The McGinn's of Pondoland

Dear Mr Balson,

I want to thank you most sincerely for putting that wonderful German map of Griqua and Pondoland on the web.

I had been searching for the location of Fort William for quite some time now and it was carefully marked on this map, but seemingly no where else. At least, no where else accessible to me. My interest in the Transkei area is very peripheral to yours but I am hoping that you might have heard of the McMinns. They appear to have been trading from Fort William (18 km to the NE of Flagstaff) from about 1860. The original W.H.C. McMinn was evidently into gun running to the Amapondo about that time--before he married and settled on a farm in Ixopo.

Willi's four young male cousins (or some of them) appear to have taken over his trading station business on his death in 1881. The four men subsequently moved around but were basically centered on the Flagstaff area by 1910. They seem to have brushed up against the law at times, one being extradited from the US to South Africa in the thirties. I don't know why, but no doubt the answer is in the National Archives.

I know very little about the McMinns of Pondoland . . . as yet, but I would imagine they too had to use tokens as the shortage of cash would have been a regional issue. Thankfully the Strachan and Co tokens fixed that! Interestingly, although I doubt that Willi knew it, his ancestor Francis McMinn of Donaghadee, Down, Ireland had issued tokens in Ireland.

Francis McMinn of Donaghadee was one of a small number of Ulster merchants who issued copper tokens during the eighteenth century. The Ulster merchant’s issue of tokens virtually came to an end with the arrival in Ireland of the George II regal copper coins in 1736. The merchant tokens were no longer necessary. Regal coinage was to continue to meet small change requirements until the 1750s but then there was another shortage and Francis once more obliged until things improved. Francis was Willi's Gt. X 3 grandfather and built the Georgian house that Willi grew up in in Donaghadee.

Hope this is of interest.



Kenneth Harvey
United States of America