Inventory of the Archives of the Magistrate of Swellendam, 1743 -

Fonds Specifications


Biographical History

Landdrost and heemrade
As a result of the expansion of the population in the interior a second court of heemrade, similar but subordinate to that at Stellenbosch - Drakenstein, was established with a deputy landdrost as secretary. The new area, known as the Outlying Districts, stretched from the Breë River to past Mossel Bay and relieved the heemrade of Stellenbosch of many of their burdens. [1]
Of the four elected heemrade, one was to hand in a report every three months. Once every two years two heemrade would resign and successors elected. [2]In January 1744 J.T. Rhenius was appointed as the first deputy landdrost of the Outlying Districts. [3]
Within months discord arose between the deputy landdrost and heemrade as a result of uncertainty regarding rank. This led to a clearer definition of their duties especially with regard to times of meetings, the deputy landdrost's position at meetings and the reference of cases not settled out of court to the court of the landdrost and heemrade at Stellenbosch. [4]
These measures were, however, unsatisfactory and in August 1745 it was decided to establish a completely independent magistracy with Rhenius as "absolute landdrost" of the Outlying Districts. The same instructions as those for Stellenbosch - Drakenstein were applicable. The jurisdiction of each district with regard to communal matters was to be decided upon jointly. The new district covered the whole area under the Company's control to the north and east of the Stellenbosch - Drakenstein district and the limits of its jurisdiction were clearly defined. [5]
In 1746 the request by the landdrost and heemrade for land along the Koornland River to build a drostdy and the necessary buildings, was granted. [6]In October 1747 the district was named Swellendam after the governor and his wife, Hendrik Swellengrebel and Helena Wilhelmina ten Damme. [7]
The creation of the new magisterial district of Graaff - Reinet in 1786 limited the jurisdiction of the landdrost of Swellendam to the Swartberg in the north and the Gamtoos River in the east. [8]
In June 1795 the inhabitants of Swellendam rebelled against the government of the Company. Landdrost Faure, the secretary and messenger were forced to hand the drostdy to the burghers, who appointed a National College ("Collegie Nasionaal") under the leadership of Hermanus Steyn. [9]
After the British occupation of the Cape, peace was restored and the drostdy handed back to Faure in November 1795. [10]
With the revision of the judicial system in 1827 the college of landdrost and heemrade was abolished and replaced with a civil commissioner and resident magistrate. H. Rivers [11]and C.M. Lind [12]were appointed to these positions respectively. In 1834 the positions were united and Rivers appointed. [13]