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Retief, Piet  

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 ...

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Wells, Nathaniel  

John Evans

Son of a slave and a wealthy planter on St Kitts, Wells became a major landowner in Monmouthshire, South Wales, and Britain's first black sheriff. He was probably the wealthiest black person in the country at the time.

His father, William Wells (1730–94), left Cardiff with his brother Nathaniel for St Kitts to make his fortune in the sugar and slave trade in about 1749. He married a wealthy widow in 1753, Elizabeth Taylor née Fenton. She bore William two children, who died in infancy, before she herself died in 1759. Subsequently William fathered at least six children with various slaves, one of whom, Nathaniel, was born on 10 September 1779, the son of Juggy, his African house slave. He was baptized on 3 March 1783 at Trinity Church Palmetto Point By the age of 9 wells was living in London with ...