There are a handful of published biographies of individual members of the family, notably Percy Molteno’s two volume account of the life of his father, Sir John Charles Molteno; and a life of Donald Barkly Molteno Q.C.   Details can be seen in the Books and Writings section of this website.


Percy Molteno, M.P. and director of the Union Castle Company

Of equal interest, however, are various unpublished, draft biographies of particular members of the family that were found in the University of Cape Town archives. The accounts of the Molteno family, Hercules Jarvis (Robert Molteno’s greatgreatgrandfather) and Sir John C. Molteno (Robert’s greatgrandfather) were prepared by Dr R F M Immelman , relying heavily, as he makes clear, on earlier research by Percy Molteno. They are of great use in understanding the history of the family. Equally interesting is Francis Hirst’s biography of Percy Molteno himself. Each of these manuscripts reached a different stage of preparation. None were published.  I have digitised, edited and inserted photographs into each of them and they can now be read on this website.

There is also a remarkable autobiography by John Syme who married into the Molteno family. His daughters have kindly given permission for its appearance on this website.  It can be seen in the Diaries and Reminiscences section.

Finally, there is additional fascinating autobiographical material in the writings of several other members of the family. Because these are only fragmentary accounts of their lives, they are being reproduced in the Diaries and Reminiscences section of the website.


Biographies and Autobiographies

The Molteno Family — Italian Origins & English Roots  (pdf) — a short account by R. F. M. Immelman

Hercules Crosse Jarvis (1803-89) (pdf) – a draft biography by R. F. M. Immelman            

Sir John Charles Molteno (1814-86) (pdf) — a draft biography by R. F. M. Immelman

Apples of the Sun — The Lives, Visions & Achievements of Ted and Harry Molteno — a biography by Phillida Brooke Simons

Donald Molteno: ‘Dilizintaba’ — He who removes mountains  (South African Institute of International Relations, 1979) — a biography by David Scher

John Syme – Story of a South African Boy — His Autobiography (pdf)

A Man of Principle — Percy Alport Molteno, M.P. – a biography by Francis Hirst

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