Skip to content ↓

View entry

Back to search results

Name: ATKINS, Edward Davis 'Tommy' (Capt.)

Death Date: 6 Mar 1925 - killed by rhino, Timau

First Date: 1919

Last Date: 1925

Profession: Farmer. Killed by a rhino on Hickson's Embori Farm, Timau

Area: Faruvale Nyeri, partner with Sheldrick

Married: Mary Violet Preston of Englefield Green

Children: Humphrey Edward (1922)

Book Reference: KAD, Red 25, Hut, Red 22, F. McCartney, SS, Foster

General Information:

F. McCartney - History of Mweiga Estate - The original Mweiga Estate, as it came to be called, was approximately 1100 acres on the extreme Northern side of the Kikuyu country before the land ran out to the great ranching areas to the North. On its Western boundary it marched with the Aberdare forest and consisted of about 300 acres of red soil suitable for planting coffee, which, however, in some areas was marginal and underlaid heavily with murram. The farm was taken up shortly after the Great War in about 1919 by Billy Sheldrick and Tommy Atkins. William Ibbetson (later Sir William), a close friend of the great naturalist and writer Jim Corbett, was a sleeping partner. ….. Sheldrick and Atkins had come to Kenya from the Indian Army with two objects in mind - one was to plant and farm coffee and the second was to play polo. Over a period of years, 300 acres of coffee was planted under heavy shade consisting of grevilia and cordia holstein. Cultivation was by oxen with shallow ploughs and the main source of power for the pulping and the drying of the coffee was steam. To this end, steam engines were purchased and imported into the country, railed to Thika, which was the limit of the railway at that time, and hauled by oxen to their final resting place. Also imported were large rotary dryers, for the drying of the coffee. As there were no coffee mills at that time machinery was also purchased for the hulling and grading of coffee. Equally there was no marketing organization, and coffee owners were at the mercy of agents in London, who sold coffee on the planters' behalf, the proceeds of sale being received months after despatch. During many periods, especially those of the depression of the 30's, the sale prices were hardly sufficient to cover the cost of production and it must have been a heart-breaking business. At this time nothing else was done with the remining land other than the introduction of a herd of extremely low grade humped cattle, which were able to do little other than suckle their young. On the lighter side of life an area within a mile of the farm was found to enable the construction of not one but two polo grounds with scarcely having to level an ant hill. Here polo took place every Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning until the coming of Independence. Tragedy struck the partnership in the middle 1920's when Tommy Atkins, who as well as being a great polo player was a great hunter, was killed by a rhino. There was a passage in a book by Cherry Kearton which stated that an American lady was crossing Africa from the East to the West and on arriving in the area was bemoaning the fact that Africa lacked the thrills she had been led to expect. She went out one morning with a light sporting rifle and shot at and wounded a rhino. Instantly it charge and killed her. The same day Tommy Atkins with his wife Mary was driving his Model T Ford and came across the rhino in a donga. It attacked and Tommy Atkins saved his wife by taking off his coat and doing a matador act, but he suffered the fate of the American lady. Until the close of the polo ground, the Nyeri team, playing in the Atkins cup, always wore black armbands on their polo vests. ………. Tommy and Mary Atkins had a son, Humphrey, now the Right Honourable Sir Humphrey Atkins, who, at one time, was Minister for Northern Ireland. He visited the farm in the early 50's and had a touching re-union with his father's old syce and hunting companion Mathenge …
Racing - Owner of 'Satan' - Winner of the Kenya Steeplechase Cup in 1922 - Mrs E.D. Atkins
Soldier Settlement Scheme after WW1 - Class B - Capt. E.D. Atkins, 6th KEO Cavalry, c/o Messrs Cox & Co., Charing Cross, London SW - Farm 190
KAD 1922 - Committee Member, Nyeri Gymkhana Club
Gazette - 26/9/1923 - Voters Register - Kenya Province - Edward Davis Atkins, Planter PO Nyeri and Mary Violet Atkins, Married woman PO Nyeri

Back to search results