ERIC FREEMANTLE

F4/5.[4][5]Eric Freemantle = (1st) Phyllis Howard
(1896 - 1972) [1920] (1897 - 1953)
  = (2nd) Alice Letty nee Tidmarsh
  [1958] (1911 - 2001)

Eric Freemantle was the sixth child and third son of William Roberts Freemantle and Martha Margaretha Freemantle nee Joubert. He was born in Burgersdorp, Cape Province on 25th.April 1896 and baptised in the Methodist Church there on 3rd.August, 1896. His grandfather was also called William and was a blacksmith and farmer in the Burgersdorp district. The elder William was the son of 1820 Settler, *Richard Freemantle and wife, *Patience nee Ford; also of a Settler family living in Grahamstown. Unfortunately Patience died three months after baby William's birth on 10th. November, 1827 and although it is believed that the baby was cared for by his uncle, Charles Freemantle, at least until his father, Richard remarried in Port Elizabeth in 1837, no other history has been traced of the years of William's life until the time when he was established in Burgersdorp, except that he married in about 1848, Phillis Pitt, also a descendent of an 1820 Settler family. He was renowned for his great strength, which he certainly would have needed to be a successful blacksmith, but died at the early age of 41; his widow lived on for thirty years after his death, remaining in Burgersdorp until she died on 18th.July, 1898.

Eric's grandfather on his mother's side was Jotham Joubert who traced his family back to one of the Huguenot settlers, Pierre Joubert who came to the Cape in 1688 and farmed in Franschoek, and his maternal grandmother was Martha M.J. Joubert nee Oosthuizen, her family having trekked north in the early days of the British occupation. These Joubert grandparents owned a farm near Burgersdorp called 'Rietfontein' which had been in the family's hands for some generations and Jotham expressed the wish to be buried below the rocky outcrop at the top of a kopjie on the farm, where he loved to sit and enjoy the view while he was still farming all the land that stretched within sight. Consequently, it is quite a climb to visit his grave.

In about 1897, the year after Eric's birth, his father, as a transport rider and for business reasons, decided to move the family to Cala. This coincidently, meant that they were in fact, although probably unknown to either family, living in this small town at the time of the birth of his first wife, Phyllis Howard. Then, when he was only four years old, the family moved again, this time to Indwe and when he was aged eight they went to live in Johannesburg. His father did not remain with the family from that time on, but resided in Potchefstroom and then Kroonstad, in both these towns practising as an auctioneer and agent. However, life was very hard for Eric's mother and the children as their financial position was critical. Because his eldest brother, Arthur, had been left in Burgersdorp in the care of their grandparents, Jotham and Martha Joubert, and his other brother, Allen, had died, he felt that he was, needs be, in some senses, the head of the family. Consequently, at the age of twelve he left school in order to try to augment the family's income. In later years, he talked amusingly of a number of jobs taken on as a boy, but it is not possible now to place these in chronological order. Two that he mentioned anecdotally were with a bicycle shop and a garden nursery, but quite probably these were Saturday jobs only. He did attend school for one further year, when he was aged thirteen, but that was the end of his formal education.