Ancrestry24.co.za, South Africa's premier genealogy and ancestral website, has partnered with the Anglican Church in making the marriage and baptism records of St George's Cathedral in Cape Town accessible online. St George's is the oldest cathedral in southern Africa and is the mother church of the Anglican diocese of Cape Town.
A total of 3,633 marriage records, dating from the first available St Georges records in 1825 and over 6,000 baptism records dating 1921-1969, have been captured and made available online, free to the public. Earlier marriage records, dating from 1812 at the Colonial Chapel at the Castle have yet to be transcribed. This is part of an agreement between Ancestry24 and the Anglican Church Archives at Wits University where marriage and baptism records of some of South Africa's oldest churches are being accurately captured and published at www.ancestry24.co.za
Says Heather MacAlister of Ancestry24, “The completion of the first phase of the St George's Cathedral records is a significant milestone. Historians and genealogists researching their family history now have an additional useful tool in the St George's online database. Many thousands of records are immediately available to be searched and viewed at the click of a button, which presents an enormous advantage over laboriously paging through dusty old church volumes.”
Online accessibility of family records is all the more relevant given the rapidly growing interest in genealogy from South Africa's youth, says Mrs MacAlister. “Not only is genealogy one of the fastest growing hobbies in the world but a recent Ancestry24 survey points to a significant change in the age and demographics of South Africans researching their family history. While genealogy was traditionally a hobby for older people, there is a huge upswing in interest from younger generations and a cross-section of ethnic groups. Genealogy also forms part of South Africa's outcomes based education system with learners researching their family history as part of school projects.”
The online availability of the St George's records in particular is noteworthy considering the role that the cathedral played in the history of the Cape. A great many South African families can trace some sort of connection to what has fondly become known as the “people's cathedral” through its voluminous records of marriages and baptisms. St George's became known as the people's cathedral because of its focal point as a site of resistance against apartheid, a place where protest vigils took place and oppressive policies were denounced.
The St George's records also present useful information for genealogists and historians interested in tracing the history of the some of the Cape's more famous families. For example, well known artist Thomas Bowler, bookseller Jan Carl Juta, and governor of the Cape Colony, Sir George Thomas Napier were all married at St George's Cathedral.
Mrs MacAlister adds that the online capture of St George's records was made possible through the dedicated assistance of a group of genealogist volunteers who spent over 2,000 hours in capturing and verifying the complete set of records.
Ancestry24 is South Africa's most comprehensive ancestral and genealogical website, offering a wealth of interesting data and easy-to-use software resources to help kickstart one's journey into the past. It has a fascinating collection of online data including slave records, voter rolls, church registers, ships passenger lists and rare history books.