Die lewe en werk van Petrus Lafras Uys, 1797-1838

Markram, Willem Jakobus (2001-06)

Thesis (PhD.) -- Stellenbosch University, 2001.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This thesis is a biographical study of the life and contribution of Petrus Lafras Uys, a leading figure in the district of Uitenhage and later leader of the V oortrekkers. His actions are placed against the backdrop of the problems and grievances of the Afrikaner farmers in the districts of Swellendam and Uitenhage during the years 1815- 1837, and his interaction with other Voortrekker leaders after he had left the Cape Colony in 183 7 as leader of a Voortrekker party. Piet Uys, the son of Jacobus Johannes Uys and Susanna Margaretha Moolman, was christened in October 1797. He married his cousin, Alida Maria Uys, in the district of Swellendam in 1815. He settled in the ward Gamtoos River in the district of Uitenhage towards the end of 1825 or early in 1826. As an energetic Dutch farmer, the many grievances in connection with landownership contributed to his feelings of restlessness and dissatisfaction with his stay in the district of Uitenhage. The destabilization of the eastern borders and the conflict between white farmers and black groups led to feelings of insecurity. These feelings of insecurity became unbearable during the Sixth Border War of 1835 in which Uys fought honourably as field cornet. The requisitioning of horses, livestock and wagons by the government during this war and the lack of compensation, resulted in great financial losses for Uys and his family. Just as many other farmers, Piet Uys clashed with the government about the treatment of his slaves and labourers. The court case instituted against him and his wife by his indentured slave Rosina remained part of the complexity of grievances of the Uys family and friends for a considerable length of time. Piet Uys was one of the first frontier farmer leaders who showed an interest in the interior of the country as a possible establishment of a settlement. It is possible that he went on an expedition as early as 1829. Furthermore, Uys was also the organizer and leader of the well-known Reconnaissance Commission that undertook an expedition into Natal in September 1834. Uys left the district ofUitenhage as leader of a trek in April 1837, with the intention of emigrating to Natal. He was in conflict with the existing Voortrekker government and did not accept the governmental arrangements. Differences of opinion as to the route to be taken and the question of who should be the Voortrekker minister, became issues of conflict. Yet Uys did not hesitate to assist his fellow Voortrekkers in their hour of need. He also played a key role in the military. Thus it was that Uys, as eo-commander took part in the Campaign ofMarico against the Ndebele in November 1837. He was also, together with Hendrik Potgieter, commander of the punitive commando who set off against the Zulu in 183 8. During the Battle of Italeni, 11 April 183 8, Pi et Uys and his son, Dirk Comelis, were mortally wounded. After his death, his family and friends settled in Natal. Many members of his family held important positions in public life and in the military in Natal, and later in the Republic of South Africa.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie proefskrif is 'n biogra:fiese studie oor die lewe en hydrae van Petrus Lafras Uys as leiersfiguur in die distrik Uitenhage en as latere Voortrekkerleier. Uys se optrede word geplaas teen die agtergrond van die probleme en griewe van die Afrikanerboere in die distrikte Swellendam en Uitenhage in die jare 1815-1837 en sy interaksie met ander Voortrekkerleiers nadat hy in 1837 die Kaapkolonie as leier van 'n trekgeselskap verlaat het. Piet Uys is in Oktober 1797 as 'n kind van Jacobus Johannes Uys en Susanna Margaretha Moolman gedoop. Hy is in 1815 in die distrik Swellendam met sy niggie, Alida Maria Uys, getroud. Hy het horn teen die einde van 1825 ofvroeg in 1826 in die wyk Gamtoosrivier van die distrik Uitenhage gevestig. As 'n energieke Afrikanerboer het verskeie griewe in verband met grondbesit tot Uys se gevoel van rusteloosheid en ontevredenheid met sy bestaan in die distrik Uitenhage bygedra. Die destabilisasie van die oosgrens en die konflik tussen blanke boere en swart groepe het tot 'n gevoel van onveiligheid by horn aanleiding gegee. Hierdie gevoel van onveiligheid het 'n hoogtepunt tydens die Sesde Grensoorlog van 1834- 1835 bereik. Uys het met onderskeiding as veldkornet aan die oorlog deelgeneem. Die opkommandering van perde, vee en waens deur die regering tydens die oorlog en die gebrek aan vergoeding daarvoor het veroorsaak dat Uys en sy familielede finansiele verliese gely het. Soos talle mede-grensboere het Piet Uys met die regering gebots oor die behandeling van sy slawe en arbeiders. Die hofsaak wat Uys se ingeboekte slavin, Rosina, teen horn en sy eggenote aanhangig gemaak het, het lank deel van die griewekompleks van die Uyse en hulle vriende gebly. Piet Uys was een van die eerste grensboerleiers wat 'n belangstelling in die binneland as 'n moontlike vestigingsplek getoon het. Hy het moontlik reeds in 1829 'n tog na die binneland onderneem. V erder was Uys die organiseerder en leier van die bekende verkenningskommissie wat in September 1834 'n tog na Natal onderneem het. Uys het in April 1837 as leier van 'n trek die distrik Uitenhage verlaat met die doel om na Natal te emigreer. Hy het in konflik met die bestaande Voortrekkerregering getree en nie die bestuursreelings aanvaar nie. V erskille oor die trekrigting en die Voortrekkerleraar het ook na vore getree. Tog het Uys nie geskroom om sy mede-emigrante in tye van nood te help nie en veral op militere gebied 'n groot rol gespeel. So byvoorbeeld het Uys as mede-bevelvoerder aan die Marico-veldtog teen die Ndebele in November 1837 deelgeneem. Piet Uys was ook saam met Hendrik Potgieter die mede-bevelvoerder van die strafkommando wat in April 1838 teen die Zulu uitgetrek het. In die slag van ltaleni op 11 April 1838 het Piet Uys en sy seun, Dirk Cornelis, die lewe gelaat. Na sy dood het sy vriende en familielede hulle in Natal gevestig. Verskeie van Uys se familielede het 'n vername rol in die openbare lewe en op militere gebied in Natal en later in die Suid-Afrikaanse Republiek gespeel.

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