Wesley Knuckey was born on 3 March 1868 in Perranarworthal, Cornwall. He emigrated to South Africa arriving on the Witwatersrand in 1891 where he was recognized as a Rand Pioneer and was President 1929 – 1930.
Before starting REID & KNUCKEY in 1906 Wesley worked for Consulting Engineers BLANE & CO., Johannesburg as foreman millwright and completed 40 Stamp Mill and Head Gear at New Spes Bona Gold Mining Co. He had apparently worked for Blane & Co. for "some considerable time" as stated in his letter of recommendation dated 28 September 1896.
He married on 14 December 1898 Beatrice Florence Adams who was born in Widecombe, Chittleford, Devon.
During the second Anglo-Boer War 1899 – 1903, he served with the Rand Rifles Regiment with the British Forces. He was mentioned in the UK Military Campaign & Award Roll 1793 – 1949. He was declared medically unfit on the 21 April 1902.
He served with the British Intelligence during the First World War, but there is no information of the position he held.
Wesley and Florence had six children, 2 boys and 4 girls, the youngest girl died at 3 years old.
- Wesley was the President of the National Federation of Building Trade Employers 1937 – 1939. (Master’s Builders Association).
- Founder Member and President of the Kensington Bowling Club. One bowling greens was named after him but has since been renamed.
- President of the Cornish Association which endowed a legacy of £185 000 for the building of a prestigious private school – hence St Stithian's in Bryanston, whose motto is the same as the Cornish Association "One & All".
- He joined the Rand Club on 15 Novembere 1935, was a member of the Royal Johannesburg Golf Club and Wanderers.
- He was on the Board of Governors of Jeppe High School for Boys.
- Brother at Kensington Masonic Lodge No. 4893 E.C.
Florence Knuckey died on the 12 April 1929. Ten years after her death, Wesley sailed on the Cape Town Castle from Durban and arrived in Southampton on the 4 August 1939 with the intention of visiting family, both in Cornwall and Canada. However, the Second World War broke out on the 3 September 1939 and Wesley was lucky enough to catch the last flying boat out of Southampton, which had 4 or 5 stops for refueling and/or repairs, and landed on the Vaal Dam where his son Bill and daughter-in-law went to fetch him.
He resided in Roberts Avenue, Kensington, opposite Jeppe High School for Boys.
Two of his sons, William John (Bill) KNUCKEY and Arthur Wesley KNUCKEY, worked for REID & KNUCKEY.
Wesley died on the 9 December 1951.
Pioneers "undertaking" or oath
PIONEERS OF THE NEW SOUTH AFRICA
May we, the sons and grandsons of those
who came from distant land,
be strong as they, now the call has come
to all join hearts and hands.
Their pioneer vision and courage built
this country we hold dear –
Now we, Pioneers of a different age
Must answer loud and clear ...
We stand for what is fair and right,
with peace for all, our quest.
(Information supplied by Lenore Knuckey, granddaughter of Wesley, August 2012)