Before 1843 Winburg formed part of the Republic of Natalia (Port Natal, Pietermaritzburg, Potchefstroom, Winburg); and no documents of the landrost (“magistrate”) of Winburg prior to that date are known to exist, archival record sequences only existing in part from 1848 onwards.


The oldest baptismal, church membership and marriage registers of Winburg are dated 1842 and are housed in Bloemfontein with copies said to be in Cape Town and Pretoria.


In 1843, Natal was annexed to the Cape of Good Hope. In 1846, the Governor-in-Council of the Cape of Good Hope appointed a British Resident to look after “the interests” of the trekboers ; and in February 1848, Sir Harry Smith annexed the entire region between the Orange and Vaal Rivers under the British Crown as the Orange River Sovereignty.


The Free State was recognised as independent, sovereign territory by the British in 1854 and it remained thus until annexed during the Second Anglo-Boer War as the Orange River Colony. All documents covering the period of British rule resided in the Cape Archives until 1927 when they were transferred to the Free State.


The Free State Archives Depot in Bloemfontein is a treasure awaiting discovery. Huge amounts of information lie buried there, with many of the archival groups either having no indices or accumulated in a haphazard manner with little attention having been given to process.


Though one may attempt to have material sourced by the staff, the only true solution to definitive research is to reside in the Bloemfontein area and apply patience, skill and time to the research.