1820 Settler Party : Thornhill

Home Page | Party List

Party  Thornhill 
Leader  Christopher Thornhill 
Number in the Party  35 
Area Party originated from  Middlesex, England 
Area allocated to the party  between the Kowie and Rufane Rivers 
1820 Settler Ship  Zoroaster,    
Surnames in party  Annandale, Brant, Brooks, Bruton, Camm, Cutler, Dell, Gilfillan, Howard, Lassam, Mildenhall, Mounsey, Soper, Stokes, Streak, Thornhill, Unknown, White
Other Information  Divided from WAIT's Middlesex party before embarkation, it was directed by Christopher THORNHILL and sailed in "Zoroaster". In Simon's Bay they were transferred to "Albury". They were located between the Kowie and Rufane Rivers the location being called Thornhill.
Settler Handbook Content:   No. 57 on the Colonial Department list, led by Christopher Thornhill, a merchant from a landowning family of Sutherland, Durham. Thornhill initially entered into a partnership with William Wait and Arthur Barker to take a party of some 50 labourers and their families to the Cape, under Wait's direction (see Wait's Party). Labourers were recruited in Buckinghamshire in October 1819 and signed on at a meeting attended by parish officers at the Greyhound Inn, Marlow. In December the settlers were assembed at Marlow and a nephew of Thornhill's Adam Gilfillan, supervised their journey on foot to Deptford where they were to embark. The settlers marched with the baggage wagons and spent a night at an inn at Hounslow en route.

Towards the end of December 1819, when the party was about to board the Zoroaster, the Colonial Department was notified that Wait had been arrested for debt and a writ to prevent his leaving the country had been issued on the application of a former business partner. Thornhill was appointed head of the party in Wait's place. Three weeks later however, with the Zoroaster still lying at Deptford, Wait managed to settle his affairs and obtain his release. Thornhill was unwilling to place himself and his share of the party's finances again under Wait's direction, and a quarrel developed that the Colonial Department was called upon to settle by arbitration. An official was sent from Downing Street to Deptford to dissolve the partnership and divide the party into two separate units, and the settlers on board were given the choice of which master they would serve. Twenty-six men signed a new service agreement with Wait, and Arthur Barker with his steward Henry Ulyate and nine labourers (two of whom deserted before the ship sailed) also chose to remain under Wait's leadership. When the settlers eventually reached Algoa Bay, Barker's party split off and was located separately.

Thornhill was made head of a party of his own, comprising 16 men, including two of his nephews, Adam Gilfillan and Philip Camm. His labourers signed an agreement similar to Wait's, binding them to six years of service at a daily wage equivalent to the value of half a bushel of wheat. Working hours were to be from eight in the morning to four in the afternoon, and each man would be entitled to 'a suitable habitation' and half an acre of garden ground. Three of Thornhill's party deserted before the Zoroaster sailed, but a late replacement, William Stokes, was allowed to board the ship while she was detained in the Downs awaiting a favourable wind.

The Zoroaster left the Downs on 12 February 1820, and reached Simon's Bay on 20 April. Here her charter terminated, and the settlers were transshipped to the Albany for the voyage to Algoa Bay, which they reached on 15 May. Thornhill was granted a plot of land at Algoa Bay for the erection of a prefabricated wooden house which he had brought with him, as its size made it difficult to transport to his location in Albany.

Thornhill's party - described by one of the colonial officials as 'the best regulated of any yet landed here' - was located between the Kowie and Rufane Rivers, and the location was named Thornhill. Lieut William Gilfillan (half-pay, late 60th Regt), a brother of Adam Gilfillan, also lived at Thornhill after his marriage to Christopher Thornhill's daughter Ann. William Gilfillan did not, as is popularly supposed, emigrate with Thornhill's party; he landed in Cape Town from the Importer brig in March 1820, and applied for a grant of land by virtue of his seven years' army service at the Cape.


ANNANDALE, George 20. Smith.

BROOKS, William 31. Farmer. w Ann 40. c Elizabeth 12, William 10, Ann 9 Joseph 6.

BRUTON, Thomas 27. Smith. w Charlotte 24. c Charlotte.

CAMM, Philip 20 Clerk.

DELL, Edward H. 38. Cooper. w Hannah 38. c John 10, Stephen 8, Edward 6, Samuel 3.

GILFILLAN, Adam 20. Merchant.

HOWARD, William 30. Chemist. w Sarah 25. c Jane 6, Richard 4.

MILDENHALL, Joseph 26. Husbandman.

SOPER, Robert 24. Carpenter. w Ellis 22.

STOKES, John 26. Husbandman. w Mary 26.

STREAK (or STREET), James 18. Husbandman.

STREAK (or STREET), William 27. Husbandman. w Elizabeth 22.

THORNHILL, Christopher 47. Merchant. w Dorothea 35. c John 15, Ann 13, Mary 10, Christian 8.

WHITE, Thomas 29. Husbandman.

*HOWARD, John Hassall 27. Chemist, druggist and apothecary. w 27. 2 children under 4.

Main sources for party list

Agent of Transports' Return of settlers under the direction of Messrs Wait, Thornhill and Dyason (Cape Archives CO 6138/2,98); Return of settlers under the direction of Christopher Thornhill (Cape Archives CO 6138/2, 56). The name Streak is given as Street in the official lists.

*John Hassall Howard, whose name does not appear on any official list, claimed to have emigrated with his wife and family as members of Thornhill's party, and was discharged from Thornhill's service in 1821 when he injured his right hand (Cape Archives CO 158,142). In a letter to the Colonial Department before emigrating, he described himself as a chemist, druggist and apothecary. It is not known how he was connected with William Howard, or whether he sailed in the Zoroaster in place of some other settler.

Ann Bagshaw (34) is entered in the Agent's Return but not in any earlier list, and may have been attached either to Thornhill's party or to Wait's (See Wait's Party).

Further reading

The Chronicle of Jeremiah Goldswain vol 1, ed Una Long (Cape Town, van Riebeeck Society, 1946).

from THE SETTLER HANDBOOK by MD Nash page 127 

Home Page | Party List

Please help towards my time and effort in maintaining this website. Every £, $, € and Rand helps!
Many Thanks, Paul

This site powered by The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding v. 14.0.4, written by Darrin Lythgoe © 2001-2024.

Maintained by Paul Tanner-Tremaine. | Data Protection Policy, Terms of Use and Disclaimers.