Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Unbelievable Secret of Dr James Barry

Amongst the parade of dignitaries making the pilgrimage to Frederick Korsten’s country estate 5 miles from Port Elizabeth, was Dr James Barry, one of the most highly respected surgeons of his day. He had risen from hospital assistant to become the top-ranking doctor in the British Army and was known as a zealous reformer who had served in garrisons from South Africa to Jamaica. Accompanying him on his visit to Frederick Korsten at Cradock Place was the governor Lord Charles Somerset.

Barry’s secret life would almost certainly have been taken to his grave if the hospital staff had obeyed his last wish that he be buried in his night clothes. This would have hidden the fact that Dr. James Barry was in fact a female.

How had this been possible?

Main picture:   Dr James Barry

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Port Elizabeth of Today: The Future of No. 7 Castle Hill

Perhaps I should have titled this blog “Quo Vadis” or maybe something more apocalyptic such as the End of No. 7. Whatever it should be will never encompass my dread more for its future. When I left PE on 11th February 1980 to seek my fame & (mis) fortune in the City of Gold, the future of No. 7 was sanguine. For the most part, its future now, like many other historical buildings, is precarious at best. 

Why do I anticipate such a gloomy future?

Main picture: Painting of Port Elizabeth by W.A. Harriers showing No 7 Castle Hill at the crescent [or is that the brow] of the hill

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Evaluation of the Rev. Francis McCleland

The objective of any biography is to obtain an understanding of what motivates that person and how they handle situations, especially the troublesome ones. Essentially what one attempts to do, is to understand what makes a person tick. Even in the best cases, vital pieces of evidence are missing, hidden behind the veil of their private lives. Just ask a divorced person for a resume of their ex-spouse and compare the response with what is publicly known about the person. The mask will slip, and the real person will be revealed. So it is with Francis McCleland except that Francis’ obnoxious actions towards third parties became common knowledge and were not restricted to one person. Being so egregious, the other parties took public umbrage at Francis’ actions and hence his personality – or at least  to the putrescent bits.

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: Sir Rufane Shaw Donkin

Sir Rufane Shaw Donkin was the point man for the British Empire in the Cape of Good Hope at the time of the arrival of the 1820 British Settlers. In his letters, Donkin reveals himself to be a kindly man unlike the cold autocrat that was Lord Charles Somerset. Furthermore, they reflect a desire to assist the colonists. In fact, he was not prepared to sacrifice principles for his own advancement. For these reasons, the Settlers were most fortunate in having him rather than Somerset in charge at this momentous period in the affairs of the Cape.

Main picture: Sir Rufane Shaw Donkin

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Lovemores and Bushy Park

The area known as Bushy Park is today inextricably linked to the Lovemore clan. Yet it might not always have been so. In fact Henry Lovemore was not the initial owner of this land. Lt Cornelius Bolton Alcock was and it was known as Klaas’s Kraal. Even Cornelius was not the initial applicant for this land.

 This blog is the story of those early days of Bushy Park. 

Main picture:  Hunting at Bushy Park

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