An African American arrives in Table Bay – Dr Dawn Gould


In 1806 an African American arrived in Table Bay aboard a ship called “The President.” In some research sources this man is only called Samson but later he is referred to as Samson Dyer.  Not too long after arriving he became employed by the firm of Messrs Cloete, Reitz and Anderson as a harpooner in False Bay.  Whale catching in the Bay was an important way of earning a living and today one can still point out a property in the attractive suburb of St James where the whales would be dragged up on to land.


After time had passed Samson moved to a small island not far from Gansbaai (goose bay)  again as a whale catcher and from now on he is referred to as Samson Dyer and eventually it would seem the island  became known by his surname. While he worked on the island he also caught seals and collected guano which he is said to have sold to local farmers.  Eventually  Samson Dyer applied to the Governor of the Cape for British citizenship.  He had also married Margaretha  Johanna Engel from Elim (a Moravian missionary station) and would have four children.


In references regarding this man he is referred to as someone well thought of, as honest, a hard worker, who in time saved his money and bought various properties along the coast line where he had once worked.