|Death Certificate No.398/1325, 9th June 1941.
Blantyre European Hospital. Perforated Duodenal Ulcer. Alexander Jamieson
Planter. British. Ntawira Estate, Blantyre. Sex (M) Age 66yrs, Length of
Philip Hevener. 12 March 2009.
Alexander Jamieson was the oldest in the family of
Jamiesons who moved, about 1886, from Smiddyhill of Slains, where he was
born on 11th February 1874, to West Gask, in Cruden. His mother
was Isabella Sangster, younger sister of Ann Sangster, my grandmother, so he
was a first cousin of your grandfather - Tom. Although Alex was eight years
older, they were, and remained, close friends through all his life. He died
in Malawi on 10th June 1941.
I haven't checked, but I guess
that he probably attended Hatton school from about 1880 to 1888 then he
probably helped on the farm until he joined the Aberdeen City Police in
1898. He resigned in 1900 and moved to Malawi (Nyasaland) to try his fortune
as a tobacco planter. (It would be interesting to explore the means whereby
this move was financed. The Family History shop might be able to help)
In Malawi he prospered greatly, and made many friends. Eleanor and I knew
him as "Uncle Alec" and used to write regularly to him, at his estate - "Ntawira",
a name firmly planted in our memories. He returned regularly to Aberdeen,
where he stayed mostly with us in Gladstone Place, a more convenient
location than that of most of his immediate family. Because of the long
duration of the journeys to and from, such visits probably occurred about
every four years, and lasted for almost six months. This regime continued
until his visit in 1927, when he married my mother's sister Margaret Gatt
Mundie on 26th March. "Aunty Gattie", to us and our many friends
lived with us from 1924. She was a very dear and much loved companion, nurse
and friend, and a huge loss when she moved to Nyasaland. She died there on 5th
November 1929, leaving a broken hearted widower. We were visited by him once
or twice thereafter, but he never recovered from his loss. His intention was
never again to leave Africa, but to commit himself to his estate there.
However, in 1936 he was diagnosed with a severe ailment that urgently
required surgical treatment of a standard not available in Africa at that
time. Sheer speculation on my part, but it seems likely that he had cancer
of the prostate.
He applied his considerable wealth to finding the fastest possible way to
London. It still rather surprises me that, in 1936 when I was 22, the trip
required 5 days; flying only by daylight.
Following his operation he stayed at Drumgarth, at least until the end of
September. (You have seen, and probably used, a snapshot taken at Cliff
House, Braemar, on the occasion of the Braemar gathering in September of
The photograph is a little gem for a
genealogist or aficionado of the extended family, for it shows
representatives of these associated families: -
Mrs Cissie Hutchinson.
Mr & Mrs Thomas Hutchison and daughter Eleanor.
Herbert and Cecil Sinclair with Mrs May (Hutchinson) Sinclair.)
On that 1936 visit Alex appointed my father with power of attorney over
all his affairs in the UK, and as executor of his will.
On 10th June 1941 Alex died in Nyasaland. At that time the war had been
carried by Germany to the core of the UK: travel was difficult anywhere.
Even simple telegraphic communication was slow and difficult. There was no
telephone service to Nyasaland. Father's difficulties were greatly increased
because, apparently, at least a major part of Alex's estate was left - not
to his siblings in Aberdeenshire, as they expected - but to completely
unknown people in Nyasaland.
What a row ensued! The Aberdeenshire relations, deeply suspicious, leaped
to the conclusion that father was fiddling their affairs. They had received
legacies, substantial by the standard of the 1940's, but had expected much
By coincidence, one of them had engaged the attention of his bank
manager, to try to start an investigation, and this banker was Alan
McGregor, son of Annie Mary (Hutchison) McGregor, whom you have written up.
The row eventually blew over, but left a good deal of bad feeling.
(In Thomas Hutchison's [1881 - 1965] diary of 10 June 1941 there appears
the following -
Received cable from Storey Blantyre, Nyasaland.
"Regret report Alick passed away yesterday. Please advise relatives. You
Edwards & myself trustees. Please cable instructions & list of all assets
with you todays value. Post power of attorney." Storey.
Cable from Storey, Blantyre, Nyasaland.
"Apppointed three local trustees [Alex's sons? probably Amon, James and
Frederick].and you at home. Nominate Albert James Storey and send me power
of attorney have posted copy of will." Storey.
A Jamieson, Nyasaland,
Shares value £3613
Cr? (Maybe British Bank) £184
Willie's loan (brother) £1300
Received cable from Storey, Blantyre, Nyasaland re A Jamieson will.
"Local legatees £1400 hundred pounds each Molly? Walker gives? son &
daughter fifty each brother James & children of late sister Jane Ann
residue equally between seven brothers & sisters." Storey.)
That was that, until 1967 - 26 years later.
In 1967 I found myself in Malawi, advising the government about Malawi
Railways and, particularly, the operation of their fleet of ships on Lake
Malawi. Much of the time I spent on the lake, sailing right round it,
looking at port installations. I took some time to seek traces of Alex J.,
first by motoring out to Ntawira estate one evening. There I was met by a
horde of pony-sized ridgeback dogs who tried to eat the car. Mr Wyllie,
owner of the estate, beat them off with a magnificent whip and led me into
The Wyllies now owned Ntawira as a dairy farm. (The dogs were to defend
the cows and calves from jackals). They had bought the estate in 1933. Alex
J. had sold it in 1927, or thereby; and someone else had owned it in the
intervening period. No one remembered A.J. at all; but why should they? He
must have left Ntawira in 1929 at the latest, some 38 years before my visit.
I knew that he had moved to Sanford, but I had no success in locating any
such house. I called at the Blantyre library, where the ladies were very
sympathetic but couldn't locate Sanford.
Then one of them remarked to the other - "Your Fred would know about
them" So a 'phone call was made and I was told - "Fred Withers will see you
in his office at the garage at 7-00 am tomorrow.
This was the office of the Austin Motor Company's agents in Malawi, from
whom I was hiring a car. I walked into the office: Fred Withers looked up at
me and said, "So you're Alex's nephew. Well, well." I had struck gold.
We had quite a chat - much too curtailed - and he told me that Sanford
was a larger and better estate than Ntawire, in the same area. He suggested
I visit it and see for myself.
"Who's in Sanford nowadays?"
"But Alex had no family"
"You mean, your aunt had no family. Alex had a large family, now grown up
and doing very well. Some in the police, one of whom is superintendent at
Fort Johnstone. Most of the rest are on the estate, and managing it well."
He paused, and continued:
"You must remember that he lived as a bachelor from about 1900 to 1927, a
lusty young man of 30: and nature took its course. You should visit them and
see for yourself. You'd be welcome".
But I chickened out. I went to Sanford and took some photographs; but I
felt that proceeding further might be a pointless intrusion. Was I wrong?
Anyway, my work took me into the office of the Treasurer of Malawi - an
English accountant seconded from the Colonial Office. I mentioned to him my
search for A.J. and he commented, on Sanford - " A fine estate. Well run;
doing well "" How big is the business ?"
"Oh - say about £1/2 million."
So that's why father had such problems 25 years earlier.
TMH. Feb 2006.