Port Elizabeth of Yore: Charles Lovemore’s Last Year, 1885

This blog is an extract from the excellent book simply entitled The Lovemore Story by Bernard Johnston. Unlike his father, Henry Lovemore, who married four times over his life, Charles only married once, being the norm for the era. Charles’ occupation was that of a farmer and had inherited Bushy Park from his father Henry. In addition, he had acquired a great deal of other farmland and town property in his lifetime. Besides being a Justice of the Peace, he was an active member of the Divisional Council and the Licensing Court.

Harradine describes him as a “kind friend and genial companion” and “his voice and burly form will be missed from the morning market.”

This blog is enlightening as it covers the contemporary social and economic issues. Ironically many of the issues correlate with those under discussion today such as the closing time of drinking establishments.

Main picture: Charles Lovemore

Although by 1885 Charles Lovemore must have recognised how his health was deteriorating, he appears to have been determined not to curtail his public duties in any way. He continued to play an active role in the various councils, boards and committees of which he was an elected member. Not until the middle of the year did he heed the advice of his doctor, Frederick Ensor, and accept that he could not go on as he wished. From January to July he was nearly always present at the monthly meetings of the Divisional Council, as well as at meetings of the Licensing Board and other bodies but after July he was forced to relinquish these responsibilities.

Charles Lovemore began the year by heading a delegation from the Port Elizabeth and Uitenhage Farmers’ Association which met the Town Council on 13 January. The purpose was to get “matters regarding the morning market to work smoothly” (EPH, January 14 1885). The Town Council, chaired by the mayor, James Brister, listened but withheld any decisions, saying that the suggestions would be examined. Eight weeks later, the Council announced that none of the delegation’s recommendations could be adopted, describing them as “impractical” (EPH, March 13 1885).

On 23 February 1885 Charles Lovemore and George Impey, editor and publisher of the Eastern Province Herald, were re-appointed to the Licensing Board. Both men attended the meeting of the Board on 4 March which, as was customary, was open to the public. There was a lively discussion about the hour at which restaurants and hotel bars should close. Four members of the Board, one of whom was Charles Lovemore, voted for 11 p.m. A minority of two members argued against this and voted for midnight. The Chairman, Mr. Alfred Wylde, added his vote to the minority and then declared the decision of the Board to be for midnight. There was an immediate and vociferous clamour from members of the public among whom were several clergymen. The Chairman was required to retract his declaration and to allow the hour of 11 p.m. to be imposed (EPH, March 6 1885).

Above: Children of Charles and Margery Lovemore circa 1879

After the rebuff from the Town Council, Charles Lovemore had more success and recognition in the Divisional Council. He had always been critical of the lawlessness that flourished in the native areas around Port Elizabeth and the lack of security control over them. He must have been gratified when the appointment of a full-time superintendent was announced. After his outspoken remarks at a special meeting of the Divisional Council, the Eastern Province Herald commented: “Mr. Lovemore had struck the nail on the head” (EPH, March 13 1885). A month later, four of the most troublesome areas were closed by a government order dated 27 March.

The Herald of March 13 also carried a report about the numerous stock thefts from farms around Port Elizabeth:

…They were as prevalent as ever in the district. But a few days ago, the hide and part of the flesh of a valuable bullock, the property of Mr. Chas. Lovemore, stolen from his farm at Bushy Park, was discovered by the Mounted Police close to the Valley.

Above: PE Harbour at night by Dorothy Lovemore in 1937 [Nelson Mandela Metro Art Museum]. Note: This picture is all wrong.  The tall hydraulic cranes belong on the South Jetty and the jiggers (the hydraulic rams) above the cabs are very badly drawn.  The date is impossible. It must be later 1920s at the latest)

On 14 March Charles Lovemore attended two meetings. First there was the monthly meeting of the Divisional Council, and later in the day a joint meeting of the committees of the Port Elizabeth Chamber of Commerce and the Agricultural Society. At the second meeting, he spoke in support of a proposal to bring in a Scab Act; in his view it was important to have legal backing for regulations which sought to prevent the spread of disease amongst sheep and goats. Subsequently a draft bill for the purpose was introduced into the Legislature and later became law (EPH, April 15 and June 15 1885).

Before the meetings of 14 March, the Divisional Council had been convened for 3 March to fix the level of rates for the coming financial year. Charles Lovemore took the opportunity to press, once more, for money to be spent on the upkeep of the divisional roads. His fellow members did not share his argument for urgency and withheld their support (EPH, March 4 1885). In April the Farmers’ Association published a list of those farmers whom it considered to have a good knowledge of wool and its production; the list included Charles Lovemore (EPH, April 6 1885).

Bushy Park: The entrance but the old veranda is no longer in existence {Photo by Denise Cope Morgan]

At an earlier meeting of the Farmers’ Association on 28 January, there had been an indication of the current state of Charles Lovemore’s health. He had been expected to address the meeting on two or three matters but, at the outset the Secretary announced that “Mr. Lovemore was unfortunately in the Doctor’s hands” (EPH, January 30 1885). There was a second indication at the annual meeting of the Farmers’ Association on 2 June; before it opened, Mr. H.B. Christian, the Chairman, was reported as saying that “Mr. Lovemore and Mr. Court could not be present because of ill-health. Mr. Court was getting better but Mr. Lovemore was more seriously affected though he hoped he would soon be alright” (EPH, June 3 1885). “Mr. Court” was Philip Wathen Court (1828 – 1903), a merchant and farmer, and was one of those whose names appear on the silver tankard presented to Charles Lovemore in 1875.

Henry Christian’s hopes were realised. A week later, on 9 June, Charles Lovemore was back in his seat at the monthly meeting of the Divisional Council, and a month later, on 14 July, he was present at the Council’s next meeting. That, however, was to be his last participation in the Council’s affairs.

Not having seen her father for two years, Florine must have found his condition deeply disturbing. He had already decided not to stand for re-election to the Divisional Council at the forthcoming polls on 9 October, and a week after her arrival he wrote to the Council to say he was unable to attend the meeting on 11 August. In his letter he pointed out that some good clay was to be found close to the Buffelsfontein Road and suggested that it should be used for repairs to the road. The suggestion brought a strong objection from Mr. Devitt who seems to have assumed that the clay was to be taken from land that was his (EPH, August 12 and September 9 1885). Charles Lovemore was familiar with Buffelsfontein and knew the road intimately. It is doubtful if he would have suggested a “raid” for clay on someone else’s land.

Above: Bush buck hunting on Bushy Park

The committee of the Port Elizabeth Turf Club met on 19 October to finalise arrangements for the Club’s spring meeting. Its members must have known that Charles Lovemore was unlikely to be able to fulfil the duties of a steward, but nevertheless they nominated him as one for the meeting (EPH, October 19 1885). It was a thoughtful and generous gesture.

Charles Lovemore also missed a meeting of the Licensing Board, and more disappointing for him, he could not attend the ceremony on 10 December for the opening of the South African Exhibition by the Governor, Sir Hercules Robinson, P.C., G.C.M.G. (EPH, December 7 and 11 1885). Charles had been a member of the General Committee which had the responsibility for planning and setting up the Exhibition.

Less than a week later, shortly before 4 p.m. on Wednesday, 16 December, Charles Lovemore died (Death Notice, CAD, MOOC 6/9/227 folio 2092). Next morning, the Eastern Province Herald carried the following notice:

DIED at his residence, Castle Hill, Port Elizabeth, on the 16th December 1885 CHARLES LOVEMORE Esq, aged 60 years.

The funeral will take place at Bushy Park at 3 o’clock THIS (Thursday) AFTERNOON. Relatives and friends are invited to attend.

Port Elizabeth, Dec. 17 1885                                                       P.R. Rice, Undertaker

Although no doctor’s certificate has survived, the main cause of his death must undoubtedly have been his heart condition. Mrs. Cripps says as much, writing that “he had much heart trouble, to which he succumbed”. The Port Elizabeth Telegraph of December 17, in announcing his death as a news item, wrote:

Mr. Lovemore had been suffering many months from heart disease, to which fatal malady he eventually succumbed.

The Telegraph went on to say that he was “a genial, hospitable gentleman, a true and advanced colonist, a warm and steadfast friend.” The Eastern Province Herald on the same morning, reported that he “had been suffering for some time from a complication of complaints, which Dr. Ensor, his medical attendant, had told him might at any moment prove fatal, but his death was more sudden than had been expected. Whilst seated in a chair, he was suddenly seized with a spasm of the heart and died almost immediately”. The Telegraph said much the same: “All that the solicitude of an affectionate family and the attendance of a large circle of friends and the skill of Dr. Ensor could do to alleviate his suffering was done, but his end, although somewhat sudden, was not unexpected.” In a tribute, the Eastern Province Herald wrote that “he had considerable influence amongst farmers, by whom he was well-known, and he was always a kind friend and genial companion. His voice and burly form will be missed from the morning market, which he attended regularly till failing health kept him indoors.” (EPH, December 8 1885).

The funeral was reported in the Eastern Province Herald of Saturday, December 19:

The funeral of Mr. Charles Lovemore, whose death was notified in our last issue, took place on Thursday afternoon, the remains being taken to the family estate, Bushy Park. The deceased gentleman being held in most deservedly high estimation, a large number of persons followed his remains to the grave at Bushy Park where they rest side by side with those of the father of the deceased.

No other account of the funeral has come down. Mrs. Allen and Mrs. Cripps tell us no more than the obituaries and reports in newspapers. Mrs. Allen was at the farm Westaway in the Middelburg district and probably did not learn of her father’s death until a telegraph message arrived on the morning of 17 December; for Mrs. Cripps it was probably too painful a memory for her to write at any length about it, even years after the event.  All leading citizens of Port Elizabeth and some from Uitenhage, together with neighbours and members of the local farming communities, would have assembled at Bushy Park for the service and interment. Mrs. Cripps wrote: “He was laid to rest in the cemetery at Bushy Park where his Father & Mother & our little sister all lay at that time”. Henry Robert and family members from Preston Park would have been able to reach Bushy Park in time, but distance would have prevented anyone from Wellington being present.

The report in the Eastern Province Herald of December 18, the day after the funeral, confidently stated that Bushy Park was entailed, a condition included in the joint will of Charles and Margery Lovemore. It is unlikely that the decision to entail the farm was generally known before Charles Lovemore’s death and it seems probable that, following custom, the contents of the will were read out by the family lawyer soon after the funeral service was over.

The newspapers were fulsome in their praise for him. According to the Port Elizabeth Telegraph, Thursday, December 17 1885 and in the Port Elizabeth Telegraph, Saturday, December 19 1885, it was “A genial, hospitable gentleman, a true and advanced colonist, a warm and steadfast friend. He was one of the best and most useful members of the Divisional Council.

The legal meaning of entailing: An interest in land bound up inalienably in the grantee and then forever to his direct descendants. A basic condition of entail was that if the grantee died without direct descendants the land reverted to the grantor.

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