John Pears
was born in in the Scottish village of Duns in 1790. In 1817 he was the schoolmaster of Abbotshall Schoolhouse on the outskirts of Kirkcaldy with a burning ambition to become a Presbyterian Minister. After becoming a minister, John preached in many churches on Scotland and England.

While established in Mailings Rig Chapel, England within the Presbytery of Newcastle-on-Tyne he, like many other Scottish preachers, accepted a call to a Scottish Church at the Cape in South Africa.

John Pears arrived in Cape Town on the 3rd of March 1829. On the 2nd day of June 1830 Jon married Louisa Ann Ashcraft in the Scotch Church, Cape Town.  In October 1829 accepted a chair at the South African College and Zuid Afrikaanschel Athenaeum where he taught Classics ( English Section) for 5 years. During this time, three daughters were born.

In 1836, he opened a private school in Buitencringel also in Cape Town  and during this time his son was born. Towards the end of 1836 he was approached by the authorities of the Dutch Reformed Church to join their ranks.

He was sent to Albany in the Eastern Cape. In 1839 Jon was sent to Holland to learn to speak the language spoken of his adopted church. Legend has it that he never learnt to speak Dutch very well. When he returned, John Pears was sent as Predikant to Somerset, now called Somerset East. He lived here in the "Pastorie" till his death in 1866.

The Pastorie was a beautiful Georgian House built by the Methodists in the 1820's and was bought by the Dutch Reformed Church in 1834. John Pears covered many miles by cart and horse to minister to his widely spread flock. In 1859, the town of Pearston named after John Pears was founded by the church.

The Rev John Pears and his devoted wife Louisa Ann seem to have been loved and respected by all who knew them during the 25 years they lived and worked in Somerset East and the district. He died on the 18th of June 1866 in the Pastorie and believed to be buried in the Dutch Reformed Church in Somerset East.

The inscriptions to John Pears in the Dutch Reformed Church in Somerset East at the North West Entrance door and in the Southeast corner near the floor - above the place where we have always been told he was buried - and indeed no other grave was found.

His children placed a tablet on the wall carrying the only English words in the church.


Erected by his children
The Reverend John Pears
Who laboured with unwearied zeal

In the service of his master
Minister of the Dutch Reformed Church of the Parish
For more than 26 years and who died on 18 June 1866
in his 76th year
"Well done thou and faithful servant"


His beloved wife could not live without the man she loved and stood beside for thirty six years and died five months later.These two lovely people had 5 children, and about 30 grandchildren and 100 great-grandchildren

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E-mail: info@pearston.co.za

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