Captain Francis William Henry McCleland

Of the ten children that the Reverend Francis McCleland sired over a period of 19 years from 1821 to 1839, four were sons of which two died in infancy. Spare a thought for his wife, Elizabeth. In effect this fact meant that Elizabeth was pregnant every second year of their marriage. Of these surviving sons, Francis William Henry McCleland was the eldest son. Born on 17th October 1827, Francis William was arguably to become the most successful of the Rev. Francis’ six surviving children. 

It is through Francis William that the majority of the McCleland family in South Africa can trace their descent and why the Beckley and McCleland clans in South Africa will forever be inextricably linked. The betrothal of three of Francis William’s sons to three Beckley girls would be that chain. 

This is the life story of my great grandfather. 

Main picture: Francis William Henry McCleland

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St. Albans Church, Draaifontein

Amongst the few things that I know about my grandmother’s upbringing, is that as a Beckley, she was raised in the family house in Draaifontein. Furthermore, Elizabeth Daisy McCleland always claimed that she was the first person to be betrothed in the St Albans Church.

Only after recently receiving a photograph of the original iron & timber church from Rosemary MacGeoghan and the excellent notes by Anthony Beckley, have I been able to establish something of substance about this quaint church. 

This is the story of the family church. 

Main picture: Original St. Alban’s Church

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Cecil McCleland: Memories of Meriel Burman nee McCleland

Spare a thought for an extremely young girl, her parents first separated and then at the tender age of 10, her father dies. Imagine the sense of loss, the perpetual sense of emptiness. This is the personal and touching story of Meriel [Merry] Burman as she recalls her father, Cecil McCleland and recounts her life growing up almost cheek-by-jowl with other McCleland’s in Newton Park but never knowing them. Meriel is the correct spelling of Merry’s name as I have gently been scolded.

This is Meriel’s story

Main picture: Cecil & Dorothy McCleland in 1939. A serene idyllic scene of family happiness with Cecil fishing & Dorothy stroking the family dog

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A Letter by a Grandmother to her Granddaughter on her Engagement

In March 1926, the 19 year old Kathleen Mary McCleland took the momentous step of getting engaged. No one understood what attracted Kathleen to the 33 year old George Wood but whatever it was, she was smitten. 

To congratulate her and offer some sound words of advice, her grandmother, Mrs Mary Ann Beckley, sent her this letter. Having been born in Ludlow, Shropshire, England on the 20th December 1847, Granny Mary was 79 years old. 

Main picture: Top L-R Thelma, Mr Clements, Daisy Bottom L-R Kathleen, Maureen & Clifford

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Bryce Beckley McCleland – A Second Chance at Life

Bryce was the proverbial laat lammertjie. By being born on the 24th August 1922, meant that he was the youngest of the six McCleland children of Harry & Daisy McCleland of Schoenmakerskop. In what can only be described as a tumultuous few years, first his elder brother Francis accidently shot himself during an attempted break-in at his parents Tea Room, then at the age of 8 his father succumbed to Black Water Fever which he had contracted fighting in German East Africa. 

Main picture: Bryce and Auret McCleland – most probably taken at their 40th wedding anniversary in 1986 when Mom was 65 yrs old – Dad was 68.

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The Follies of Youth in Port Elizabeth

There can be little doubt that Port Elizabeth offers some superb opportunities for the ill-advised youths in Port Elizabeth to partake in speed related challenges. Needless to say, my brother Blaine has finally revealed some incidents in his ill-spent youth in which he might have met his maker long before his allotted three score and ten years. 

Main picture: Blaine’s Yamaha which was the crux of Blaine’s follies

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