Who was Ryneveld of Ryneveld Street?

Who was Ryneveld of Ryneveld Street?


Many of Stellenbosch’s first streets were named after magistrates or other leaders, such as Andringa, Ryneveld and Hofmeyer.

But not all of them were old men with beards.

Daantjie van Ryneveld was only 27 years old when he became ‘landdros’ or magistrate of Stellenbosch.

Ryneveld street (previously Groote Kerk street) was an important landmark because it housed three noteworthy buildings, the Drostdy, the Gaol and the Church, acting as symbols for Authority, Justice and Religion.

Today two of the oldest buildings in Stellenbosch, Schreuder House and Morkel House, still stands in this street.


The two van Rynevelds

There were two ‘landdroste’ in early Stellenbosch history with the surname Van Ryneveld:

  • Daniel van Ryneveld
  • Daniel Johannes van Ryneveld

The two were grandfather and grandson.

The grandfather (born 29 Aug 1739)

Daniel van Ryneveld was a sailor from Amsterdam and a keen administrator. He settled in the Cape as an assistant bookkeeper for a political organization and later became magistrate of Swellendam. From here he was relocated to Stellenbosch as chief magistrate (landdros).

Daantjie van Ryneveld (born 1783)

His grandson Daniel Johannes van Ryneveld (or Daantjie as he was better know), was also a lawyer like his father and grandfather. He became chief magistrate of Stellenbosch when he was only 27 years old.

Daantjie van Ryneveld was a big legend in Stellenbosch.

He had various titles, some of them somewhat controversial: magistrate, civil commissioner, commander of a gunman’s association, Cape wine supporter and patron of the arts (specifically theater).

When an amateur theater company was founded in Stellenbosch, Daantjie van Ryneveld gave his full support, a significant gesture as some church organisations were opposed to theater and acting.

The ‘Stellenbossche Toneelgezelschap’ grew and flourished under the ‘patronage van de Wel-Edelagbare Heer Daniel Johannes van Ryneveld’, until it stopped in 1838.

Van Ryneveld also enjoyed a military showdown.

At the age of about 60 he started a volunteer gunman’s association called the Stellenbosch Volunteers, of which he was the colonel. The arms corps led social military processions, probably on the Braak, and the marching band made sure everyone was entertained.

Named after his grandfather (or himself?)

It is likely that Daantjie van Ryneveld named the street after his  grandfather, or at least after his family.

During his time as magistrate (in 1818), Ryneveld and his Heemrade decided to publicize Stellenbosch’s street names for the first time. They employed a young land surveyor named Willem Hertzog (then 21 years old) and sought tenders for street name signs.

One of the surveyors’ tasks was to extend the two streets perpendicular to Dorp Street (Andringa and Ryneveld) so the area could be developed.

Three more streets were added later, Victoria Street, Crozier Street and Merriman Street.

One of the first official streets

Ryneveld Street was one of Stellenbosch’s first four offical streets but under a different name. The first four were ‘Groote Kerk’ street (now Ryneveld street), ‘Kleine Kerk’ street, Andringa street and Plein street.





To read where some other street names come from, read our blog about Hendrik Bergh Avenue here.


‘nDromer is a young Stellenbosser who loves writing about the everyday things that often go unnoticed. She likes dusty books and seeing how the past isn’t always what it seems. She has written about Stellenbosch, it’s heritage and it’s people almost every week since 2015.



Article: Y Coetsee 2016
Sources: Stellenbosch Drie Eeue 1979
History of South Africa Since September 1795, George McCall Theal 2010 Available

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