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Name: PELHAM-FFOOKS, Frederic Arthur

Birth Date: 1842

Death Date: 8 Oct 1939 Kisumu

First Date: 1871

Last Date: 1939

Profession: After an adventurous life in America he went to Canada in a sailing ship in the early sixties. Initially in Zanzibar he then joined the Uganda Railway Construction Co. Later he lived at Kisumu devoting all his energies to horticulture. KUR&H

Area: Mombasa, Kisumu, 1922 Kitale, 1930 Kisumu, Lumbwa

Book Reference: Gillett, Police, KAD, Red 25, Red 31, Hut, Red 22, Gazette

War Service: East African units

General Information:

Police - pre 1910 - It was believed that he was a son of an Anglican Bishop, had been educated at Eton, been an officer of the Brigade of Guards, and at one time the Aide-de-Camp to a Governor of Ceylon. Having got into a packet of trouble, he resigned from the Army, migrated to the USA and Canada, and, finally arrived at Mombasa to work for a time on the construction of the Uganda Railway.
Pelham-ffooks admitted frankly that most of his time in North America had been spent in prison. He was a heavy drinker and this fact accounted for his downfall. He would deliberately pass a "dud" cheque and spend the proceeds on a bout of drinking; and, when all the cash was exhausted, he usually gave himself up at the Police Station. When tried by a Court, he pleaded guilty and always begged for a sentence of two years' imprisonment as nothing less than that was of any use in keeping him sober. His request was normally granted.
When I [Major Foran] first saw him in March 1904, he was serving such a sentence at Fort Jesus and had been placed in charge of a gang of African convicts doing roadwork without any guard over the party. Pelham-ffooks was an accomplished scholar and expert horticulturist. When serving his terms of imprisonment at Fort Jesus he would be let out alone and unguarded every morning to beautify the gardens of officials' houses, and returned to prison at sunset without fail. At the house where he was working he was always rewarded with a drink before going back to his cell. This unique privilege was never once abused. He was a very likeable man when off the drink, and always proved good company.
Between two sentences he suddenly became a Moslem, regularly attended the mosque to read the Koran, sometimes preached there, and walked about Mombasa dressed as a follower of Islam. Then he reverted to Christianity. This greatly intrigued the African population, who followed him about and dubbed him "Bwana Changi-Changi" (presumably the bwana who keeps changing his religion).
When not in prison, he lived a solitary existence at English Point in a hut. One day an Asian shopkeeper reported at the Police Station that Pelham-ffooks had cashed a "bouncer" cheque with him. Inspector Watcham went to English Point and arrested him on a charge of obtaining money by false pretences. He was none too sober but his stock of alcohol had been exhausted. He pleaded guilty at the trial and asked for the usual two years in prison. Judge A.T. Bonham-Carter decided on leniency and imposed a sentence of only six months. Pelham-ffooks exclaimed angrily: "Six months is no use to me, only two years. If I had known you were giving me no more than six months, I'd have thrown something at you." Bonham-Carter smiled and commented: "Have it your own way. Two years". Probably he was happier in prison and thus removed from the temptations of liquor. It was learned later that he had drifted up to Entebbe and then to Khartoum, in both places serving time in prison for similar offences.
Finally, he came back to Kisumu and settled down there, becoming a reformed character and devoting all his energies to horticulture. He died at Kisumu on October 8th 1939, at the age of 97 years and six months. During the last years of his life Pelham-ffooks won the respect and friendship of the European residents of that town.
North - Arthur Pelham Fooks - Botanist from Wells, Somerset; Convicted of theft at Mombasa sentenced to 3 months' imprisonment, June 1900; Obtained money on false pretences from Distressed British Subject Fund Zanzibar Feb 1902; Convicted at Zanzibar of forging the signature of Asst. Judge Lindsey Smith sentenced to 3 months' imprisonment & bound over for a year pril/May 1902; Convicted of forgery for the purpose of cheating sent to gaol at Mombasa Feb 1905; Free & due to be deported to England 29-8-1905; Arrested for criminal breach of trust and using a forged document 11-11-1905, sentenced to 3 years' vigorous imprisonment 4-12-1905.
Gazette 4 Mar 1914
Gazette 6 Dec 1938 Nyanza Voters List at Kisumu

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