Mark was born on 10th May, 1922 (the year of the Rand Revolt) in a tired cottage on one of his grandfather’s farms, in the hamlet of Rowsham, parish of Wingrave near Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, England. His father soon took over a farm of his own near Quainton also in Bucks, and Quainton Village School was where Mark began his schooling.
The world economic depression of the time resulted in the family emigrating in 1929 to Western Australia but conditions there proved to be even worse and so, after two years, the family returned to England. They settled down in Stoke Mandeville, also near Aylesbury, where Mark’s father had been born. Here, in 1932 Mark gained entry into the Aylesbury Grammar School, only leaving there in 1939 to take up employment in Barclays Bank in the same town.
After a year in the bank (during which time Mark had also served in the Home Guard) he volunteered into the army, becoming a young soldier in the county regiment, the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. Another year and he was transferred into an armoured regiment and from there was posted to the Royal Tank Regiment in the Middle East, serving in Egypt, Palestine, the Lebanon and Syria. Then, as a tank gunner, he served with his regiment in Italy. Eventually he was selected by a War Office Selection Board in Naples for officer training. This took place on the Isle of Man, where he was commissioned back into his county regiment before being sent to India to serve with the Lancashire Fusiliers.
Demobilised in 1946, Mark returned to Barclays but soon applied for an overseas posting. So, in 1948 he arrived in Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) and four years later was in Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) where he was to stay for fifteen years. In 1953 Mark was married to Cathy Kotzé in Fort Victoria (Masvingo). Rising through the banking ranks, Mark worked as a Teller, an Agency Clerk an Accountant/Teller, a Relief Accountant, a sub-Accountant, an Instructor, a Chief Clerk, Acting Manager and then Staff Manager (back in Zambia, for four years) as well as Relief Manager.
Transferred to South Africa in 1970 by his own choice, Mark served in managerial positions until he was seconded to help start the African Bank in 1975. Starting as General Manager’s Assistant, Assistant General Manager, finally becoming General Manager. After retirement in 1982, he was called back to become a Director of the African Bank, finally leaving them in 1994.
Mark’s interest in genealogy and family history dated from his school days, beginning with his own family and gradually spreading to helping others. Over the years he gave many talks to members of other societies, helped to organise and run show stands and wrote many articles for publication, particularly in Family Tree Magazine of which he was the South African representative for many years. He acted as adviser (South Africa) for the International Society for British Genealogy and Family History and even appeared on television talking to Martin Bailie about family history. After retirement he was able to spend more time on his hobby: in 1985 he became a Committee Member of the Transvaal branch of the Genealogical Society and later, a member of that Society’s National Council. In 1987 he founded the West Rand Family History Society and in 1995 was given the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Genealogical Society, followed the next year by election as a Fellow of the Society.
Mark and Cathy have three children. Thomas, their son, is a Pastor, sent by his Church to Australia. Tom himself is married and has two children. Mark’s eldest daughter, Caroline, is also married with two children and lives in South Africa. Mark’s youngest daughter, Cathryn, also has two children, having lived in South Africa and now in New Zealand.
Mark said that one good thing about being old is that, as an octogenarian, he didn’t have to pay anything to remain a member of the Genealogical Society!