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2nd May 2005Umsinga missionary?
By Julian Whybra
I'd be very gratfeul if someone can confirm for me the name of the Reverend stationed at the Umsinga Mission Station January 1879?
2nd May 2005Mike Snook
Sorry Julian. I've come across no references.

2nd May 2005Peter Ewart

I think I've tried to discover this in the past but can't remember now whether I succeeded or not! Working on it & will come back.

3rd May 2005Julian Whybra
Does the name Woodruffe ring any bells?
3rd May 2005Peter Ewart

Just emerging from above a pile of files, books etc!

Taking your 2nd question first, the only Woodruffe (or variant) I have anything on was an Anglican missionary, the Rev (later Canon) RH Woodrooffe (sic) who served, principally, further south in Kaffraria (the dioceses of Grahamstown & St John's) where he worked with Griqua, Pondo and Tembu and revised a translation of the prayerbook into siXosa. Came out to SA in 1857, lived well into 20th century I believe. However, I have no evidence that he ever worked in Natal.

If you have a christian name, or even initials, of your Woodruffe, it would help. If not, I should still be able to check him tomorrow if he was an Anglican.

Although he quotes no source, Adrian Greaves (R/Drift, p105) mentions an abandoned farm of an Edward Woodroffe (sic) which was burnt by the Zulus attacking R/Drift after crossing the river, so presumably very close to R/Drift.

Is your enquiry to do with Witt's flight? Or with Fort Bengough perhaps? Donald Morris says Witt fled to "the Umsinga Mission Station." Adrian Greaves says he had sent his family "to friends near Umsinga." I don't know their sources.

Most of my material relates to Anglican missions, although I have some (but much less) material on Weslyan & Presbyterian stations, as well as the German, Norwegian, Swedish and American presence. I am reasonably sure there was no Anglican mission at Umsinga (I'm including Sandspruit in this) in 1879, and I know of no Wesleyan or Presbyterian mission there either - except for the Presbyterian/Church of Scotland mission known as the Gordon Memorial, established in 1870 by Dr James Dalzell, who was sent out by the C of S to replace the original choice, Dr Gordon, who had drowned on the voyage out. This was - as far as I can make out - where the border road (Greytown to Hekpmekaar) crosses the Tugela (or very near there). It was also sometimes known as the "Umsinga mission" - but was at least as far from Umsinga as Umsinga was from Helpmekaar, and possibly a little further upriver from the ferry. (Someone in KZN may be able to confirm or correct this as I believe a hospital is still on the site?)

This is the only "Umsinga mission" I know about. Dalzell may have had a colleague names Woodruffe?

Further south on the border road, where it crosses the Mooi, the Germans were well established at Etembini (Hermannburgers) and also just south & east of the confluence of the Buffalo, Mooi & Tugela, at their Ehlanzeni mission, very close to the border itself.

Being an English surname, one can't omit the American possibility, but they were never around Umsinga, always further south and east, nearer the coast. So although none of my material suggests a mission (any mission) at Umsinga itself in 1879 - is there a source for this known to someone? - there were certainly one or two nearby. Some of these missions would have been passed by the units of Column 3 during Dec/Jan, of course. You'll be familiar with the farms, "hotels" and trader's stores, such a Burrup's and Vermaak's, which were also on this road. (Was your Woodruffe definitely a clergyman?)

Most of the nearest Norwegians were either further down the same road or had abandoned their Zululand missions in 1877/8, but it is not impossible that any of those had moved in to a mission on this road. I know of no Swedes at all in the Umsinga district.

So, if your Woodruffe was an Anglican, I should be able to help. I don't think there was a mission at Umsinga itself in Jan 1879, unless the Gordon Memorial counts, or unless a small out-station had been established there. (It is possible that any mission in the Umsinga Magistrate's District could loosely have been described as an "Umsinga Mission", of course).

4th May 2005Julian Whybra
Peter, i'll e-mail you direct. Many thanks.