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Viljoen Founding Family

Ida's Valley homestead
The homestead of the farm Ida's Valley, Stellenbosch, originally the farm of the progenitors of the Viljoens. The present homestead is in the Cape Dutch architectural style and was erected by Samuel Cats in 1787.
For a larger picture, click on image above.
The Viljoen Progenitors

Francois Villion arrived in 1671 at the Cape of Good Hope as a Huguenot refugee, who came from Clermont, France. His occupation is first given as that of "free wagonmaker", and later "Free Burgher" (free farmer). He was married in Cape Town on 1676.05.17 to Cornelia Campenaar, a young girl from Middelburg, Netherlands. In 1682 they received the farm Ida's Valley near Stellenbosch from Governor Simon van der Stel, where Francois Villion farmed until his death in 1689. The surname was initally spelled Villion (also Villon), and was later changed to the present spelling of Viljoen.

It is not quite certain from which town of Clermont Francois Villion originated, since there are a few towns in France with this name. The best known Clermont is situated 60 km north of Paris in the province Ile de France, and it is generally regarded to be his town of origin. All the Protestant church records were destroyed during the persecution of the Huguenots after revoking the Edict of Nantes in 1685, and therefore no baptismal records are available to confirm the facts.

Francois Villion fled France even before the Edict of Nantes was revoked in 1685, and which resulted in the large scale persecution of the Huguenots. Their persecution already increased in intensity as early as 1610, and large numbers had to flee from France for their lives even before the Edict of Nantes was revoked.


Signature of Francois Villion.

Francois Villion was in fact the first Huguenot who settled at the Cape of Good Hope permanently. (Maria de la Quellerie, the wife of Jan van Riebeeck who founded the Dutch settlement at the Cape of Good Hope in 1652, was also a Huguenot, but she left with her husband and family in 1662). Other early Huguenot arrivals (i.e. before the organised large scale immigration of 1688 - 1689) were the brothers François and Guillaume du Toit in 1685).

The large scale persecution of the Huguenots started in 1685, as a result of which some 180 fled to the Cape of Good Hope in 1688/89. Larger numbers emigrated to England, America, Germany, Switzerland, etc.

Francois Villion went to the Cape of Good Hope via the Netherlands in 1671. It is believed that he met his future wife, Cornelia Campenaar, whilst waiting for a passage in Middelburg, Netherlands, which was a harbour city at that time. She followed him to Cape Town five years later, where they were married in 1676.

Six children were born from their marriage, four in Cape Town and two on the family farm Ida's Valley near Stellenbosch. Two sons, namely Henning and Johannes Viljoen, propagated the Viljoen surname. When the progenitor died in 1689, his widow Cornelia was left behind with six children (of ages 12, 11, 7, 5, 3 and 1 year old respectively). The youngest, Francina, was named after her father (who probably passed away even before her birth). As a widow Cornelia remarried Wemmer Pasman on 1690.04.14, with whom she had three more children.


Next: The First Viljoen Generations:

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