Cloete Family Tree


Welcome to the Cloete Family Tree.

In this section, you will find some interesting information about the history of Cloete's in South Africa as well as some details of my own family tree and a few "famous" Cloete's. Genealogy is a growing hobby, so please check back regularly for updates.

Where Does the Name Cloete Originate ?

How Do You Pronounce the Cloete Name ?

The Family Crest & Motto

Myths, Legends and Rumours - partially available

My Family Tree - partially available

Some Famous Cloete's - under construction

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The Cloete name is as old as South Africa itself. Here is a transcript from the back of our family crest, which has been in my family for over 5 generations.

This information according to Dr. J. Hoge "Personalia of the Germans at the Cape 1625-1806" - Archive Year Book for South African History - 1946.

A certain Jacob Cloete, from Cologne accompanied Van Riebeck to the Cape in 1652. He was one of the first Burgers to be established on the land as a free colonist in 1657. His wife was Fytje (Sophia) Raderootjes of UTS In't LAND van KEULEN, which is probably UESZ in the EIFEL. They had four children, Elsje, Gerrit (both born in Germany), Catharina and Coenraad.

On further investigation it seems likely that Jacob was the first Cloete in South Africa. There are some reports that he was the ship's doctor, but I have not been able to establish this yet. He acquired a farm on or near "Liesbeek" as a "burger" in 1657. He left South Africa in 1671 but returned to the Cape as a Corporal later. Records show he was murdered 23 May 1693.

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There are 2 main ways of pronouncing the Cloete name and both are accepted and correct. The English speaking way is "Clue-Tea" and the Afrikaans speaking way is "Clue-Ta". If one takes Jacob Cloete as the "father" of South African Cloete's then the reason for the different pronunciation becomes apparent. He was German and his original spelling of his surname was Klutje. This name is pronounced : Klootie. Before arriving in the Cape, he moved to de Kampen in Holland and to fit in with the Dutch people, Jacob changed his surname to the Dutch equivalent : Cloeten. The Dutch did not pronounce the letter "n", and so after arriving in the Cape, the "n" was dropped from the spelling. This new spelling in Dutch would have been pronounced : Cloeta.

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"Waar Morgen" / Where Tomorrow ?

This particular family crest has been in my family over 5 generations always passing to the eldest son, and was originally owned by a Daniel J. Cloete towards the early part of the 1800's. The design was taken from one that belonged to a Supreme Court judge, Sir Henry (Hendrik) Cloete (1792-1870) who married Helen Graham, the sister of the founder of Grahamstown. Daniel J. Cloete is probably Daniel Jacob Cloete (1800 - 1879), a sixth generation descendant of Jacob Cloete, the first Cloete in South Africa, although I am yet to confirm this link. There are many variations that have been changed over the centuries, but the essence is the same and I believe the one pictured above to be an unchanged original. In some other Cloete crests, the feathers are missing and there are five identical flags on the ship. The Motto, UBI CRAS is of course the same throughout.

The family motto "Ubi Cras", has an old and interesting history. It means "Waar Morgen" which is Dutch for "Where Tomorrow?" According to Judge Dante Cloete, the motto dates back to a member of the Cloete Family, who joined the Indian Army. This member describes an uncle who saw the Motto over the door of an old German Inn and also on the tomb of a soldier in Prussia. He thought it a really apt inscription and Hey Presto!, our Motto forever more.

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Every family has skeletons in the closet and I thought it would be quite fun to include a few of the Cloete one's. There was a famous legend that went something like this :

"In the early Cape, there were ONLY 2 Families worth considering! The one family was the Cloete's and the other, the van der Byl's. According to their status, the van der Byl's ONLY spoke to the Cloete's and the Cloete's ONLY spoke to God!"

I guess the early Cloete's were real snobs.

If you have any other interesting titbits then please contact me.

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As with all family trees, it takes a lot of time and effort to fill in all the missing gaps. I am approximately a 10th generation Cloete from the first Cloete in South Africa, Jacob Cloete. My father, O'Donohue Leonard Cloete (Don as he was known) passed away on the 1st May 1999. My Grandfather, Great Grandfather and Great Great Grandfather were all C.C. Cloete. I am still researching the direct Cloete line, so please check back again soon, as this section will be updated regularly. If in this section you find any overlap with your family tree then please contact me.

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