Getting Married in the Saddle

Barbara and her brother John at their family home Herschel in 1913
Barbara and her brother John at their family home Herschel in 1913

Barbara Millard and her brother John  at their family home Herschel in the Cape, 1913.

Getting  Married in the Saddle

Barbara Forster Millard was the eldest child of Dr. Philip and Ursula Millard and had a privileged life as a doctor’s daughter.  She was a tubby child. Her native name meant ‘Little Eyes on the Pot.’ As a baby she was happy and placid, with a white nanny in full uniform for some months and then an African nanny called Adeloo.

Getting  Married in the Saddle

Before Barbara was a year old she went to England with her parents. They took Adeloo with them.  She was a wow in England and did everything for the baby.  Ursula was not maternal. They stayed at Costock Rectory.  Grandpa Millard was the parson, and father of nine children, Philip being the youngest. Three were doctors, Charlie, Alfred, and Philip. Arthur and Edwin were parsons and May married a missionary in India. Sadly, Laura died young and two babies died at birth.

Returning to the Cape, Barbara was home schooled at their home, Herschel.  She attended the local junior school in the town of Lady Grey, where the family lived while her Dad was in the Great War.   She attended high school in Grahamstown at the D.S.G., leaving after matriculating in 1929. She did not like school, being no good at games or gymnastics, but  excelled at English and art. She went on to England to the Camberwell School of Art and saw a lot of John her brother at Cambridge.

Soon after than entrancing afternoon horse ride in the bush with Gervas at his farm, Greenham seven miles out of Que Que on the Gokwe Road he went to down to her home, Herschel, in the Cape Province to meet her parents. They became engaged.  She was the same girl his parents had met on their their voyage in 1932 that he hadn’t wanted t0 hear about.

The wedding was at Herschel on April 14, 1936.  Barbara’s sister, Joan,  eight years younger,  made and iced the cake.  They all went out riding on the day of the wedding, which scandalized the locals.  Barbara and Gervas left the same day  to drive north to Que Que in an old Chevrolet pickup truck.

The big stone house Gervas was building on the kopje at Greenham farm was still not ready so they lived in two rooms on a street corner in Que Que.   This was not the first time she had roughed it.  She had lived in a room at the old Grahamstown goal and had routinely enjoyed a cold bath out in the courtyard, filled by whoever her current boyfriend happened to be at the time.

Every day she rode her horse to the farm to supervise the building of the house on the kopje, facing north, with the veld all around.

Many Thanks to Tim Hughes of Queensland, Australia for the  picture and the excerpts from his unpublished manuscript  Matambega and Son written in the 1980’s.