Skip to content ↓

View entry

Back to search results

Name: NIGHTINGALE, James Maxwell 'Jim'

Nee: son of William Maxwell Nightingale of Sasumua Farm

Birth Date: 6 Jan 1910 Rondebosch, Cape Province

Death Date: 26 Feb 1983 Nairobi

Profession: Farmer, v. successful with sheep

Area: S. Kinangop, 1968 Bees Sasamua Est. Njoro

Married: 1935 Barbara Evelyn 'Barbie' Polhill-Turner b. 1917 Ayrshire, d. 13.7.1992 Nairobi)

Children: Humphrey Marcus James; Geoffrey Maxwell (29.4.1929); Bruce Ivo; Wendy (1936, d. Newton Abbot); two others

Book Reference: EAWL, Midday Sun, Kenton, Hut, Stud, Old Africa, Red Book 1912

School: Kenton College - left 1928

General Information:

Gazette 29 Apr 1983 - probate
Gazette 6 Dec 1938 Rift Valley Voters List with Eleanor Mary
Source: Humphrey Nightingale.
Midday Sun - 'It was at Kenton College that Jim Nightingale started a lifetime's love affair with bees. He would go off honey hunting in the cliffs below the forest with other boys, to rob wild bees that bred in crevices among the rocks, taking the dark honey full of grubs. The boys wore no protective clothing and got badly stung, but it was a point of honour not to retreat. .........…
J.N. won a worldwide reputation among apiculturalists for his studies of wild bees, and for marrying traditional African practices to western skills. He imported modern hives, and taught African bee-keepers to separate grubs, comb, pollen etc. ......…
Jim in due course married Barbie Polhill, daughter of a fellow farmer on the Kinangop. ............ After she and young Jim Nightingale were married they established what must surely be a record, though it is not in any Guinness book. Since to buy a farm of their own was financially impossible, they moved in with Jim's parents, Max and Nell Nightingale. In 12 years Barbie bore 6 children and they all lived together amicably, so Barbie assured me, under one roof. The phrase 'under one roof' is perhaps not strictly accurate, since Kenya houses had a habit of expanding to meet new needs, a rondavel or two being run up now and then, but they did all feed at one table except for children under 7.
Jim worked his father's farm and learnt more and more about bees until, after 24 years of marriage and living with in-laws, he and Barbie could at last afford to build a house of their own. They called it Sasumua, after the yellow-flowered hypericum so much relished by bees. This was in 1959.
In their mountain fastness they had, like others, failed to read the writing on the wall. In 1962 the Kinangop area was bought up by the Government for division into African small-holdings, and the white farmers had to go. Jim and Barbie took their bees, their cattle, sheep and horses, their turkeys, rabbits and hens and all their possessions as far as Njoro, where a new Sasumua came to birth.'       
Kenton College records - Family address was Box 23, Njoro. Great grand daughter now at Kenton
EA Stud Book 1954 - Sheep - Hampshire Downs - J.M. Nightingale, Sasumua Estate, S. Kinangop
EA Stud Book 1954 - Sheep - Romney Marsh - J.M. Nightingale, Sasamua Estate, S. Kinangop
Old Africa 4 Tim Hutchinson writes - In 1924 Capt. Finlay Ross Cramb opened Kenton School with 12 pupils amongst whom were Ken Cunningham, Rex Kirk, Hugh Lloyd, Eddy Sladen, Jim Nightingale and Pat Lawford. The school moved to Nairobi in 1934.
Red Book 1912 - J.M. Nightingale - Naivasha
Gazette 25 Mar 1983 probate

Back to search results