ID #1203

Ancestry of one McIver family in South Africa

At least two McIver families became established in South Africa :

o    Descendants of Charles McIver (1774-1850) as shown on the memorials of Sanquhar churchyard – a farming family of Banbridge, County Down, Ireland. They were immigrants from the Isle of Lewis who became established in Ireland for several generations. This information was extracted from the memoirs of Alexander Wilson McIver by Neil McIver, his grandson neil.mciver@octevo.com   These are not my ancestors.

o    Descendants of John McIver, a boat builder from Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, Scotland. 

The following information was obtained from my namesake, Alan McIver alanmciver@shaw.ca who lives in Vancouver, my sister, Deirdre Anne Pitchers, William Foulger, Secretary, Stornoway Historical Society w.foulger@btinternet.com and records from the Genealogical Institute in Pretoria . While incomplete, the story thus far is as follows:

The surname MacIver is common in Lewis, many crossing over in the 17th Century as septs (allies) of the Earls of Seaforth, who obtained the island in 1610.  There were two branches. One was known as “Clann a Bhallaidh” (The Baillie’s Clan) while the other was known as “Clann a Mhinistear” (The Minister’s Clan). Clann a Bhallaidh held the tacks (farms) of Coll, Tolsta and Ness. The Earls of Seaforth were leaders of the MacKenzie Clan and we are thus septs  of Clan MacKenzie. In times of trouble, Clan MacKenzie called upon its clansmen and septs to come to its defence. This led, in turn, to the formation of the Seaforth Highlanders – a famous Scottish regiment. Later, McIver’s served in other equally-famous regiments, including the Royal Scots, the Cameron Highlanders and the Black Watch – some with distinction. For example, Hugh McIver won a Victoria Cross during WW1. 

John McIver (great great grandfather): He was a boat builder who was born in 1804 (this date must be confirmed) on the Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides, Scotland, where he later married Margaret McDonald. Two records survive:

o    John McIver, Parish of Uig married Margaret McDonald of Stornoway in Stornoway, Lewis on January 23 1829, or

o    John McIver of Fivepenny Borve  married Margaret McDonald  of Fivepenny Borve  on March 28 1831 in the parish of Barvas, Lewis. A son Roderick (great grandfather) was born on October 12 1842 and baptized on March 8 1843 in the parish of Barvas, Lewis. 

Since they produced a son named Roderick on the right date (see great grandfather Roderick McIver’s death notice), the latter must be our great great grandparents. Furthermore, since Fivepenny Borve lies within the district of Ness, we are members of Clann a Bhallaidh.

Roderick McIver (great grandfather), a journeyman shipwright (28 year-old bachelor of 37 Mansfield Street, Partick), married Mary McIver nee Kirkwood, 26,  a domestic servant of 16 Elmbank Crescent, Glasgow and daughter of Alexander Kirkwood (blacksmith) and Margaret Ormiston, on November 18, 1870 . They were married at 14 Hamilton Street, Glasgow after calling banns of the Free Church of Scotland (see attached marriage certificate). 

Roderick and Mary’s first child, John William McIver was born in Govan on April 6 1872. Govan  is now a suburb of Glasgow and was once an important shipbuilding site on the Clyde. John William was followed by Roderick (December 1873 or January 1874), Peter Ormiston (1875-77), Margaret Arthur nee McIver (1877), and Peter (1879).  Peter Ormiston died aged two so their third son was also called Peter. Incidentally great grandfather Roderick’s death record includes two other children – i.e. Alexander and Mary. So it seems that six children survived to adulthood – i.e. John William, Roderick, Margaret, Peter, Alexander and Mary. Lastly, our grandfather Roderick’s death record states that (a) his father’s name was Roderick, (b) his mother’s name was Mary McIver nee Kirkwood, and (c) he was born in Glasgow.  So he must be the son of Roderick (great grandfather) mentioned above. 

It is believed the family immigrated to South Africa in about 1880 (still to be confirmed). So it seems likely that Alexander and Mary were born after they landed in South Africa.

Roderick McIver (great grandfather) bought two properties in 1893, both in Woodstock, Cape Town (information from the Deeds Office). One was is now a Victorian house at the lower end of Walmer Road called Duddingston Villa (see the attached photographs -- this is probably the property referred as Stornaway Villa by John William). The second was incorporated into an industrial complex in the Forgate and Beach road area. 

Roderick (grandfather) and John William moved to Johannesburg in 1889 (after the discovery of gold in 1886). Mary McIver nee Kirkwood (great grandmother) died on October 4 1909. Roderick (great grandfather) died on January 15 1915 at 769 Beckett Street, Pretoria aged 72 years and 1 month. Since his death record was signed by W J Arthur, it seems likely he was living with his daughter Margaret Arthur when he died. When Roderick (great grandfather) died he left a property in Bellevue, Johannesburg to his youngest daughter, Mary McIver.

John William married Regina Johanna Helena Evans on June 24 1903 in Johannesburg and died in the ‘flu epidemic on May 15 1920. 

Roderick (grandfather): In 1910 he was a locomotive inspector on the South African Railways in Beaufort West. For reasons that remain obscure, some referred to him as “Black Roderick”. He married Ellen Gertrude McIver nee Redick  (born 1882 in Yorkshire, England) in Beaufort West on November 23 1899. They produced six children including

o    Mary Musto nee McIver (born June 10 1900), mother of Bertie, a medical doctor who practiced in Johannesburg. 
o    Roderick Redick McIver (born November 30 1902) who married Anna, mother of Roy and Roderick . The latter was killed in motorcycle accident in the early 60’s
o    Alexander Arthur McIver (born July 23 1905) who married Ralie (mother of John, a geology professor at Wits),
o    Margaret Arthur Fahrenheim nee McIver (born December 11, 1907 in Bloemfontein), mother of Peter (a patent attorney in Johannesburg)
o    Arthur William McIver (see attached birth certificate, born in 1910 in Beaufort West),  and
o    Malcolm Victory McIver (born September 22 1918) who married Marie, mother of Stuart and Wendy and Godfather of Alan Edward Roderick McIver.

According to his death notice, grandfather Roderick died in the ‘flu epidemic at 1158 Thorn Lane, Hatfield, Pretoria, on July 5 1919 aged 45 years and 7 months. Since he died suddenly at an early age, it seems the family moved from Beaufort West to Pretoria sometime after the birth of Arthur William McIver in 1910. 

Arthur William McIver (father) was born on November 25 1910 in Beaufort West. He married Beatrice Mary McIver nee Myhill  in 1935 in Florida on the West Rand (see attached wedding certificate). They produced four children, as follows:

o    Myrle Patricia Finlay nee McIver (born December 11 1937), mother of Grant, Murray and Lauren
o    Deirdre Anne Pitchers nee McIver (born March 2 1941), mother of Andrew, Leslie and Megan. (see attached photograph)

o    Moira Jeanne Gething nee McIver (born September 26 1946), mother of Brett, Arne and Mark (see attached photograph) and
o    Alan Edward Roderick McIver (born August 16 1948).

All men in my father’s family served in the South African Army during WW2.  After enlisting in the Transvaal Scottish, Arthur William was transferred to the South African Engineers because of his mining background and experience with explosives. He saw service in Ethiopia, North Africa, and Italy. At the end of war he was seconded to the Royal Engineers in Germany to dispose of unexploded bombs (see attached war record). Tragically, he died in an underground mining accident on Randfontein Estates Gold Mine on December 2 1948 aged 38 years and 7 days. 

Alan Edward Roderick McIver married Pam Farish in the Methodist Church in Krugersdorp on December 28 1977. We have four children, as follows:

o    Gareth John James (October 28 1980),
o    Stuart Roderick Arthur (September 17 1982),
o    Malcolm Alan (December 2 1985) and
o    Bryony Fiona (January 23 1993)

All were born in the Marymount Hospital in Johannesburg.

Because of the premature deaths of both Roderick (grandfather) and Arthur William McIver, much information has been lost. However, information obtained from the Genealogical Institute of South Africa (GISA) in Pretoria shows this to be an accurate albeit sketchy record of our ancestry.

Notice that this is a family of engineers, starting in 1804 with John McIver (boat builder), his son Roderick (journeyman shipwright and later a carpenter), his son Roderick (locomotive inspector), Arthur William (South African and Royal Engineers and Mine Captain), myself (Chemical Engineering, Wits, 1970 and Carnegie-Mellon University, Pittsburgh, 1980) and my son Stuart (Electrical Engineering, Stellenbosch). But there is also an interesting sprinkle of artists, writers, geologists, etc.

If you have information that could shed more light on this ancestry, please contact me at +27 (73) 631 4801+27 (73) 631 4801, alanmciver@gmail.com  

Alan Edward Roderick McIver,
Cape Town,
May 2010


(1)    Spelling:

The spelling of the name Ormiston is uncertain – i.e. Ormiston, Ormston and Ormstone. I have used the former here on the advice of Jane Campbell, who also provided information on my grandmother Ellen G Redick, whose father Jonathan Hargreaves Redick was buried in Beaufort West (see attached photograph). This is consistent with the wedding certificate of Alexander Kirkwood and Mary Ormiston in 1833 (see attachment). Information from robertcampbell.1@blueyonder.co.uk

(2) Documents in my possession:

o    Death Notice of great grandfather Roderick McIver, a retired carpenter of 769 Beckett Street, Pretoria who died on January 15 1915. Signed by W J Arthur
o    Death Notice of grandfather Roderick McIver, locomotive inspector who died at 1158 Thorn Lane, Hatfield, Pretoria on July 15 1919. Signed by grandmother Ellen G McIver nee Redick,
o    Death Notice of Arthur William McIver (father), mine official, Randfontein Estates Gold Mine who died on December 2 1948 in Robinson Hospital, Randfontein. Signed B M McIver (mother)
o    Two unofficial documents from Alexis Evans re information on John William McIver (brother of grandfather) as well the early family history. Some of the information (e.g. Bourse instead of Borve and Barras instead of Barvas) is incorrect.
o    Birth certificate of Alan Edward Roderick McIver, son of Arthur William McIver and Beatrice Mary McIver nee Myhill on August 16 1948. Signed by A.W. McIver
o    Photograph of the marriage certificate of Jonathan Hargreaves Redick of 5 Union Street, Bradford, Yorkshire and son of Thomas Redick, a colliery proprietor, to Wilhelmina Cooper of 15 Union Street, Bradford and daughter of Thomas Cooper, a tailor, on February 24 1877 courtesy of  Jane Campbell.
o    Photograph of the gravestone of Jonathan Hargreaves Redick, who died on September 16 1888 in Beaufort West courtesy of Jane Campbell.
o    Birth Certificate of Margaret Arthur Fahrenheim nee McIver (born December 12 1907) of 11 Glen Road, Bloemfontein, daughter of Roderick McIver and Ellen Gertrude McIver nee Redick (Reddick).
o    Marriage Certificate of Edward John Myhill and Harriet Collingham of District Township, Krugersdorp in St Peter’s Church, Krugersdorp on April 17 1911 (see attached certificate). 
o    Birth Certificate of Harriet Collingham, daughter of Richard Collingham and Mary Ann Collingham nee Jordan on February 15 1886 in Seaford, a subdistrict of Eastbourne in Sussex (see attached birth certificate).
o    Birth Certificate of Edward John Myhill, son of John Myhill and Rebecca Myhill nee Banks of 20 Stanhope Road, Strood on September 19 1883 (see attached birth certificate).
o    Marriage Certificate of Arthur William McIver to Beatrice Mary McIver nee Myhill on December 29 1935 in St Gabriel’s Church, Florida (sse attached certificate).
o    Marriage Certificate of Alexander Kirkwood and Margaret Ormiston, December 1833, Duddingston (near Edinburgh) -- see attached certificate.
o    1871 Census, Govan, Glasgow,
o    Marriage Certificate of Roderick McIver (28) and Mary Kirkwood (26) at 14 Hamilton Street, Govan on November 18 1870 -- see attached certificate.
o    War Record of Arthur William McIver, in an eMail from the South African Department of Defence (Sandf) sandfdoc@mweb.co.za signed by Lt E P Kleynhans on behalf of the Chief of the SANDF dated November 1 2013 SSN 813-4612 (see attached spreadsheet)

This information will be kept in a file marked "Ancestry" at 147 second Avenue, Kenilworth, Cape Town.  

(3)    Footnotes to the Text:

1.    Other spellings of the name, which arose because the population was largely illiterate (or spoke only Gaelic), include MacIver, MacIvor, McKeever, etc.
2.    I have a copy of their family tree for anyone interested
3.    The records show that John McIver came from Stornoway. However, when overseas, emigrants from Lewis said they came from Stornoway because it was more widely known than the tiny villages from which they originated.
4.    Kindly obtained by Alexis Evans evansdd@netactive.co.za   who noted that the records are detailed and include a receipt for “bloomers and corsets” by John William McIver. Apparently the death certificates and other information are also on record at GISA (Genealogical Institute of South Africa) in Stellenbosch (across the road from the engineering building) and Roeland Street, Cape Town.
5.    The name is also common on the Isle of Skye, southeast of  Lewis.
6.    The MacIver clan was broken during Scotland’s tumultuous history, particularly the Jacobite Risings (1688-1746) and the subsequent Highland Clearances. Some clansmen were forced to change their names to Campbell when use of their name was outlawed.
7.    Septs are families who followed another family’s chief – in this instance the MacKenzies. Our branch of the McIver clan are thus entitled to wear both the McIver and MacKenzie tartans.
8.    Borve is a small town overlooking the Atlantic northwest of Stornoway. Fivepenny is a part of Borve – i.e. a township within Borve. 
9.    Since the residents of Fivepenny Borve were all crofters, we are related to “Old McDonald” in the nursery rhyme, albeit distantly.
10.    Comment by David Roberts of Galson Farm galsonfarm@yahoo.com in Borve: “Fivepenny is two miles from us, and the graveyard serving Fivepenny (Borve) township is two hundred yards from us across our fields by the shore. Fivepenny (Borve) is not, as your research states, "not in use" but enjoys everyday use, with the addition of Borve to distinguish it from Fivepenny Ness.
11.    Information supplied by William Foulger, Secretary, Stornoway Historical Society w.foulger@btinternet.com He may have had other siblings – Donald McIver was a witness at his marriage.
12.    She was born in Duddingston (close to Edinburgh) and died on October 4 1909
13.    Both parents (John and Margaret) were deceased at the time great grandfather Roderick’s marriage
14.    Several famous (or notorious, depending on your perspective) people came from Govan, including Sir Alex Ferguson, Tony Blair and George Brown and perhaps Mark Knopfler as well.
15.    Also consistent is the fact that my cousin John McIver (son of Alexander and Ralie) went to Glasgow to see where our family came from.
16.    This information was supplied by George McIver george@youngman.co.za
17.    Two brothers (John William and Roderick) died in the influenza epidemic. One tends to forget how devastating this epidemic was
18.    After the death of Roderick McIver (grandfather), Ellen Gertrude McIver nee Redick married a Parker, and was known to me as Granny Parker. She died in Potchefstroom.
19.    My mother Beatrice Mary McIver often said that she felt that Roderick was an unlucky name because Roderick (great grandfather) and Roderick (grandfather) died within a few years of each other. So she tried to persuade my father Arthur William McIver not to include it on my birth certificate, apparently without success. This was reinforced when Roderick, son of Anna, died in motorcycle accident in the mid-60’s.
20.    Edward John Myhill, son of John Myhill and Rebecca Myhill nee Banks, was born at 20 Stanhope Road, Strood, Kent on September 19 1883. He married Harriet Collingham (25) of Seaford, Sussex (born 1886) in St Peter’s Church, Krugersdorp on April 17 1911. They produced four children: Beatrice Mary (born on January 26 1912 in Krugersdorp, died August 27 1996 in Pretoria), Jeanne, Sheila and Richard John.
21.    Malcolm Victory McIver was captured at Tobruk and spent several years as a German prisoner-of-war. He later escaped and walked over the Alps to freedom. My mother noted that he was so malnourished when he returned to South Africa that he was fed porridge until he recovered.
22.    I have a CD of his exploits during and after the war for those interested. Apparently, after having a rope tied around his ankles, he was lowered head-first into a bomb crater to gain access to the fuses. 

(4) Notes on McIver Tartan:

Research by Will Carter of Staghorn Scottish Outfitters in Plumstead, Cape Town staghorn@iafrica.com and www.scottishoutfitting.com has revealed that there are two variants of the McIver Tartan The first is an “electric” red colour with which we are all familiar, which is called the modern version. Too red for my liking. However Will has found another, called the muted version, which is purple (the same colour as heather) rather than red and far more attractive to my way of thinking (see the attached photograph).  Also the muted version is probably more authentic since the colouring is more like fabrics dyed with vegetable dye, as was traditionally the case, rather than synthetic dye.

attached files: War Record of A W McIver.xls, 1935 Marriage Certificate Arthur William McIver and Beatrice Myhill, Florida.jpg, 1938 Myhill Family Photograph Edward John, Harriet, Shiela,Richard John and Jeanne Millicent with Betty McIver holding Myrle Patricia McIver.jpg, 1833 Marriage of Alexander Kirkwood and Mary Ormiston, Duddingston near Edinburgh 1833.jpg, Duddingston Villa Three Lower Walmer Road Woodstock Cape Town.jpg, 1871 Census Roderick McIver Govan, Glasgow.jpg, Duddingston Villa One Lower Walmer Road Woodstock Cape Town.jpg, 1870 Marriage Certificate Roderick Mciver to Mary Kirkwood Govan 1870 (NXPowerLite).jpg, ca 1953 Deidre McIver on the lawn in front of Killarney.jpg, 1883 Birth Certificate Edward John Myhill, Strood, Kent.jpg, Descendants of Peter McIver January 2011.doc, 1911 Marriage Certificate Edward John Myhill and Harriet Collingham, Krugersdorp.jpg, Duddingston Villa Two Lower Walmer Road Woodstock Cape Town.jpg, ca 1953 Moira McIver on the lawn in front of Killarney with Topsy.jpg, 1886 Birth Certificate Harriet Myhill nee Collingham, Eastbourne, Sussex.jpg, Marriage Certificate of Jonathan Hargreaves Redick and Wilhelmina Cooper (Cowling).jpg, Gravestone of Jonathan Hardreaves Redick (GGF) in Beaufort West_1.jpg, Muted Mciver Tartan_1.jpg, 1907 Birth Certificate Margaret Arthur Fahrenheim nee McIver, Bloemfontein.jpg

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Last update: 2014-05-13 04:45
Author: Alan McIver
Revision: 1.52

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