Murraystraat, a beautiful street on campus, is named after John Murray.
It leads to the entrance of the US botanical gardens.
JOHN MURRAY (1826 – 1882)
John Murray might easily be confused with his younger brother Andrew Murray, who started the Huguenot College in Wellington.
Both brothers made an big impact in South Africa as theologians.
John and Andrew studied in Scotland and Utrecht, and worked as ministers of the Dutch reformed church in South Africa.
John Murray had the biggest impact in Stellenbosch. His friend Nicolaas Hofmeyer and himself were the first two professors at the theological seminary, founded around 1859. It is their statue erected in the seminary garden.
The theological seminary is located where the old drostdy used to be (read here).
Passionate about education
The three theologian friends (Hofmeyer, Neethling en Murray) were passionate about education and were all involved in the founding and development of Paul Roos Gimnasium and Bloemhof Meisieskool
On the seminary website:
The founding [of the Theological seminary] led to Stellenbosch becoming the home of a complex of educational institutions:
- Firstly, the Rhenish Girls’ High School, 1860 ff;
- Thereafter, the Stellenbosch Gymnasium, 1866 ff, currently known as Paul Roos Gymnasium;
- Then, the Stellenbosch “College'” 1880-1887, which later became The Victoria College, 1887-1918, and eventually Stellenbosch University, 1918 ff;
- And in 1875 the Bloemhof Girls’ High School (Afrikaans).
Dagbreek: Huis John Murray
Dagbreek residence (founded in 1921) also honours John Murray. Apart from Wilgenhof (1903) and Harmonie (1905) Dagbreek is the oldest res in Stellenbosch.
N HOFMEYER (1827 – 1909)
Prof Hofmeyer studied in Utrecht, Holland, and after a few years as minister in Calvinia became involved in theological education in Stellenbosch.
Hofmeyer was passionate about the youth, and as part of his ministry brought a house in Church Street for youth Bible studies. A hall known as the Hofmeyer hall is still located there.
J.H. NEETHLING SNR(1826 – 1904)
JH Neethling (snr) also worked as a minister at Moederkerk
Johannes Neethling married Maria Murray, the sister of the Murray brothers. Together they had 12 children.
The couple lived in a large parsonage and their garden stretched from Dorp Street to Neethling Street. Hospitality seems to have been very important to the Neethling couple as there were always numerous visitors, churchgoers, students and friends in their house (according to the author AM Hugo).
J.H. NEETHLING JNR (1859 – 1937)
Ds Neethling’s son, Dr Johannes Henoch Neethling (1859 – 1937) served as a health practitioner, but he continued his father’s passion for education by his involvement in Paul Roos and Bloemhof.
Dr Neethling often crossed Helshoogte pass with his horse and cart to serve the community of Pniël.
He was also the cofounder of the Stb Eksekuteurskamer and for the last ten years of his life the director of the Stellenbossche districts bank (read more here).
Artikel: Y Coetsee 2017
Sources: Stellenbosch Drie eeue (1979).