At best the Irish Settlers in Clanwilliam eked out a precarious existence. The Settlement could not have been called a resounding success both for the Settlers generally and the McCleland household in particular. After a number of unseemly fracases, Francis was granted a transfer to the newly created hamlet named Port Elizabeth which was supposed to have been their original disembarkation point.
It was here that Francis and Elizabeth would spend the rest of their lives. This episode, the final one, is the chronicle of that life.
Main picture: Castle Hill in 1851 painted by engineer Henry Fancourt White of White’s Road fame. Number 7 Castle Hill is the commodious double storey house on the right on top of the hill
Some people gain fame, and possibly fortune, through charity, good deeds and hard work whereas Miss Francis Livingstone Johnson only gained notoriety through setting fire to numerous buildings in Port Elizabeth in the mid- 1890s. The reason for burning down churches was an apparent irrational hatred of altars.
The blog covers the wayward and abnormal career of this atypical female.
Main picture: The Cleghorn, Harris and Stephen’s building, next to where the present Port Elizabeth Public Library was later built, burnt down on Wednesday night 6th May 1896.
Given the situation 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