Farm to village
In 1843 Veldkornet (Field-Cornet) Pieter de Villiers, owner of the farm Radyn, established Villiersdorp. One of the original five farm water mills built by the Dutch East India Company can still be seen on the farm today.
Many of the town residents were descendant of French Huguenots who had fled religious persecution in France in 1685. They wanted a town name that was reflective of their French origins. Originally named “De Villiers Dorp” the town later became known as Villiersdorp.
A prominent South African family
Some of Field-Cornet de Villiers’ descendants are well known locally and in a more official national capacity.
Sir David de Villiers Graaff was a successful businessman who became Cape Town Mayor in 1891. He also served as a cabinet minister in parliament. In 1907 he established the De Villiers Graaff High School to which he donated the then huge sum of £5 000. As reward for his part in helping to form the Union of South Africa, King George of England made him a baronet.
Sir David’s son, Sir de Villiers Graaff was decorated in World War II. When his father died in 1931 he inherited the baronetcy and became a member of the South African parliament from 1948 to 1977. He led the official opposition to John Vorster’s National Party during the apartheid era for 21 years (1956 – 1977).
Oldest cellar in the Cape Overberg
Inaugurated in 1922, the Moskonfyt and Fruit Co-operative’s main aim was to produce grape moskonfyt. In the Afrikaans language “konfyt” means “jam”. The origin of the word “mos” is less clear although it is thought to mean “must”. Nowadays the word “mos” is Afrikaans slang meaning “what has been said is well known”. Owing to its inauguration date, the Villiersdorp cellar is the oldest in the Overberg and one of the oldest in South Africa.