The Deepdale Valley near New Forncett, Natal, South Africa

New Forncett

The settlement of New Forncett was founded in Natal, South Africa in about 1858 by William Alborough who was born in Forncett St. Mary in 1806. William was the nephew of the William Alborough (1791-1871) who founded Alborough Farm and Alborough House.

Like most of the Alborough family, William was an agricultural labourer and in 1829 he married Lucy Wright in Tharston. Between 1830 and 1845 William and Lucy had five children but then sadly in Dec 1853 Lucy died, aged 49. Furthermore, only seven months later, in July 1854, William's youngest child, George, died of typhoid, aged just 9 years old. It was quite probably the loss of his wife and his son that led William Alborough to decide to join the Reverend John Colenso and his family when Colenso left Forncett in 1855 to become Bishop of Natal in South Africa. William's daughters, Susanna and Mary stayed in Norfolk: Susanna had married in 1852 and Mary married in 1855. So, it was William (who was then aged 48) and his two younger children, William (aged 20) and Jane (aged 16) who joined Colenso and his family in Liverpool onboard the Jane Maurice to sail to Durban in South Africa.

They left Liverpool on 7th March 1855 and in his biography Colenso described the ship as "overcrowded, under-supplied and swarming with rats!". The voyage was very uncomfortable, often dangerous and very prolonged, with such atrocious weather that they were blown wildly off course and in early April they docked in Trinidad! They finally sailed into Durban on the 20th May after a voyage of over ten weeks.

Colenso set up his official residence at Bishopstowe, just outside Pietermaritzburg and for the next two years William Alborough worked for him there. In the meantime William applied for land and was subsequently granted lot 91, ward 5, Pietermaritzburg County which was near the small township of Boston, some 50 km to the west of Pietermaritzburg. Here, in about 1858, Alborough established a farm which he called "New Forncett".  His daughter, Jane, married Robert Bloy on 4 September 1862. Robert came from Long Stratton and had presumably known Jane before she emigrated. William Alborough jnr. married Ann Sleightholm on 9th June 1863. Ann was of Scottish descent and her family had emigrated to Natal in 1850. In his will, made in 1873, William left large parts of the farm at New Forncett to William and Jane.

In 1866, at the age of 60, William remarried. His new bride was Agnes Graham who was just 23 years old. William and Agnes subsequently had six children (four boys and two girls) between 1867 and 1875. Their last child (a daughter) died as an infant but in total seven of William's children went on to have their own families in Natal and as a consequence there are now very many descendants of William Alborough living in South Africa today.

Members of the van Wyk family (South African descendants of William Alborough) visiting St. Mary's churchyard in Forncett - photo JHW

William Alborough snr. died at New Forncett on 7th August 1878: he was 72 years old. His wife, Agnes remarried in 1882 to a man called James Noble. She died in Dec 1922, aged 79, and had outlived both of William's older children, William jnr. and Jane. Agnes had raised her own children and those of her stepson William Alborough jnr. She also increased the size of the farm at New Forncett from around 800 acres to double that. Both William Alborough snr. and Agnes are buried in the graveyard at Boston.

The bulk of the land that originally constituted New Forncett farm was taken over by the Government for Consolidation in the 1980's.