george robert mallandain + jane galer

George was born on 30 May 1815 in Trichinopoly, India, the son of John West Mallandaine and Maria McCally. Following his mother’s death in 1821, 6 year-old George returned to England with his father and older brother, John William. His father remarried and returned to India but George and his brother were left in Stepney with their grandparents and saw little of their father or half brothers and sisters.

St John’s Gate, Clerkenwell

He married Jane Galer on 2 February 1836 at St James in Clerkenwell. Jane was born in Cambridge and baptised at Holy Trinity church on 16 Mary 1817. She was the first daughter of George Galer and his wife Mary Odams.

George and Jane were married by banns, which were called on three successive Sundays between 27 December 1835 and 10 January 1836, and both the banns and the marriage record confirm they were living in the parish at the time.

When their first son was born two years later, they were living on Lion Street in Bloomsbury and George was working as a carpenter. John Elliot was born on 10 April 1838 and baptised on 6 May at St George on Little Russell Street in Bloomsbury.

Emma Jane was born on 28 July 1840 and christened at St John the Evangelist in Waterloo, south of the Thames, on 6 October 1847. The family was living on Dukes Court at the time and George’s occupation was again listed as carpenter. They appear in the census one year later on Willmott Street in Bethnal Green and George, who was listed as ‘Robert’ in the census returns, was still working as a carpenter.

They had three more children over the next six years but the family may have fallen on hard times as their youngest son was born in the workhouse. Charles Aeneas was born on 1 December 1842 in Stepney and William Arthur on 9 December 1844 in Lambeth but their baptismal records have not been found. Thomas Ellis was born on 30 March 1847 at the Renfrew Road Workhouse in Lambeth but sadly, he died 18 months later on 31 October 1848. The death extract from Somerset House notes that he was the ‘son of an artist’ but it is not clear how George was supporting his family.

Thomas was buried at the notorious Spa Fields Burial Ground on Skinner Street on 3 November 1848. Spa Fields was a private cemetery in Clerkenwell and charged far less for burials than the local parish churches and although the capacity of the cemetery was only several thousand, the registers record over 80 000 burials. Many bodies were buried in very shallow graves during the day and removed at night and placed in lime pits or burned in ‘bone houses’ to dispose of the remains. According to a contemporary account, ‘all these grounds are crowded, and in disorder; in the poor ground little regard is paid to the depth of the graves, or the removal of the dead. In this filthy neighbourhood fever prevails, and poverty and wretchedness go hand-in-hand.’ The situation grew so bad that the authorities were forced to act and Spa Fields was closed in 1849.

For reasons unknown, Jane later ‘withdrew herself entirely from her husband and his family’ and shortly after, George emigrated to South Africa with all of his children except John who chose to remain in England. Family notes indicate that Jane put John in the care of friends and entered a nunnery or some sort of sheltered living but no further records on Jane have been found to confirm this.

George and his children were amongst a group of emigrants known as the Byrne Settlers who joined an emigration scheme to the Natal run by J.C. Byrne & Company and they sailed from London on 25 June 1849 and arrived in Durban on 10 October. Joseph Byrne opened his company in London and began printing advertisements for his scheme in London newspapers in January 1849. The emigrants were offered passage and land grants of 20 acres per adult for a fee of £10 and 5 acres per child for £5.

Most of the group initially settled in the Byrne Valley where they intended to farm but they had been misled as the land was not suitable for traditional farming practices and they were unable to support themselves on the 20 acres allotted. Many of the initial settlers either moved to Durban or Pietermartizburg while others returned to Britain. It appears that George remained in the Byrne Valley and he was one of an eight member committee that appealed to the English government for additional grants of 25 acres but there wasn’t enough available land in large enough blocks to meet the needs of the settlers so George was forced to sell his farm and relocate to Harrismith with approximately 1500 other Byrne Settlers. By 1858, George had moved south to Pietermaritzburg although it is not known what he did for a living.

There is some evidence that George remained in contact with his family in England and France including a letter to his younger half-brother, Edward, following his father’s death in 1857. The letter indicates that there was ongoing friction between the siblings and George takes exception to comments made by Edward regarding his behaviour towards his father:

Respect to your letter I think you are unkind, but I forbear to say anything more — I was ever proud of my father!!! And shall expect nothing but the most gentlemanly bearing from any son of his!!! I think you should have sent me a copy of his will, as a satisfaction, at this distance it would have been nothing but just – also the particulars of his illness and decease and not reproach me for not addressing you on the subject when I was totally unacquainted with your whereabouts & supposing you still in Australia — although absent my father was ever in my thoughts & could not be otherwise and now of course I think of his bereaved family and feel solicitous of their movements and welfare therefore Edward I hope your next epistle will be such as one brother should send to another.

George’s father returned to England with the children from his second marriage in 1833 and married for a third time shortly after. One year later, he moved to a country house in Kent before moving to France where he remained for almost twenty years. It appears that George and his brother John William were in contact with their father on his return to England but there is no indication of whether they remained in contact, or what their relationship was like, after he moved to France. His brother Edward tried his luck in the Australian gold fields from 1852 to 1854 so George had relatively recent informaton on Edward’s whereabouts but whether he received this information directly or second hand is not known. Family notes have always made reference to some animosity and a lack of communication between the children of John’s first and subsequent wives but the cause and extent of this is still unknown.

On 16 February 1860, George’s twenty year old daughter Emma married farmer Charles Arnold at St Andrew’s church in Pietermaritzburg. Three years later, John Elliot married Esther Billing at St James in Manchester Square, Marylebone but it remains unclear whether his father and siblings knew about his marriage or the birth of his daughter, Ida, one year later.

Memorial - George Robert Mallandain

Charles Aeneas married Louisa Matilda Williams on 10 June 1869 at his home in Durban with his brother William acting as one of the witnessses. On the marriage certificate, Charles’ occupation was listed as blacksmith. Charles and Louisa went on to have nine children.

William Arthur married Elizabeth Mary Anderson on 14 July 1872 in Pinetown near Durban. Elizabeth’s family purchased George’s farm in the Byrne Valley years earlier. They had three sons — William, Charles and Robert.

George`s son, John Elliot, died of tuberculosis in Glasgow, Scotland on 24 November 1886 but again, it is not known if the family in South Africa was aware of John’s death. In his later years, George moved to Humansdorp near Port Elizabeth and by all accounts became something of a recluse. He became quite religious late in life and acted as lay preacher in the local Anglican Church. He died on 29 June 1895 and was buried in the municipal grave yard at Humansdorp. His death certificate lists his last occupation as Engineer and notes that he had been ill for three months before his death from old age.