Reverend Francis McCleland: A Life in Port Elizabeth 1825 – 1853

At best the Irish 1820 Settlers in Clanwilliam eked out a precarious existence. The settlement could not have been called a resounding success either by the settlers generally or the McCleland household in particular. After a number of unseemly quarrels, Francis was granted a transfer to the newly created hamlet of Port Elizabeth which was meant to have been their original disembarkation point. 

It was here that Francis and Elizabeth would spend the rest of their lives. This chronicles the lives of my great-great-grandparents in Port Elizabeth.

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

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The Parsonage House at Number 7 Castle Hill Port Elizabeth

This, the oldest unaltered house in Port Elizabeth, bears a specific significance in my life. The original owner of that house – the Reverend Francis McCleland – was my great-great-grandfather. In 1962 the house was declared a National Monument. In order to restore the parsonage house from a place of ill-repute back to its former glory, all members of the McCleland clan in Port Elizabeth were requested to contribute financially to this process.

This blog chronicles how this parsonage came to be erected in Port Elizabeth, its fall from grace, and then how it achieved its current status as a treasured museum

Main picture: This must be the earliest view of Number 7 Castle Hill – a lithograph by W.J. Huggins showing whaling in Algoa Bay in 1832. The recently completed house of Francis McCleland stands alone at the top of Castle Hill, midway between Fort Frederick and the memorial pyramid to Lady Donkin, after whom the town of Port Elizabeth was named

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