- The following obituary is taken from the “Matatiele Mail” of June 21st, 1906:
THE LATE MRS BLAKE
In the death of Mrs. Blake (born Martha Jane Webber), vanishes yet another of the few links left of the early pioneer days of South Africa. When she was only three years of age her father, Mr Samuel Webber, came out with Shepherd’s Emigration Party in 1826, and her earliest recollections were of the hardships and vicissitudes of pioneer life. Living at first near Grahamstown (in those days a scattered village where all in the High Street knew everyone in Settler’s Hill), she was closely connected with the various Kaffir wars, losing, as many of the early settlers did, not only property but near and dear ones as well.
Few are now living who saw the great Boer Trek in 1838 as she did, knowing personally some of the brave old Voortrekkers.
Fate seemed to decree that she should always live on the outskirts of civilisation, for by the time the Cape Colony was growing more civilized and peaceful, she and her first husband, Sergeant Adam Kirk of the 7th Dragoon Guards, thought to find a kinder fortune in moving North to the Orange Free State. But here again were wars and hardships unendurable except to the bravest of hearts. Mrs Blake saw this colony pass from a hopelessly poverty-stricken state, at war continuously with British or Kaffirs, to a prosperous, peaceful and independent land.
A great part of her later life was spent in or on the borders of Basutoland, and many are the tales she could tell of the midnight flights from undesirable neighbours amongst the people of Moshesh. Leaving at times most of their worldly goods, she and her family would be glad to escape with their lives.
Mrs Blake saw East Griqualand too in its earliest days. More than twenty years ago she first came here to join her sons, when the country was very young, and few inhabitants, as yet, had come.
This brings us to the last chapter of a long and noble life, full of and overflowing with hardships and self-sacrifices; of loving kindness and brave endurance. A strong yet tender loving woman, impressing all who knew her with her selflessness and quiet strength of character.
Those who knew of her suffering in the past few months (though her patience and kindly consideration for others never failed) will feel only joy at her happy release.
And so, at last, surrounded by her children and her children’s children, the brave old life has found rest. Years of toil and hardship had done their work, but the mind was unclouded, and time could not wither that which welled from the great heart.
see her memoirs in the documents section