Born in 1763 at Londonderry, Ireland
Married Dorothy RIVERS on 14 February 1807
Died on 6 May 1818 at Cape Town, South Africa
Buried at the N G Kerk burial ground, Somerset Road, Cape Town, South Africa
Occupation: Colonial Secretary
Dorothy RIVERS (daughter of Francis RIVERS and Mary HOUSE)
Baptised on 4 October 1788 at Fulham, Middlesex, England
Living at Binfield, Berkshire, in the 1840s


Born about 1808 at Londonderry, Ireland
Died on 13 August 1884 at Stone House, Rose Hill, Dorking, Surrey
Buried on 26 August 1884 at Dorking Cemetery, Dorking


Baptised on 30 June 1811


Born on 12 January 1813
Baptised on 10 February 1813 at St George's Cathedral, Cape Town

Francis Rivers ALEXANDER

Born on 19 April 1814
Baptised on 21 May 1814 at St George's Cathedral, Cape Town
Died on 21 December 1814
Buried at Somerset Road Cemetery, Cape Town, South Africa


Born on 5 June 1815
Baptised on 27 July 1815 at St George's Cathedral, Cape Town
Died on 14 November 1896 at Hampstead, Middlesex
Buried on 18 November 1896 at Dorking Cemetery, Dorking, Surrey


Born on 12 August 1816
Died on 9 December 1816


Born on 2 November 1817 at the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa




Henry Alexander - extract from "Dictionary of South African Biography"

Alexander, Henry (Londonderry, Ire., 1763 – Cape Town, 6 May 1818), Colonial Secretary at the Cape, was the second son of Robert Alexander, a prosperous and well-connected merchant of Glentogher, County Donegal. After practising as a barrister in his early twenties, Alexander became a member of the Irish Parliament from 1788 to 1800. With the Act of Union he entered the House of Commons as a member for the pocket borough of Old Sarum, near Salisbury, which he represented from 1802 to 1806, serving for part of this period as chairman of the House’s Ways and Means Committee. On 14 February 1807 he married Dorothy Rivers (1788-1864) [note: date of death not yet verified], daughter of Francis Rivers, surgeon apothecary to the royal household in London.

As he was a cousin of Du Pré Alexander, second earl of Caledon, who had gone to the Cape Colony as Governor in 1807, Alexander was offered the post of Secretary to the Colonial Government in April 1808, after the death of Andrew Barnard. His annual salary was £3,500, a sum higher than that paid to the Lieutenant-Governor. Alexander arrived in the Colony in September 1808.

During his tenure of this office Alexander’s legal training stood him in good stead. In June 1810 he was appointed assessor to the criminal appeal court, while later that year, when Caledon found himself at odds with Lt-Gen H. G. Grey, commander of the forces, over the withdrawal of troops from the Colony for service elsewhere without the Governor’s prior consent, the Colonial Secretary was sent to London to secure a firm ruling on the matter from Whitehall. In April 1814, when Lord Charles Somerset arrived to replace Sir John Cradock, a dispute arose between the two men on the timing of the change of administration, and both appealed to Alexander to settle the matter.

During Cradock’s administration Alexander was a member of the committee appointed by the Governor to investigate the Colony’s financial affairs, with particular reference to the issuing of paper notes. The committee reported in 1814. The view of the majority, supported by Cradock, was that paper rix-dollars had been responsible for monetary depreciation and should gradually be withdrawn. But, Alexander, in a minority report, opposed this view and persuaded Cradock’s successor not only to ignore the committee’s advice but to place a further 300,000 notes in circulation. There can be little doubt, therefore, that the Colonial Secretary was partly to blame for the accelerating pace of currency depreciation during the ensuing decade.

Alexander took a great interest in agricultural improvement, spending a considerable part of his private fortune on bringing into cultivation large tracts of land which had been granted to him by Caledon on the banks of the Berg River. A portion of this land he was able to lease, in 1815, to the agency of the English East India Company for the supply of provisions to its establishment at St Helena. In this connection, too, Alexander made strenuous though not very successful attempts to develop the barren soil adjoining Simonstown, hoping to provision the squadron stationed at Simon’s Bay. At his own country estate of Kirstenbosch (which then contained a good deal of wild life, including leopards and jackals), Alexander converted a neglected beauty spot into well-kept woods and gardens. He also owned a considerable estate in Sea Point.

This lavish expenditure crippled Alexander financially and, when he died in 1818, his widow had to appeal to the imperial authorities for relief for herself and her seven children, her late husband’s property having been found totally insufficient to pay his debts. She was eventually awarded a pension of £300 per annum. Alexander was buried in the N. G. Kerk burial-ground, Somerset Road, Cape Town, and was succeeded by the deputy secretary, Christopher Chapman. Mrs Alexander returned to England with her two sons and five daughters.

Alexander was a man of astute judgement and political tact, more interested in broad issues of policy than in petty administrative details, and Lord Charles Somerset, in 1816, had occasion to acknowledge the ‘zeal, ability, and efficiency’ with which the secretary performed his ‘arduous duties’. At the same time, there is little doubt that throughout his career Alexander benefited from useful family connections and that he himself, on occasion, was guilty of nepotism. It was through his patronage, for example, that his brother-in-law, Harry Rivers, gained the lucrative franchise to supply Napoleon’s household at St Helena with its requirements from the Cape.

Alexander’s tombstone is now in the grounds of the Groote Kerk, Adderley Street, Cape Town.


Transcript of the Will of Mary ALEXANDER

Transcript of the Will of Catherine ALEXANDER 




 (click on an image for a larger view)


Grave of Mary ALEXANDER and Catherine ALEXANDER