- Michael R. Mahoney
one of the leaders of the Great Trek, during which white settlers from the Cape Colony expanded into the interior and conquered most of what is today South Africa, was born on 12 November 1780 to Jacobus and Debora Retief in Limiet Vallei (today called Wagenmakers Vallei) near the present town of Wellington, Western Cape province. His full name was Piet Mauritz Retief. The Retief family were the descendants of a French Huguenot refugee, François Retif, who came to the Cape in 1689. Retief’s father owned a vineyard, and when Retief himself came of age his father gave him a vineyard estate of his own. He soon lost the estate, however, after a series of unwise investments bankrupted him. He moved to Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape in 1812 Two years later he married a widow Lenie Greyling and over the course of their marriage the couple adopted ...
A version of this article originally appeared in The Dictionary of African Biography.