On this day in 1712, former Cape governor Simon van der Stel died at Constantia, aged 73. He was buried in the Groote Kerk, Cape Town.
As none of his family remained at the Cape, his vast property was put up for auction two years after his death. The original grant was for 891 morgen (the word ‘morgen’ referring the amount of land that could be ploughed in a morning), 15 times larger than the normal land grant! And Van der Stel had, in the meantime, also added the farms Witteboomen, Zeekoeijenvalleij and Steenbergen to his estate, mainly for cattle breeding.
Constantia was duly split into three – Groot Constantia purchased by Oloff Bergh, a Swedish captain with the Dutch East India Company who had retired in 1701, while the auctioneer, Pieter de Meijer, took possession of Bergvliet and Klein Constantia (later known as De Hoop op Constantia, not to be confused with “our” Klein Constantia, which formed part of Groot Constantia until 1823).