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Meet the Family Ford

By Richard Ford

                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Potchefstroom Herald 23.8.2013 p.25

Lewis Peter Ford, the founder of the South African Ford family and an almost forgotten pioneer of Johannesburg, arrived in Cape Town in 1851 with his wife Emily May and their young sons, Edward, Richard and Lewis Peter, who was five years old.
The family settled in Cape Town and it is interesting to note that the large and fashionable property which they occupied at 102-106 Sir Lowry Road, not far from the Castle, has now given way to the Eastern Boulevard expressway. In 1892, when this property was sold by Richard’s sons, the land and the house, the ‘Fountain Lodge’, and a cottage at the rear, were valued at the then princely sum of  £1,395-00. It is understood that Richard Ford was responsible for the erection of several of Cape Town’s major buildings of the time.
On 3.10.1861 Richard Ford bought the farm, ‘Eagle’s Nest’, behind Groot Constantia for 300 pounds only to see much of the farmlands destroyed by a fire that Christmas Eve. For how long they occupied the estate is unknown.
Lewis Peter Ford was educated at the South Africa n College. He passed his final examinations in law and juris prudence at the head of a list of fourteen.
On 4.12.1866 Lewis Peter Ford was enrolled as an Attorney in the Supreme Court, Cape Town and on 12.2.1867 as Notary Public and Conveyancer.Shortly after graduating and entering practice in Cape Town he was appointed Deputy Sheriff of Richmond and Murraysburg. After four years in this post he moved to Kimberley where diamonds had been discovered in 1869. Besides conducting a lucrative legal practice there he took an active interest in the diggings.
In April 1877 Mr Ford went to the Transvaal and was present at the Annexation in Pretoria by Mr (later Sir) Theophilus Shepstone, who became Administrator. It fell to Mr Ford’s lot to arrest Genera1 Marthinus Pretorius at Potchefstroom.
The Transvaal regained its independence on 22.3.1881 when peace was declared. LP Ford remained on in Pretoria where he had set up a legal practice and continued to act on behalf of the British Government in connection with the various claims arising from the occupation.
While practising in Pretoria, Mr Ford was joined by Mr Carl Jeppe (later Mr Justice Jeppe KC) first as his clerk and later as a partner. The firm of Ford and Jeppe, with a branch office in Johannesburg, were responsible for much of the legal requirements arising out of the finding of gold on the Witwatersrand and the subsequent development of Johannesburg. Ford, with Jeppe’s father, Julius Jeppe,acquired large tracts of land to the east and west of Johannesburg, which they developed and promoted into the residential and business townships of ‘Ford’s Burg’ and ‘Jeppe’s Town’ through the Ford and Jeppe Estate Company (later Witwatersrand Townships & Estates Company). Fordsburg was laid out in 1888 and Jeppestown in 1889.
LP Ford was advised to go to Europe for health reasons and gave up his legal practice. He travelled for about a year in England and the Continent before returning to Pretoria. He did not resume his practice but busied himself with various projects including the establishment of the Pretoria Electric Lighting Company. The new light, as it was known, soon became popular. In October 1889 Mr Ford’s health failed again and he returned to England where he purchased  Shortlands House in Kent.He retired to Worthing although maintaining a legal practice in London until he died on 12.11.1925.
(Source: Condenced version of an article written by Peter Smits and published in Familia 24 (1) 1987)
For more information visit the website of the Genealogical Society of South-Africa at  www.genza.org.za