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DE WILDT, Maurits Edgar

Born: 1855 01 21
Died: 1907 05 06


Engineer and railways official who compiled Instructie 1899, instructions which contain inter alia the building regulations which set the standard for construction of the ZUID AFRIKAANSCHE REPUBLIEK SPOORWEG MAATSCHAPPIJ building stock.

[The following is extracted from Ploeger (1987: 186-187) and edited for this format. (Eds. 2016 01 21)]

Born in Kediri, Java, died in the Hague, Netherlands. He was the son of Hugo Gerard de Wildt, a government official on Java, and his wife, Louisa Jeanette Sorrier.

He had studied in the then Polytechnische School in Delft from 1873, where he obtained a diploma in civil engineering in 1878. He worked thereafter first as supervisor extraordinary on the construction of the Nieuwe Waterweg (the connection between the North Sea and Rotterdam). He had studied at the Polytechnic in Delft from 1873 to 1878. His first appointment was as extraordinary supervisor at the Rijkswaterstaat [Department of Public Works] at Hoek van Holland. Thereafter he worked Provincialen waterstaat of Gelderland and draining of den Ouden Ijssel located in Zutphen. He was temporarily employed by the engineer J Schotel in Rotterdam, before he prepared designs for the local railway line from Groningen in Bedum to Uithuizen, a railway from Rotterdam to Amsterdam and the Belgian part of the line Breskens - Maldeghem and surveys for the lines Apeldoorn - Arnhem, Leiden - Woerden - Utrecht, Utrecht - Amsterdam, of which ultimately only the line Breskens - Maldeghem was executed. In 1883 he became section engineer at the Royal Dutch Locaalspoorwegmaatskappij. William III, who had established the railway, initiated the Deventer Apeldoorn to Almelo, and Dieren of Apeldoorn to Hattem. Five years later was appointed to the position of section engineer on the NZASM. In May 1888 he arrived in the Transvaal Republic in the employ of theNederlandsche Zuid-Afrikaansche Spoorweg-Maatschappij (NZASM) as a section engineer. He headed one of the survey teams in the Lowveld after his arrival in the ZAR in May 1888, where he was charged with surveying the Eastern Line in the Lowveld on the left bank of the Crocodile River. In this capacity he also contributed to the rail connection between Boksburg and Johannesburg (the Rand Tram, as it was called) in 1890. In the same year he was transferred to the NZASM Head Office in Pretoria, and in 1894 was appointed secretary to the board of the same company. Four years later he was made chief engineer, technical inspector, and adviser to [Here Ploeger states the "NZASM" but it was in fact a single position in the state department] Department of Railways of the ZAR, - a post he held until the British occupation of Pretoria in June 1900 - and was put in charge of the Pretoria-Pietersburg Railway Company when the Second Anglo-Boer War broke out on 11.10.1899.

During the absence of the Dutch consul-general H. C. Bergsma in 1894, De Wildt acted as temporary deputy and in December 1895 assisted in organising the defence of Pretoria. In 1898 he applied for naturalisation and in September 1899 took the oath as a citizen of the Transvaal Republic. He was interested in placing Dutch immigrants and in September 1899 was chairman of a committee of Dutchmen who initiated the establishment of the Hollander Corps (Hollanderkorps).

[While Ploeger states: "It is not known why De Wildt was not deported from the country after the British occupation of the Republic as were most of the NZASM officials. He may have taken the oath of neutrality or, because he was temporary deputy for the Dutch consul-general, have had diplomatic status", it is apparent as a citizen and Government employee of the ZAR this would not have been possible]. At the beginning of 1900 he joined and was later secretary of the Nederlandsch Bijstandsfonds voor Zuid-Afrika in Pretoria. This organisation, in co-operation with subcommittees (among others those in Johannesburg and Bloemfontein), aided war victims and later co-operated with concentration camp committees. After the war, until 1906, it helped to assuage the grief felt after the war In 1902. De Wildt was on the committee of the general commission which pressed for Christian National Education.

In 1903 De Wildt was asked to investigate a rail route to the Transvaal-Portuguese border of the Northern Transvaal for the Central South African Railways (CSAR), and was subsequently appointed engineer in charge of railway construction between Pretoria and Rustenburg. The station De Wildt was named after him. In April 1907, De Wildt and his wife returned on a visit to the Hague in the Netherlands, where he died during or after an operation.

Both before and after the Second Anglo-Boer War De Wildt played an important part in the railway development of the Transvaal, and he will also be remembered as a contributor to the aid of war victims.

He was married to Elisabeth Jaqueline Auguste Constance Schagen van Leeuwen, and had one son. A photograph of De Wildt appears in the Gedenkboek uitgegeven ter gelegenheid der feestelijke opening van den Delagoabaaispoorweg (infra).

Transvaal Arch., Pta.. Leyds Arch: LA 890/2, p. 484 et seq.. De Ingenieur (Orgaan van het Kon. Instituut van Ingenieurs), vol. 22 (1907), no. 20 and 43; - Gedenkboek uitgegeven ter gelegenheid der feestelijke opening van den Delagoabaaispoorweg. Amst., 1895; - Verslag van het hoofdbestuur der Nederlandsch Zuid-Afrikaan-sche Vereeniging (reports 1900-1905). Amst., n.d., - p. j. van winter, Onder Krugers Hollanders. Vol. 2. Amst., 1938; - J. van dalsen, 'Die Hollander-korps tydens die Tweede Vryheidsoorlog', Historiese Studies, 4, 2, 1943; - Nederlands Patriciaat, 42, 1956.

List of projects

With photographs
With notes

Vryheid Branch Line Bloedrivier Railway House: 1898. Dundee, KwaZulu-Natal - Engineer
Vryheid Branch Line Bloedrivier Station : 1898. Dundee, KwaZulu-Natal - Engineer
Vryheid Branch Line Bridge north of Tayside Station: 1898. Dundee, KwaZulu-Natal - Engineer
Vryheid Branch Line Bridge over the Bloedrivier: 1898. Blood River/Bloedrivier, KwaZulu-Natal - Engineer
Vryheid Branch Line Bridge over the White Umfolozi: 1898. Vryheid, KwaZulu-Natal - Engineer
Vryheid Branch Line Bridge West of Vryheid: 1898. Vryheid, KwaZulu-Natal - Engineer
Vryheid Branch Line Culvert north of Bloedrivier Bridge: 1878. Blood River/Bloedrivier, KwaZulu-Natal - Engineer
Vryheid Branch Line Cutting east of Scheepersnek: 1898. Vryheid, KwaZulu-Natal - Engineer
Vryheid Branch Line Plate Girder Bridge north of the Buffalo River: 1898. Dundee, KwaZulu-Natal - Engineer
Vryheid Branch Line Viaduct north of the Buffalo River: 1898. Dundee, KwaZulu-Natal - Engineer
Vryheid Branch Line Viaduct west of Vryheid: 1898. Vryheid, KwaZulu-Natal - Engineer

Articles citing DE WILDT

Ploeger, J. 1957. Aantekeninge in verband met die eerste Hollanderkorps (1899). Africana Notes and News. 12 March 1956 - December 1957 298-312

Books citing DE WILDT

Anonymous [Nederlandsche Zuid-Afrikaanse Spoorwegmaatschappij]. [c.1909]. In Memoriam N.Z.A.S.M. Amsterdam: JH De Bussy. pp 13, 83, 85, 127

Bakker, Karel A, Clarke, Nicholas J. 2014. Eclectic ZA Wilhelmiens : A shared Dutch built heritage in South Africa. Pretoria: Visual Books. pp 114

De Jong, RC, Van der Waal, GM. 1988. NZASM 100 : 1887-1899, the buildings, steam engines and structures of the Netherlands South African Railway Company. Pretoria: C. Van Rensburg Publications on behalf of the Human Sciences Research Council. pp 248 note 87.1

Ferreira, OJO (Editor and Annotator). 1977. Krijgsgevangenschap van L. C. Ruijssenaers 1899-1902. Pretoria: Raad vir Geesteswetenskaplike Navorsing. pp 7

HSRC. 1987. Dictionary of South African Biography Volume V. Pretoria: Human Sciences Research Council. pp 196-197

Molhuysen, PC & Blok, PJ. 1911-1937. Nieuw Nederlandsch Biografisch Woordenboek (Deel 3). Leiden: AW Sijthoff. pp 1422-1423

Ploeger, Jan. 1994. Nederlanders in die Transvaal 1850-1950. Pretoria: Van Schaik. pp 58

Schoeman, Chris. 2011. Brothers in arms. Hollanders in the Anglo-Boer War. Cape Town: Zebra Press. pp 8-9, 10, 18

Van Winter, PJ. 1938. Onder Krugers Hollanders : Geschiedenis van de Nederlandsche Zuid-Afrikaansche Spoorweg-Maatschappij. Tweede Deel. Amsterdam: JH de Bussy. pp 262 n.