Pieter Jacobus Gerhardus (PJG) de Vos was born on the farm Olifantsberg in the vicinity of Worcester on 29 October 1842. From an early age he displayed an interest in the Christian religion and pursuing its related ancient languages, in particular Latin, Greek and Hebrew.
At the age of 20 he completed his studies in theology at the top of his class at the South African College. When he left to further his qualifications at the Theological Seminary (Kweekskool) in Stellenbosch, his lecturers and fellow students presented him with a honorary silver inkstand.
De Vos was among the third group of students at the seminary and was once again the top-performing student. The final leg of his educational journey took him to Scotland, before his return to South Africa as a minister of the Dutch Reformed Church. Among the various congregations he served during the years that followed, were the communities of Piketberg, Caledon and Riversdale.
During 1883, however, De Vos made a return to the Eikestad to take up a professorship in dogmatics and Old Testament at the seminary. In addition, he served on the councils of both Stellenbosch and Victoria Colleges until 1908.
One of the matters close to De Vos’s heart during his years in Stellenbosch was the matter of accommodation for students from elsewhere. He headed the team that campaigned for a series of extended boarding establishments (known as young men’s homes) across from Eersterivier. He also established the first industrial institution named Industria for destitute boys in the same area, where they were able to receive an education in agriculture and other trade skills.
When Stellenbosch University formally came into being in 1918, he became its second chancellor the following year after the untimely passing of Prof JI Marais. On behalf of the people of South Africa, and as a token of acknowledgement of his noble life and fruitful career, he was awarded an honorary degree in LittD by his alma mater.