1751 Ryk Tulbach becomes Governor of the Cape. A man of this calibre was not often found among the governors and men in authority of that period. Ryk Tulbagh was a great governor- if greatness could be judged by the love and respect of contemporaries. He was mild, kindl, just and honourable in all his dealings.
He was born in Holland in 1699, and came to the Cape in the company’s service at the age of seventeen. He worked hard, and promotion was rapid; he rose to be clerk, fiscal, secunde and finally Governor. Throughout the whole of his career at the Cape, from 1716 to his death in 1771, in all walks of life the charm of his kind and simple nature made itself felt. Father Tulbagh never turned, even when he filled the highest office, any one seeking redress for a grievance, or help in a difficulty, away. Often he could not afford little luxuries which other men of his rank would have taken as necessities, and people could not understand his austerity until some needy person explained what had become of Tulbagh’s money. His honesty was complete, and all men trusted him. This was, perhaps, his most remarkable characteristic when we consider the degree of corruption that then existed among the company’s servants, and indeed among officials everywhere. His wise and benevolent government made the burghers look back, during the rest of that stormy eighteenth century and even later, to the twenty years of Father Tulbagh’s office, as a brief golden age. Even so, the colony suffered several misfortunes during this period.
1752 The Slavelodge is once again renovated and enlarged. The northern wall (Bureau Street) was shifted up to the boundary wall of the churchyard, while the eastern wall was moved up to the moat of the Company’s hospital in the Heerengracht. A second storey was added and the building given a flat, plastered roof.
1751 The building at 14 Keerom Street is a typically Cape, eighteenth-century townhouse. It is is situated on land originally granted to Hermanus Smuts. Today it houses the Five Flies restaurant.
1751 April, Abbe de la Caille arrives at the Cape. He charted the skies of the southern hemisphere. He was a most distinguished astronomer, and a member of the Royal Academy of Sciences at Paris.
1752 7th of April The centenary of the founding of the town is celebrated in the five churches of the Colony.
Since the earliest days of the settlement, the town in Table Valley had simply been known as ‘De Kaap’, and its inhabitants as Kapenaars. From the 1750’s people start refering to it as ‘Kaapstad’. It was changed to ‘Cape Town’, when the British came into power.
1752 The erf on which this doublestorey house at 93 Bree Street stands is granted to Jan de Waal by Governor Ryk Tulbagh. Born in Amsterdam, he arrived at the Cape in 1715 as an employee of the Dutch East India Company. The house and adjoining warehouse in Shortmarket Street are typical of eighteenth century Cape architecture. The present teak Georgian windows and door replaced the Dutch-style originals during the first quarter of the nineteenth century. Jan de Waal was also the founder of Walendorp or the Bo-Kaap as we know it today.
89, 89a, 87 Bree Street are of a similar era. They were changed to pitched roofs c1900.
1755 A severe outbreak of smallpox breaks out. This is the first since the plague of 1713. It is brought to the Cape by a fleet returning home from Ceylon (Sri Lanka), and spread rapidly through the colony. In the City hardly any adult who was infected recover, and two thousand people-nine hundred Europeans and eleven hundred slaves and Khoi, died.
Further inland the isolation of families on farms prevent the disease from spreading as rapidly as at the Cape. White people and slaves, escape more lightly, but the Khoi clans are terribly ravaged. Whole tribes die out, and the remnants drift together into new agglomerations, but not true tribes. Finding it difficult to distinguish between them, the Europeans rename them Hottentots.
1755 The old Wachthuis, on Greenmarker Square, is demolished, and on the 18th of November of that year the foundation stone of the new Town and Watch House was laid by Barendt Artoijs, a member of the High Court of Justice. This building stands as a proud example of eighteenth century architecture and symbolises the development of local government in Cape Town.
In Governor Tulbagh’s term of office, the colonists enjoy fair prosperity. By the end of Tulbagh’s governorship the Town has over a thousand, stone built houses, many of which have survive to this day in parts of the Gardens and in the Bo-Kaap. Down the middle of the main streets run little canals, really open sewers. Trees are planted along the canals. The streets are unpaved and dusty, especially when the Southeaster blows around the mountain from the sandy Cape Flats.
It is a pleasant little town, magnificently situated between the mountain and the sea, with the green of the Gardens in the background, and the main buildings in the foreground; The Castle, the hospital, the company’s offices, and Tulbagh’s fine new watch house on Greenmarket Square (Old Town House).
Here in warm summer evenings the merchants and their ladies drink coffee on the stoep, discuss the latest arrivals, the newest fashions from Paris and The Hague, the crops and the price of wine. Perhaps they speak of the library of nearly four thousand books, which have been left to the colony by Heer van Dessin, the secretary of the orphan chamber, who has recently died without heirs.
Sumptuary laws are introduced by the Dutch East India Company to check extravagance, luxurious living and ostentation, which is the vogue among the Company’s officials in the East. Life in the Colony is much simpler and only a few are wealthy. Nevertheless, only the Governor is allowed to drive in a gilded coach and have his coat-of-arms emblazoned on a coach door; only members of the Council of Policy are permitted to dress their servants in livery, and only high officials and their wives are allowed to use large umbrellas in the streets.
There were ladies whose wardrobes consist of: fifteen gowns, the majority made of chintz or white twill, but with two of silk and others of velvet or blue satin, no less than twenty petticoats, and innumerable handkerchiefs, caps and ruffles. Well-to-do burghers might similarly possess at least two cotton-lined coats of dark blue silk, several doublets of embroidered silk or velvet, three of four pairs of velvet breeches in assorted colours, and chests full of shirts with and without ruffles, stockings of white cotton, knitted caps and coloured handkerchiefs.
Tulbagh, disliking ostentatious display, prohibit dresses with trains and restrict the wearing of silk dresses with silk embroidery and rich mantles of the wives of junior merchants and their superiors. The use of large umbrellas are similarly restricted. Only a senior merchant is allowed to enter the Castle, in fine weather, with an open umbrella. A man of rank is allowed to drive in his coach with liveried servants, but, at the approach of the governor, he would be required to get out of his carriage.
At the end of the century, lighter materials are being substituted for silks and satins, fine muslins are now preferred for ladies’ dresses. French fashions, with shawls and turbans enjoy a brief vogue. In the country, women wore poke bonnets of straw, tied by a ribbon under the chin. Men’s fashion trends are more conservative; black coats and knee breeches with silver buckles at the knee and on the shoes. In the street, professional men would wear a three cornered cocked hat and carry a silver mounted stick or cane.
On farms, especially in the more remote areas, homemade clothes of coarse cloth or moleskin are worn. Cotton handkerchiefs replace the stock and cravat of the Town burgher. Hats are large, and cocked up on two sides.
1771, 1772, 1775 The explorer Captain Cook calls at the Cape to take in fresh provisions.
1771 11th of August Ryk Tulbagh dies. He is buried beneath the floor of the Groote Kerk.
1772 2nd of November The foundation stone of a new hospital, to replace the one erected by Simon van der Stel, is laid. The site face an open space, which later became known as Caledon Square. The buildings consists of two long parallel wings linked at right angles at their northern ends and in the centre. The hospital is designed to accommodate 1,450 patients, as well as the surgeons, pharmasists, male nurses and attendants. Some of the building materials are imported from Holland, but stone, timber and lime are obtained locally. (Present day Cape Town Police Station in Buitenkant Street)
The foundation, of the Masonic order in South Africa, is laid by the establishment of the Lodge de Goede Hoop. It receives its warrant from the Grand Lodge National of the Netherlands.
1773 23rd of January The newly appointed Governor, Baron Pieter van Reede van Oudtshoorn, dies at sea, nineteen days after having boarded the Asia for the voyage to the Cape. His funeral is held with full military honour, at the Groote Kerk. His gravestone can be viewed on the tower side of the Groote Kerk.
1773 1st of June, A northwest gale sets in and causes the Dutch East-Indiaman, Jonge Thomas, to part her cables. She ran aground just beyond the mouth of the Saltriver. Wolraad Woltemade, on horseback, managed to save 14 men, before he drowned.
1774 A new road between Rondebosch and Cape Town is considered necessary to accommodate the daily traffic of carts and wagons.
1774 18th of May Joachim van Plettenberg is appointed Governor.