I’m interested whether Guybon O’neil Atherstone (has to be a descendant) has further history and anecdote about his famous ancestors.
Fascinating place, Grahamstown.
@Ralph George Goldswain (10 June 2016)
I love the warm human stories behind historical events. The discovery of a diamond at Hopetown is a huge historical event in South Africa – so huge that the many achievements of Dr William Guybon Atherstone, 1820 Settler and Grahamstown resident, are eclipsed by his fame as the scientist who identified that first diamond (The Eureka Diamond). I am a huge fan of Atherstone, whose diary lies unedited (for some strange reason) in the Cory Library. Here is the story, greatly oversimplified, devoid of any of the technical detail that surrounded the event, as he told it to his granddaughter, Minnie.
“I was sitting in my easy chair under the spreading branches of our giant pear tree in the garden of our home in Beaufort Street, one sunny day towards the later part of March, 1867, when the postman handed me a letter. As I opened the envelope I subconsciously realised that something small fell out onto the lawn. After reading this letter I realised its import and calling to my daughter Gerty to help me, I shouted, ‘Come here quickly, something fell out of a letter I have just received.’ Together on hands and knees, we scrabbled about in the grass round where I had been sitting, eventually recovering the pebble. After testing the stone – I decided that it was indeed a genuine diamond. My next move was to hurry across my garden to my next door neighbour and old friend, Dr Ricards, bidding him test the stone which we did on a sapphire ring, then he took it to his sittingroom window and on one of the panes of glass there he triumphantly carved his initials –‘J.D.R.’ ”
Before moving back to Grahamstown in Oct 2017, Graeme was a bank executive based in the big smoke and craziness of Joburg. He has 20 years’ experience in the Payments Industry. He is a Chartered Accountant, has a Masters in Management by Research (MMR) from Wits Business School, and attended an Advanced Management Programme (AMP) offered by INSEAD (The Business School for the World!) in France.
Graeme is the founder of The Grahamstown Project. It’s simple. He says, “Grahamstown is a microcosm of South Africa. If we can’t get this place to function properly then the whole country is stuffed. Many of the troubles we experience as a country today have their roots here in Grahamstown. it is here where black and white people first engaged in conflict on the African continent. It is here where 9 wars of dispossession over 100 years took place and virtually destroyed the amaXhosa nation. But we are where we are. I don’t have a British passport and the boat-trip back to where my ancestors came from is exorbitantly expensive. Furthermore, this is my home. I am a son of Africa. We must work together to redress the injustices of the past and move as one into a brighter future.”
Graeme is an avid historian, writer, vlogger and public speaker. Like and follow the Facebook page. Join him on a tour. Contact him. He would love that.