Charles Bramley


Charles Bramley (1875-8 at Bishops) President of the O.D. Union from 1941 to 1956 and our oldest O.D. member died on the 5th of May 1956 after a short illness. He would have been 94 on the 17th June 1956. Born in 1862, he was the second of three O.D. sons of the Rev. William Bramley of Swellendam. Harry, the eldest (1874-5 at Bishops) died in 1936; Edward (1888-9), the youngest, in 1921 largely as a result of service in the 1st World War. After being in the Civil Service and the Standard Bank, Charles Bramley joined a firm of attorneys in Pretoria before becoming Market Master there in 1896. He held this position during the South African War under the Republican Government, which thought so highly of him that it asked him to remain on, and he continued to do so when the British Military Government took over, and for many years thereafter. Becoming a company secretary and agent later, at one time representing Sir Abe Bailey, Bramley owned considerable farm land outside Pretoria. He was a J.P., never married, and lived most of his life at the Pretoria Club, where he was an institution. A Life Member of the Wild Life Protection Society, he formed a small society of the same nature whilst still a schoolboy

Charles Bramley, “Charlie” as he was apparently known to practically the whole of Pretoria, will best be remembered for his generosity. A great public benefactor, he gave many thousands of pounds to charitable causes, characteristically never wanting his name mentioned in acknowledgement of donations. He was the anonymous donor to the Pretoria Child Life Society, to the fund run during the war by, Mrs. Smuts, to the St Albans’ Cathedral Fund in Pretoria, and it is only since his death that the extent of the many gifts made during his long life is becoming known. Now, under his will Pretoria charities are to benefit substantially, the main being: “the Pretoria Society for the Civilian Blind, £2,000, Pretoria Child Life Protection Society, £1,000; Louis Botha Home, £1,000; St. Dunstan’s for South African War Blinded Soldiers, £1,000; Pretoria Benevolent Society, £500; and St. Michael’s Home, Bloemfontein, £300. Bishops is to receive two-thirds of the residue of the estate after these bequests and certain others of a cash and personal nature totalling £65,000 have been deducted. Some proportion of this wonderful gift was paid to the College Council during Bramley’s lifetime, now the balance is to follow. It is sad, however, that it should be attendant on the death of the man who has been our President for so many years and a lifelong friend and believer in Bishops.”

Gerald Savage (1906-10), President of the N. Transvaal Branch, representing Bishops and O,D,’s, was a pall-bearer at the funeral on Monday, 7th May, and there was a great attendance of O,D.’s at St, Michael’s and All Angels’. Amongst those present score: I). C. Jackson (1897-08), L. B .Stent ( 1596-D. 81. \Vott Sampson (1906-12), Russell McLeish (1918-23), President. and Neville Bayes (1921-9), Hon. Secretary, representing S. Transvaal O.D.’s; IV, A. G. McIntyre (1893-5), J. G. Freislich, Snr, (1889-90), J, H. Fehrsen (1899-02), C. L. Hull (1900-3), V. Rees-Poole 1893-6), J, D. R. Eedes (1905-9), J. B. Oosthuizen (1949-53), from Klerksdorp, brother of 0. B. Oosthuizen (1945-51), both nephews of Bransley; R. A. Hudson (1919-22), David van der Byl (1938-42), C. M. du Plessis (1950-3), and many others. Gerald Savage estimated there must have been at least 40 0.D.’s present. Geoff Downer (1933-9), Hon. Secretary, N. Transvaal Branch, J. do V. de Havilland (1926-34) and J. A. King (1920-8) acted is ushers at the church. There were wreaths from Bishops and the Parent Union, the Southern and Northern Transvaal Branches, as well as from friends and the many organisations to which Bramley had so generously and frequently contributed. Telegrams were sent on behalf of “Bishops and O.D.’s Everywhere” and from Frank Reid. Downer writes that the service at St. Michael’s and at the graveside was simple and in keeping with the nature of Charles Bramley all felt gratitude for the wonderful innings he had played in his 93 years. The Hon. Mr. Justice Grinlay-Ferris (1892-7), in sending a cutting “which gave a brief account of Bramley’s noble and generous outlook on life and of his principles and generous and unassuming nature”, said: “My wife and I have been friends of his for more than 50 years, and we have never heard an unkind word expressed about him. Always something good and true…. All Bishops, even if they did not have the pleasure and privilege of knowing Charlie personally, have, I feel sure and rightfully so, a very high opinion of him. His unselfish and noble life will always be held in the highest esteem and be regarded as a pointer to a life as it should be lived. Good-bye Charlie.”

And so say all of us to a wonderful friend. May he rest in peace. His passing closes the era of the outstanding Pretoria men who were at Bishops between 1870 and 1880.


My grandmother (Linda Bosenberg) played bridge with Charles Bramley, at her home in Sea Point, during the late 1800’s/early 1900’s. Unfortunately I have no other information about these bridge sessions, or what they talked about, but it is interesting that her grandson should one day serve a 12-year term as Bramley housemaster!