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Michael | Johann Conrad
Origins of the Steyn family
- Founding fathers
- The name Steijn / Steyn / Stein in places in Europe
- German origin
- In Germany
- In the Cape
- Dutch origin
The descendents of the South African surname Steyn
have Dutch and German roots. The surname Steyn has different spellings in historical
records. The Dutch surname was commonly spelt Steijn
and the German was spelt Stein. It is also possible
that the surname Steen was written as Steyn.
There were no common spelling conventions established by Academies as we have
today, so spelling variations were common. What contributed to this is the high
rate of illiteracy. Official scribes wrote most of the records such as the registration
of new citizens.
These scribes often wrote names as they heard them in their own language. For
example, at the Cape of Good Hope the French name Couchy
was spelt Coetzee by the scribe who entered this
name in the records. He thus wrote the name phonetically in his own language.
The same could have happened to the variations of Steyn.
A matter which complicates tracing the origins of surnames is that the use
of a surname is a relatively recent social development. In ancient times people
with the same names were distinguished by referring to their parents (most often
the father) such as Xyz, son of Abc (eg. Isaac,
son of John or Jan,
which became Johnson, or in Dutch, Janzoon,
shortened to Jansen ), or to their place of origen, such as Xyz,
from Abc (eg. Maria von Diemer).
2. Founding fathers
1. Douwe Gerbens (1638? - 1700) - Dutch
Much uncertainty casts doubt over the origin of the surname Steyn attributed
to Douwe Gerbens from whom the majority of Steyns
in South Africa descend.
It seems that the majority of Steyns in South Africa are descendents from the
stepson, Jacobus Steijn, of the Dutchman Douwe Gerbens
(from Leeuwarden, Netherlands).
2. Johannes Stein/Steyn (1727? - 1791) - German(?)
The second largest group seems to descend from Johannes Stein/Steyn, who was likely a Lutheran German, from Darmstadt who fought as mercenary soldier for the Prussians during the War of the Austrian Succession.
3. Johann Michael Stein/Steyn (soldier 1752) - German
Johann Michael Stein/Steyn (from Konigsberg,
Germany) left some descendents, but that branch has not been investigated yet.
The fact that this German surname, Stein, was written
as Steyn at the Cape of Good Hope serves as evidence
that Johannes Steyn might have been German.
4. Johann Conrad Stein/Steyn (soldier 1775) - German
Johann Conrad Stein/Steyn (from Oberbreidenbach,
Germany) left some descendents, but that branch has not been investigated yet.
5. Arie Steyn (married 1788) - Dutch
Arie Steyn from Aalsmeer (Netherlands) married
Anna Elizabeth Paulsen on 1788.02.24 in the
Cape of Good Hope, but does not seem to have had male decendents to carry the
3. Meaning of the word "stein"
The meaning of steen (Dutch) and stein (German) is the same as
the English stone.
4. The name Steijn / Steyn / Stein in places in Europe
The name is found in the following historical records. The earliest mention
is of a certain Erasmus:
Erasmus (born 1466) entered the Augustinian monastery of Steyn.
Towns in the Netherlands
The following towns in the Netherlands have the word steyn (also spelt
steijn) in their names:
- Yselsteyn: at the Ysel river. See Joan Blaev:
Toonneel der Steeden v/d Vereenighde Nederlanden. Ref 911,492B). The town
was destroyed in 1366, but was rebuilt.
- Loevesteyn: is a slot where the Maes and Wael
- Stein (Limburg, east of the Maas River, which
is the present-day border with Belgium). Stein is located roughly 10Km north
of Maastricht, southwest of Duisberg.
This village is a historical village, along with Urmond (north of Stein),
Elsloo (south of Stein), and Berg (much further south). The town heraldic
shield is shared with that of Elsloo, and can be traced back to the 1100s
CE. Nothing in this shield is similar to the Steyn family shield.
Legend states that two brothers of Elsloo had to share the area, and the one
who settled in the Stein area used "van Steyn"
to distinguish himself from his brother.
As the crow flies the village of Stein is roughly 150Km south of Leeuwarden
(where Douwe Gerbens Steyn comes from), and 180Km northwest of Darmstadt (Germany
- where Johannes Steyn comes from). It is unlikely that van
Steyn is in any relationship with the Leeuwarden clans.
Being far south, the dominant religion of the area is Roman Catholic. St Martin
is the patron saint of the village. The Dutch settlers in the Cape of Good
Hope were predominantly Protestants. It is unlikely that the South African
Steyns have any link with this village.
5 German origin
The following data comes from the Gemeinde- und Dekanatsverband, Kirchengemeindeamt
Note that Stein and Stainern may be related.
Johan Walrath Stein from Darmstad.
Was sergeant in Schrautenbachschen Regiment.
Married Anna Catharina.
Their child Johan Ludwig Stein was born 1728.10.22
and baptised on the 24th (S63)
Nicolas Stainern Guarden? from Darmstad.
Married Anna Margreth.
Their child Johan Ludwig Stainern was born 1729.03.14
and bapitsed on the 15th (S76).
* Note that the mother of Johannes Steyn of the Cape of
Good Hope was called Anna Margarieta Meyer.
Note the similarities in the names Johan Ludwig.
The two boys were born about 1 year apart.
Steins in the Darmstaedter Kirchenbuch
Heinrich Stein (1657 - 1721.08.02)
(erhaengt wegen Diebstahl = hung because of theft)
Heinrich Stein (1657 - 1733.01.05) (Goldarbeiter, Hofjewelier)
- Anna Gertraud (1665
Married Paul Stein
- Helena (1685 - 1721.12.09).
Married Johan Joerg Stein (Musketeer)
Balthasar Stein (<1705 - ?) (Tageloehner)
- Maria Louisa Stein
(1715 - 1716.07.26).
Her father was Johann Jacob Stein (Buechenspanner
bei der Jagd)
Albert Stein (1734 - 1734.02.12)
Thanks to Nortbert Thiess of Darmstad for this information.
J Hoge's Personalia of the Germans at the Cape (1652-1806)
lists the following German arrivals at the Cape. These may all be variations
of the Steyn surname, and this needs to be investigated further:
- Heinrich from Norhausen.
Free farm labourer (1671)
- Hermann from Cologne.
Loaned as farmhand (1713-1715), baker (1716-1718)
- Johann Christian from Langensalza.
Soldier (1760-1764, farmhand (1765-1766)
- Johann Jacob from Mecklenburg.
Soldier (1747-1753), farmhand (1754-after 1765)
- Christian from Danzig.
Arrive as sailor in 1742. Door-keeper in the hospital (1742), received
burgher rights (1745). Married Gysberta Witmond, daughter of Simon Witmond
- Heinrich from Hamburg.
Sailor (1735-1739), farmhand (1739-1740)
- Johannes 1764
- Johannes from
Maulbach. His surname was later spelt Steyl.
Born 1751.07.18. Son of Johannes Stey. Soldier (1775-1776), farmhand (1777-1778),
received burgher rights 1778. Married Maria Catharina Muller, daughter
of Conrad Muller of Klein Lissa. They have 8 children.
- Peter Dirks from Nordholz.
Woodcutter, loaned as farmhand (1773-1775)
- Johannes. According to W Schmidt his
original surname was Stey. There is a Steyl
Family Bond that regards Steyh as the original spelling.
- Steyn (Steijn, Stijn)
- Johannes (Johannes)
from Darmstad. Soldier 1748-1753, Corporal (1754),
sergeant (1755), ensign (vaandrig: 1755), lieutenant (1777), lieutenant-captain
(1786), captain (1787+). Married Anna Elisabeth
ten Diemen (born at Cape). They have 8 children.
- Johann Conrad (Johann
Conrad) from Oberbreidenbach. Soldier (1775+).
In Governor's body guard (from 1775), sergeant in bodyguard (1784), sergeant
on Robben Island (1793). Married Susanna Margaretha
of the Cape.
- Johann Michael
(Johann Michael) from Konigsberg.
Soldier (1752), house carpenter (1752-1758), received burgher rights (1758).
Married Hendrina Steinbruck, widow of
Friedrich Luyt. They have 3 children
- Johannes Michiel baptised 1762.01.24
- Maria Christina baptised 1763.07.16
- Simon Casparus baptised 1766.02.16
6. Dutch origen
- Arie from Aalsmeer.
Married Anna Elizabeth Paulsen 1788.02.24
- Maria Cornelia Wilhelmina baptised 1789.07.12
He does not seem to have had male decendents to carry the surname
- Douwe Gerbens (Douwe
Gerbens Gerbrandts) from Leeuwaarden (Friesland).
Born before 1623. Died 1700. Married Maria Lozee.
©1999 Jacques Steyn