Letters From A Parsonage

Ds A J L Hofmeyer ( from Gemeente Onder die Swartberg)

Rev Adriaan Jacobus Louw Hofmeyr, known to his friends as Attie, was a handsome young man. A distinctive little “cowslick” curled above his right eye gave him a dashing look. Perhaps that’s what led him into trouble. Born in Calvinia on April 13, 1854, he was sent to school in Stellenbosch and later attended the Seminary there.

After being ordained he went to Willowmore, where he did a great deal of good work, particularly among children. He loved children, but sadly he and his wife Maria Magdalaena (Louw) did not have any, so when Rev Richard v R Barry died they adopted his son and brought him up as their own. (Barry’s wife had died shortly after the boy was born.) Hofmeyr dearly loved this boy and often took him along when he was doing his rounds.  He also passed on his love for horses to the boy. Hofmeyr was a gifted preacher and popular among his congregations.

He served Prince Albert from December 15, 1883, till he left for Wynberg in 1895. “But, sadly, it was in this lovely little village at the foot of the Swartberg that he blotted his copy book”, said John Loock. “While living in the parsonage with his wife and young son, he carried on a clandestine correspondence with Miss Jemina Orr in Willowmore.  The bomb burst when members of the Willowmore community found this out and reported him to the Presbytery at George.” According to Presbytery documents complaints were laid against him and two “unprincipled” young Willowmore ladies, states the Prince Albert DRC commemorative booklet Gemeente Onder Die Swartberg.

The incident caused a furore in church circles and it was reported in the Press.  It was thoroughly investigated and eventually the Presbytery issued a proclamation in July, 1884, stating that Rev. Hofmeyr’s moral character was pure and above reproach, but that his words and deeds had given rise to rumours that were damaging both to his character and his work for the Lord.  He was chastised and suitably punished.  The Presbytery report of 1884 carried an apology from him. He said the past six months had been a time of love and sorrow, light and darkness, peace and storm.  He added the matter had brought him, his congregation and church council closer together.

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