Named Herbert’s Mount by Commodore Fitzherbert in 1620, was called by the early Dutch De Windberg. Dutch wind, wind, a very appropriate name indeed for the south-east wind sweeps with fury round this portion of the mountain. In Kolbe we find the introduction to its present form for he describes it as De Wind of Duivels Berg, Dutch Duiveldevil ; Stavorinus calls in DuivelsKlip, Devil’s Rock and later on we find it as Duivels Kop.
Wind-berg.—An earlier name borne by the mountain on the Cape Peninsula now known as the Devil’s Peak.” Der Wind- oder Teufels-berg hat den Namen ohne Zweifel von den Sud-Ost Winden die auf ihme regieren . . . Von dem Gipfel des Wind-Berges hat man eine schone Aussicht, man entdecket das Tieger-Geburge, die benachbarten Heiden, etc.” (Kolben’s ” Beschreibung,” p. 210, 1745.) ” The picturesque Devil’s Peak (or Wind Berg of the old Dutch mariners), 3315 feet in height.” (Noble’s “Official Handbook of the Cape of Good Hope,” p. 77, 1886.)
Devil’s Peak – Mountain(1,002 metres) to the north-east of Table Mountain, to which it is connected by a saddle. Commodore Fitzherbert named it Herbert’s Mount in 1620, but to the Dutch it was first known as Windberg. The Duivels Berg was in use in the early 18th century, and it has been suggested that it was so named because of the high winds that seemed to blow down from its summit. Eventually the name became Duivels Kop, and in English Devil’s Peak. (Jose Burman)
While Sir Thomas Herbert chose to name the peak after himself in 1620, by the time that the Dutch settled at the Cape in 1652 the Windberg appears to have been the ‘official’ name. Already at this time however visitors were using the names ‘Wind Hill’ or ‘Devil’s Hill’ interchangeably.
By the time that Abraham van Riebeeck (son of Jan) visited the Cape in 1676 “…since the Lion Hill on one side and the Devil’s Hill on the other unite with the Table Mountain to form as if an arm or semi-circle…”
Francois Leguat, who visited the Cape in 1698 gives a clear idea as to the reason for visitors (and, one presumes, residents) began to increasingly make use of what is now the generally used name (notwithstanding the various usages of Hill, Mount and Peak):
“We then saw appear upon one of the Neighbouring Mountain call’d the Devil’s Mount, a certain mist which as an infallible forerunner of furious Winds, that very much incommode Vessels even in the Bay…”
It is clear that notwithstanding the usage of other names by visitors, the name Devil’s Peak (or Hill, etc.) has been in common usage since the time of the settlement of the Cape by the Dutch and continues to this day.
Suggestions that the name Devil’s Peak has not always been universally popular is borne out by Scully in his novel A vendetta of the desert where one of his characters crossed the high neck which connects the eminence known as “the Devil’s Peak” with Table Mountain. This name used then to cause great scandal to the Dutch Colonists – the term being an unconscious perversion by the English of the original name of “Duiven’s” or “Dove’s” Peak.
There appears to be an association in popular memory between the name Devil’s Peak and the legend of Van Hunks.
The well-known legend recounts the tale of Jan van Hunks, a pirate who was said to have retired to live on the slopes of Devil’s Peak in the early 18th century. Van Hunks loved to sit on the mountain perpetually smoking his pipe. One day a stranger approached him to borrow some tobacco, and some boasting on both sides led to a smoking contest lasting for days. Van Hunks finally defeated the stranger, who turned out to be the devil and vanished in a puff of smoke together with Van Hunks. The cloud of tobacco smoke became the ‘table-cloth’, the white cloud falling over the mountain when the south-east wind blows in summer and for which Table Mountain is famous.
The first published version of the legend is that of Ian Colvin, in his South Africa, in the Romance of Empire series. In a footnote to the chapter How Table Mountain got its cloud there is a note that “The editor thinks it right to say that this story was in his hands several months before the publication of a poem by Dante Gabriel Rossetti on another version of this legend. Despite attempts over the years to trace early origins of the legend in South Africa nothing has been traced prior to Colvin, who would appeared to have used literary license to make use of Rossetti’s poem “The ballad of Jan van Hunks”, the original manuscript of which he is said to have completed in 1846. The ballad tells a similar tale of a wager, but the background is Holland, and the ballad is believed to be based on a prose story called ‘Henkerwyssel’s challenge’, found in a book, Tales of chivalry, which Rossetti loved as a child.