S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science

Schonegevel, Mr Pieter Carstens (navigation)

Born: February 1782, Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Died: 21 June 1836, Cape Town, South Africa.

Pieter Carstens Schonegevel came to the Cape Colony from Amsterdam during the first few years of the nineteenth century and was the ancestor of the Schonegevel family in South Africa. By 1806 he was a teacher to the family of Johannes F. Kirsten, a former senior Dutch East India Company official. On 14 June 1807 he married Margaretha (or Maria) E. Schneegans in Cape Town. They had five sons, two of whom became printers and artists in Cape Town. "Carstens" seems to have been part of the family name at the time, as it appears in the names of all Pieter's sons.

According to the African court calendar Schonegevel was the principal of the French and Dutch school at 19 Plein Street, Cape Town, from 1810 or earlier to 1813. From 1814 to 1816 the school was identified as the Mathematical School, at the same address. He was not listed in 1817-1818, but from 1819 to 1823 was indicated to be a schoolmaster at 13 Boom Street. From 1824 to 1828 his school was identified as the Dutch Grammar School, first at 13 Boom Street (1824), then at 19 Plein Street (1825), 14 Boom Street (1826-1827) and finally at 18 St Jan Street (1828), He was no longer listed in 1829.

In 1812 Schonegevel published a pamphlet entitled Methode om de lengte op zee, door den doorgang der maane in den Meridiaan, te vinden (Method of finding the longitude at sea by means of the passage of the moon through the meridian, Cape Town?, 1912, 7p). This method to determine longitude had often been considered before. Its accuracy at the time was limited mainly by difficulties in predicting the moon's motion long in advance. Schonegevel applied for a position as surveyor in the Cape Colony in 1815. In 1821 he wrote songs of mourning in memory of Miss Magdeld Smith. By 1832 he was seriously ill and his wife was experiencing financial difficulties. He died four years later.

List of sources:
African court calendar (directory of Cape Town), 1810-1828. Cape Town: G. Ross. Facsimile reprints by South African Library, Cape Town, 1982.

Dictionary of South African biography (Johan M.C. Schonegevel), Vol. 2, 1972.

National Automated Archival Information Retrieval System (NAAIRS). . Documents relating to Schonegevel, Pieter Carstens / Schonegevel, P.C.

Pama, C. Die groot Afrikaanse familienaamboek. Kaapstad: Human & Rousseau, 1983.

South African bibliography to the year 1925. London: Mansell, 1979.

Standard encyclopaedia of southern Africa. Cape Town: NASOU, 1970-1976.

Compiled by: C. Plug