Douglas Paul Leibbrandt's Coat Of Arms

South African Leibbrandt Family Tree

History HCV

Hendrik, the eighth child of wine merchant Johann Sebastiaan and Alida FISCHER, was educated at the South African College, Cape Town. He travelled to Holland to study at the University of Utrecht where he was awarded his Theology degree in August 1859. He returned to the Cape in 1860, married Sara SINCLAIR and was inducted as minister of the N G Kerk, Victoria West.

Hendrik was a very active member of the ministry, as he established a congregation at Canarvon in 1875 and another at Prieska in 1878. His ministry at Victoria West however lead to dissention due to his activities in the liberal school of ministers. Other members of the School were T F Burger (later President of the Transvaal Republic) L S and J J Kotze, and S P Naude. All these were contemporaries of Utrecht University. Hendrik's views were unacceptable to the majority of the congregation. He was outspoken and the trouble became serious in 1870.

He was co-author in three essays entitled Gedachten over de roeping der Kerk en de verhouding van den leraar tot zijne gemeente (Thoughts on the calling of the church and the relationship between minister and congregation), Cape Town, written for the Christian congress in that year. This caused a storm amongst the clergy and the congregation but Hendrik was inflexible and would not retract his views.

Permission was granted to form a second congregation, but this was abandoned and the congregation at Victoria West asked him to resign. He was offered 2500 pounds Stirling as 'compensation'. He Resigned on 25/6/1877. Hendrik was nevertheless well-liked by some of the congregation and he was presented with an address thanking him for his good work in 18 years with the community.

He retained his friendship with President TF Burger and on one occasion he baptised Burger's child.

This release from theology led to his 'real' work as the first Archivist. He was appointed in preference to another past time custodian; C M Theal. His work output was prodigious and spurred on by rival Theal he wrote an enormous number of articles and précis for the Archives. if (( fact he laid the basis for the present Archives in Cape Town.

Some of Hendrik's work found in the Cape Archives are the following:

  • Précis of the Archives of the Cape of Good Hope December 1651-December 1653. (The first of 16 Vol:) 1887.
  • Rambles through the Colony of the Cape of Good Hope 1688-1700.
  • Précis of the Journal of Jan van Riebeek 1699-1732.
  • Letters Received 1699-1732.
  • Letters Dispatched 1696-1708.
  • The Defence of Willem Adriaan van der Stel. 1897.

The Government instructed Hendrik to edit the documents related to what is known as the Slachtersnek Rebellion and this was published as The Rebellion of 1815, generally known as Slachter's Nek (Cape Town 1902.) He also wrote numerous articles for Het Zuid-Afrikaansche Tijdschrift, and a series on the hunter and explorer Jacobus Coetzee.

It must be emphasized that the above is just a small sample of the volume of Hendrik's work. What is perhaps not realised is that Hendrik was both librarian and Archivist until seven years before his retirement in 1901 when these two posts were separated. During a small portion of his working life he had temporary assistance, but never the less he was able to classify 3440 documents and these documents were bound between 1881 and 1906. Undoubtedly Hendrik was a giant of a man when one considers the amount of work he accomplished in his lifetime not only for the Cape Archives but also for the outlying districts. His work earned him the title of honorary member of the 'Historische Genootsschap' of Utrecht.

Many references to Hendrik Leibbrandt and his work can be found in the Cape Archives. C J Rossouw wrote Die werk van Hendrik Carel Vos Leibbrandt as argivis en Suid Afrikaanse geskiedskrywer and this is one of the many written monuments of the great South African.

Hendrik's strong points were his energy, honesty, outspokeness when convinced he was right, and fluency in Dutch, English and German. Being a minister of the Church he also had knowledge of Latin and Greek.

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