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Name: RIDLEY, Mervyn Adrian Touchet MC

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Nee: brother-in-law of Lord Cranworth

Birth Date: 1886 London

Death Date: 21 Dec 1951 Kapsiliat, Moiben

First Date: 1906 April

Last Date: 1951

Profession: Returned to Makuyu after WW1 - Coffee and Sisal Farmer. Also Kapsiliat Moiben, mixed farmer. Jockey Club, Polo, Local politics.

Area: Moiben district for many years, Makuyu, HBEA 1912 - Chania Bridge, Nairobi & Makuyu, Naivasha, 1909 Fort Hall, Moiben

Married: In Nairobi 12 May 1920 Mrs Sybil Henrietta Bonsor née Fergusson, war widow b. 1879 New Zealand, d. 7 Feb 1966

Children: Susan Frances Mary (Chaplin) (22 Feb 1921 Marylebone-1998)

Author: Further Bookref: SS, Leader14, Chandler, Alice - Memoirs, Red Book 1912

Book Reference: Gillett, EAWL, HBEA, Cuckoo, Nellie, Midday Sun, Eldoret, Lytton, Cobbold, Empire, Cranworth, Mischief, Debrett, KAD, Red 25, John Carnegie, Red 31, Hut, EAMR, EA & Rhodesia, Pioneers, Drumkey, Red 22, Stud, Advertiser, AJ, Gazette, Racing, Burke, Eton

War Service: Served with EAMR - A Sqdn. 2/9/14 - 7/12/14 and Grenadier Guards during WW1. Wounded - Marne and invalided out

School: Private and Eton College 1900-04

General Information:

Served 2 years as volunteer in KAR in WW2. Source: Mrs S. Chaplin.    
Nellie - 'On most Saturday afternoons, all three of us would ride to a sisal plantation on the plains whose owner, Mervyn Ridley, had imported a pack of English fox-hounds.'  
Midday Sun - 1933 - 'We were headed for Kapsiliat, which I was tempted to think almost the most beautiful of Kenya's many beautiful farms. It belonged to old friends, the Ridleys; Mervyn had kept a pack of foxhounds at Makuyu not far from our Thika coffee farm, and we had enjoyed many weekend hunts over the plains in pursuit of jackals or steinbuck. ........ Now Mervyn and Sybil were living with their daughter Susan at Kapsiliat on a flank of the Cherangani mountains in a long, comfortable bungalow built of local brick and timbers and roofed with cedar-wood shingles. Tall native trees surrounded it, the lawns were green and smooth, the borders full of colour, and the whole place had a tidy, cared-for look about it, the farm an air of ticking over happily.
There were well-groomed ponies, pedigree bulls, proper fencing, fine-woolled sheep. Mervyn was a large, broad-shouldered, jovial man whom everybody liked.'  
Eldoret - of Kapsiliat, Moiben, was connected with Lord Cranworth. A wing of the house was especially adapted for the visit of the Queen Mother to Eldoret as she stayed with the family. The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester also visited Kapsiliat.  
Cobbold - 1934 - I had not set eyes on Mervyn and Sybil since they stayed with me at Glencarron some 6 years ago. ........ estate in Cherangani Hills 40 miles from Eldoret, 10,000 acres and 1,000 head of cattle, on the Moiben River. He has what is probably the best stud farm in the colony. His wife Sybil was taking their small daughter to school on the slope of Kapsiliat.  Empire - There is now another pack of hounds, the Makuyu Hunt, some 30 miles from Nairobi, which hunts the jackal and duiker ..... hunted by Mr Mervyn Ridley as Master and Mr Randall Swift is his very efficient aid ..... Polo .... at Makuyu, about 30 miles away from Nairobi, under the energetic control of Messrs. Swift and Mervyn Ridley   
Cranworth - 1906 - Messrs Swift and Rutherfoord - arranged with them to take my brother-in-law, Mervyn Ridley, temporarily as a pupil. BEA acquired thereby a settler of the finest type and in the very real  sense of the word. For 30 odd years he has made the Colony his actual home, and if she has given him much, he has made to her a more than adequate return. .......... An original partner in Sisal Ltd with Lord Cranworth and others.  
Interview with Tom Letham - 1994 - Mervyn Ridley ruled with a rod of iron and had a dungeon in his house where he threw Africans!
Letter from John Carnegie, June 1996 - Mervyn Ridley was a friend of my parents and had a farm between Thika and Nairobi called 'Santamor' and grew sisal. He then bought land in the Cherangani Hills near Kitale and built up a very good herd of cattle and a marvellous house and garden. His wife Sybil was delightful; their daughter Susan was a good horsewoman and probably very capable at stock management as well. ........ I can't forget their garden - peacocks, sundials, huge cypress hedges, lofty brick walls, crazy paving, lily ponds, fountains, and fantastic views of incredibly beautiful country all round with magnificent podocarpus forests only a few minutes walk away. Also lovely trout streams and dams. ....... They were all very good people and worked very hard, so it was amazing what a lot of entertaining they managed to do.
East Africa & Rhodesia - 24/1/52 - By the death of Major Mervyn Adrian Ridley, Kenya has lost one of her early and best-known settlers. He went to the Colony in 1906, and after working with Swift and Rutherford, joined a syndicate formed by Lord Cranworth, his brother-in-law, for sisal growing in the Makuyu district. At the outbreak of the first World War he served with the East African Mounted Rifles, but later returned to this country to join the Grenadier Guards. After being badly wounded at Loos he served on the staff of the Duke of Devonshire in Canada. Returning to Kenya after the war, he settled on Kapsiliat Estate in the Sergoit district and concentrated on Red Poll cattle, of which he imported pedigree animals. A keen polo player, he started Sergoit Polo Club, and was vice-president of the Kenya Polo Association. He was also interested in racing, being senior steward of the Kenya Jockey Club. Double Sport, the Colony's leading stallion last year, was one of his horses. X.F. writes - "It was a shock to read of the sudden death at Kapsiliat last month of Mervyn Ridley, one of the fast-diminishing band of pioneer settlers in Kenya. As a very young man he and my late husband first went to British East Africa in the same year, 1906, and I met Mervyn after I married and went out to Kenya in 1920. He worked and played with all his force and energy, and enjoyed life to the full.
Much has been written of his successful farming enterprises after many years of perseverance and experiment, and of his good relations with his African labour. I remember him best as a great sportsman - the friendly rivalry of many championship polo matches, at race meetings in Kenya and in England, fishing, and shooting game birds over dogs. With his devoted wife, he was a perfect host at Makuyu and Moiben, and his gaiety and charm will long be remembered by a host of those privileged to be his friends. Kenya has suffered the loss of a very gallant gentleman, and our sympathy goes out to his family in their bereavement
East Africa & Rhodesia - 21/2/52 - V.A.R. wrote in 'The Times' - "Mervyn Ridley was a man of innumerable friends. He made them at Eton; he made them by the host in Kenya, the land of his adoption; he added to them while serving with the Grenadier Guards in the 1914-18 war; and again when, having been wounded, he served on the Duke of Devonshire's staff in Canada. What was the secret of this popularity, which was confined neither to class nor colour? Maybe among other causes was the fact that one felt instinctively that here was a man you could rely on in bad times as in good and whose wholehearted help in times of trouble would always be available. Add to that a generosity which was proverbial and generally anonymous. If that be not enough, then there was that delightful smile that led you to think that you were the one person that he wanted to see. Mervyn went to Kenya in 1906 at the age of 18, but though so young he was better equipped than many of the earlier settlers, in that he had a years practical experience on an English farm and had learnt his cultivations in the hard way.
In a land which had always been politically minded he, from the start, put production before politics, and well indeed he served Kenya, for few men did more to assist her agricultural progress. Nor did he neglect sport. Though one arm was badly mauled by a lion and later further injured at the battle of Loos, he was one of the best polo players in the country; nor did he let the disability interfere with his shooting and fishing. He was devoted to horses and rendered fine service as a steward of the Jockey Club. He will be long remembered for his services, but even longer for a character which had endeared him to all, whether European, African or Asian, and which hated anything mean. His was a happy life, supremely so in his home.
Drumkey 1909 - Cattle Brand - J1R
EA Stud Book 1954 - Brood Mares - Thoroughbred - Breeders - M.A. Ridley (1933)
EA Stud Book 1954 - Thoroughbred Stallions - Mrs Mervyn Ridley, Kapsiliat Estate, Moiben
Advertiser - 10/7/1908 - New member of Colonists Ass. of B.E.A. - M.A. Ridley
Advertiser - 21/8/1908 - Mr Ridley mauled by a lion. It is feared he may have to lose his arm.
Pioneers - Makuyu and Mitubiri - …. Then came Mervyn Ridley and Donald Seth Smith, who in partnership with several friends and relations founded Sisal Ltd., which was registered in 1908. Mervyn Ridley started a pack of foxhounds at Makuyu which hunted all manner of quarry over the plains.
Agricultural Journal - Brands Allotted and Registered, June 1908 - M.A. Ridley, Makuyu, Fort Hall - Fort Hall J1R Gazette - 7/4/15 - Liable for Jury service, Fort Hall - M.A. Ridley, Makuyu, Chania Bridge
Racing - Owner of 'Castaway' by 'Admirable Crichton' - 'Laversines'
Racing - Owner of 'Moiben II' - 1929
Racing - Owner of 'Glass Slipper' - 1929
Racing - Owner of 'Prince Bill' - 1929
Racing - Owner of 'M'Bui' - 1930
Racing - Owner of 'Star Shower' - 1930
Racing - Owner of 'Rising Mist' - 1930
Racing - Owner of 'The Kid' - 1930
Racing - Owner of 'Laddie' - Winner of the Kenya Steeplechase Cup in 1914
SKP - 1938 - Society of Kenya Pioneers - over 30 years in Colony - arrived April 1906
Soldier Settlement Scheme after WW1 - Class B - Miss P.F.A. Ridley, Makuyu, Chania Bridge - Farm 609  ???
Soldier Settlement Scheme after WW1 - Class B - M.A. Ridley, c/o W.C. Hunter Esq., 6th Avenue, Nairobi - Farm 613 Alice - Memoirs - Mervyn Ridley had polo ponies and race horses, both at his guests' disposal to use as hacks for early morning rides before breakfast.. The whole house party would get up at 6.30, choose their mount and set off in whatever direction they preferred. What could be more enjoyable? Mervyn and Sybil were the greatest friends of my uncle and aunt and of myself also, and it was a sad day when this happy home had to be handed back to the Africans. Luckily the Ridleys had died by then.
Red Book 1912 - M.A. Ridley - Kyambu
Gazette - 29/10/1919 - Register of Voters - Ukamba Area - Mervyn Adrian Ridley - Settler, Makuyu, Chania Bridge
KAD 1922 - Chairman, Makuyu Hunt Club
Gazette 6 Dec 1938 Uasin Gishu Voters Roll
Gazette 4 Oct 1966 wife's probate

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