sign there names as Walter although several documents refer to them as Walters(s). From the second generation the name Walters appear consistently in all documents and is used until today. The change from Walters to Walters was possibility due to the Netherlands use of the German surname Walters as was common with many other Afrikaner surnames and also the interpretation of the document writers.  Ernst Friedrich Walters from Breslau became a Cape citizen (“burger”) in 1688 and was the first Walters to set foot in the Cape (Cabo de Goede Hoop).  Ernst had only one daughter and therefore had no Walters descendants.  Mauritz Walters (or Wolder) from Lubeck, arrived approximately in 1700 in the cape as a Sailor and later building assistant (“bouknegt”).  He had two sons but their progeny disappear after three generations. All Walters families in South Africa from non Anglo-Saxon origin therefore originate from the founder (“stamvader”) Samuel Walter(s) from Pressburg. 




Samuel Walter was likely the son or even grandson was of a German immigrant (possibly Daniël or Samuel) who fled from Austria as a result of the persecution of Protestants. Die German emperor, Ferdinand II, has declared in 1627 that all Protestants must leave the country, which included the Austrian countries.  German Protestant families left Austria from 1627 to well after 1650 mainly for the Waldviertel area in the northwest of Lower-Austria and are better known as the Exulanten.   More than 20 000 families left the Waldviertel area as a result of their religious conviction.  As a result of the well-established trading routes most of them fled westwards to Franconia.  It is however not so well known that many also fled eastwards including Pressburg (currently Bratislava) the capital of Slovakia, originally part of the Hungarian empire.  Two Walter(s) families left Lower Austria early in 1700 according to the records of the Exulanten in Vienna, the one from Vitis and the other from Untermeisling.  Die records from Vitus only start after 1648 and those from Untermeisling were destroyed in a fire in 1835.  It is quite probable that Samuel grandfather or father fled under this scenario.  Samuel father must have been born around 1650 in  lower Austria or even possibly in Pressburg since the record indicates that a few people as late as 1670 left the Walrdviertal. We estimate Samuel birth to take place in 1673 making it highly likely that he was born in Pressburg.    It is however difficult to verify his birth and his fathers marriage since the Protestant baptism and marriage records between 1661 and 1684 were apparently destroyed.  We are however certain about his city of origin since it appears many times in the documents in the Cape Archives as well as the Rijksargief in The Hague in the Netherlands.


Samuel Walter(s)

Samuel Walter name appears the first time in the shipping register in The Hague in the Netherlands in 1695 and on the muster roles at the Cape (Cabo de Goede Hoop) in 1697 where he is listed as a soldier in the service of the Dutch East India Company (VOC). His place of birth is sometimes indicated as Presspoort instead of Pressburg probably as a result of the Dutch interpretation.  Die Slovak name for Pressburg was Presporok en could also have contributed to Samuels use of the name Presspoort. Protestants were later again persecuted in Hungary, including Pressburg  (the capital of Hungary for more than 400 years as a result of the Turkish occupation) and lost more than 900 of their churches.  For example in Pressburg, two of their churches was given to the Jesuits in 1672, one year before Samuels birth which can still be visited in Bratislava today.  The Protestants build a small wooden church outside the walls of the city and it is highly probable that Samuel was baptized in this church.  The church was rebuild on the same spot and contains the furniture of the old wooden church.  From the various documents in the Cape Archive it is clear that Samuels Christian-Protestant value system played a vital part in his decision to leave his birthplace for a new future.  Pressburg also suffered under many attacks from the Turkish armies who occupied large portions of Hungary. Pressburg and not Buda was the principal seat where king were crowned for more than 400 years as a result of the Turkish occupation.  Thus the terrible socio-economic condition further contributed to Samuels’s decision to join the VOC who were active in all regions to enlist young men into the company for duty as soldiers and workers in their colonies.  It will probably remain a mystery how Samuel got involved with the VOC and how he travelled more than 500 kilometres from Pressburg to Amsterdam to board a ship to Batavia.


Agriculturist and Free “burger”

Samuel left the Netherlands in 1695 on board the Assendelft and arrived in 1696 in Cabo De Goede Hoop where he served as soldier for 11 years in the garrison at the Cape.  The next phase in Samuel life had a profound impact on the Walters family in South Africa.  Samuel was hired out as a farm hand form 1707 tot 1710 to Samuel Elsevier, the deputy Governor (“secundes”) of the Cape and later in 1710 to Dirk Vion.  During this period Samuel developed his agricultural skills, became a free settler (burger) in 1711and met   Maria Van Der Westhuizen, widow of Cornelis Van Nieuwekerken (Van Niekerk).  Cornelis was one of the “burgers” banned to Mauritius as a result of his participation in the revolt against the Governor Willem Adriaen Van Der Stel.  Samuel married Maria op die 22ste March 1711 in Stellenbosch and became the stepfather of Cornelis en Maria had four sons and two daughters.  Al the Van Niekerks in South Africa originate from these four sons and all Van Niekerk en Walters families share the same ancestral mother (“stammoeder”).  Cornelis left Maria several farms witch enabled Samuel to buy the farm, de e, laying on the Tygerberg berg Hills near Cape Town, in 1714 for 9000 Cape Guilders.  The farm, de e, is known today as Altydgedacht en can be considered as the Walters farm of origin (“stamplaas”).  The three Walters sons are born and baptized in the Cape Dutch Reformed Church (“Moederkerk”) namely Daniël in 1711, Nicolaas in 1714 en Stephanus Sebastiaan in 1716.  They grew up together with the older van Niekerk children on de e.  From the farm inventories its clear that Samuel was a successfull wine, sheep and cattle farmer.   In  1725 he already had 25 000 vines and produced t 18 barrels “leggers” wine.  Samuel died in 1726 en left his estate to Maria who continued the farming and expanded her farming into the Swartland area to the north. He also left 12 000 Cape Guilders to the four Van Niekerk sons and 15 000 Cape Guilders to the three Walters boys which were kept in trust until they have reached major age.  Maria died as a well off women in 1734 en left an estate valued more than 80 000 Cape Guilders, a small fortune in those days.  Her three farms, de e, Droogevallei en Hoorenbosch and a farmhouse on the loan farm, Zeekoeivalleij, were sold on a public auction.  Each of the seven sons, the four Van Niekerk and three Walters sons, received 8 643 Cape Guilders from her estate which together with their father’s inheritance enabled all of them to buy their own farm cash.  Since the three Walters sons were still minors (in those days younger than 25) they applied for major status (Venia Aetatis) in 1734 (Daniël) and in 1738 (Nicolaas en Stephanus) in order to receive their inheritance from the master. Daniël, the oldest Walters son never married and Nicolaas (38%) and Stephanus (62%) descendants forms the two main branches of the founder, Samuel Walters, progeny.


Nicolaas Walters

Nicolaas married Maria Van Den Brink from Cabo De Goede Hoop in 1739 and farmed on Meerendal in the Tygerberg district.  His progeny owned several farms in the Kasteelberg and Tulbagh districts.  Nicolaas son, Samuel, owned the farm Allesverlooren in Riebeek Wes (today still a well known wine farm). Samuel son Nicolaas (founder Nicolaas grandson) owned Amakwas Eiland  (today part of Bosplaas near Gouda in the Tulbagh district) and belongs currently to a tenth generation son, Samuel Hendrik.   Nicolaas, owner of Amakwas Eiland, son, Samuel Hendrik became the   regional representative “Veldkornet” in 1850 of the 24 Riviere District, and farmed on the neighbouring farm Voëlvlei, which is under water today due to the building of the Voëlvleidam, providing potable water to the Cape Town Metropole.  Nicolaas son, Hendrik Johannes  (younger brother of Samuel Hendrik of Voëvlei) son, Adam Jacobus Reyneke and his wife Magdalena Jacoba Smuts moved to the Northern Cape around 1874 and are the ancestors of the Walters families around the Williston, Loxton and Carnarvon areas.  Hendrik Johannes granddaughter, Alida Johanna, (daughter of Samuel Hendrik David) married Charlton Brailey in 1906 and immigrated to Australia in 1913. 


Stephanus Sebastiaan

Stephanus Sebastiaan married Martha Lombard in 1738 en purchased the farm, De Grendel, in the die Malmesbury district.  Stephanus progeny owned several farms in the Malmesbury/Swartland district as well in the Vredenburg   and other West Coast areas.  Stephanus grandson, Stephanus Sebastiaan, owned the farms Modderasfontein and Bakenfontein and is the only son that continued the Stephanus-Walters family line. It is amazing that the Walters name survived in South Africa since both Nicolaas and Stephanus had only one grandson who had children to carry on with the Walters tradition name explaining the relative small number of Walters families in South Africa today compared to the other well-known families such as Van Der Merwe or Du Toit.  Stephanus Grandson had 6 sons which carried the Walters name, five was borne from his first wife, Catharina Basson and one from his second wife, Leonora de Clerk. His son from the first marriage, Samuel Antonie, became the owner of Bakenfontein, which still belongs to his descendants.  The brothers Loedolf Kirsten and Samuel Antonie, 9th generation Walters’s, still farm on Bakenfontein.  Stephanus son, Matthys Michiel, owned the farms Doornfontein near Malmesbury and his descendants farm on the farms Waterklip en Noodhulp near Vredenburg.  Matthys Michiel’s grandson, Schalk Willem, moved to the Orange Free State and became one of the first Walters the live north of the Orange River (The Walters family did not take part in the Great trek to the north in 1838).  Schalk settled in the Boshof region of the Free State in 1875.  Schalk son, Johan Matthys died in 1901 as a two year old in the atrocious British concentration camp near Brandfort.  Stephanus grandson, Coenraad Hendrik, (son of Coenraad Hendrik and brother of Matthys Michiel above) descendants also move to the Free State and later to the Transvaal while his grandson, Casparus Andries (son of Jan Michiel) settled in the Franschoek area. The descendants from Joseph Adriaan, Stephanus son from his second marriage to Leonora De Clerk, settled in the Witbank/Middelburg  in Transvaal.


Walters Diaspora

Nicolaas’s descendants mostly settled in the Riebeek-Kasteel, Riebeek-Wes and Tulbagh areas of the Western Cape and latter also the areas around Williston, Loxton and Carnarvon in the Northern Cape.  Stephanus Sebastiaan’s descendants spread from Malmesbury/Swartland to the West Coast, to Franschoek in the Western Cape, to Boshof, Brandfort en Bloemfontein in die the Free State province and also later to Pretoria, Johannesburg, Witbank en Middelburg in the Transvaal.  Several marriages took place between these two main branches of the Walters family making the above picture more complex.  After 1900 and particularly after 120/1930 there was a greater mobility under South Africans, which accelerated the distribution across the country.   Die white voters role of 1989 list some 1400 Walters families (husbands and spouses). This list also includes Walters families from Anglo Saxon descent.   A reasonable estimate (based on an analysis of first names) of Walters families from Anglo Saxon descent is around 30 percent and we can estimate the number of children under 18 to be approximately twice the number of families. From the above assumptions one can deduce that the number of Afrikaner Walters’s is currently about 1500 to 2000.  This number is relatively small compared to other Afrikaner families and is mainly the result of the fact that for both   Nicolaas en Stephanus their progeny only started to expand to more than one son in the fourth generation!  For three generations there was only one son to carry on with the Walters name.  Should we link the rare situation above with Samuel decision to leave the devastated war torn Slovak region and to undertake the dangerous journey to Cabo de Goede Hoop it is really amazing that this family survived to play a valuable role in South Africa history and society even today.


Impact  of the  Walters family

The impact of the Walters’s on the South African society is reflected in many facets.  Apart from a major original role in agriculture, they also had a profound impact on medicine, dentistry, literature, science, and diplomacy, military and sport.  Examples include:  Admiral Johan Charl Walters, Chief of the Navy; Booije Gerrit Walters, Ambassador in South America; Pieter Eduard Walters, Professor in Physics at the University of Stellenbosch; Nicolaas Matthys Walters, Executive Director Medical Research Council; Mike Walters, Director, Agriculture Research Council; Matthys Michiel, better known as MM Walters writer and poet; Elizabeth Walters (Kotze), writers, Schalk Willem Walters, Director of Education, Johan Walters, springbok rugby paler and many others.

Some of the Walters have also paid the highest price for their fatherland.  As already mentioned, the two year old, Johan Matthys, died in the British concentration camp in Brandfort during the Anglo-Boer War. Several Walters’s showed their courage on the battlefield in the Second World War.  Daniël de Waal Walters, son of Daniël Walters died in Portugal and was buried in the Loriga cemetery in Portugal after their plane crashed in Portugal.  Dirk Johannes Frederik Walters of the 6 Regiment, son of Booije Gerrit Walters, was buried in Ladysmith near Durban.  Pieter Johannes, son of Stephanus Sebastiaan, died on the front in Libya and was buried in thee Knightsbridge War Memorial near Tobruk.  Colonel Stephanus Sebastiaan from Noodhulp near Vredenburg, chaplain in the South African Defence force, died after the ANC bomb attack in Pretoria in 1982.


The Walters founder names Samuel, Nicolaas en Stephanus survived up to the current 11th generation with variations in the second name such as Samuel Antonie, Samuel Hendrik en Nicolaas Johannes.  Several new Walters names appears from maternal origin   Matthys Michiel(se) appears early in the Walters history in both  Nicolaas en Stephanus descendants and came from the  Basson and e Clements family name. Schalk Willem came from the well known van der Merwe name Coenraad Hendrik van die family Feijt (Feyt).  Die founder mother, Maria Van Der Westhuizen, appears in numerous variants while the most common early female name was Catharina Wilhelmina.

This article is dedicated to the more than 1000 women who enabled this surname to survive. Some of them was as young as thirteen years and had up to 20 children. Without their hardship and dedication this family with its strong Christian value system would not have survived. I trust that this short synopsis of this remarkable family will give hope to young Walters readers and will build on dreams of our ancestor Samuel Walter to build a better future in a foreign land and for his descendants to one day become part of a proud new nation at the Southern tip of Africa.