Anyone undertaking a genealogical study is going to need a method of recording the information gathered in a clear, concise and unambiguous manner. To this end, this section deals with the various types of charts and includes the method of numbering them, as follows:

  1. Pedigree Charts.
  2. Pedigree Chart Numbering.
  3. Family Group Record Sheet.
  4. Descendant Charting.
  5. South African Numbering Systems.
  6. General Comments.

Pedigree Chart

The Pedigree Chart is probably the very first chart that you will use in your research and some samples can be accessed below:

  1. Pedigree Chart.
  2. Kids Pedigree Chart.

These charts are simply samples to provide an idea of what they look like, in most instances charts can be purchased from a reputable genealogical supplies company or here in South Africa, from the Human Sciences Research Council, (HSRC).

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Pedigree Chart Numbering

A Pedigree Chart consists of the full list of names of ancestors of a person as far back as they are known.

The first person on the first pedigree chart you fill in will no doubt be either yourself or one of your children, and this person receives the number 1. His father is numbered 2, his mother 3, his fathers father 4, his fathers mother 5, his mothers father 6, and his mothers mother 7 etc.

Note that, because everyone has 2 parents, 4 grandparents, 8 great grandparents and so on, the number of persons in a generation is always double that of the preceding generation.

In the tenth generation a person will have 2 to the power of 10 ancestors, which is equal to 1 024 ancestors, and as mentioned earlier, 30 generations back, 1 073 741 904 ancestors, though this figure would be substantially reduced by the incidence of cousin marriages.

The number of the father of any person, will be double the number of that person, and the number of his mother is double his own number plus one. The first number in every generation will be the number of individuals in that generation.

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Family Group Sheet

The limitation of a Pedigree Chart is that it details an individuals direct ancestry or pedigree.

There is no space for any brothers and sisters or uncles and aunts, and likewise a persons other marriages or liasons are not recorded.

To record this additional information a Family Group Sheet is used. For each male and female couple, who is recorded on a pedigree chart and has children, the information for their children is recorded on a:

Family Group Record Sheet.
Second Page, Family Group Record Sheet.

This chart is simply a samples to provide an idea of what it looks like. In most instances charts can be purchased from a reputable genealogical supplies company or here in South Africa, from the Human Sciences Research Council, (HSRC).

A different Family Group Record Sheet will be completed for each indivual and for each marriage, together with the children from each marriage. If you want to, each of the children could have their own Family Group Record Sheet.

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Descendant Charting

Now if you wish to record all the descendants of a particular person, say for example the first individual with a particular surname, to arrive in South Africa, you can set the information out in a Descendants Chart.

There is no preprinted form for use in this instance because the numbers of children and marriages varies so much, therefore the information can be set out using a word processor package.

All South African standard references have the information on families set out as descendants charts and even if you don't want to do the same for your family, you should at least know how it is done, to make it easier when consulting such works.

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South African Numbering Systems

The system most widely used by South African genealogists is that of C.C. de Villiers, as first used in his "Geslacht Register der Oude Kaapsche Familien". According to this system, the South African progenitor of a family is identified by the letter a. His children are b1, b2, b3, etc., and their children c1, c2, c3, etc.

If there was more than one South African progenitor, they are numbered a1, a2, a3, etc., in the order in which they came to South Africa.

If there was only one progenitor, the identifying letter a. is normally omitted from the descendant's genealogical number.


b4c2d3 is the third child of the second child of the fourth child of the only South African progenitor of that family.
While a3b2c4d5 is the fifth child of the fourth child of the second child of the third South African progenitor of that particular family

According to de Villiers' system, a person's descendants are named first before his younger brothers' and sisters' names appear in the register.

Often only the last letter (i.e. the generation) and number are used in front of the persons' name, however if the register comprises more than one page, the full genealogical number should be used at the top of each page.



a Ignatius * Lisbon, Portugal 1696 + 24.5.1722 x Stellenbosch 6.11.1735 Martha TERBLANCHE.
b1 Maria Magdalena ~ Paarl 30.8.1733
b2 Jan Leogold ~ 17.4.1735
b3 Petrus Hendrik ~ 5.8.1736 x 28.12.1760 Catherina Maria VAN STADEN xx 23.1.1780 Martha Johanna MULLER
c1 Martha Maria ~ 8.5.1763 x T. POTGIETER
c2 Catharina Aletta ~ 19.1.1766 x I.P. DU PREEZ
c3 Susanna Elisabeth ~6.3.1768 + Uitenhage 27.6.1838 x I.P FERREIRA
c4 Petrus Hendrik ~ 8.4.1770 + Langkloof 28.3.1839 x Martha Johanna FERREIRA
d1 Dorothea Maria ~ 25.3.1792
d2 Petrus Hendrik ~ 29.11.1795
c5 Hester ~16.2.1772

Note that only people with the same surname are included in the example above and that the descendants do not have their surname Ferreira added, it being assumed that all their surnames are Ferreira. A daughter's husband is mentioned, but their children are excluded.

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General Comments

If female descendants of a person are included in a genealogical register or descendants chart, it would be called a register of descendants. The same numbering system as discussed above could be used, but with the following modifications:

The persons' surname is added in capital letters, e.g. Abel Erasmus COETZEE.

As a person normally receives his genealogical number from his father, a number received from his mother must be written in square brackets, for example:

a1b3c3 Sarah Aletta COETZEE x Jan DE BEER
[a1b3c3d1] Wilhelmina Maria DE BEER



In Europe, generations are usually numbered using Roman numerals. This has the disadvantage that most of the numbers consist of several characters. Just compare the following:

South Africa: - a2b3c5d10e5f1g2h3

Europe : - I2.II3.III5.IV10.V5.VI1.VII2.VIII3.

Note: A person's genealogical number may change if more ancestors or children are "discovered".

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