Witsand History


“White Sands” appeared on title deeds relating to a portion of the farm Westfield.

1832: Westfield homestead built.

1908: Over the years various people had erected accommodation next to the river mouth on stands obtained by the Moodie family of Westfield. The village of White Sands near Port Beaufort was laid out on that part of the farm Westfield called White Sands held by Benjamin and D.D. Moodie, under certificates of registered title dated December 30th.

1909: White Sands proclaimed a township.

1911: Postal agency established.

1926: Post Office, telephone and telegraph agency established.

1488: The Portuguese recognized the Breede River Mouth as the finest natural anchorage on the whole southern seaboard of Africa.

1576: It was about this time when King Sebastian’s navigator, Manuel De Mesquita Perestrello was enthusiastic over this bay. He called the bay after “Dom Sebastiao, the most serene King of Portugal”, “St. Sebastian’s Bay, and on the west bank “Cape Infanta”.

1790: San Sebastian Bay was surveyed by the French sea captain, Captain Duminy.

1798: During May, the Breede River mouth was visited by Lady Anne Barnard and her husband, who was Colonial Secretary under the British Administration, with Jacob Van Reenen of Slang River.

1800: Landrost Anthonie Faure reported to Governor Sir George Young that the river was suitable for navigation “up to six hours inland, with excellent safe loading – places for small vessels along either bank”.

1802: Baron Von Buchenröder visited San Sebastian’s Bay, crossed the river in a small boat and pronounced it “only three to four feet deep at low tide, thus only suitable for sloops and long flat vessels, such as one sees on the Main, Nekker and Weser in Germany”. He also found an English ship anchored in the Breede River.

1803: Dirk Gysbert Van Reenen gave the same advice (as Baron Von Buchenröder) to General Janssens.

1813: Malagas got its name from the farm belonging to Adriaan Odendaal, “Malagas Craal gelegen aan de Breede River”.

1817: It was found that the bar was navigable by vessels displacing not more than six feet of water. Lord Charles Somerset named the east bank of Breede River after the title of his father, the Duke of Beaufort.

1817: Captain Benjamin Moodie and his partner, Hamilton Ross were to bring out 10,000 Scots to South Africa. After the first 50, Ross pulled out. Moodie brought in 200 men, many of them artisans. The Scots were to pay Moodie the £20 back before or after the trip. If they couldn’t, then they must work for Moodie for 18 months.

1817: December, Joseph Barry arrives at the Cape on the “Duke of Marlborough”, returning soon to London.

1819: Due to bad health, Joseph Barry returned to the Cape Colony.

1819: Joseph Barry bought the cutter “Duke of Gloucester” and arrived at Port Beaufort with food for the starving populace signified the fact that the Overberg had achieved its own gateway to the markets of the world. 500 – 600 wagons were assembled on the heights above the river mouth awaiting the cutter. Joseph Barry was persuaded to open a small trading store here at Port Beaufort.

1820: Captain Benjamin Moodie established the Port Beaufort Trading Company. Credit must go to Benjamin Moodie for first enticing the vessels to cross the bar regularly for mercantile purposes.

1820: Benjamin Moodie built a warehouse at Port Beaufort.

1820: Some of the Cape’s merchants’ vessels brought in manufactured goods. The vessels were loaded with wheat, wine, brandy and fruit.

1820: It was this year that the coastal trade established Port Beaufort.

1820: Moodie noted the advantages given to the 1820 Settlers, so he claimed them for himself for his earlier efforts. Benjamin Moodie was given the farm “Westfield” just east of the Breede River mouth.

1823: Joseph’s nephew, Thomas, entered the coastal trade.

1823: Joseph Barry opened a store in Port Beaufort.

1824: Joseph Barry moved to Swellendam, “a small and inconsiderable place” with only one shop”.

1827: Joseph Barry was insolvent.

1828: January 1st. William Dunn arrived in San Sebastian’s Bay as an Official to keep a watching brief for the authorities at Port Beaufort. His salary was £150 per year.

1830: The Barry’s owned a substantial warehouse in Port Beaufort.

1831: January 31st. The portion Port Beaufort No. 484 Swellendam, 1419 morgen given in freehold title by Sir Galbraith Lowry Cole for the management of a “mercantile warehouse” to the trustees Messrs. Ewan Christian, Joseph Barry and Francis Collison.

1831: October 10th. The farm “Westfield” No. 478 Swellendam, 5257 morgen government ground was granted to Captain Benjamin Moodie by Sir Galbraith Lowry Cole as a re3ward for his efforts in bringing 200 Scots into the country.

Soon after 1830 Thomas Barry settled permanently at Port Beaufort.

1834: Barry and Nephews were formed.

1834: Joseph Barry’s premises were burnt to the ground.

1836: Joseph Barry built a Thatch (known as a wolwe-end) on the commonage at the end facing the sea.

1837: Michiel Van Breda of Oranjezigt took the chair at the first meeting of the trustees in the Commercial Exchange. There were 600 paid-up shareholders. Many city people invested in this venture. They received an erf for every £2 share they bought.

1838: Ninety shares were issued. The Swellendam surveyor W.M. Hopley laid out the ninety plots. These were drawn for by ballot, except for Joseph Barry and Captain Moodie who were entitled to the “extensive erven” upon which their warehouses were built.

1838: William Dunn crossed the Breede River and settled on the Potteberg farm Rietfontein with the adjacent farm Brakkefontein which had been transferred to his name in 1837.

1840: By this year Barry and Nephews were the undisputed “princes of the port”.

1841: Port Beaufort declared a port.

1841: By this year Benjamin Moodie’s venture had for all practical purposes disappeared.

1842: February. George Leith continued William Dunn’s job after a Temporary held this position for about three years.

1843: Benjamin Moodie lived on the farm Groot Vaders Bosch until this year.

1853: The first Post Master at Malagas was Dennyson.

1855: Imports to the tune of £45,000 passed through customs who were collecting dues averaging £1,000 per year.

1856: Benjamin Moodie dies at “Westfield” and was buried on his farm.

1857: Joseph Barry moved to Cape Town, and lived in Hope Mill at the top end of the Government Avenue.

1858: By this time Joseph Barry’s business was as far as Robertson, Montagu, Sweetmilk Valley (Rivier Sonder End), Bredasdorp, Heidelberg, Riversdale, Mossel Bay, Zwartberg (Ladismith) and Barrydale).

1858: Joseph Barry sent John Barry to the London office to purchase a steam driven vessel. Other Barry vessels were “The Barry’s”, “Kadie”, “Vallisneria” and “Ceres”. “The Barry’s” and “Kadie” were wrecked at the mouth of the Breede River.

1858: February 26th. T.J. Herold was the second Post Master at Malagas.

1858: By now the House of Barry reigned supreme in the Overberg.

1859: Barry Church completed by Thomas Barry. The register contains names of the Reitzes, the Moodies, the Dunns and the Barry’s.

1859: September 26th. 158 Ton crew steamer “Kadie” arrived at Port Beaufort after sailing for 81 days from Scotland. This vessel was built expressly for Barry and Nephews. On board was her commander, Captain Fowler and his family and the Rev. John Samuel, headmaster of the Swellendam Grammar School and the 15 year old Francis William Reitz who was on holiday at Rhenoster Fontein from the South African College. The trip up the Breede River to Malagas took two hours and twenty minutes. “Kadie” was piloted by one of William Dunn’s numerous descendants.

1860: Thomas Barry joined the firm.

1860: The Village of Port Beaufort now consisted of about twenty buildings. Amon these were the hotel and a canteen, the warehouse, customs house, Queen’s warehouse, stores, a shop and some houses.

1862:strong> Water was scarce in Port Beaufort, and in this year the Malagas Pont maker fitted up a water boat. It served Port Beaufort well, and finally beached itself on the east bank opposite the woolshed where the remains can still be seen. (Next to the Breede River Lodge).

1862: “Kadie” reached Knysna to load wood for Cape Town. The farthest “Kadie” sailed was to Mauritius with a cargo of ostriches which were destined for Australia. 1864: Highlight of “Kadie’s” short life was the “Great Western Province Agricultural Exhibition” at Swellendam. “Kadie” made special trips to Cape Town with livestock and implements. Eastern Province exhibitors were fetched at Algoa Bay.

1864: The Port Beaufort Customs Officer is transferred.

1864: Port Beaufort was abolished as a port.

1865: “Kadie” stranded at the mouth of the Breede River on the rocks off Cape Infanta.

1865: Joseph Barry dies at Hope Mill in Cape Town on Sunday, 26th March, aged 70 years.

1865: The Great Fire of Swellendam.

1866: The firm, Barry and Nephew is bankrupt.

1870: By this time Malagas was completely statistic.

1880: Barrydale established, and received its name “Barrydale”.

1886: All official trace of Port Beaufort finally vanished from the Blue Books of the Cape Colony.

1929: The freehold portion Port Beaufort was eventually resurrected and granted to Alfred John Barry.

1943: Port Beaufort proclaimed a township.

King George IV – San Sebastian Bay – July 16th 1824
Locust – Breede River (next to Breede River Lodge) – September 2nd 1824
Sir William Heathcote – Breede River Mouth – April 15th 1841
Harriet – Breede River Mouth – March 8th 1848
Belleisie – Breede River Mouth – July 15th 1849
Arion – Breede River Mouth – April 7th 1854
Ospray – San Sebastian Bay – April 13th 1855
Barry’s II – Breede River Mouth – May 7th 1857
Osmond – Breede River Mouth – June 13th 1859
SS Kadie – Breede River Mouth – November 17th 1865
Minnie – Breede River Mouth – June 10th 1874
Cape of Good Hope – Breede River Mouth – November 25th 1881
SS Umsimkulu – Breede River Mouth – June 16th 1883

Ms Lyall Beyers
Overberg Outspan
Edmund H. Burrows
Shipwrecks & Salvage
Malcolm Turner
Estuaries of the Cape
Carter A.
Union Post Office Circular
Portuguese in South-East Africa
E. Axelson
Rothman A.
J. Warner