Abraham and the two Rhoda Robinsons

This is by way of an update to this post of some time ago regarding my great uncle, Andrew Joseph Robinson, although he only plays a peripheral role in this tale. This is the story of his second wife Rhoda (née Wise), their two so far unnamed children and her relationship as quite literally ‘the younger model’ with Abraham van Jaarsveld.

It all started when I got back in touch with Nick to catch up and see if he’s made any progress. There was no news but it did prompt him to start looking for Rhoda’s two children, those she had had with Andrew in the early 1950s, mentioned in the divorce papers but not named. A day or so later an email from Nick drops into my inbox with a copy of an email from Jan van Jaarsveld with some detail about Rhoda Robinson and Abraham van Jaarsveld, but also, from an obscure reference in the Strydom family tree, listing Rhoda Robinson (born Wise) as de facto spouse to the same Abraham van Jaarsveld. It was clear quite quickly that either something was horribly wrong with one of these sources or there were two Rhoda Robinsons.

It turns out Abraham van Jaarsveld (b 1881) had previously been married (in 1902) to Leonora Strydom (b 1880) with whom he’d fathered five children; Leonora, Ernestus, Pieter, Abraham and Hermina. It is clear from the communication Nick has had with Jan that he later formed a relationship, possibly marriage, with Rhoda Robinson, 32 years his junior and with whom he fathered a further two, possibly three children; Ernst and Cecil, and possibly Johanna. This Rhoda Robinson was previously unknown to me but looks like she was the daughter of a Robert and Lucy Robinson born in 1913. Robert and Lucy also had a son, Cecil, a year later – fans no doubt of the infamous Cecil Rhodes, but not so far in my tree.

Anyway, Rhoda would have been 41 by the time her younger son Cecil Robinson van Jaarsveld was born in 1954 and one can only wonder how soon after this birth (if not before) the old man, now 72, took up with newly divorced Rhoda Wise/Robinson – 47 years his junior and 15 years younger than the first Rhoda Robinson. It must have been a very strange and distressing situation for Rhoda to have been replaced by what would probably have seemed like quite literally a younger version of herself.

The first Rhoda Robinson as well as Abraham’s first wife Leonora were both still very much alive when Rhoda Wise Robinson appeared on the scene, they died in 1974 and 1998 respectively. Abraham himself died in 1963 and Rhoda Wise Robinson and her children were not named in his will. While we are awaiting the paperwork on that, it seems that one of the Rhoda’s contested the Will before a couple of his children from his first marriage opposed that application. All very murky.

None of which has got us any closer to naming Andrew and Rhoda’s children!

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