Stuart Watt, Eccentric Missionary at Machakos

Stuart Watt, Eccentric Missionary at Machakos

Interestingly, I had an email about the subject of last month’s blog, about Captain Dugmore, which reads: ‘I have Captain Dugmore’s home service helmet to the 64th Foot, which can be dated to 1878-1881. It has his name and regiment written in the interior and came with a named carrying tin.’ This month we turn from an eccentric administrator to a strange missionary. What Happened to the Family of Stuart Watt, Eccentric Missionary at Machakos In 1893 a strange procession arrived at Fort Smith, the Imperial British East Africa Company’s outpost eight miles from present-day Nairobi. Accompanied by African porters, there appeared a white man, his wife, and four children ranging from six months to six years in age. They had marched from Mombasa. Who was this intrepid interloper and what brought him to such a wild place? He was Stuart Watt, an Irishman, a former Church Missionary Society missionary who had decided to travel inland to establish his own independent mission. The CMS denied any responsibility for Watt. ‘You know my opinion of the venture you are making,’ wrote its Secretary to Watt, ‘so I will not write more than to say I pray God to avert you from the catastrophe which your scheme appears to court. I am sure of your zeal. I feel equally sure that it is “not according to knowledge”.’ (J.A. Stuart-Watt’s Recollections, Rhodes House). Watt’s plan was foolhardy in the extreme and John Ainsworth at Machakos fort, where the travellers stopped on the way, had tried to dissuade him from proceeding. Frank Hall, in charge at Fort Smith, also told Watt that his...