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Name: DUFF, Martha Dunscombe, Mrs

Nee: mother of Kenneth Dunscome Johnston Duff

Birth Date: 1855 Ilkley, Yorkshire

Death Date: 18.7.1923 lunatic asylum, Nairobi

Last Date: 1923

Area: Nairobi

Married: In Hillside, Katikati 17 June 1884 Thomas Herbert Knowles Duff (28 May 1858 Dum Dum, Bengal-2 May 1900 Edinburgh)

Children: Kenneth Dunscombe Johnston (31 Mar 1885 France-1919 Kipini)

Book Reference: Barnes, Gazette

General Information:

Nairobi Forest Road cemetery - Mrs M. Duff, British, age 63, died 18/7/23
Gazette 1/9/1920 - Probate and Administration in respect of Mrs M.D. Duff - a Lunatic
Nicholls - K.D.J. Duff, a young district officer at Kipini, a remote fishing village on the coast north of Malindi, who committed suicide at Garsen shortly afterwards on 3 July 1919. He was suffering from syphilis, acquired either locally or during English escapades, as he detailed in other stanzas of his verse. Duff had been taking mercury and potassium iodide for the sores on his legs, which refused to heal and which the Tanaland medical officer thought were syphilitic when he explained to authorities in Nairobi why Duff had been absent from work for 3 weeks in February.
On receiving a very depressed letter from her son, Duff's mother had set out from England and made the difficult journey to Lamu by steamer and further south to Kipini by coastal dhow. She arrived at or just after his commital to the ground beside the official's bungalow and cursed the DC, Capain A.O. Luckman, whom she held responsible for the tragedy because he had sent Duff on foot safari when he was unwell (and then followed him up the Tana river in the government launch).
The strain was too much for Mrs Duff - she had a seizure and was transported to Lamu where she died. That is the story which has come down to us orally, but her grave is not listed among those of Europeans in Lamu, and it is possible that she returned to Britain or went to Nairobi. She died of 'insanity and heart failure' in Nairobi Lunatic Asylum on 17 July 1923. That she visited her son's grave in Kipini is certain, because a local elder remembered her there.

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