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Kelderhof Country Estate, Croyden April 2014.
A Cold Case solved after 132 years – The mystery of Elizabeth Ravenscroft of Bloomsbury London.
In the early 1970's I came across two letters in the Cape Archives from an Elizabeth Ravenscroft of 15 Great St. Andrew Street, Bloomsbury, London. (now called Monmouth Street) written to the Earl of Kimberley as the Principal Secretary of the Colonies. It appears from the first letter that this woman’s daughter, also called Elizabeth Ravenscroft, who had grown up in the Elizabeth Fry's Refuge had signed a 3 year contract to come to the Cape as a servant for a Reverent Clunee of Abbotsdale. That she had departed on the 15th. Of June 1881 on the Barmoral Castle. That she had arrived and that she had been considered a very good worker in a letter that Reverend Clunee had written to the Matron of The Elizabeth Fry's home.
The purpose of this letter was to ask The Earl of Kimberley to instruct the authorities to establish the whereabouts of her daughter as she had left the the employ of the Reverend Clunee and he did not know where she now was. The second letter was one thanking the Earl of Kimberley and informing him that the Local Colonial Secretary situated in Cape Town had forwarded a letter from the Reverend Clunee to her stating that her daughter had left the Reverend Clunee employment after nine month and the Master of the house where she had gone to work had shortly thereafter left the area and that the Reverend Clunee did not know where Elizabeth Ravenscroft was. Mrs Ravenscroft goes on and sort of implies that the Reverend Clunee should know where her daughter was and that she suspected things were not what they seemed.
And there the trail ended until I came across a list of burials in which I found one for a Elizabeth Ravenscroft who had died on the 29th May 1882 at the age of 22 (therefore her date of birth would be 1860). Her place of burial was called ' The Malay Camp in Kimberley '
If one does the sums it would appear that this is the missing Elizabeth Ravenscroft because
Departure 15th June 1881
Arrival (say) 1st July 1881
Worked at Rev Clunee for 9 months from July 1881 to March 1882
Died Kimberley 29 May 1882 (that's 11 months after her arrival)
Also her age at 22 would have been about right as she was only able to sign an employment contract at 21 years of age.
I wonder if her mother and siblings ever did find out what happened to Elizabeth or did they go to their grave grieving for a missing person.