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  Uys is the surname of a family that played a significant role in South African history during the nineteenth century and made distinguished contributions to South African culture, politics and sports during the course of the twentieth.


The earliest existing records show the Uys family living in Leiden and Amsterdam in the Netherlands.
The mother of the family's South African progenitor, Daentie Rycken (1645/46 – Stellenbosch 1725), was the first to arrive at the Cape in 1677 with her second husband, Jan Hendriksz de Lange (died Cape of Good Hope before June 1690).Rootenberg 1997, pp. 145–149.Rootenberg 2016, pp. 32-35. She briefly travelled to the Netherlands in 1697 with her third husband, Dirk Mol (died Stellenbosch 1731), and returned to the Cape in 1699 accompanied by her adult son, Cornelis Jansz Uys (Amsterdam 1671 – Cape of Good Hope c. 1716).Rootenberg 1997, p. 146.Rootenberg 2016, pp.35-44. Shortly thereafter, in 1704, Daentie settled on the farm By Den Weg in the Stellenbosch Kloof where she lived until her death in 1725.Rootenberg 2016, pp. 44, 46-47.
Cornelis Jansz Uys was the only child from Daentie Rycken's first marriage to the maritime carpenter Jan Cornelisz (Uys) (1641/42 – died Newcastle upon Tyne c. 1674). Cornelis was accompanied to the Cape by his wife, Dirkje Matthysdr (van) Westerhout (Leiden 1673 – Cape of Good Hope 1714), the niece of his mother's third husband.Rootenberg 1997, p. 146.Rootenberg 2016, pp.39-42. The couple established themselves in the heart of the Cape settlement on modern-day Strand Street.Uys, J.F. 2011, pp. 33–34.Rootenberg 2016, p.43.
In 1722 their only son, Dirk Cornelisz Uys (born Leiden 1698 – died Stellenbosch 1758), settled on the farm Groote Zalze in Stellenbosch, where he married Dina le Roux (Stellenbosch 1702 – Stellenbosch 1740), who was of Norman Huguenot descent, and played a distinguished role in the local community as farmer, deacon, elder, burgher officer and alderman.Rootenberg 2016, pp. 48-50.Uys, J.R. 1985, p. 1. Dirk was also one of the first European pioneers in the Overberg area of the Cape.Tomlinson, L.L., Geskiedkundige Swellendam, Nasionale Pers, Kaapstad 1943, p. 58. Dirk Cornelisz Uijsch received a permit to graze his livestock at the Buffelsjacht River beyond the Hottentot's Holland mountains on 19 January 1731, making him one of the earliest Europeans to formally engage with the Overberg region. The Uys family of southern Africa descend from this couple's three sons.
Two of the sons of Dirk Cornelisz Uys moved further into the interior of the Cape during the mid eighteenth century;Uys, Ian, 1974, p. 9. their progeny played a notable role in the history of the colony and enjoyed fame as a distinguished and progressive frontier dynasty.Muller 1987, p. 275. The family also played a major role in the governance of the Dutch Republics in South Africa.Uys, Ian 1974.Uys, Ian, 1998.



Genealogists have speculated that the name could be a variation of the French name de Louis or related to the Scottish island of Uist or perhaps a variation of the German name Husse. Reliable records do not exist to confirm any of these theories.

First names and nicknames

The Uys surname can also used as a first name (generally in reference to an Uys descent through the distaff side), as is the case with the poet, writer and adventurer Uys Krige. A character in the novel Het Beloofde Land by Dutch author Adriaan van Dis also has this first name.van Dis, Adriaan, Het beloofde land. Een reis door de Karoo, Meulenhof, Amsterdam 1990.


The arms of the Uys familyUys, Ian 1974, pp. 5–6. are blazoned as:
Party per pale, in dexter vert three onions or in pale, in sinister argent a farmer standing on a stretch of grass holding a basket under his right arm proper.
These canting arms appear similar to those of the Van Uye family of Zeeland, to whom the Uys family are not related.Rietstap, J.B., Armorial général précédé d'un dictionnaire des termes du blason. Deuxième édition, refondue et augmentée, Londres, 1884–1887. The Uys arms are differenced from the Van Uye arms by the basket which the farmer holds; in the Van Uye arms the farmer is holding a bunch of onions (French: "une glane d'oignons"). The onions (Dutch: ui) in the dexter half of the arms are a canting reference to the Uys family name.
These arms were presented to the Dutch-South African heraldist and genealogist Cornelis Pama in 1960 by J.W. Prinsloo née Uys who informed him that they had been found in old family documents.Uys, Ian 1974, p. 5. Pama subsequently recorded these arms in his genealogical publications which led to their widespread dissemination and use by members of the Uys family.Pama, Cornelis, Die Groot Afrikaanse Familienaamboek, Human en Rousseau, Kaapstad 1983. The Rootenberg family who descend from an extra-marital branch of the Kapkamma Uyses also have a canting reference to onions in their arms.Houte de Lange, C.E.G. ten 1998, p. 184.


Monuments and museums

  • Bible Monument, Grahamstown; monument commemorating the presentation of a large Dutch bible by Thomas Philipps and the British settlers of Grahamstown to Jacobus Johannes Uys (1770–1838) and the Uys trek party prior to their departure from the Cape Colony on the Great Trek in April 1837; the monument was unveiled by State President C.R. Swart of South Africa in 1962
  • Ou Pastorie Museum, Utrecht; museum on the history of Utrecht and the surrounding area that contains multiple objects and references relating to the Uys family
  • Uys House, Utrecht; home of the Uys family built by "Swart" Dirk Uys (1814–1910) in 1855; the house is one of the oldest houses north of the Tugela River in KwaZulu-Natal; it is the location where the Prince Imperial, Louis Napoleon, courted Swart Dirk's daughter, Sannie Uys;Uys, Ian 1974, p. 93. the house is a National Monument
  • Uys Memorial, Dirk Uys Kraal, near Quoin Point, Overberg; memorial marking the site where Dirk Cornelisz Uys (1698–1758) was granted permission to graze his livestock as one of the first European pioneers in the OverbergPeter Slingsby, Overberg & Whale Coast, The Map 1:250 000, Muizenberg 2010.
  • Uys Monument, Utrecht; erected in honour of Commandant Petrus Lafras Uys (1827–1879) by the burghers of Utrecht, Sir Evelyn Wood and the British officers who fought alongside Uys during the course of the Anglo-Zulu War; the monument is in the shape of an obelisk with plaques in Dutch and English; the English text reads: To the memory of Petrus Lafras Uys, Commandant of the Burgher Force in the Zulu War of 1879, who fell whilst fighting on the Hlobani March 28th. This monument is erected by his fellow burghers of the town and district of Utrecht and the officers and men of the flying column under the command of General Wood with whom he served. A token of their admiration and respect.
  • Uysklip, National Museum, Bloemfontein; a stone with the inscription "1837 Kerkspruijt" followed by the name of Jacobus Johannes Uys (1770–1838) that was left at the site of the Uys camp along the Modder River near Thaba 'Nchu to commemorate the fact that the Uys trek party had built a mud and daub church and requested the Wesleyan missionary, James Archbell, to officiate at the first Holy Communion held by the Voortrekkers north of the Orange River; the stone is currently part of the collection of the National Museum in Bloemfontein
  • Voortrekker Monument, Pretoria; the monument contains a series of marble friezes in the central hall depicting key events from the Great Trek, including the presentation of the Uys Bible by the British settlers of Grahamstown to Jacobus Johannes Uys as well as a scene of Dirkie Uys (1823–1838) defending his dying father, Piet Uys (1797–1838), at the Battle of Italeni; the Uys Bible is part of the collection of the Monument's museumUys, Ian 1974, pp. 42–43.
  • Voortrekker Monument, Winburg; a five-tiered monument on the outskirts of Winburg that carries the names of the principal Voortrekker leaders: Piet Uys, Andries Hendrik Potgieter, Andries Pretorius, Piet Retief and Gerrit Maritz; the lengths of the five tiers are proportional to the distances travelled by each of the respective Voortrekker parties; on the Day of the Vow (16 December) the sun passes directly over the monument and a plaque with a Christian religious message at the base is illuminated; the monument is built near the site of the birth-house of Martinus Theunis Steyn, who was president of the Boer Republic of the Orange Free StateWinburg
  • Voortrekker / Msunduzi Museum, Pietermaritzburg; the collection of the museum contains a wide variety of historical objects relating to the Great Trek that once belonged to the Uys familyUys, Ian 1974, pp. 96–99.


  • Uysberg, Free State; mountain on the South African border with Lesotho, south-south-east of Clocolan and north-east of Ladybrand
  • Uysklip, Free State, railway station south-east of Bloemfontein on the line between Dewetsdorp and Sannaspos; the station is close to the site baptised as Kerkspruijt by the Uys trek party in 1837; the neighbouring mountain is also known as UysklipUys, Ian 1974, pp. 54–55.
  • Uyskop, KwaZulu-Natal; mountain (1827 meters altitude) on the south-eastern outskirts of Utrecht
  • Wakkerstroom, KwaZulu-Natal, formerly part of the South African Republic; the plans for the town were surveyed with an eland hide rope in 1859 by "Swart" Dirk Uys (1814–1910) who called the settlement Uysenburg; the town was subsequently renamed Marthinus Wesselstroom, and is today known as Wakkerstroom


  • A race of cattle that was bred by the Voortrekker Uys family in northern KwaZulu-Natal came to be known as the Uysbees (Uys cattle);Visagie 2011, p. 502. in 1947 the name of the breed was changed to Drakensberger.
  • Notable family members

    Arts and humanities

    • Amalia Uys (born 1984), South African actor in the soap opera 7de Laan
    • Dirk "Dagga-Dirk" ("Marihuana-Dirk") Uys, iconoclastic Afrikaans songwriter of the 1980s and 1990s, manager of the Voëlvry tour
    • Professor C.J. Uys, historian and Professor of History at the University of the Free State
    • Ian S. Uys (born 1942), historian and writer
    • Jamie Uys (1921–1996), South African film director (born as Jacobus Johannes Uys)
    • Professor Leana Ria Uys (1948–2014), researcher and academic in the field of nursing, Deputy Vice Chancellor and Head of College of Health Sciences at University of KwaZulu-Natal and Director of World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Nursing and Midwifery, laureate of the Women Super Achievers Award in Singapore., p. 12
    • Pieter Uys (born 1956), Afrikaans poetKomrij, Gerrit, De Afrikaanse poezie in duizend en enige gedichten, Bert Bakker, Amsterdam 1999, pp. 982–985.
    • Pieter-Dirk Uys (born 1945), South African satirist, active as a performer, author, and social activist
    • Sannie "Pikkie" Uys, actress
    • Sannie Uys (1886–1976), writer and poet, mother of writer Uys Krige{{Cite weburl= Fox on her grandmother, Sannie Uys David Krut Publishing and Arts Resourcewebsite=www.davidkrutpublishing.comaccess-date=2016-03-30
    • Uys Krige (christened Mattheus Uys Krige) (1910–1987), son of Sannie Uys, South African writer, poet, playwright, translator, rugby player, war correspondent and romantic
    • Stanley Uys (1922–2014), South African and English journalist


    • Major Dr. Adriaan Izak Uys (1893-after 1972), host of the Greek Royal Family in Egypt during the Second World War,Uys, Ian 1974, p. 179. commander of the military repairs depot in Alexandriade Villiers, J.F.K., Uys Familie, Rearrangement of the Uys Register of 1984, Gisborne (New Zealand) 2014, p. 108.
    • Dirkie Uys (1823–1838), young Voortrekker hero during the Great Trek, his death is commemorated with a frieze in the Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria
    • Dirk Cornelis "Swart Dirk" Uys (1814–1910), first Commandant of the Utrecht district, adviser of Boer Commandant-General Piet Joubert and Commissioner of the Boer Laagers during the First Anglo-Boer War;Uys, Ian 1998, p. 188.Uys, Ian 1974, p. 135. plenipotentiary of the South African Republic at the signing of the subsequent peace treaty at O'Neill's Cottage on 21 March 1881Uys, Ian 1998, p. 190.
    • Dirk Cornelis "Dirks" Uys (1865- Battle of Talana 1899), the first Boer to reach the summit at the Battle of Majuba during the First Anglo-Boer WarLehmann 1972, p. 244. and reputed to have killed General Sir George Pomeroy Colley during the course of the battleLehmann 1972, p. 247.
    • Jacobus Johannes Uys (1770–1838), frontier leader and nominal head of the Uys party in the Great Trek, commemorated in the Bible Monument at Grahamstown and with a frieze depicting his departure from the colony in the Voortrekker Monument in PretoriaUys, Ian 1974, pp. 11–84.
    • Jacobus Johannes Uys (1800–1871), one of the Voortrekker commanders at the Battle of Blood RiverUys, Ian S. 1974, pp. 84–85.Uys, Ian 1998, p. 125.
    • Piet Uys (1797– Battle of Italeni 1838), Voortrekker leader during the Great Trek, he is commemorated with a frieze depicting his death in the Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria
    • Petrus Lafras Uys (1827 – Battle of Hlobane 1879), Commandant, Chief Magistrate (Landdrost) and Member of Parliament for Utrecht in the South African Republic, led the "Gallant Forty" commando of Boer volunteersDavid 2004, pp. 192–193. who fought alongside the British forces during the Anglo-Zulu War,Uys, Ian 1974, pp. 100–115.Morris 1965, pp. 431–33, 477, 488, 492.Uys, Ian 1998, pp. 153–179. he was described by Sir Evelyn Wood as "South Africa's noblest patriot"Uys, Ian 1998, p. 179. and a monument was raised to him by British officers in Utrecht and in 1880 at the site of his death by the Empress EugenieMorris 1965, p. 543.
    • Petrus Lafras Uys (1852–1924), member of the Volksraad of the South African Republic; commandant of the Pretoria North Commando in the Anglo-Boer WarUys, Ian 1974, p. 152. and one of the sixty Boer delegates to the peace conference that led to the Treaty of Vereeniging; he was awarded the Dekoratie voor Trouwe Dienst for his wartime services
    • Captain Stoffel (C.J.B.) Uys (1883–1968), Afrikaans soldier in British service during the conquest of German South-West Africa (1914–15), Inspector of the South West Africa Police ForceUys, Ian 1974, pp. 174–178.
    • Brigadier Thys (Matthys Johannes) Uys, S.M., A.F.C. (1911–1964), South African air ace in the Second World WarUys, Ian 1974, pp. 181–195.

    Politics and administration

    • D.C.H. (Dirk Cornelis) Uys, South African Minister of Agriculture and of Water Affairs (appointed 1968) and Senator on behalf of the National Party
    • David Israel Uys Rootenberg (born 1948), nationalist Afrikaner politician in the 1980s and 1990s, former commandant of AWB's military wing Aquila;The Guardian, 10 July 1990: "Neo-Nazi among 10 held as Pretoria moves against right" by David Beresford he descends from an extra-marital branch of the Kapkamma UysesHoute de Lange, C.E.G. ten, p. 184.
    • Dirk Cornelis Uys (1845–1926), member of the Executive Council of NatalUys, Ian 1974, p. 98.
    • Jacobus Johannes (Kootjie) Uys (1858–1942), senator in the parliament of the Union of South Africa
    • Johann Kunz Uys (1907–1978), South African diplomat and ambassador to West-Germany
    • Juan-Duval Uys, controversial politician, former leader of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance,{{Cite webtitle = Police net alleged sex blogger IOLurl = = IOLaccessdate = 2015-12-30 co-founder of the revived National Party South Africa in 2008{{Cite webtitle = Nats re-register for 2009 IOLurl = = IOLaccessdate = 2015-12-30
    • Pierre Uys (born 1956), former Provincial Minister of Health of the Western Cape, chief whip of the African National Congress in the Western Cape Provincial Legislature
    • Colonel Piet Uys, former South African soldier, Secretary-General of the Afrikaner nationalist Freedom Front Plus party
    • Wessel Hendrik Uys (1824–1877), elected as first member for Utrecht on the Executive Council of the South African Republic in 1859


    • Antoinette Uys (born 1976), female badminton player from South Africa
    • BG (Burrie Gildenhuys) Uys (born 1988), South African rugby union player
    • Corné Uys (born 1981), South African rugby union player
    • Jan (Jan-Frederik) Uys (born 1994), South African rugby union player
    • Lafras Uys (born 1982), South African rugby union player
    • Francois Uys (born 1986), South African rugby union player
    • Pierre Uys (born 1976), former Springbok rugby player
    • Ronnie Uys (born 1979), South African rugby union player


    • Binckes, Robin, The Great Trek Uncut, 30 Degree South Publishers, Pinetown 2013.
    • Brookes, E.H, and Webb, C. de B., A History of Natal, University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg 1987 (2nd edition).
    • Cilliers, Ben, Genealogieë van die Afrikaner Families in Natal, Mosselbaai 1985; pp. 608–614.
    • Endeman, L.C.P (Editor), South African Genealogies – Suid Afrikaanse Geslagregisters, Volume 13 (T-U), Genealogical Institute of South Africa, Stellenbosch 2006; pp. 488–527.
    • Hopkins, Ds. H.C., "Die Stamouers van die Familie Uys" in Familia, Quarterly Journal of the Genealogical Society of South Africa, Year 1979, pp. 28–31.
    • Houte de Lange, C.E.G. ten, (Editor), Nederland's Wapenboek – Deel 1, Koninklijk Nederlandsch Genootschap voor Geslachts- en Wapenkunde, 's-Gravenhage 1998; pp. 184–185.
    • Lehmann, Joseph, The First Boer War, Jonathan Cape, London 1972.
    • Morris, Donald R., The Washing of the Spears, The Rise and Fall of the Zulu Nation, Jonathan Cape, London 1965.
    • Muller, C.F.J., "Die arrestasie van Mev. Piet Uys op Sondag 25 Oktober 1835, in Historia, Amptelike Orgaan van die Historiese Genootskap van Suid-Afrika, Year 1972, pp. 244–264.
    • Muller, C.F.J., "Die wording van Piet Uys as Voortrekkerleier" in Leiers na die Noorde, Studies oor die Groot Trek, Tafelberg, Kaapstad 1976 (pp. 108–129).
    • Muller, C.F.J., Die Oorsprong van die Groot Trek, Universiteit van Pretoria, Pretoria 1987 (2nd Edition).
    • Preller, Gustav S., "Geskiedenis van die Uijs Kommissie" and "Losse Mededelingen van Z.J. Uijs" in Voortrekkermense, 'n Vijftal oorspronkelike Dokumente oor die Geskiedenis van die Voortrek, De Nasionale Pers, Kaapstad 1918; pp. 275–296.
    • Prinsloo, J.W., "Geskiedenis van die Voortrekker Uys-Familie" in Historia, Amptelike Orgaan van die Historiese Genootskap van Suid-Afrika, Year 1968, pp. 33–35.
    • Theal, George McCall, "Chronicles of two leaders of the Great Emigration, Louis Triegard and Pieter Uys" and "Pieter Lavras Uys" in Willem Adriaan van der Stel and other historical sketches, Thomas Maskew Miller, Cape Town 1913.
    • Redelinghuys. J.H., Die Afrikaner Familienaamboek, Publisitas, Kaapstad 1954.
    • Robbertze, F.P. du P., Die Sterfplek van Dirkie Uys, Pietersburg 1983.
    • Rootenberg, Francesco Uys, "The Origins of the Uys Family in the Netherlands" in Familia, Quarterly Journal of the Genealogical Society of South Africa, Year 1997, volume 4; pp. 144–151.
    • Rootenberg, Francesco Uys, "The Life and Times of Daentie Rijcken, the Remarkable Uys Stammoeder" in Familia, Quarterly Journal of the Genealogical Society of South Africa, Year 2016, volume 1; pp. 29–52.
    • Rosenthal, Eric, South African Surnames, Howard Timmins, Cape Town 1965; pp. 146–148 ("The Uyses").
    • Saul, David, Zulu, The Heroism and Tragedy of the Zulu War of 1879, Penguin, London 2004.
    • Uys, Ian S., Die Uys Geskiedenis, Heidelberg 1974.
    • Uys, Ian S., "A Boer Family" in Military History Journal (South African Military History Society), Vol 3. No. 6, December 1976.
    • Uys, Ian, South African Military Who's Who, 1452–1992, Fortress Publishers, Germiston 1992.
    • Uys, Ian, Rearguard, The Life and Times of Piet Uys, Fortress Publishers, Kynsna 1998.
    • Uys, Dr. J.F. (Frikkie), "Die Eerste Uys" in Familia, Quarterly Journal of the Genealogical Society of South Africa, Year 2011, volume 1; pp. 26–34.
    • Uys, Dr. J.F. (Frikkie), "Die Eerste Uys – Deel 2" in Familia, Quarterly Journal of the Genealogical Society of South Africa, Year 2013, Parts 2 & 3, pp. 143–144.
    • Uys, Dr. J.F. (Frikkie), "Die Eerste Uys – Deel 2: Nijs, 'n regstelling" in Familia, Quarterly Journal of the Genealogical Society of South Africa, Year 2013, Part 4, pp. 187–190.
    • Uys, J.R., Uys Familie Register, Pinelands 1984.
    • Uys, Petrus Lafras, and Uys, Dirk Cornelius, "Die Voortrekker Uys-Familie vanaf 1704", in Historia, Amptelike Orgaan van die Historiese Genootskap van Suid-Afrika, Year 1967, pp. 276–279.
    • de Villiers, J.F.K., Uys Familie, Hersamestelling van die Uys Register van 1984 / The Uys Family, Rearrangement of the Uys Register of 1984, Gisborne (New Zealand) 2014.
    • Visagie, Jan C., Voortrekkerstamouers 1835–1845, Protea Boekhuis, Pretoria 2011 (2nd edition), pp. 501–505.

    Category:Afrikaans-language surnames
    Category:Surnames of Dutch origin

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