Rev Francis McCleland: From Birth to London – 1793 to 1819

Because the ultimate point of departure of the Irish Settlers was Cork, or more accurately a hamlet some 10 kilometres east thereof called Passage West, most of Francis’ South African descendants have assumed that the family was in fact resident in Cork or its environs when in fact this is fallacious. Frederick McCleland, Francis’s father was a merchant in Longford. As a consequence, Francis was in fact born and raised in Longford Town in Longford County which is situated in central Ireland. 

This blog which commences the life story of the Reverend Francis McCleland, the progenitor of the extensive McCleland clan in South Africa, deals with the period from his birth, through his varsity years until his voyage aboard the East Indian from Deptford London to Passage West in Ireland to pick up the Irish Settlers.

Main picture: St. John’s Church of Ireland Church, Church Street, Battery Road, Longford Town, County Longford of which Francis was appointed as a Deacon

Early Life

Longford Town in the County of Longford was the birthplace of Francis McCleland in 1793. After completing his schooling on 7th October 1811, his father’s business as a mercator or merchant was prospering sufficiently for Frederick McCleland to allow his son Francis McCleland to attend Trinity College, Dublin University as an ordinary fee paying student. It was here that he gained his bachelor’s degree – a BA in Divinity – in the summer of 1817.

 

Counties of Ireland

Counties of Ireland

According to Gabrielle Churchouse, “Francis McCleland was born in Longford [Ireland]. His father, Frederick McCleland, had married Margaret Beatty in Longford on the 3rd February 1785. Five sons and a daughter Margaret were born to them including Francis, born in 1793.

In reality, the exact date of Francis’ birth is unknown. Instead, his birth date has been determined from the records of Trinity College, Dublin. These state that Francis matriculated on 7th Oct. 1811 aged 18. This means that he is most likely to have been born in 1793 but he could possibly have been born in late 1792. For these purposes, his year of birth will be taken throughout as 1793.

University

Gabrielle continues: “Four of his five sons obtained degrees at Dublin University, 76 miles away. Frederick McCleland was a merchant and, although as his children grew up his financial circumstances steadily improved, in 1809 he was in sufficiently straightened economic circumstances for his eldest son, Thomas, to qualify for a Sizarship – a scholarship open to clever boys whose fathers could not meet the university fees. Thomas obtained his bachelor’s degree from Trinity College, Dublin University in 1811. 

The Library at the Trinity College Dublin

The Library at the Trinity College Dublin

 However, Francis entered Trinity College as a pensioner – an ordinary fee paying student – and gained his bachelor’s degree in 1817.

One of the sources claims that Francis in fact was awarded an A.M. id est Artium Magister, which is abbreviated as A.M. or AM which is a type of master’s degree awarded by universities in many countries.

Churchouse continues: “Frederick’s means only stretched to university fees for two younger sons, William (B.A., M.A.) and George (B.A.) who attended Trinity College in the 1820’s. Only one son did not attend university.”

trinity-college-dublin01

Trinity College Dublin

Unlike most families of that period, four of the McCleland children attended university, all of whom obtained a B.A. and one, William even obtained an M.A. Like the majority of females of that era, Francis’ sister, Margaret did not attend university and it is doubtful whether given the straightened financial circumstances that she would have attended university in any event.

Of the five sons, two left Ireland. The eldest son, Thomas, became Attorney General for Van Diemen’s Land, the former name of the Colony of New South Wales, Australia. Francis came to the Cape having been made deacon in June 1819 and ordained priest by the Bishop of Limerick on 7th November 1819. 

 Chart of Van Diemen's Land from the best authorities and from actual surveys and measurements

Chart of Van Diemen’s Land from the best authorities and from actual surveys and measurements

The Reverend Francis McCleland was one of approximately 4000 British settlers who came to the Cape in 1820. He was a member of the Irish party of Settlers headed by William Parker. Also Irish, he came from the town of Longford in County Longford, a central Lowland county bordered on the west by the Shannon River.

Record of attendance at Trinity College:

The actual record per Trinity College states as follows: McCLELAND, FRANCIS, Pen. (Mr Irwin) Oct 7, 1811, aged 18; son of Frederick, Mercator; b Longford B.A. Vern 1817

Record of Trinity College

Record of Trinity College

Mercator = Merchant. In fact Frederick was a hosier and stationer

Vern = Summer

Longford Town

Per Wikipedia: The town is built on the banks of the River Camlin (from Irish: Camlinn, meaning “crooked pool”), which is a tributary of the River Shannon. The name Longford is an anglicisation of the Irish Longphort, from long (meaning “ship”) and port (meaning “port” or “dock”). This name was applied to many Irish settlements of Viking origin and eventually came to mean fort or camp in the Irish language, and so Longfort the modern Irish spelling, is the name of this town, which was one of the only Gaelic Irish market towns to arise without first being founded by Vikings or Normans.

Longford Town

Longford Town

The area came under the sway of the local clan which controlled the south and middle of the County of Longford (historically called Anghaile or Annaly) and hence, the town is sometimes called Longfort Uí Fhearghail (fort/stronghold of O’Farrell).

Appointment as a Lay Reader at Templemichael Parish Church in Longford Town

It was during Francis’ “interregnum” between studying Divinity at Dublin University and setting sail for South Africa from Passage West on 12th February 1820 in the ship, the East Indian, when Francis became a Deacon or Lay Reader to a local church in Longford Town during June 1819.

In those days, this church was known as the Templemichael Parish Church whereas today it is called the St. John’s Church of Ireland. It is interesting to record that another McCleland, presumably a close relative due to the spelling of the name, who was operating as an architect in Longford at the time, was involved in designing the alterations to the church in 1812.

St John's Church, Templemichael Parish, Longford, County Longford (1785)

St John’s Church, Templemichael Parish, Longford, County Longford (1785)

Infected with emigration fever

The period of eight months after his appointment in June 1819 as a Lay Reader at Temple Michael in Longford Town and his departure to the Cape Colony on the 12th February 1820, was extremely hectic for young Francis.

It was during this period that the focus and direction of Francis’ life changed immeasurably. Like many of the people of Ireland, the future for the youth of Ireland was particularly bleak. Ireland was poverty stricken and the return of 300,000 soldiers from the Napoleonic wars had exacerbated the situation. Crime was rife & life expectancy had declined precipitately. Over the ensuing century, more than a quarter of the Irish population emigrated. Their destination was mainly the Land of the Free, America, but many relocated to England with some moving to the colonies.

Co Armagh Cottage

County Armagh Cottage

To alleviate this situation, the English government had proposed a voluntary Emigration Scheme to the Cape Colony in return for which the selected candidates would be donated a parcel of land on the Eastern Border adjacent to the Xhosa tribal lands.

The rationale of this Government sponsored emigration scheme was twofold: provide a white buffer on the Eastern Border against the marauding Xhosa tribes but, equally importantly, to alleviate the overcrowding and poverty in the English towns.

Exactly how Francis had met the presumptive leader of the Irish Party, William Parker, is unknown. As Parker was a native of Passage West and had until recently been employed on a sugar estate in Barbados, he probably had not met him in Longford. Where the link might be is through Thomas Pakenham, the Second Earl of Longford, through whom Parker held leasehold lands in Longford County. What provides credence to this assumption is that on his return to Ireland after a stint in London, Parker had obsequiously ingratiated himself with certain of the aristocracy and ruling powers in Ireland by espousing a virulent Protestantism.

thomas-pakenham-the-second-earl-of-longford

In his fevered imagination, William Parker dreamed singular dreams, megalomaniac fantasies of building ships in Knysna, establishing a sister town also to be named Cork and at a later stage, operating a gold mine in Namaqualand. The Colonial Office in London was flooded with the puerile and increasingly megalomaniac plans of Parker, most of which they summarily rejected or studiously ignored but they did accede to one of his requests viz to be nominated as a Party Leader.

Thomas Pakenham the Second Earl of Longford-older picture

Thomas Pakenham the Second Earl of Longford-older picture

On 23rd August 1819, while still residing in Longford Town, Francis enquired of the Colonial Office in London the following, “Now when the rage for emigration has in a great degree subsided, and allowed you to enjoy a little rest, I beg to apply to you to know what are the inducements which Government holds out to such of the established clergy as the emigrants may be willing to take out with them: and whether, in case they do not make any application for pastors, it is the intention of government to send out any themselves.”

On the 16th September Francis sent yet another epistle to the Colonial Office London in which he states that “As I have taken some pains to make the individuals who intend emigrating from this country be acquainted with the conditions as specified in the circular letter (a copy of which I had the honour of receiving from Mr. Goulburn) under which the Government would be willing to grant them their passage, ……”

Colonial Secretary Henry Goulburn

Colonial Secretary Henry Goulburn

Continuing, Francis requests details of the deposit required in the case of infants, pensioners, and young adults without their parents. Interestingly he states that his brother is residing at 18 Georges Street, Adelphi, London. This detail is supplied with the express intention to obtain additional information. Surprisingly he does not inform the reader the name of his brother.

Finally on the 7th November 1819, Francis is ordained as a Priest by the Bishop of Limerick, Charles Tuohy at a salary of £20 per annum. Francis now possesses a skill that would be useful in the Cape Colony.

emigration-from-ireland

It now appears evident that Francis must have met William Parker personally or been in correspondence with him as Francis moves to London with the express purpose of escorting the English settlers in the Parker contingent from London to Cork. Francis takes the inexpensive option and stays with his brother who is residing at 18 Georges Street in Adelphi, London.

Francis takes the opportunity of personally confirming whether his participation in the Emigration Scheme had been approved. Finally, after numerous unsuccessful attempts, Francis meets Mr Goulburn at the Colonial Office in Downing Street on the 22nd November only to be informed that his eligibility is suspect as the Settlers accompanying him are English and not Irish.

adelphi

In a panic, the next day the 23rd November 1819, Francis drafts a letter Mr Goulburn’s superiors at the Colonial Office informing them of the state of affairs and begging their indulgence in accepting his bona fides.

Once the requisite permission had been acquired, Francis set sail in the East Indian from Deptford on the River Thames in London in late December 1819. The ships destination was Passage West which lay six miles to the east of Cork. Together with him, was the contingent of English Settlers who would ultimately form part of William Parker’s contingent number 52.

Deptford London

Deptford London

It was during this passage, that Francis would reveal his true colours. This would be the first and definitely not the last time that this young Irish preacher would ruffle a few feathers.

Comment on Thomas-McCleland, the Attorney General of Van Demien's Land,from the book Fatal Shore

Comment on Thomas McCleland, the Attorney General of Van Demien’s Land,from the book Fatal Shore. Apparently the reason for this comment was due to the fact that Thomas was suffering from ill-health at the time

 

Machinations of William Parker

No. 52 on the Colonial Department list, led by William Parker, a merchant of Cork, Ireland, who had at various times been engaged in the sugar trade in the West Indies, farmed in Ireland and held a government post in London. A virulent anti-Papist, Parker managed by outrageous impertinence and importunity to obtain the patronage of Charles Grant, the Secretary for Ireland; Sir Nicholas Colthurst, the Member of Parliament for Cork; and the Earl of Rosse and Viscount Ennismore. He even approached the Prince Regent for approval of his schemes. His ‘exorbitant demands and absurd pretensions’, backed up by threats of the influence he could bring to bear in high places, created major difficulties for the Colonial Department and, later on, the Cape authorities, and more than justified the Acting Governor’s opinion ‘that this Individual is suffering under a degree of mental derangement’.

George IV of the United Kingdom as the Prince Regent, circa 1814.

George IV of the United Kingdom as the Prince Regent, circa 1814.

Parker first proposed to undertake the supervision of the entire body of emigrants, and when that suggestion was turned down, he offered to take 500 ‘starving Irish poor’ to the Cape under his direction, in return for a grant of land at Knysna and various official appointments, both civil and military. The Colonial Department showed exemplary patience under a wordy bombardment of letters and personal visits from Parker, and courteously reiterated that he would be allowed to take a party of 100 families from Ireland according to the conditions laid down for the emigration scheme, but no special arrangements could be made for him. In spite of that, Parker’s demands continued; he asked for and was refused, among other things, 500 hammocks and seven and a half tons of old sails for his settlers, and a full supply of arms and ammunition, including 100 000 musket balls. Since the scheme made provision for a clergyman to accompany a group of 100 or more settlers, he informed the Colonial Department that he had engaged the Rev Francis McCleland to minister to his party.

By late October 1819, however, Parker had not yet provided a detailed list of the party, and had fallen out with his Irish agent who was responsible for recruiting labourers. He was told that his place in the emigration scheme could not be reserved for him indefinitely, as there were many other applicants ‘perfectly prepared and equally anxious’ to go.

The Wooden House, Drogheda

The Wooden House, Drogheda

In mid-November, a list of the proposed party was finally submitted, and the sorely-tried Colonial Department lost patience at last when it was seen that nearly two-thirds of Parker’s prospective settlers were from London, not Ireland. This not only disrupted shipping arrangements but defeated the Department’s intention to devote a substantial share of the emigration grant to Irish poor relief. Parker was told that his English contingent – ‘a body of persons hastily collected in London of whom you can know but little, and who are in many cases the very persons whose proposals to emigrate have already been considered and rejected by Lord Bathurst’ – might proceed to the Cape, but would be treated as a separate party. (In the event this threat was not carried out: the English and Irish sections of the party were embarked separately at Deptford and Cork, on the transport East Indian, but were otherwise administered as one unit.)

Permission was withdrawn and then grudgingly reinstated for the Rev Francis McCleland to accompany the Irish settlers and ‘receive a moderate stipend for the discharge of clerical duties‘.

There was a further hitch over Parker’s belated payment of the deposit money before the East Indian finally left Deptford for Cork late in December 1819 with 48 men of the party and their families on board, under the temporary direction of DP Francis.

Details of Temple Michael in Longford Town

 

St. John's Church of Ireland Church, Church Street, Battery Road, Longford Town, County Longford#2

On the website of Buildings of Ireland, this building is described as follows:

St. John’s Church of Ireland Church, Church Street, Battery Road, Longford Town

 

St. John's Church of Ireland Church, Church Street, Battery Road, Longford Town, County Longford#3

In those days, this church was known as the Templemichael Parish Church whereas today it is called the St. John’s Church of Ireland. It is interesting to record that another McCleland, presumably a close relative due to the spelling of the name, who was operating as an architect in Longford at the time, was involved in designing the alterations to the church in 1812.

St. John's Church of Ireland Church, Church Street, Battery Road, Longford Town, County Longford#4

On the website of Buildings of Ireland, this building is described as follows:

St. John’s Church of Ireland Church, Church Street, Battery Road, Longford Town, County Longford

 

Reg. No. 13002006
Date 1700 – 1815
Previous Name Templemichael Parish Church
Townland ABBEYCARTRON
County County Longford
Coordinates 213259, 275747
Categories of Special Interest ARCHITECTURAL ARTISTIC ARCHAEOLOGICAL HISTORICAL SOCIAL
Rating Regional
Original Use Church/chapel
In Use Today As Church/chapel
 Description  Freestanding Church of Ireland church, built 1710, and altered c. 1780 and between c. 1810 and 1812, having three-bay nave and central three-stage tower to the west with needle spire over (on octagonal plan). Tower flanked to either side (north and south) by single-bay two-storey vestibules with cut stone parapets over. Apsidal sanctuary to centre of south elevation and northern transept added c. 1810.

St. John's Church of Ireland Church, Church Street, Battery Road, Longford Town, County Longford#5

Twentieth century two-storey extension to north transept. Pitched and hipped natural slate roofs, with red brick chimneystack to northern transept, dressed stone coping, and cast-iron rainwater goods. Coursed rubble limestone masonry to spire, coursed rubble stone to tower with raised dressed limestone quoins and platbands, dressed limestone crenellations and spirelet pinnacles to corners. Rendered walls to main body of church, lined-and ruled, over stepped plinth and raised dressed limestone quoins to corners. Round-headed window openings, some with dressed limestone surrounds and sills, leaded stained glass, carved stone tracery, twelve-over-twelve timber sliding sash, and replacement uPVC windows.

St. John's Church of Ireland Church, Church Street, Battery Road, Longford Town, County Longford#6

Square-headed window openings to vestibules, and north transept extension with fixed timber frame and replacement uPVC windows. Round-headed louvered openings with tracery to tower, with dressed limestone surrounds and sills. Central classical carved limestone doorcase to west with engaged Doric columns and entablature. Replacement timber panelled double leaf door. Doorway flanked by round-headed niches with stone sills and having blind Diocletian motifs over with cut stone surrounds. Interesting interior with raised dado panelling and galleries at west end and to north transept. Gilded garlands and masks to galleries.

St. John's Church of Ireland Church, Church Street, Battery Road, Longford Town, County Longford#7

Greek-key impost course to chancel arch. Number of marble wall monuments/memorials to the interior, including memorial to Rev. James Sterling, dated 1691, and to Helen Maxwell, dated. 1709. Set back from road in extensive grounds at the east end of Church Street and the south end of Battery Road. Chamfered cut stone plinth wall to the west boundary having cast-iron railings over and rusticated cut limestone gate posts at intervals along length. Ashlar limestone boundary wall to the south end of railings adjacent to flight of cut limestone steps (13002496).

St. John's Church of Ireland Church, Church Street, Battery Road, Longford Town, County Longford#8

Pair of cut stone gate piers (on square-plan) to the west having moulded cut stone capstones and double-leaf cast-iron gates. Random rubble stone boundary walls elsewhere. Church surrounded by graveyard with tombs and headstones dating from the early eighteenth century, some with elaborate cast-iron and/or wrought-iron railings. Earliest grave dated 1717. Located to the north end of Longford Town centre.

St. John's Church of Ireland Church, Church Street, Battery Road, Longford Town, County Longford#9

Appraisal A complex and elaborate Church of Ireland church, which retains its early character. It is well-detailed throughout with some fine cut stone detailing, particularly to the classical doorcase and the delicate needle spire. It exhibits a characteristic Church of Ireland design of a three-bay west elevation with tower. This substantial structure has a subdued late eighteenth-century mid-Georgian classical character on account of the round-headed window openings and the classical doorcase.

St. John's Church of Ireland Church, Church Street, Battery Road, Longford Town, County Longford#10

It was described as a ‘new church’ in 1787 by the Rev. Beaufort who visited Longford Town at this time. The further enlargement and renovations of the early-nineteenth century were to accommodate a larger congregation following the enlargement of the nearby barrack complex. Lewis (1837) describes the church as a’ spacious edifice, with a tower and spire; it was repaired and enlarged in 1812, at a cost of £3221, being a loan from the late Board of First Fruits; and the Ecclesiastical Commissioners have lately granted £249 for its further repair’. These alterations were carried out to designs by M. McCleland, a Longford architect (IAA).

St. John's Church of Ireland Church, Church Street, Battery Road, Longford Town, County Longford#11

The interior has a neoclassical feeling and contains a number of impressive marble memorial monuments, the earliest of which dates to 1691 and commemorates The Rev. James Sterling. This monument was probably moved from an earlier deconsecrated church, which was a common practice at the time. An attractive carved oak pulpit to the interior was designed in 1902 by John William Gunnis (born c. 1862), an English architect who was County Surveyor of Longford from 1891 – 1914 (IAA).

St. John's Church of Ireland Church, Church Street, Battery Road, Longford Town, County Longford#12

The graveyard contains a number of finely carved gravestones, the earliest dating back to the early-eighteenth century, including a number with elaborate cast-iron and/or wrought-iron railings. One of the graves commemorates Sergeant Joseph Ward (1832 – 1872), who received a Victoria Cross for his bravery during the Indian Rebellion of 1857 – 8. This church building is constructed on the site of a medieval Dominican Priory (LF013-026—- ), which was established c. 1400 by the O’Farrells, and the present building may contain fabric from this earlier complex.

St. John's Church of Ireland Church, Church Street, Battery Road, Longford Town, County Longford#13

The impressive cast-iron railings and the gateway complete the setting and add interest to the streetscape to the north end of Longford Town centre. The cast-iron gates, cast-iron railings and the limestone gate posts are of the same design as found at the associated church hall (13002022) to the west, built 1864. This suggests that these railings etc may have been added to the front of the church at this time.

 St. John's Church of Ireland Church, Church Street, Battery Road, Longford Town, County Longford#14

Location of the Church:

Location of the Church in Longford

Location of the Church in Longford

 

 

 

 Location of the Church in Longford#2

 

Blogs on the Life of Reverend Francis McCleland:

Kirkcudbright Document: Establishing the McCleland’s Right to Peerage

The Reverend Francis McCleland – A Life of Service

Correspondence by Rev Francis McCleland with Colonial Office in London

Rev Francis McCleland: From Passage West to the Cape – 1820

 

 

The Parsonage House at Number 7 Castle Hill Port Elizabeth

 

Sources:

Books:

Irish Settlers to the Cape by Graham Brian Dickason

The Reverend Francis McCleland: Colonial Chaplain to Port Elizabeth 1825 – 1853 by Gabrielle Churchouse 

Internet:

Internet: http://www.buildingsofireland.ie/niah/search.jsp?type=record&county=LF&regno=13002006

http://webgis.buildingsofireland.ie/HistoricEnvironment/?REG_NO=13002006

Correspondence with the former colonies is now stored in the National Archives in Kew. Details can be found on the following websites:

http://www.eggsa.org/1820-settlers/index.php/smart-search?q=McCleland&Search=

Also: http://www.eggsa.org/documents/main.php?g2_itemId=54

St. John's Church of Ireland Church, Church Street, Battery Road, Longford Town, County Longford#15

Books:

The Irish Settlers to the Cape by Graham Dickason

The Reverend Francis McCleland: Colonial Chaplain to Port Elizabeth 1825 – 1853 by Gabrielle Churchouse

St. John's Church of Ireland Church, Church Street, Battery Road, Longford Town, County Longford#16

Determining McCleland’s Date of Birth

His birthdate has been determined from the records of Trinity College, Dublin. These state that Francis matriculated on 7th Oct. 1811 aged 18. This means that he is most likely to have been born in 1793 but he could possibly have been born in late 1792.

Additional photographs of the church

St. John's Church of Ireland Church, Church Street, Battery Road, Longford Town, County Longford#17 St. John's Church of Ireland Church, Church Street, Battery Road, Longford Town, County Longford#18 St. John's Church of Ireland Church, Church Street, Battery Road, Longford Town, County Longford#19 St. John's Church of Ireland Church, Church Street, Battery Road, Longford Town, County Longford#20 St. John's Church of Ireland Church, Church Street, Battery Road, Longford Town, County Longford#21 St. John's Church of Ireland Church, Church Street, Battery Road, Longford Town, County Longford#22 St. John's Church of Ireland Church, Church Street, Battery Road, Longford Town, County Longford#23 St. John's Church of Ireland Church, Church Street, Battery Road, Longford Town, County Longford#24 St. John's Church of Ireland Church, Church Street, Battery Road, Longford Town, County Longford#25

 


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