Port Elizabeth of Yore: The First Generation of McClelands in PE

Much is known about the 1820 Settler, the Rev Francis McCleland, merely because he was the first Colonial Chaplain at St Mary’s Church in Port Elizabeth and probably more so due to his house, Number 7 Castle Hill. But how did his offspring fare in this new land especially given the fact that there were no school facilities initially?

Main picture: Number 7 Castle Hill, the house in which they were brought up

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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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