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Name: ROOKEN-SMITH, William Alexander

Birth Date: 8 Nov 1854 Kintore, Scotland

Death Date: 18 Oct 1948 East London, South Africa

First Date: 1904

Profession: Farmed. Obtained about 30,000 acres on the southern Guaso Nyiro river as a family settlement in the names of his wife and children.

Area: Turbo valley, Masai Reserve, Nanyuki and Laikipia. SE - Nakuru - Jan 1908, 1930 Glenroi, Rumuruti

Married: 1. Emma Jane Aggett b. 20 Nov 1860 Torquay, d. 31 Oct 1897 Cathcart, S. Africa; 2. Janet Peebles b. 9 Jan 1881, d. 20 Oct 1918; 3. Caroline Hedwig Augusta Spangenburg

Children: 17 children. 1. Marjorie Ann (Ulyate), Joseph Francis (d.1948), Gertrude Grace (Rand Overy), William Aggett (1886-1914), Lennox Gordon (d.1947), Beatrice, Donald Aggett, Emma Jane (Nel) 2. Dorothy Ethelwyn (Abbott) (1901-1944), George, James Alexander, Mary Violet (Case), William Harold 3. Janet, Gordon Cameron, Ronald, Ian (5 June 1930)

Book Reference: Sorrenson, Land, North, KAD, Red 25, Hut, Red 22, Gazette, Gillett, SE, HBEA, Over my Shoulder, Red 31, RS, Hut, Advertiser, Old Africa 23

General Information:

Land - W.A., W.R. and J.F. Smith leased 30955 acres at Eburru, passed to Lord Delamere and A.L. Block and C.N.M. Harrison
North - chartered SS Adorf Woermann to take his own and other families and their farm machinery from SA to EA 1907
Red 22 - W.A. Smith, Soy
Gazette - 3/2/15 - Partnership of R.J.E. Smith, W.A. Smith, N.D. Smith and Sydney Horne as Smith Bros. & Horneat Soy, dissolved 23/1/15
KAD 1922 - Hon. Sec. & Treasurer, Nandi Border Tennis Club
Initially went to EA with A.C. Hoey on a shooting trip, but was then asked by Govt. to bring settlers from SA. In 1909 he chartered the Adolf Woermann and brought his whole family and several other families.
Brought Webbs, Currys and Brown families from SA. Several of his children returned to SA - of those that remained - Frank, William, Donald, Harold, Ian, Madge, Gertrude, Violet May, Story is told that at a late age in his life he met one of his many daughters at the Royal Show - 'Hello Dad' she said. Being rather deaf he replied 'I know your face but cannot remember your name'.
HBEA 1912 shows R.W. Smith at Molo?
RS - William Alexander (Uncle Will) was a farmer in the Cathcart district of the Cape, owning a farm Bloomfield where his first wife Emma died and where William Harold was born, and another farm, Rooken - the latter is still so called and was bought by Calvin Evans whose family still owns it. Uncle Will first went to Kenya on a hunting trip in the early 1900's (1904?), at the age of 50, taking with him his farm pupil, one A.C. Hoey who elected to remain in Kenya. He later returned to Kenya with a boatload of new settlers (I believe the menfolk only), and the families, amongst them Marjorie Weir Aggett (neé Smith) wife of Thomas Aggett and William Alexander's sister, followed later. They first took up land in the southern Guaso Nyiro and later when the Government decided to move the Masai out of Laikipia, these settlers were granted land elsewhere - the Aggetts moving to Naivasha and the Smiths to Elmenteita and then Laikipia.
About 1917/18 William Alexander (Rooken) Smith returned to South Africa with his second wife Janet (neé Peebles) and farmed at Queenstown and Untata in the Transkei. In 1929/30 he again returned to Kenya with his two sons James Alexander and William Harold, and his third wife Caroline and their sons Gordon and Ronald, and farmed on the farm Uruku in Laikipia. Due to ill-health he returned to S. Africa in about 1932 with Caroline and their three sons, Ian having been born on Uruku. He bought a farm, Ocean View in the Komgha area, not far from East London. Again due to failing health he sold Ocean View and bought Gonubie Manor on the Gonubie river at the coast, near East London. When this proved too much for him, and with Ronald and Ian away at school and college, he sold Gonubie Manor and bought a house in Vincent, a suburb of E. London. A few years after his death Caroline (better known as Mater), sold the house and bought a flat in East London.
Advertiser - 9/4/1909 - Sale - Newland & Tarlton for W. Rooken Smith who is leaving the country …..
Advertiser - 5/11/1909 - No Shooting on farms in Southern Guaso Nyiro - W. Rooken-Smith, Will Peeblet, Capt. Tom Aggett, W.B. Aggett, F. Smith, J.S. Smith, T.E. Aggett, C. Pritzkow, W.A. Smith, G. Bennett, E.H. Currie, Jack Webb, G.D. Webb, N.E. Webb
Old Africa 23/22 - " …. My grandfather William Alexander Rooken-Smith had 17 children and was married 3 times. The first 9 children all went under the name of Smith. He added the name 'Rooken' to the second and third 'litters', as the family jokingly refer to them! His first and last sons were born 50 years apart. One of his sons Will was killed at Longido in November 1917, before a lot of his later children were born! There is also an amusing story about the 'old man'. At some large family gathering an adult daughter greeted him. His retort was "I recall your face my dear, but I can not remember your name!"
Don Rooken- Smith in Lake Naivasha Community News Sept 1914 : WAS/Hoey set up a long safari by rail and porter via Sotik Post, guided by the Kipsigis/Lumbwa chief Kiplangat. They ended up at the Masendera Valley, paralleling the Southern Uaso Nyiro/Ewaso Njiro River. This area was later to become part of the Maasai Mara. WAS stood and looked over that marvelous country, seemingly empty of human habitation, on August 14th 1906, and proclaimed that he had found the land of 'milk/honey'. Kiplangat assured him it was a ' No- man's-land' since the Maasai/Kipsigis had been at war. On his return to Nairobi WAS applied for land in the Masendera, along the southern Uaso Nyiro and guaranteed to bring back sufficient settlers to occupy some ten farms. Hoey subsequently developed and opened up Western Kenya, hence Hoey's Bridge, near Kitale, which he had picked out as a suitable township. WAS’s efforts to find settlers and settle his affairs in South Africa, are too involved to go into here, but his large family + two Webbs eventually sailed for East Africa; included in that voyage were all sorts of agricultural tools/equipment, wagons, horses and sheep. Others of the group sailed separately and at differing times. Unfortunately, they landed at the old Mombasa harbor, where the livestock had to be thrown overboard, and made to swim for shore. They had a great time collecting livestock all over Mombasa town, and WAS was known to have remarked next day, that his pedigree sheep looked quite unlike sheep, after swimming through the surf!. Their large Cape wagons had to be partially dismantled in order to make passage through those narrow Mombasa streets to the railway station, and on the way a lot of the trek chains, yokes, skeis etc; were stolen. Once assembled at Lanet/Nakuru, where WAS said ‘must have held the most Zebra of anywhere in Africa’, and consequently lion also, they set about acquiring and training work oxen. It was here that WAS met Winston Churchill, who was pig sticking on those plains, and who apparently 'spoke up for the settlers' at a Nakuru meeting with the Commissioner of Lands. Eventually they were able to leave by ox wagon over the Mau to the Mara; .90 miles in 90 days they said, arriving to take up land in the Mara in April 1908. They chose this very much more difficult route, because of abundant water. WAS writes in his notes that “our group now consisted of six wagons and a scotch cart with six spans of oxen (probably 100 head ). There were horses, cattle and sheep, of which 50 were purebred Merino. Our manpower was myself/wife, four sons, two grown daughters and bro-in-law Bill Peebles + three Browns, four Ulyates, two Webbs and two little girls. Our African staff consisted of twelve men, two of whom were Cape Colored wagon drivers from the SA farm. The Aggetts, Harts and Bowkers also took up land there”. The time these settlers spent in the Mara was a matter of survival, and very little development. Frank Smith was very badly mauled by a lioness, which affected him thereafter. Donald Smith was wounded by a self inflicted gunshot, and ironically he was to tragically die of his own gun 40+ yrs: later, during the Emergency. Tom Aggett returning on foot from digging a furrow one day, was affected by having to watch a lion devour his favorite mare, which had his rifle attached to her saddle, and only with great difficulty was he able to catch his second horse and return to camp. He decided at his age, he wanted nearer civilization, so moved to Naivasha. Willie Smith, Norman Webb and Robert Ulyate were probably the first ones to have opened the track from Narok through the Kedong to Kijabe, in search of supplies for the Masendera settlers. This involved about 40 waterless miles, which they traversed by 3 Personal Profile travelling a solid 24 hrs, without a long outspan. In 1911, the British Government decided to move the Maasai from Laikipia to the Loita, and the settlers out. This was a huge upheaval for both the Maasai and the settlers. The Smiths mainly then settled on the Pesi river/Laikipia, the Aggetts around Naivasha/Nanyuki, the Charts/Jenkins around Gilgil and others settled all around Kenya. Boyce Aggett for years traded goods by wagon into Maasailand, lived and died at Kijabe. George Aggett learnt Maa fluently, whilst assisting at these trading posts, some of his grandchildren still ranch at "Kifuku" in Laikipia. WAS and his sister were born at Kintore, in the Highlands of Scotland, and as very young children accompanied their parents, when they immigrated to the Cape/SA in 1859. WAS spent most of his life in the Eastern Cape, and died in East London/SA in August 1948 aged 94. His sister Marjorie, known as Gran Aggett, died at Naivasha in 1922. The Aggett farm 'Karati" was the central point for both families. My own Mother spent her early childhood there, was christened and married at Naivasha church, and I think the Ethel Aggett/ Segar Bastard marriage was the first at that church. WAS and Tom Aggett came from the same area of the Cape, and married one another’s sisters. From these two unions came that large Kenya family, who if not related by blood, were by marriage - alphabetically…..Aggett, Bastard (de Batard), Bedward-Williams, Case, Chart (Nye-Chart), Corfield, Griffin, Hurt, Rand Overy, Roberts, Rooken-Smith, Smith, and Ulyate + I have no doubt, many more! Dame Daphne Sheldrick was a Jenkins. On 3rd November 1914, WAS's son Willie was killed at the battle of Longido, and this together with the settlers' removal from his beloved Masendera, I think soured WAS on East Africa to a certain extent, as he never lived in Kenya for any real length of time. Coupled with that was the fact that he lost two wives who died in SA, and was married three times and had seventeen children, some of whom pulled him back towards South Africa. It was only about 60 years from WAS’s arrival, and the subsequent departure of most of his blood kin from Kenya, with Independence. July 2014 [Note from Bruce: WAS never changed his name to Rooken-Smith. The Rooken came about by usage – apparently there were a number of Smiths in the Eastern Cape’s Hog’s Back/Cathcart area, so each one was identified by the name of his farm; thus WAS was known as ‘Smith of Rooken’. Birth certificates of the first two litters indicated the surname Smith, though 2nd litter boys Alexander (Lex) Smith and our Dad Harold were registered at St. Andrews as Rooken-Smith; birth certs for the third litter - Ron & Ian - were issued in the name Rooken-Smith. Although all Harold & Marge’s children (Don, Bruce, Robert and Janet) were all born Rooken-Smith, Harold only changed his name from Smith to Rooken-Smith by deed poll on 14th May 1953, at Eldoret (Carruthers). ]

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