William Fleming played a vital role in Port Elizabeth from 1842 until his death in 1861 at the age of 65. Like many of his contemporaries, he deserves to be recognised not for his legal and business acumen but rather for the civic mindedness which he displayed in the latter period of his life.
One of his sons was also named William. In tracking the careers of both men, the confusion regarding whether it was the father or the son to whom an event or activity should be attributed takes time to untangle. In the McCleland family tree, William Fleming is especially relevant as he married Adelaide McCleland, daughter of the Rev. Francis McCleland, making him my second great uncle.
Main picture: William Fleming as a Captain of the Prince Alfred’s Guards
By the 1870s the stark fact was that the girls in Port Elizabeth were receiving a second-rate education at the various private seminaries with their untrained and unqualified teachers. With the demand for quality education glaringly obvious, the residents called into question the lack of a sound establishment under a competent and qualified staff of cultured ladies.
The residents’ hopes were realised when on Friday 19th September 1873, a notice appeared in the local newspaper announcing the establishment of a girls’ school.
This would culminate in the birth of the prestigious girls’ school: Collegiate. Like all such endeavours, it would not emerge fully formed as it development would proceed through numerous iterations.
Main picture: No. 15 Western Road with its white front wall and white bay window, the original Collegiate School (looking up Whitlock Street).
Society holds priests and other arbiters of human behaviour to a higher standard than normal humans. So when their behaviour does not conform to these standards, the disbelief and interest is all the greater.
So it was with two clergymen of St. Mary’s Church half a century apart.
Main picture: Rev Francis McCleland
Given that there are no longer any residents who live in close proximity to the church, there are few parking facilities in the area and there are hardly any parishioners who attend regularly, what is the future prognosis of this icon of Port Elizabeth? Naturally, I am biased because my great-great-grandfather was its first pastor but is society in general not able to appreciate that this building is integral to the history of Port Elizabeth.
It will serve Port Elizabeth well to remember that it is not a church, probably in dire financial difficulties, that has to be saved, but a treasure of the city itself.
This blog is the history of this institution.
Main picture: St. Mary’s after being reconstructed in 1896 but before the construction of the UBS building in Main Street
Nowadays our children shun these jobs mainly because their parents supply them with too much pocket money. Forty to fifty years ago if one wanted something special like a watch, one would have to work for it – not in some make work scheme at home but a proper job. We all had those types of jobs. In this blog I will relate the jobs that my brother and I had.
Main pcture: Blaine worked in the Port Elizabeth harbour as a Tally Clerk before he went to Varsity.
What would happen if I were to discuss the concept of God and Satan with one of my ancestors at the turn of the seventeenth century? Would there be any commonality in our thinking in any form or would it merely be like two ships passing in the night? In this blog I have selected one of my forefathers by the name of Reverend Francis McCleland with whom I will engage in this hypothetical discussion.
Main picture: Would we even agree on such aspects whether God was a divine being with a human appearance or even whether it is a loving caring God and not as Leviticus implies, a vindictive God?