13/11/2006

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Genealogy of Alexander Jamieson and Margaret Gatt Mundie.
Family tree.

  Alexander Jamieson.

x

Margaret Gatt Mundie.
Born 11 February 1874.   4 April 1886.
Place Smiddyhill, Slains.    
Died 10 June 1941.   5 November 1929.
Place Malawi.   Malawi.
Married 26 March 1927.   26 March 1927.
Place      
Ancestors Alexander Jamieson and Isabella Sangster.   Peter Mundie and Ann Dow.
Siblings 4 brothers, 3 sisters.   3 brothers, 1 sister.

 

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 residence: 39yrs.
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 that year.

The photograph is a  little gem for a genealogist or aficionado of the extended family, for it shows representatives of these associated families: -
Alex Jamieson.
Mrs Cissie Hutchinson.
Mr & Mrs Thomas Hutchison and daughter Eleanor.
Peter Mundie.
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 more.

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.
 
12th June.
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.
 
13th June.
A Jamieson, Nyasaland,
Shares value 3613
Cr? (Maybe British Bank) 184
Willie's loan (brother) 1300
 
20th June.
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 house.

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?"
"Alex's family"
"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.

 

   

Children with Margaret Mundie: None.

Alexander Jamieson's family tree is impacted by his posting in an area occupied by the Yao tribe, which was converted to Islam before the arrival of British settlers.
The Yao, led by mixed-race Arab chieftains, enslaved the black African population, and didn't stop until settlers like Alick put a stop to it.
A. J. married into this polygamous tribe, numerous times. The Yao practice was that when a woman became pregnant and gave birth, there was a period of time where she returned home to her parents, and didn't afford her husband the normal favours of marriage. This was accepted, as Yao men had up to five wives at a time.
 A.J. however, refused to have more than one wife at a time, and thus had a serial monogamous existence with the various women he was involved with.

It is widely stated that Margaret Gatt Mundie was aware of his children, as they lived with him, and most predated his involvement with her. Margaret is thought to have died of malaria...he should never have taken her there.

P.H. March 2009.

   

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