Exactly where is the cutoff point for (Dutch) Cape of Good Hope?

+4 votes

For reasons that I will not go into here, some profile managers prefer not to submit to the governance of the Dutch Cape Colony project (still popularly known as COGH, but that tag is not offered on G2G). It would be in the best interests of all concerned if we had a very clear definition of whether a profile qualifies for that governance to be imposed against the wishes of such a manager.

The project's scope, according to its project page, is "people who lived in the Dutch Cape Colony (not to be confused with Cape Colony) during and after it was first settled under governorship of Jan van Riebeeck in 1652, until the final British invasion and take-over in 1806".

That British takeover happened in January 1806, so it would be convenient to consider all of 1806 as no longer part of the Dutch colonial period, Remember also that in the period 1795-1803 the Cape was at least formally not under Dutch administration.

Disposing of the easy cases first, we conclude that people who died no later than 1805 are legitimate subjects of the Dutch Cape Colony project and those that were born no earlier than 1806 are not.

The question now is how much of one's life has to fall within the period before one can be considered to have "lived in" the Colony "during" that period.

1. A case where the right of the project to claim the profile is very strong:

The person is listed in a well-known source like Oude Kaapsche Familien but the details given there are known to be wrong. In this case that wrong information is already widely disseminated and continually reappears in GEDCOM uploads.

2. A case where that right is arguable but the need for it is not so pressing:

At least one significant event (marriage, birth of a child, an exploit famous or infamous enough to go down in history, etc) took place before 1805.

3. A case where the project is only marginally involved:

A baby born in the period 1795-1805. Bear in mind that the WikiTree LNAB of that baby depends on this decision. If it is part of COGH, its LNAB might according to the rules be Laũrje instead of Laurie.


asked in Policy and Style by Dirk Laurie G2G6 Mach 3 (32.5k points)
retagged by Dirk Laurie
Am I right in summarizing the official position thus?

1. There are two projects, Dutch Cape Colony and South African Roots.

2. The historical event separating them is the final British takeover.

3. The leadership of Dutch Cape Colony was offered the opportunity to define the cutoff point, provided that they kept it simple.

4. They chose "born before end 1806" as their definition.

5. The leadership of South African Roots acquiesced in that definition.
Dirk, Please enlighten us. What exactly is the point of this conversation? Are you unhappy about something? Is there something bothering you? What exactly are you asking for? Would you like to see something changed?

Well, now! That is a little like asking a chess player "Why did you make that move?" before making one's own move.

WikiTree is a collaborative game, not a competitive one like chess. Nevertheless, the fact that there are these two somewhat similar projects introduces an antagonistic note. They vie for periods in history whose boundaries, rather like 18-th century colonial borders, are simplistically defined.

Moreover, the older project (both in terms of what it covers and when it was created) has different goals and methods. It is managed in a more high-handed way, including the forcible removal of project managers. Some people, including you and me, resent that.

I don't ask (even though I think so) that Project Dutch Cape Colony should mend its ways. Nor do I ask (even though it is incomprehensible that the jurisdiction of Dutch Colony extends to the profiles of people born up to eleven months after the British takeover) for a revision of the definition of where Project Cape Colony stops.

All I want is that WikiTree's programs that flag database errors should be more tolerant. The letter of the law can remain where it is, but the policing of it should be relaxed.

They should not mark it as an error if I prefer to classify as South African Roots rather than Dutch Cape Colony a profile of someone whose entire adult life (confirmation, marriage, mortgages, lawsuits, children, trekking, death, probate) is attested by documents produced after 1806. Only those who died before 1806 should be so marked.

You argue that some people will be confused. I think that telling people to mark things as false errors is even more confusing.

Lets see what the leadership can come up with. I checked and on the current watchlist of CoGH this would affect about a hundred profiles if the date is moved to Jan 1806. I'm not the one who is going to have to do the work on this if changed. That task is going to fall on a leader who could have been more productive on a hundred or so other profiles. The template date would also probably have to be changed, etc. So you see it is not just a simple change. We would of course have to remember to change all the affected help pages What else did I forget - Yes... the members will have to be informed as well.. but you get the picture.

What I ask for is precisely not all that. It involves no work for any leader except asking a computer programmer to change three letters of code in a computer program, i.e. to change

if BirthDate <= 18061231 then reportDataBaseError


if DeathDate <= 18061231 then reportDataBaseError



Hi Dirk, it seems that there is now another bigger fish in the water. One with an official stamp, and signature on paper with a flavour of international recognition. 13 August 1814 the official handing over was signed. Don't you think this would be a more appropriate date?

Died before 13 August 1814 is COGH, born after that date is SA Roots, born before but died after is to be decided by the creator of the profile? That would suit me perfectly.
☺ At least you can say you gave it your best shot.. That choice part is not going to happen. I think I'll just let them put it on hold. Lets not try and fix something that is not broken.
My current practice is to slap {{Dutch Cape Colony}} on profiles that are clearly badly managed (i.e. GEDCOM-created, never edited afterwards, no sources) and let the wheels of authority grind, but to keep quiet when I see a carefully tended profile by a manager that deserves not to be pushed off.
I have high hopes that a difference has been made the past few days. The project can be a great tool if utilized right.

1 Answer

+2 votes
Best answer
At the moment it appears that the 1806 date is rigid. The family I describe below has children born before and after the 1806 date and until recently all were badged by the project. The child who was born in 1810 however caused a data base error, I have removed that badge.
The problem with imposing rigid cutoffs by date is the end of the period was fluid. My  personal concern is a British sailor arriving in  Cape Town in 1795/6. He  married a local girl in 1797 ( one later source,  suggests that he may still have been a member of the Royal Navy until 1799  though this needs to be checked) . He obtained permission from the British Colonial authorities to remain in Cape Town in 1800 and settled down as a tailor there. Then on 1 March 1803, the administration once again became Dutch under the treaty of Amiens. However, this treaty broke down in May of the same year.  I don't know what happened to Thomas in this period. Was he treated as an enemy alien or did he just keep quiet and out of sight until January 1806 when Cape Town was taken by the British again.?
I do know that the family subsequently became part of the British community . All his children born both before and after 1806 married Brits and the girls though christened with Dutch names adopted anglicised versions e.g. Dorothea Adrianna became plain Dorothy. One daughter  became the wife of a British diplomatic agent. (fortunately there are no problems with the LNAB of West!)

At the moment he and his elder children are part of the project. Pragmatically there is some sense in this. His wife was Dutch, he and his children lived under Dutch rule for  up to 3 years The imposition of a rigid cut off date makes things simpler for data management for that project
On the other hand he spent the first 20+ years of his life in England and the rest of it in the British Cape Colony. Should a 3 year hiatus define him, or the children ?

edited typo in date
answered by Helen Ford G2G6 Pilot (183k points)
selected by Dirk Laurie

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