Home  >  Features  >  Looking Back: Livingstone's Boys

Looking Back

Image: archives-pic_cropped.jpg

Friday May 3 2019

Looking Back: "Nursed by Livingstone's 'Boys'"

Published in May 1959, one man's proud connection with David Livingstone



MY father was head forester on the Kelly estate at Wemyss Bay at the time when the railway was being constructed.

The owner of the estate, Mr. Young, was a great traveller, much interested in other lands. When Susa and Chuma, David Livingstone’s African “boys,” were in this country, he brought them to Kelly House so that they could build there a replica of the hut in which their master died near Chitambo in Northern Rhodesia.

My father was brought in to give them their tools and to show them suitable trees for their purpose.

As they stood at the lodge talking with him they heard a child’s cry. “Baby,” they said, delightedly, and asked if they could see him. They came indoors and stood smiling over the crib, touching the little fingers gently.

Could they take the baby for a walk? My mother said they could. So off they went along the shore road, carrying me in their arms.

An hour later they returned, their faces wreathed in smiles. They laid me in my crib and sang a verse of a cradle-song in their own language over me before beginning their work.

Every morning after that the door opened and they waited, smiling, to be given the baby for his walk; and off they would go singing to the shore road.

I am proud to have been held in the same arms and lifted by the same loving hands as David Livingstone. May I meet them again in the heavenly kingdom and thank them for their love for the little baby.

The owner of the Kelly Estate, James Young, was a chemist who invented a method of distilling paraffin. He was a friend and sponsor of Livingstone, and had the hut built as a memorial following the explorer's death in 1875. Young himself died in 1883, his mansion was pulled down by subsequent owners, and the estate was broken up in the 1950s. If anyone has any information on what became of the hut we'd love to hear it!

Previous: Refugee Work in Scotland, 1939

Looking Back menu