Normally women during this era were hidden from the purview of subsequent generations. Whether they are remembered – if they are recalled at all – is through the deeds of their husband and not for what they achieved themselves. But Polly – Mary Ann’s sobriquet – was different. She survives not through some outrageous deed but rather her wistful letters and poignant poetry.
Main picture:Joseph James and Mary Ann Beckley with their youngest daughter Grace on the front verandah at Draaifontein.
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
A letter by Mary Ann Beckley nee Waspe to her daughter Elizabeth Daisy McCleland shortly before her death on 30th December 1931