1805 info 3h for John Crompton
Harry Crompton - third child of Thomas and Mary ellen Crompton

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Harry - Thomas and Mary Ellen's third child

Thomas' eldest surviving son, Harry, was born 1896. 'Father farmed Little Houndales and put Harry on to his newly bought Bempton Farm - times came very hard and eventually Harry had to leave and went to Kenya' in June 1927. 'He emigrated to Kita (sic) in Kenya and, in 1944, had one daughter Sheila'.

Kita is either Kitale, a town in Kenya's Rift Valley Province or Kitani, the first farm he managed.

Right: Harry Crompton, date unknown
Harry Crompton date unknown - 27kB jpg
Harry Crompton Royal Artillary 1914 - 10kB jpg Information regarding Harry's war service is pending.

Mentioned in Dispatches?
London Gazette: Crompton H Lt. MID, 23 December 1918, page 15031

Left: Harry Crompton in the uniform of a second lieutenant of the Royal Artillery taken after 10 March 1915
H Crompton gazetted temp, Capt. 28aug1918 - 29kB gif
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Life at Bempton Cliff Farm

Harry's daughter Sheila writes:

'Dad farmed the Bempton Cliff Farm, now the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) Puffin Sanctuary from 1919 to 1926, when he had a fire in the stables and lost a number of horses.'

Right: Harry Crompton at Bempton in 1926 - a leaving photograph?

Below: 1912 1:10560 Map locating Bempton Cliff, the present day location of the RSPB Sanctuary. The site of the farm is thought to be at the end of the straight road.
Harry Crompton at Bempton 1926 - 16kB jpg
1912 1:10560 Map locating Bempton Cliff - 98kB gif
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Emigration to Kenya

'It was also the year of the slump and so Dad joined the Soldiers Settlement Scheme and went to Kenya as a farm manager.'

An abstract from the passenger list of the Mantola - 57kB jpg
Above: An abstract from the Mantola's passenger list showing passenger Harry Crompton, a farmer of 91 Cardigan Road, Bridlington embarked at London on 09 June 1927 bound for Mombasa. Harry was the only farmer on this page. Also listed was his friend Ralf Bancroft, who was to become godfather to his daughter Sheila.
Source: The National Archives (TNA) BT 27/1167/16/1
The British India Steam Navigation Company Limited (BISNCo) built the Mantola in 1921 in the Glasgow yard of Barclay, Curle Co. Ltd. Despite the company name their ships sailed on the East Africa route to Beira in Mozambique.

At 5496 tons she carried 96 passengers in 1927. On Harry's voyage DF James was Master.

The Mantola was scrapped in 1953.

Right: B.I.S.N.Co Mantola
B.I.S.N.Co Mantola - 28kB jpg

Soldier Settlement Scheme

Apart from CJ Duder's PhD thesis (1973 Aberdeen University) little appears to be written about the UK's Soldier Settlement Scheme to Kenya.

The Soldier Settlement Scheme of 1919 saw the allocation of land in the colony (then known as British East Africa) in an official attempt to increase the white population. This is put down to an attempt to bring economic development to the area whilst also seeking to address African unrest during World War 1.
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The Scheme applied to a small cross-section of the population who had to be of ‘pure European origin’ and have served in an officially recognised Imperial service unit in World War I. The requirement to have significant financial reserves thinned out the majority of applicants and insured that this remained very much a ‘public schoolboy colony par excellence’. The result was that the vast majority of participants were officers, with those of the rank of major and above disproportionate to their numbers in the army as a whole.
The article goes on to break down by unit affiliations and also identifies aristocratic members as well as the predominance of those from a variety of British Public Schools (31 settlers came from Eton). In seeking to determine why the settlement occurred, the author concludes that World War I was pivotal in weakening the position of the middle class, with inflation and the decline of a servant population eroding their privileged position.
But it also goes on to analyse the rise of the ‘unemployed ex-officer’. The enormous expansion in the number of officers in World War I brought with it problems after the war when 173,955 of them had to be demobilised. As their commission automatically now made them a ‘gentleman’ in British society, this presented something of a challenge.
The flood of ex-officers back into civilian life proved problematic and by April 1919, the appointments branch had found work for only 4,415 out of 88,687 demobilised officers. Similarly by June 1920, 17,000 ex-officers were on the unemployment rolls. For those lucky enough to have financial security, agriculture in the Empire was a way out, with professional officers seeing an end to rapid promotion and also those disabled by the conflict. The description in a public school year-book of “Farmer in British East Africa” pressed all the right buttons in a class-conscious society.
1914-18 had also the careers of a whole generation, with many soldier settlers going straight from school or university into the Forces and then finding themselves at something of a loss afterwards. And for those used to military adventure, settlement in Africa helped reduce the adjustment to peace-time again and a return to every-day lives.
It concludes by highlighting that the number one attraction to the settlers was a chance to retain an officer status that they had become used to. The life of an ex-officer in Kenya was a comfortable one, with status protected by the fact that it’s main pre-requisite: white skin, was still something of a rarity.
For most of the ex-officers, ‘migration to Kenya was but a change of location for the exercise of elite status……’

Source: Adapted from a review of Duder‘, C.J., 'Men of the 'Officer Class’: The participation in the 1919 Soldier Settlement Scheme in Kenya', African Affairs (1993) quoted in Great War Forum

The Scheme gained notoriety in the White Highlands and through the film 'White Mischief', but these settlers were a small minority who gave the remaining and majority of ex-soldiers a bad name. Harry qualified for the scheme by being an ex-officer, educated at Pocklington School. However, rather than being landed gentry, Harry's background was in 'hands-on' farming, which must have helped gain him the position as a farm manager. Later, when he took on his own farm, Cottam was carved out of virgin bush, as were the majority of farms in Trans Nzoia District. Far from the image portrayed by the White Highland, Harry would be described as a benevolent settler and the Trans Nzoia atypical of Duber's research.

Farming in Kenya

Harry's daughter Sheila writes:

'Dad worked on a ?emale farm for three years during which time he met Frank Le Bretan who owned Kitani Farm in the Trans Nzoia District and who needed a manager.'

Right: Harry's first house in Kenya 1927-1930
Harry's first home - 26kB jpg
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Map locating Kitale, Kenya - 69kB gif
Above: A map locating Kitale and Saboti in Kenya's Trans Nzoia District, which was near Mount Elgon and very close to the Uganda border. One of Harry's post war farms was at Saboti. Cottam was five miles from Saboti towards Mount Elgon; perhaps on the edge of the National Park.
Click on the map to open a map showing Kitale in its wider context.

Trans-Nzoia District is an administrative district of Rift Valley Province. It is located between the Nzoia River and Mount Elgon and its centre is the town of Kitale. Historically the area has been inhabited by the Kalenjin people.

The British East Africa colony, founded in 1905, encouraged British immigration to Kenya. Kitale was founded in 1908 by white settlers in what to be known as the White Highlands. This term described an area in the central uplands of Kenya, so-called because, during the period of British Colonialism, white immigrants settled there in considerable numbers. By the time the Kenya Colony came into being in 1920, about 10,000 British had settled in the area. Settlers got 999 year leases over about 25% of the good land in Kenya. A branch line of the Uganda Railway from Eldoret reached Kitale in 1926 which promoted growth of the town. The main motivation was to take advantage of the good soils and growing conditions, as well as the cool climate, despite being some 60 miles (100km) north of the equator.

After independence many of the farms vacated by white settlers were bought by individuals from other ethnic groups in Kenya. Today Trans Nzoia District is part of Kenya's 'Grain Basket' and the 'Big-7' grain producing districts. It produced three times the Kenya national yield for corn as an exportable cash crop. In 2010 farmers of small holding were diversifying because of the steady rise of input costs and the change of weather patterns.

Source: Rift Valley Cereals - 24 June 2010 and USDA - 2008

Frances eileen Richardson (Jill) joins Harry

'During this time he had been corresponding with my mother, Frances eileen Richardson, who was Kitty Crompton's [Harry's younger sister Catherine] best friend from school. She agreed to marry him and to come you to Kenya by boat. [Frances had looked after and push her wheel chair bound mother between 1914 to 1928 and had asked her sister to take her turn.]

Frances elieen was always known as Jill. To Harry 'Frances was a man's name and Eileen was difficult to say', so throughout Kenya it was Frances eileen was know as Jill Crompton.

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An abstract from the passenger list of the Modasa's - 39kB jpg
Above: An abstract from the Modasa's passenger list showing passenger Miss Frances Richardson of White Cottage, Chelston, Torquay embarked at London on 20 December 1929 bound for Mombasa.
Source: TNA BT 27/1248
The BISNCo built the Modasa in 1921 in the Newcastle yard of Swan Hunter and Wigham Richardson for the East African route to Beira in Mozambique.

At 5636 tons she carried 350 passengers in 1929. On Frances's voyage JW Gilbert was Master.

The Modasa was scrapped in 1954.

Right: BISNCo Modasa
B.I.S.N.Co Modasa - 22kB jpg
[Frances landed in Mombasa and] they were married on 17 January 1930 in Mombasa Cathedral. [Two of the boat passengers were witnesses.] Harry Crompton's wedding 17 January 1930 - 26kB jpg
Mombasa Catherdral - 18kB jpg
Above: Mombasa Cathedral ~2009 Above: Harry Crompton and Frances Richardson's (centre) wedding on 17 January 1930 at Mombasa Cathedral
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Kitani Farm 1930 - 18kB jpg Left: Kitani Farm 1930

They lived at Kitani Farm for about twelve years during which time Dad met Rodney Meylen ...
... who offered him a half share in a virgin farm on the edge of Mount Elgon if Dad would run the farm when he (Rodney) was away in Burma in the army. So when I was four we moved to what was now called Cottam Farm. During the War Dad ran a number of farms for the soldiers who were away. In 1948 he bought Meylen out and also purchased a farm of his own, called Saboti, five miles away.

Right: The front view Cottam Farm just after it was built in 1942
Front view Cottam Farm 1942 - kB jpg
On these two farms Dad was growing maize, flax, sisal, latex, coffee and tea. he also had cattle for beef; native cattle which he crossed with Red Poll cattle imported from England. [The red, preferably deep red, and naturally hornless Red Polls is a dual purpose breed of cattle developed in England in the latter half of the 19th century. Red Poll cattle are mainly used a beef suckler cows known for easy calving and successfully rearing a high proportion of their calves. They do well on poor soils.]
The early 1950's were prosperous times for Kenyan farmers, but then the Mau Mau made life very dangerous, although it was not so bad in Trans Nzoia District. We had very few Kikuyu there. However, Dad sat with a gun on a chair behind him at dinner. [The Mau Mau Uprising was a military conflict that took place in Kenya (then called British East Africa), from 1952 to 1960, between a Kikuyu-dominated anti-colonial-group called Mau Mau and the British settlers protected by the Army. The conflict set the stage for Kenyan independence.]
The Independence came and Dad decided that as he was approaching 70 it was time to sell and return to England. It took him four years to sell, and eventually in 1966 he sold the 900 acre farm to a syndicate of 50 Africa farmers for £15000; a pittance of what it was actually worth. He came back to live with us in East Haisley and died of lung cancer in 1973.
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Dad and Mum did a huge amount for the African. Dad built them proper houses - rondabels. My Mother started a Woman's Club where she taught the women how to sew, knit and cook more nutritious food. Dad was a member of the local African Chiefs' Council. Kenya was poorer for their departure.

Right: Harry Crompton, third from left, with the Chiefs' Council
Harry Crompton with Chiefs' Council - 34kB jpg

Harry and Frances returned from Kenya in 1966 to live with their daughter Sheila, whose house was named Cottam after the the farms in East Yorkshire and Kitale. Both Harry and Frances died there: Harry on 27 March 1973 (GRO ref: Surrey South-Western 5g 1484) and Frances eileen on 01 January 1996 (GRO ref: Surrey South-Western A5A 7612A 212). They are both buried in Oakham churchyard.

Kitale today

The present day Kitale is a market town for the local agricultural area in western Kenya situated between Mount Elgon and the Cherengani Hills at an elevation of around 7000 feet (2134m). Its urban population is estimated at 220,000 in 2007 It is the administrative centre of the of Rift Valley Province and the the agricultural hub of Kenya. The main cash crops grown in the area are tea, Pyrethrum, seed and seed. Kitale is among the most diverse towns in the country.

Right: Modern farming in Kitale, perhaps lands that Harry saw. Kitale farmland - -55kB jpg
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Kitale farmland - -35kB jpg 'Kitale...is a place where the modern world sits side by side with the ancient world. Kitale is a busy little "town"... but, the "suburbs" ... spread out and encompass many densely populated slum areas ... .

Suffice it to say that Kitale is a bustling little town. During the day and into the evening hours; the streets are full of people selling vegetables piled on a piece of fabric by the roadside, walking to the shops, stopping to greet a friend every few feet, hailing a boda-boda (bicycle "taxi") or, in the case of the street kids, begging each passer-by for a few shillings or some "bread and milk" '.

Left: Looking toward Mount Elgon, where Cottam Farm was located.
Kitale shopping area - 28kB jpg   Former colonial property Kitale - 19kB jpg
Above: Shopping in Kitale   Above: A old Colonial bungalow?

'Businessmen in suits and ties and smartly dressed women walk side-by-side with people in more traditional clothing. The barefoot, raggedly dressed street kids mingle with them all. But, the modern world has crept in too. "Supermarkets" like Transmattress, Blue House and the Gigamart are the Kenyan equivalents to Walmart...selling food, clothing, electronics (including flat screen televisions!) furniture, bicycles and hardware.' Source: An oasis of hope in Kitale, Kenya

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Sheila margaret Crompton - Harry's and Frances' eldest child

Sheila married Nicholas j Mellstrom in the third quarter of 1959; (GRO ref: Surrey Northern 5g 907), who was born in the second quarter of 1935 (GRO ref: Surrey NE 2a 73 - mother's maiden name was Garnham).

Sheila Mellstom's family circa 2010 - 130kB jpg
Above: Sheila Mellstom's family circa 2010
Standing from left to right: Peter Bradshaw, Harry Bradshaw, Jacqueline Fish, Michael Mellstrom, Sheila Mellstrom, Nicholas Mellstrom, Jo Mellstrom, Karen Bradshaw, Andrew Fish
Seated left to right: George Fish, Tom Mellstrom, Dan Bradshaw, Sam Mellstrom, Lily Bradshaw, Jack Mellstrom, Arthur Fish

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Heather Crompton - Harry and Frances' adopted daughter

Heather was born in Mombasa, Kenya on 27th November 1942 to a Greek mother and a British father who was in the Royal Air Force, who must have been in Kenya for more than nine months, although it is believed that Heather was premature. Heather was given up for adoption and must have been taken to a Nairobi orphanage. Harry and Frances went to Nairobi when Heather was about three months old and chose her from between six and seven babies. She was named Heather Crompton. Her second name, Caton, was added when she was christened at the age of 11 years.

Heather was due to go to live at Cottam in January 1943 but Frances was unwell and so this date had to be postponed. Meanwhile the Yugoslavian Royal Family, who had escaped from the Gestapo to East Africa and who were seeking asylum in South America, were resident in Nairobi. Prince Paul and his wife Queen Olga (the former Princess Olga of Greece and Denmark) had been placed under house arrest by the British leaving Princess Elizabeth (born 7 April 1936) with an English nanny, called Miss Ede. Miss Ede decided the Princess needed someone to share her attention, so she went to the orphanage and asked if she could look after a baby for a few months until it went to its new family. Heather was the baby selected and so she lived with Miss Ede and the Princess. In April 1943 Miss Ede and Princess Elizabeth brought Heather up to Kitale, on the train, to live with Harry, Frances and Sheila. The Princess and Miss Ede stayed for about a week.

Heather would like to trace her mother and airman father, who was killed later in the war. Unfortunately there are no known names.

Heather Crompton is trying to trace her birth family. Email Heather via E-MAIL

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This page was created by Richard Crompton
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Version A.5
Updated 18 May 2015