W.C.L. Daly (1862-1919) and Amelia Bramley (1866-1936)

The story of this man is full of unanswered questions. There is little record of his early years except a history of the Rocher family written by one of their descendants, Charles G.C. Rocher in 1938.[1] The author of this history was the nephew of Catharina Maria Cornelia Rocher who had married Ramsay L’Amy Daly in 1861. When part of the Rocher family moved from the Cape to Potchefstroom in 1862, Catharina and Ramsay went along. We only have the author’s word for it that “Willie” Daly was born at Rhenosterkop near Beaufort West when a drought halted the family trek across the Karoo and that he was baptised in October 1862 when they arrived in Potchefstroom. Without a baptism record the assumption is that he was named Wilhelm Carl Landsberg Daly after his maternal grandfather, Carl Wilhelm Cornelius Landsberg. (Already there we have a mix of French, Irish and German ancestry.)

It is possible that this is a photograph of young Willie. The photograph came from the photographer H.F Gros’s studio in Kimberley but he is known to have visited Potchefstroom early in his South African career. The photograph was passed down the family together with the photographs (in their section) of Ramsay Daly and Catharina Rocher.

We know little about Willie’s life in Potchefstroom but we do know that it was a vibrant town and the family had a mix of relatives from different countries and backgrounds. But it was also an isolated place. Willie’s father, Ramsay, ran a trading store and had his goods, everything down to men’s collars and ladies’ slippers brought from the ports of Durban, Cape Town and Algoa Bay by oxwagon or by cumbersome horse-drawn transports. This did not mean that young people were trapped in Potchefstroom but their ability to travel must have been limited by both opportunity and cost.

Lennie Gouws, The Economy of Potchefstroom 1838-1880. The Heritage Register, sighted on http://www.theheritageportal.co.za/article/economy-potchefstroom-1838-1880.

Just before he turned 25, Willie married 23-year-old Johanna Petronella Lombard in St Mary’s Church, Potchefstroom with Jean Daly as a witness. A year later his “beloved wife” was dead and buried in the Potchefstroom cemetery. On the marriage certificate he is William but on her gravestone he is recorded as W.C.L. Daly. These two names seem to have co-existed from that time on. Four years later, in 1891, William married Amelia Bramley. She, like William was born in Beaufort West where her father was then rector. William’s marriage may have taken him deeper into what might well have been new religious territory for the family. Amelia’s father, William Bramley, came from England, married Edith Baker, whose reverend brother officiated at their marriage. William Bramley himself was ordained as priest in the Church of England in 1861 in Cape Town[2] and he conducted William Daly and Amelia’s marriage ceremony in Christ’s Church in Swellendam in the Cape, where the Bramley family was then living.

On the first marriage certificate William is described as a storekeeper and on the second marriage certificate he is described as a merchant. Clearly he followed his family tradition of going into trade rather than gold or diamond mining.

William and Amelia wrote a will in 1892, a month before their first child, William Bramley Daly was born. In the will, written in Potchefstroom, Amelia’s name is given as Amelia Bramley but she signs as Amelia Daly. It is written in Dutch, read out to them verbally, with Jean Daly as a witness. A stipulation is that any children from the marriage would be raised properly in the Christian faith. There were three more children after William Bramley Daly, born in Potchefstroom between 1893 and 1897: Edith Bramley, Katherine Maria Amy (who died as an infant) and Victor Charles.

By 1899 William had moved to Johannesburg where he worked as a clerk in the taxation office. When he died in 1919, the cost of his funeral exceeded his assets by £30, and he was buried in Johannesburg’s Braamfontein Cemetery with his parents.

Amelia Bramley lived for another 17 years. It seems likely that she was supported by a generous inheritance from the Bramley family. Amelia and some of her family moved to Klerksdorp. A photograph of Amelia with three granddaughters shows that she was very much involved with Gweneth, Elizabeth and Joan.

They were the daughters of her son, William Bramley Daly and Elizabeth Ann Davies who died a few years after Joan was born. William appears to have disappeared so that the children were raised by Amelia and their aunt Edith Stow. In her will Amelia left half of her substantial estate to Edith Stow, a quarter to her son,Victor Daly and William’s quarter share was left in trust to his daughters with William being paid the income and interest for life.




[1] Charles GC Rocher, 1938, Enige Aantekeninge oor die Familie Rocher in Suid-Afrika, available from GISA Stellenbosch.

[2] University of Witwatersrand, Historical Papers, Research Archive, http://www.historicalpapers.wits.ac.za/?inventory/U/collections&c=AB2236/R/7429