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Macbeth

Robert Macbeth lived in both Kimberley and Vryburg and owned and managed Cogill’s Hotel in Wynberg, Cape Town until about 1902 when he had financial problems. Having restored and refurbished the hotel I imagine the end of the war also brought the gravy train to an end. He was always involved in local politics and was a councillor in both Vryburg and Wynberg.

Robert Macbeth is the name he was known by in Africa but he was born Joseph Cramond and used the name Robert Cramond Macbeth late in life.

He was said to have moved to ‘Old Umtali’. The list of Farmers in the 1911 Rhodesia directory gives the address of R Macbeth as ‘Old Umtali’. Unfortunately there appears to be no earlier directory. He did not appear in the voters’ rolls of 1908 or 1910 for the Umtali district so had presumably been elsewhere and then later moved to Bromley, nearer to the capital, Salisbury. A financial hearing into his affairs in Cape Town was told in 1906 that he was in Rhodesia.

He is eventually found settled in Bromley according to the Death Notice, which was filed by his son, Douglas Macbeth. I have a statement which Douglas provided to the Master of the High Court with a note signed by Robert’s wife, Christina (said to be Christina Ritchie, born in Falkirk, Scotland) at Forres Farm, Bromley, dated 28 April 1923 regarding a loan from Douglas. Douglas only filled in the Death Notice on 14 March 1927 (Christina died on 4 April 1925) and not at Bromley but at Nyabira. Archive reference JG 3/3/355.204

Robert was buried in a grave in the Presbyterian section of Salisbury cemetery (plot 160) without a headstone. When Christina died, the grave was opened for her burial (records have been checked with the Custodian at the cemetery). When Robert died, his undated, unsigned, typewritten will was presented to the High Court and was accepted as authentic. His Death Notice (Harare archive JG 3/3/308/26) stated that his estate exceeded £200. It also contained a number of inaccuracies - presumably because Robert had persisted in various evasions. He had obviously reverted to using part of his original name because the statement is for Robert Cramond Macbeth, his mother was stated to be Jane Macbeth (Jane was his sister) when she was actually Sarah and it stated that his first wife, Fanny ‘Macbeth’ died in 1884 (she actually lived until 1942 and would have gone berserk to be called Mrs. Macbeth).

I was determined to find out more about Robert’s later years if at all possible. Obviously, visiting Zimbabwe was difficult so some years ago I contacted the Genealogy Society in Harare to ask if they could recommend a researcher. A member of the society, who, with two others had formed a group called Zimsearch, was happy to help. Research became prolonged (archives closed for a month followed by rains going on longer than normal!) but eventually they came up with some answers.

Robert had married for a third time, to Christina Ritchie in Salisbury but, no date.

Lack of documentation forces me to rely on items such as the newspaper obituary and the death certificate issued on the 28th April 1923. Robert Macbeth died on the 26th April 1923 in Salisbury Hospital from ‘Myocardial Degeneration - Heart Failure’. His illness lasted 16 days. It was stated that Robert was usually resident in Bromley, a small town outside Salisbury, was 68 years old, born Scotland, a farmer‘. At the inaugural meeting of the Bromley Farmers Association at 10.30am on 10th May 1916 Robert Macbeth was elected to be President of the Association. The last meeting he attended was on 7 December 1922. The minutes of the meeting on 2 May 1923 included “The President then rose and addressed the meeting on the sad loss to this district in the death of Mr. Robert Macbeth. At the conclusion of the President’s address all present rose and stood in honour to the deceased”. His son, Douglas Macbeth, was not at this meeting but had attended meetings both before and after it.

After that preamble can I ask if you know of a researcher who would give me a quotation for looking into the following:

Robert Cramond Macbeth 13.12.1854 - 26.4.1923

Reg.28.4.23 SBY/68/23

Christina Ritchie Abt 1860 - 4.4.1925

Douglas Macbeth 9.5.1893 - 15.12.1981 (Cape Town)

1. Any further information on Robert Macbeth in Zimbabwe. He was not the sort of man to hide his light under a bushel so probably took part in other civic activities.

2. What type of farming did Robert do? His son, Douglas, became a tobacco farmer. Could Robert have been one? Are there lists of tobacco farmers?

3. A death certificate and/or death notice for Christina Macbeth nee Ritchie died 4 April 1925. (Did she have any effects; who paid for the burial?). Christina is an unknown quantity. Roberts first wife took off for the USA thinking he had gone there, his second ‘wife’ died in Cape Town and we know virtually nothing about Christina. Ritchie may have been her natal or married name. If previously married she could have had children. If she had children she could have gone to live with them in Nyabira for her last year.

4. A marriage certificate for Robert Macbeth / Christina Ritchie sometime from 1904. The marriage was believed to be in Salisbury. It the marriage was there it was probably after he left Old Umtali, therefore post 1910 (unless he met Christina in Umtali).

I hope this is not too involved. I produced an 80xA5 booklet about this side of the family for my South African cousins and these loose ends are rather annoying.

I look forward to hearing from you. Glad that you are still in operation.

John Unsworth, 68 Norton Lees Road, Sheffield S8 9BZ, England

Fax: 0114 2818884 jbu1@blueyonder.co.uk


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