Port Elizabeth of Yore: Memoirs of James Alexander on the 1835 Frontier War

Having obtained a commission from the Royal Geographical Society to explore and investigate Africa west of Delagoa Bay, James Edward Alexander was thrust into the Kafkaesque world of the 1835 Frontier War for which he might not have purchased front row seats, but they were not the cheap seats from which the action is barely visible. Port Elizabeth itself might not have been engulfed in the war but the hordes of African warriors knocked on its front door, the Sundays River.

This blog details the defensive lines constructed, military plans drawn up and other martial actions undertaken

Main picture: Port Elizabeth’s Defence Lines during the 1835 Frontier War

Continue reading

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

Continue reading

Port Elizabeth of Yore: Cora Terrace

Cora Terrace, off Bird Street, is a row of houses which dates back to the years 1858 to 1866. Fortunately house numbers 1, 3, 5, 7, 9 and 11 were declared National Monuments under the old NMC Legislation in 1975 and 1976 respectively. 

These houses are outstanding examples of Victorian architecture and contribute to the traditional aspect of this particular portion of Port Elizabeth.

Main picture: Cora Terrace circa 1856 with the row of houses visible in the upper middle of the picture

Continue reading