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Name: WILSON, Frank O'Brien KB, CMG, DSO, MC, Sir

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Nee: related to Baron Inchiquin, 4th son of John Gerald Wilson CB of Cliffe Hall, York

Birth Date: 30 Apr 1883 Biarritz

Death Date: 7 Apr 1962 Kilima Kiu, Ulu

First Date: 1910

Profession: Pioneer dairy farmer in semi arid area of Kilima Kiu, Ulu. Developed his land to a carrying capacity of about 1200 dairy cows plus sheep and a ranching herd of 600 steers. Achieved by careful rotation of paddocks, farming of fodder crops, boring

Area: Kilima Kiu, Ulu

Married: In Richmond, Yorkshire 25 Nov 1919 Elizabeth Frances Pease b. 2 Aug 1894 Darlington, d. 2 Sep 1974 Nairobi (dau. of Sir Arthur Francis Pease Bt.)

Children: Richard O'Brien (28 Apr 1922-2011); Denis Arthur (1 Sep 1924-1990); Elizabeth Theresa (Churcher) (1920); Dorothy Vivien (1928)

Book Reference: Gillett, HBEA, Last Chance, Random, Nellie, Midday Sun, KFA, Permanent Way, Who's Who, Joelson, Cranworth, Debrett, KAD, Red 25, Red 31, Hut, EAMR, Pembroke, Red 22, Land, Gazette, DSO, Burke, Mills, Barnes, Childhood, Red Book 1912, Milbank

War Service: Joined RN 1897, China Boxer Rebellion 1900, Somaliland 1904, with EAMR in WW1 - Scouts 1/11/14, from Magadi Defence Force

School: On H.M.S. Britannia, Royal Naval College, Dartmouth

General Information:

Boring for water and building dams etc. Member of Kenya Land Commission from 1932-33.
Last Chance - Frank Joyce, who had been for 3 years an officer in the regular British Army, came out to Kenya in 1912 and started ostrich farming on this same land he has now with a British regular Navy Captain, F.O.B. Wilson. Wilson had previously obtained a Government grant of 5000 acres. They took in another partner, a man named Lambert, who had been Captain of Cricket at Eton, who had secured another 5000 acre grant. Lambert died of enteric.
WW1 came along and both Joyce and Wilson went off, serving the whole of it - both with distinction; Wilson sensationally so, though on land, in the EA fighting. Joyce saw 4 years of France and was badly wounded. When Major Joyce, MC, came back, he got a soldier's settlement of 3600 acres. Ostrich feathers had gone out, Joyce and Wilson switched to cattle. They made their own roads, built their own house (the one that Joyce lives in now) and Joyce, who was paying so much a month into the partnership to become a half-owner, including half of the dead Lambert's share, even ran a sisal farm for a time, the manager of which was dying of the D.T.s. (They bought more land, and when this splendidly successful partnership broke up only a few years ago - for they had raised dairy farming to its highest perfection in EA - they each owned 20000 acres, where they now live side by side. (much more)    
Midday Sun - Frank Joyce and F.O'B. Wilson ran Kilima Kiu together for some years and then they quarrelled. I was never clear as to just what the quarrel was about, but it was generally believed to have concerned butterfat. One of the partners was said to have accused the other of cheating. The quarrel grew almost to the proportions of pistols for two and coffee for one in the Machakos hills; the two men cut each other in public and so did their families. In 1934 the ranch and herds were divided in two. What was so absurd about the quarrel was that both protagonists were models of rectitude; it was impossible to imagine either of them cheating or doing anything remotely dishonourable. Frank had a quick temper, which might have had something to do with it. Both men were to undertake much voluntary public work and were widely, and deservedly, respected. F.O'B was eventually knighted [1949]. At the time of their quarrel, their friends had to split into two camps. Jos and Nellie were in the Joyce's camp and so we never stayed with the Wilsons, or they with us. The feud gradually subsided, and their children finally buried the hatchet.
KFA - 'When the partners F. O'B Wilson, F de V. Joyce and Archie Lambert took up land in the Machakos district they started ostrich farming, too. Before long a lion broke into the boma and ate up every one of their 50 birds, representing almost their only capital.'
Permanent Way - Member of the Kenya Land Commission in 1932
Who's Who - Chairman Board of Agriculture 1948-53, Mem. Kenya Land Commission 1932-33
Cranworth - Frank Wilson, better known for 30 years as F.O.B. has rendered the Colony countless services. He has served on innumerable committees, on the Legislative Council as deputy for Lord Francis Scott, and finally gave up time which he could ill afford for more than a year on the Land Commission ..... In the War ..... he rendered invaluable help with a troop of scouts whom he trained and led. After the War, when a change of fashion among the fair sex caused the extinction of ostrich farming, he went in for dairying, of which he has made a great success, and is today, I believe, the biggest producer of milk in the Colony.
Debrett - formerly in RN; is Chm. Board of Agriculture, Kenya; was a Member of Kenya Land Commission 1933; E. Africa 1914-16 as Capt. EA Mounted Rifles (despatches, DSO)
KAD 1922 - Committee Member, REAAA (and Red 25).
KAD 1922 - Chairman, Ulu Settlers' Association
Pembroke - Judge at Pembroke House Sports 1932
Red 22 - Executive, Convention of Associations
Red 22 - Chairman, Ulu Farmers' Association, Machakos
Land - 1911 - W.A.F. Lambert and F.O.B. Wilson - Agriculture and grazing, 1000.77 acres - Ulu District - 27/2/11 - Leasehold under Occupation Licence for 2 to 99 years from 1/4/11 - Registered 29/6/11
Gazette - 23/9/1914 - Appt. - To be Lieutenant, Magadi Railway Volunteers - F.O.B. Wilson
Gazette - 4/11/1914 - Appt. - Lieutenant F. O'B Wilson, Magadi Defence Force is transferred to the EAMR
Gazette - 11/8/1915 - Appt. - EAMR - To be Captain - Lieut. Frank O'Brian Wilson
Mills - Vivien Wilson - Frank O'Brien Wilson of 'FOB' as he was best known for most of his life, was the youngest son of a Yorkshire family of 8 children. Born in 1883, he went through the education system at the Royal Naval College Dartmouth. His service in the Royal Navy included the Boxer Rebellion in China when he was wounded, and capturing a ship carrying African slaves to Arabia in the Indian Ocean. He also played Rugby and Cricket for the Navy. After leaving the navy in 1910, FOB came to Kenya and formed a partnership with Archie Lambert. They bought land at Ulu, 300 miles from Mombasa and 50 miles from Nairobi, almost on the equator at an altitude of 5,500 feet. At the time ostriches' [sic] feathers were the height of fashion in Europe and soon became their main source of income. A quick profit would enable them to retire to a leisurely life in UK.
Frank Joyce, a recent arrival in the Protectorate, joined the partnership in 1912. In 1914, at the start of the Great War, Archie Lambert died of enteric fever and Frank Joyce took over his share of the partnership. FOB immediately enlisted and led intelligence gathering in East Africa forming a local militia called 'Wilson's Scouts'. FOB's services were recognised with him being awarded the DSO in 1916. In the same year FOB fell heavily from his horse, breaking the top of one of his femurs. Without access to an x-ray machine in those days, the breakage was only discovered 26 years later. In 1942 an Army doctor would diagnose the reason for the ever increasing pain and would add three quarters of an inch to the sole of FOB's shoe to even up the length of his legs, thus alleviating his long term suffering. ……………
In 1919 FOB married Elizabeth Frances Pease, who hailed from another Yorkshire family, converted to a dairy farm and began selling pasteurized milk. Their daughter Elizabeth Theresa, was born in Nairobi and returned to Ulu in an ox-drawn cart. Richard O'Brien threatened to be twins, so FOB galloped 20 miles to Machakos for a doctor since there was no car or telephone only to find that Richard was safely delivered by the time FOB returned. …………… [more]
In 1934 FOB and Frank Joyce dissolved their partnership. In 1936, FOB was honoured for his work on the Government Land Commission, set up in 1933, to resolve land problems. Its evidence and report ran to several volumes. ……………. [WW2] - FOB's son Richard was at Dartmouth and, like his father before him, saw active service for the duration of the war. Denis, his younger brother, followed suit as soon as age permitted whilst Theresa pursued her nursing career at Edinburgh & Glasgow Infirmaries. …………..
In 1952, FOB was knighted in recognition of his services to Kenyan agriculture. Throughout his life Muthaiga Country Club was an invaluable base for him whilst he was involved in public work and he served on the Club Committee for many years. Sir Frank O'Brien Wilson ……. Passed away in 1962 and Lady Elizabeth Wilson died in 1974.
Barnes - All Souls Cathedral, Machakos - Frank O'Brien Wilson KB CMG DSO, 30 April 1883 - 7 April 1962
Barnes Langata Cemetery, Nairobi Elizabeth Frances / Wilson / 2.8.94 - 2.9.74 / wife of F O'B Wilson / of Kilima Kiu - Ulu
Childhood - Michael Hopkins - "Captain F.O.B. Wilson, later Sir Frank, was an ex-Naval man who had taken a leading part in the local bush war with the German Forces in 1914 onwards. Besides the farm he owned a coast property at Likoni, which was a popular place for settlers to hire for their holidays. They had 4 children; the youngest, Vivi, was about my age, but Richard, Dennis and Theresa were much older.
Red Book 1912 - F.O. Wilson - Naivasha and Machakos
Gazette - 29/10/1919 - Register of Voters - Ukamba Area - Frank O'Brien Wilson - Farmer, Kilima Kiu, Ulu
Milbank - …. My great uncle had a small beach cottage. Here he greeted us - the legendary F O'B Wilson. He was a large avuncular man with a heavy chin and a pronounced limp from an old war wound. He appeared to be relaxed and jovial, and indeed was most of the time, but he was famous for a ferocious temper and his native name was 'Kitila', which means 'The One Who Beats' - a reference to his methods of correcting the wrongs perpetrated by his native workers. Great Uncle Frank had come to Kenya in 1910 when it really was virgin Africa. He had fought in the First World War, returned to Kenya and then gone to England in search of a wife. He looked no further than his native North Yorkshire. Indeed not beyond a few of the better-known families there, of whom it was said: 'Vauxs give you a holler, Peases give you a nod, Wilsons speak to Milbanks, Milbanks speak to God!' Betty was a Pease. She was also tough and had been a great help to Frank in getting the farm 'Kilima Kiu', into the shape it now was in in 1948. She had also had 4 children, started an Arab horse stud and shot a lion from her verandah - amongst other things.
Milbank - F O'B Wilson - one of the very first settlers in the Machakos area. He had originally been in partnership with one Frank Joyce, and they had pegged out some 40,000 acres of bush and started developing it together. The first thing they tried was catching the wild ostriches, removing their feathers, and selling them to society ladies in England. The fashion changed and the First World War came along, so the venture was not a great moneyspinner. Instead they went in for milk, a rare commodity in Kenya in those days. However, a row developed over water found in some milk that was being sold, with each accusing the other of committing this heinous crime; also the question of their respective offspring's education became an issue as Uncle Frank had 4 children and Frank Joyce only 1. The row was never resolved and the 40,000 acres split roughly in two, with a huge cleared swathe down the main hill ('Kilima', meaning hill) visible from the main road, denoting the divide. The 2 Franks never spoke to each other again and neither ever stepped on to the other's portion of their once jointly-owned farm.
Gazette 29 May 1962 probate
Gazette 13 June 1975 wife's probate

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