Title page for ETD etd-10122004-102524

Document Type Master's Dissertation
Author Rowan, Zelda
URN etd-10122004-102524
Document Title Nonnie de la Rey 1856-1923 (Afrikaans)
Degree MHCS
Department Historical and Heritage Studies
Advisor Name Title
Prof F Pretorius Committee Chair
Dr J E H Grobler Committee Co-Chair
  • Koos de la Rey
  • pionier
  • Lichtenburg
  • Anglo-Boereoorlog
  • vlugtende vroue
  • Boerevrou
  • ”volksmoeder”
  • pioneer
  • South African War
  • women refugees
  • Boer woman
  • Greeff
  • Nonnie de la Rey
  • Jacoba Elizabeth de la Rey
Date 2003-03-08
Availability unrestricted
In her lifetime Jacoba Elizabeth (Nonnie) de la Rey, née Greeff (1856-1923) was widely known not only for being the wife of the eminent General Koos de la Rey, but also for her exceptional tenacity during the Second Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902). From December 1900 to the conclusion of the war in May 1902 she and her children lived a nomadic life. Nonnie's experiences were recorded in her memoirs, Mijne omzwervingen en beproevingen gedurende den oorlog, which were published in Amsterdam in 1903. Shortly thereafter – also in 1903 – the English edition, A Woman's Wanderings and Trials During the Anglo-Boer War, as translated by Lucy Hotz, was published in Londen.

The 18 months that Nonnie spent wandering through the country probably constitute the most important phase of her life, but she experienced a great deal more, which she recorded in another memoir. Her childhood and pioneer's life are well documented. At the age of eighteen Nonnie met Jacobus Herculaas de la Rey; they were married on 24 October 1876 and settled in the vicinity of Lichtenburg.

The period from 1880 to 1899 constitute a kaleidoscope of events in Nonnie's life, for example the First Anglo-Boer War (1880-1881), the loss of Nonnie's father and mother, and a move to the farm Elandsfontein.

The South African War broke out in 1899. Nonnie's life during the war years can be divided into two phases, namely the period when she lived in Lichtenburg (October 1899 to November 1900), and the period characterised as her wandering years (December 1900 to May 1902).

Events in Nonnie de la Rey's life from 1902 to 1923 include their official visit to Europe, the restoration of Elandsfontein, Union (1910) and Koos de la Rey's political involvement, the Rebellion of 1914 and the death of Koos de la Rey. In her final years Nonnie was involved with various organisations. She was an eminent presence in her community, being revered as a “volksmoeder” by her compatriots. She died in 1923.

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