George Robert Parsons was a grandson of George Parsons of Charlton Horethorne who was an uncle of Sidney Parsons’ grandfather Edward Parsons. George and Sidney were therefore second cousins once removed.
George was baptised in Stalbridge in Dorset on the 29th of May 1845. He was the fourth child of Charles Peters Parsons and his wife Charlotte, and he was their third son. The family lived at Park Farm, just north of the small town of Stalbridge and George’s father farmed 560 acres of land a few miles away at Steepleton Preston.
George attended a boarding school in Axminster in Devon and when he was just 15 years old his father Charles died.
As a young man George travelled to South Africa where he became involved in prospecting for gold.
The 19th century’s first major gold rush had been in California in 1849, when George was about four years old. In the following years there were also discoveries in New South Wales and Victoria in south-eastern Australia.
In the year 1867 a man called Sidney Turner and his partner Walter Compton bought an area of Crown land on the east coast of South Africa. It was to the south of Durban, a few miles from the sea on the Mahlongwa River. They called it ‘Ellingham’. The two men had established the farm by the middle of 1868 and Sidney Turner married his fiancée intending to take her to England before settling down to farm sugar cane, however his plans changed when gold was discovered. George Parsons had arrived in the area, and he and Sidney’s partner Walter Compton, had found traces of gold in the Mtwalume river. A gold rush ensued. There was great excitement and many parties of diggers, including a group of experienced Australians, joined in the search. Initial signs were promising but unfortunately the quantities of gold were small. Within a year George Parsons had moved on to look elsewhere but prospecting carried on for two years during which time small but decreasing quantities of gold continued to be panned from the river.
George Parsons, who was by then 25 years old, teamed up with an English born settler called Edward Button and a Scotsman called Tom McLachlan to explore the north-eastern part of the Transvaal Republic. Button and McLachlan’s interest in the area had been spurred by the discovery of gold near the Tati River in north-eastern Botswana which had been reported in the Transvaal Argus in November 1867 and reprinted in several European, Australian and American newspapers. That discovery, and another at Hartley Hills in Zimbabwe, were publicised by Karl Gottlieb Mauch (1837-75) who was a well known figure in Southern Africa. He was a German explorer and geologist who, a few years later, became the first European to describe the ruins at Great Zimbabwe.
A farmer called Jacobus du Preez, who owned the farm Eersteling near the present day town of Pietersburg (now called Polokwane) believed he had found a vein of gold-bearing quartz and, hearing that Button, McLachlan and Parsons were in the area, invited them to investigate. They were able to confirm the discovery and in December 1870 Button wrote to the magistrate of Lydenburg claiming the reward which had recently been advertised for discovering gold. The local authority (the Volksraad) called it the Marabastad Goldfield. They appointed Edward Button the Transvaal Republic’s first Gold Commissioner. Many prospectors arrived but they had little capital and relied on local people to provide labour to crush the gold-bearing rocks — profits were small. Button travelled to England where he raised capital to purchase a 12-stamp rock-crusher, steam engine, and boiler. The company he founded, The Transvaal Gold Mining Company Limited, was South Africa’s first gold mining company. The enterprise was considered a success but made only moderate profits and ceased work during the first Anglo-Boer war of 1880-81. The last remaining part of the plant, its chimney, can still be seen at Eersteling and has been proclaimed a National Monument.
George Parsons’s role in the development of Eersteling is unclear but records show that four years after the discovery of the gold field he died in Pretoria, the capital of the Transvaal. His death occurred on the 15th of September 1874 at the age of only 29 years.
Six years later, on the 29th of February 1890, probate was granted to George’s brother Charles Parsons who was a farmer living at Hurstbourne Priors in Hampshire. Charles was George’s oldest surviving brother.
Ancestors of George Robert Parsons
The following chart shows three generations of George’ ancestors.
His earliest known ancestor was Richard Parsons who lived in Kington Magna in Dorset during the period following the Civil War.
Father — Charles Peters Parsons, a farmer from South Petherton, Stalbridge and Martock
Mother — Charlotte Heap, who was born in Kendal in Westmorland
Grandfather — Robert Heap, a butcher from Kendal
Grandmother — Frances Elizabeth Parmenter who had been born in Essex but was in Suffolk when she married Robert
Grandfather — William Parsons a farmer and inn-keeper who lived most of his life in Holton, near Wincanton, in Somerset.
Grandmother — Mary West, William’s wife, who came from Stowell in Somerset
Great-grandfather — John Peters, a farmer and land-owner from North Dorset
Great-grandmother — Jane Gatehouse, who married John in Kington Magna in Dorset in 1782
Great-grandfather — not known
Great-grandmother — not known
Great-grandfather — not known
Great-grandmother — not known
You are free to make use of the information in these web pages in any way that you wish but please be aware that the author, Mike Parsons, is unable to accept respsonsibility for any errors or omissions.
Mike can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
The information in these web pages comes from a number of sources including: Hampshire County Records Office, Somerset Heritage Centre; Dorset County Records Office; Southampton City Archives; the General Register Office; several on-line newspaper archives; several on-line transcriptions of Parish Register Entries; and several on-line indexes of births, marriages and deaths. The research has also been guided at times by the published work of others, both on-line and in the form of printed books, and by information from personal correspondence with other researchers, for all of which thanks are given. However, all of the information in these web pages has been independently verified by the author from original sources, facimile copies, or, in the case of a few parish register entries, transcriptions published by on-line genealogy sites. The author is aware that some other researchers have in some cases drawn different conclusions and have published information which is at variance from that shown in these web pages.
Copyright © 2013 Mike Parsons. All rights reserved.