Ronnie Maclean was born at Fort Murray in 1850, the son of Colonel John Maclean, C.B., late 27th Foot, and was educated in King
"William’s Town and at St. Andrew’s College, Grahamstown. His subsequent career - military and civil - is summarised thus in an article that appeared in the Personality magazine in June 1968: ‘In 1873 he entered the Civil Service of the Cape Colony and served at various times in the Customs and other branches of the service.
He had a distinguished military career. He served in the Buffalo Volunteer Rifles during the 1877-8 Kaffir War, holding the rank of
Captain. In 1879 he saw service as a captain of the Fingo Levies. At the special request of Lord Chelmsford, Ronnie MacLean was
granted leave to proceed to Zululand to take command of the mounted troops under Chelmsford’s immediate direction. He was present
at the relief of Etshowe with Colonel Pearson’s column. As a leader he was unequalled as he possessed the dash which always appeals to fighting men.
In 1880 he served in the Tembuland rebellion as a Captain in the Buffalo Volunteer Rifles under Commandant Baron W. C. F. von
Linsingen. He also served in the Basuto War and took part in the First South African War in 1881.
The start of the Second South African War in 1899 saw him again in the field as a Captain in the Kaffrarian Rifles and he was soon
promoted to Major, a title which he retained until his death.
Soon after the end of the war he returned to the government service at Buffalo Harbour as Head of the Bantu Department. His
knowledge of the Bantu, their ways and their language proved of the greatest service at the harbour and no man was more respected
and better liked than Ronnie MacLean. He retired on pension early in 1909 and settled down to a quiet life on a farm at Cave Rock.
The much beloved Major died on 6 May 1910, and was buried with full military honours in the cemetery on the east bank of the
Buffalo River overlooking the sea in which he had so often risked his life to save the lives of others."