Archiver > SOUTH-AFRICA > 2008-05 > 1210749000

From: Richard Ball <>
Subject: Re: [SOUTH-AFRICA] a1b4c5d2e8f7??? - what does it mean?
Date: Wed, 14 May 2008 08:10:00 +0100
References: <><67F83D48047C40DA9D87B8981198F470@coltract>
In-Reply-To: <67F83D48047C40DA9D87B8981198F470@coltract>

Hello Colin,

CM> I know that the FIRST generation is a, the second b, etc. , but
CM> how does it work when you are an a1b4c5d2e8f7???

First of all, always bear in mind that the DeVilliers numbering
system, which you are quoting here and which is used in the original Villiers 'Geslagtregister', also De Villiers / Pama revision of
1966 and the current volumes of the the South African Genealogies,
still in course of publication, is a relative system, not an absolute
one. Therefore any descendant number such as you quote above must
first have a Family name and then a publication to which it refers -
it is not valid in the abstract, even though two publications may
agree on the generations, you should always also quote the publication
from which you are quoting the generation code.

For more information on this coding system see:

the numbering system we are discussing is on that page

6. The de Villiers/Pama System

but in a nutshell, here is how it works:

a is the progenitor or stamvader, the person who first arrived in
South Africa. There may have been just one, in which case the a is not
usually quoted (although the surname must always be quoted) or there
may have been more than one progenitor, in which case they will be
labelled a1, a2, etc.

b is the second generation (or first one born in SA - sometimes some
confusion here) and the number is the order of that particular child
in the birth order. b6 is the sixth child of the progenitor.

b2c3 is the third child of the second child of the progenitor, and so
on, which should, I think, answer your question?

These numbers do not carry on to the children of female descendants,
which, in the DeVilliers system, take their numbering from their
father's family.

To illustrate what I mean when I say the code is only relevant to the
publication in which it appears, take the Van Wyk family where there
were 6 progenitors, including the two main early ones, where the 'Die
VAN WYK-families van Suid-Afrika', compiled by the Noord-Transvaal
branch of the GSSA, labels Willem van Wyk, a2 and Roelof van Wyk a1.

This is a recent revision of the family and differs from what appears
in the original 'Geslagtregister' or 'DeVilliers/Pama' and any
numbering of the generations will only be intelligible if the
publication from which the code is taken is also quoted.

For instance take the following two Van Wyks:

the Roelof van Wyk who married 1727 Aletta Bezuidenhout is coded

a2b1 in the DeVilliers/Pama book but in the new revision a1b1c1

the Willem van Wyk who married (1)1729 Johanna Campher and
(2)1746 Hendrina Monk (and left many descendants) is coded:

a2b3 in the DeVilliers/Pama book but in the new revision a2b6

So, unless you also have the name of the publication, you cannot
identify an individual simply with a code.


Richard Ball,
Norfolk, England

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