Can you help with South African family’s Shields link?

members of Johannes' family with workers at a diamond digging.
members of Johannes' family with workers at a diamond digging.

Today we continue the story of Johannes van Zyl’s South African family – and his attempt to track down relatives who, he believes, may still be living in South Shields.

“My family research is focused on the van Zyls, from Bakerville,” explains Johannes, “and I would like to compile the information into a book.

“While going through my grandmother’s box of old photos (she died in 1988) there was one particular photo that had a note written on the back ... ‘From your niece Tina’. I had never seen that woman before nor even heard her name.

“There were a couple of photos of this lady in my grandmother’s photo box, and I assumed that she must be part of the family.

“I found out that she is still alive, and a few weeks ago had the privilege to meet her. She was indeed the daughter of my grandmother’s sister, Susana de Raedt.

“With this discovery I decided to extend my research to include the De Raedt family.”

Johannes set about looking for any mention of the De Raedt family in the archives. As a result, he stumbled upon an article in a South African newspaper (dated 2007), relating to a Shields Gazette story about Patricia de Raedt’s attempt to track down anyone from South Tyneside who was related to “the circus De Raedts, living in South Africa”.

Here is a copy of that article, written nine years ago : –

“Shields folk have migrated to all kinds of places over the years,” stated former Gazette nostalgia writer Janice Blower.

“But few journeys can have represented such a sharp contrast in lifestyles as Algernon Park’s.

“His branch of the family tree peeled off from a background in the Tyne’s maritime trade, to what would eventually be a far-flung world of the travelling circus.

“His grand-daughter Patricia DeRaedt, who lives in Kent, wants to know what happened to Algernon’s family here.

“His parents were John and Mary Park who, according to the 1901 Census, were living at 115 South Eldon Street.

“They had four children at that point: Algernon, aged 12, Gilbert, 10, John aged eight, and four-year-old Jennie.

“John is shown as having been self-employed as a ships’ chandler. He hailed originally from Northumberland, but his wife, Mary, was a Shields lass.

“It seems that Algernon eventually emigrated to South Africa, where he married, just after the end of the First World War. Certainly a daughter, Patricia’s mum, was born there in 1922.

“However, Patricia has had some difficulty with her researches as her family in South Africa were travelling circus people.

“There were no roots, no specific place that we belonged to,” she said.

She told Janice that would love to know if her grandfather still has any nieces, nephews etc in Shields.

Now Johannes, who has the self same hope, is keen to get in touch with Patricia.

“I would like to make contact with Patricia de Raedt for maybe there are family connections.

My contacted details are: or P.O. Box 101341 Moreleta Plaza, Pretoria, South Africa 0167