Unless otherwise stated all place names are in South Africa
Born in Johannesburg in 1937, the place where her Irish grand-father, a photographer, had emigrated to before the Anglo/Boer War.
The highlight of her pre-school years was a flying-boat journey to Kenya – taking off from Durban Bay, landing in Mombasa and returning by the same means a six-months later.
Because her father was a civil engineer and worked on a number of different projects – the Nagel Dam being one of them – she attended seven schools.
Started at Scottsville School in Pietermaritzburg, followed by four convents – Germiston, Johannesburg, Pietermaritzburg and Durban. Finally a couple of years at Pietermaritzburg’s Russell High before matriculating at Pietermaritzburg Girls’ High.
Started her BA at University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg in 1954 (History and Political Science majors), then completed a Higher Diploma in Librarianship in Cape Town in 1958.
Employed in the University of Natal Library in Pietermaritzburg, 1959 to 1968, for the last eight years as Deputy Librarian. While working completed an Honours degree in History.
Commenced research on Natal settlers in 1963.
Married a farmer, Brian Spencer, in 1968, and resided at Whitson, Umhlongo Nek until the farm was sold in 1970.
Then wife to a university student for four years while Brian studied for a BA and Higher Diploma in Librarianship. For the next twenty-four years he worked in libraries in Pietermaritzburg, and as Librarian of the Don Africana Library in Durban. He is now retired and they have returned to Pietermaritzburg.
They have one child, Angela.
So far she has written, and the University of KwaZulu-Natal Press has published, seven volumes of A Register of British Settlers in Natal 1824 – 1857. The eighth volume is in progress. It is estimated that there are still another thirteen volumes to complete.
Awarded the ‘Genealogist of the Year’ title in 1992 by the Genealogical Society of South Africa.