Happy Hogmanay
Wednesday, December 31, 2014 at 4:38PM
Bill Barclay

A very happy New Year to all.

It is really of interest only to me, and my extended family, but I will note here because of the significance of the day, that my Great-Grandfather - The Rev. George Barclay, along with his wife Annie, stepped ashore in Lyttleton from the sailing vessel  Donna Anna on 1 January 1865 - 150 years ago. He was the pioneer Presbyterian clergyman in South Canterbury - "From the Rangitata in the North to the Waitaki in the South, and as far into the McKenzie Country as he could get on a horse."

He is credited with having established, or participated in the establishment of most of the South Canterbury's high schools - he was himself a graduate of University College, London. He served the Church until 1900, and was during the 1880s Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of NZ, which at the time excluded the Presbyterian settlement of Otago. Both his sons attended the University of Otago and were amongst its first graduates in Law and Medicine.

My Grandfather Alfred distinguished himself firstly as barrister and solicitor, and later as MP for Dunedin Central in Dick Seddon's Government, but put himself in the dog-box as a vocal opponent of New Zealand's participation in "Great Britain's War" in South Africa. He lectured on Constitutional law and History at the University of Otago.

His brother Herbert found himself in pre-revolutionary Russia while travelling on the Trans-Siberian Railway at the outset of their war with Germany (1913), and proceeded to join the Imperial Russian Army where he established several field hospitals (long story!) before hot-footing it via Norway and Scotland to join the British army in 1914/15 as a medic (Leut. Colonel). He remained in Britain following the War to make a name for himself in the medical profession, and as an author of several highly regarded medical texts.

Clifford's daughter Margorie was one one Otago's fist female medical graduates, studied at Edinburgh, Vienna and Boston and went on to a distinguished specialist career in diagnostic radiology while lecturing at Otago University. She died in 1978 and bequethed her assets to a trust (The Margorie Barclay Charitable Trust), now worth over $20m, having distributed in excess of $6m to medical research at Otago and elsewhere to date. 

Of their sons, Herbert's Clifford (2nd Leut. - Canterbury Rifles) died on 25 April 1915 at Gallipoli, and my father - Alfred's Osborne (Oz) served at age 17 on The Somme. He spent the remainder of his life coping with the effects of gas and shell-shock, along with almost all of his contemporaries - unrecognised in the main. 

There you have it - my potted family history on my father's side. Roll on 2015!




Article originally appeared on BillBarcBlog (http://billbarclay.co.nz/).
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