Saturday, 29 September 2012

Aylmer May Cemetery

Aylmer May Cemetery was founded in 1922 next to an old African burial ground, and named after Dr Aylmer May, Northern Rhodesia's first chief medical officer.

According to Gelfand [1], who gives a detailed account of medical services in Northern Rhodesia, the BSAC recognised that the success of their venture depended on their dealing with malaria, sleeping sickness and other endemic diseases facing settlers. At this time (before 1899) there were two administrative regions - N W Rhodesia and N E Rhodesia. When Major Forbes took over administration of the country there were already a few doctors belonging to the London Missionary Society south of Lake Tanganyika. One of the earliest was Dr Chisholm of Mwenzo Mission (Livingstonia, Malawi) and in Fort Jameson was Dr Roberts of the North Charterland Exploration Company. In 1899 Dr John McKenzie was appointed to the men working on the telegraph line from Karonga to Abercorn. Also mentioned is Mr R. Stewart-Wright, who came to Lake Tanganyika in 1887 and was known for his medical knowledge. At this time the population of about 150 Europeans was largely reliant on missionary doctors, who would travel long distances from their stations to treat patients.

In 1899, when Codrington became administrator of the territory, he attempted to negotiate formal payments to the doctors of the LMS to secure their continued help. However, the home society rejected his offers, feeling that their doctors would be diverted too often from their proper mission. Nevertheless they assured Codrington that help would still be on offer and donations were still welcome for these services. Codrington duly sent a donation of £50 to the LMS.

Meanwhile, Codrington worked on builing up the administration's own medical force, beginning with the appointment of Dr Spillane at Fort Jameson. Next came Dr Doveton A. Martin, who arrived in 1900 on the generous salary of £500 with free quarters. LMS doctors continued to treat patients as necessary, given the vast distances to be travelled and scarcity of medical expertise. The administration then required the LMS doctors to pay a £10 licence fee and a registration fee, causing a dispute only resolved in 1910, when the registration fee was waived, and the licence fee reduced to £5.

Aylmer May photo inside Murray memorial
By 1909 many more doctors had been appointed, Spillane retired from 7 years medical administration and Dr Aylmer May, the chief medical officer of NW Rhodesia, assumed responsibility for the medical work of both NW and NE Rhodesia. (The two territories were merged in 1911 to become Northern Rhodesia.)

In 1913 Dr May reported on the health of settlers in Lusaka and Chilanga,

'high mortality from climatic diseases among the Dutch immigrants of Lusaka district... Eight of the 12 deaths reported during the last 18 months were due to climatic diseases, four of these to blackwater fever.'

At this time Lusaka's drainage was notoriously bad, which is presumably why May refers to climatic conditions.

Following May's report Lusaka officially became a township and amongst other duties the management board was to supply 'every occupier of a home with a sanitary pail for every five persons'. Regulations were introduced concerning waste disposal.  But by World War I there was still no hospital in Lusaka. That was to come in 1918, consisting of two huts with two beds in each.

[1] Northern Rhodesia in the days of the Charter, M. Gelfand, 1961

Since 1999 a trust has been working on restoration of the Aylmer May Cemetery site and I was impressed by the welcome we received from the caretakers and the effort that has been made.

Although the cemetery was closed to burials in 1952, there is memorial wall for  ashes and I believe that family plots may still be open, as I saw much more recent headstones. Ask me if you want a photo of a gravestone - I got most of them.

Here you can see some photos of the site on Lagos Road ( Google Earth 15°24'30.46"S  28°17'54.25"E).

There are separate sections for Afrikaners, British (CofE), Hindu, Africans, Catholic, Muslim and Jewish graves within the same site!

There are several graves marked BESL, which seems to be the British Empire Service League, an organisation dedicated to supporting ex-servicemen. This group was formed in 1921 in Cape Town and later became the Royal Commonwealth Ex-services League (according to Wikipedia). It is also a fore-runner of the South Africa Legion.

tomb of Audrey Murray

The most notable grave (at least in terms of its visibility) is that of Audrey Murray, which you can see to the left.  Photos from inside this monument are below. You can read more of the Murray family history here.

Audrey Murray (O'Brien) wife of
Thomas Murray of Kalomo 

African burial ground
I was told that the African burial ground was centuries old. There are no markers, but the site is within the enclosure of the main site.

The Aylmer May website has a list of burials here. Ask me for a picture of a gravestone - I have photos of many of them.

The names given are:

Aledeirim, Alexander, Allan, Allman, Angier, Anscombe, Anthony, Armitage, Armstrong, Arnaldo, Arnott, Ascott, Atkinson
Badat, Badenhorst, Ball, Bardell, Barkley, Barklie, Barnett, Baxter, Beaman
Cambell, Campbell, Carinus,  Carr, Cartmell, Cartwright, Celinska, Celliers, Cessler, Chavda, Chowles, Cilliers, Clacher, Clark, Clarke, Cloete, Coakes, Coetser, Coetzee, Coetzee, Coker, Collins, Conder, Cook, Cooke, Cooper, Copeman, Cormack, Coulson, Counsell, Cowie, Crause, Crosley, Crouse, Culverwell, Cusack, Czarnecki, Czerniecki

Dahl, Daly, Davel, Davey, Davidson, Davies, de Beer, de Gray Birch, Dean, Dechow, Desai, Diallo, Diew, Digby, Dixon, du Buisson, du Plessis
Earl Spurr, Ebert, Ecksteen, Edwards, Elliot, Ellis, Elridge, Elton, Elvidge, Emms, Erasmus, Erlank, Esterhuizen, Eva, Evans
Fanstone, Fauconer, Faulconer, Faurie, Feger, Ferreira, Fevrier, Few, Findlay Cooper, Fischer, Fitz Williams, Fitz-Henry, Fogerty (Irish architect, BESL), Forde, Foreman, Fourie, Foxwell, Foyster, Fredman, Frost, Fuller
Gabb, Gadd, Gair, Garrett, Gaszewska, Geldenhuys, Gelu, Georgopoullos, Gerber, Gerstner, Geyser, Ghumra, Girling, Gomes, Goosen, Gorden-James, Gordon, Gough, Grabowska, Greef, Greenberg, Grey, Grieve (memorial wall), Griffith, Grindley-Ferris, Grissing, Grosse, Grove, Gunning, Guttmann
Hall, Halsenda, Hamilton, Hand, Hankel, Harina, Harris, Hart, Harvey, Haslett, Hason, Hay, Hayes, Healey, Helberg, Helliwell, Herbst, Hicham, Higham, Hill, Hilton, Hodson, Hoffer, Hogg, Holland, Home, Hopgood, Hornby, Hovbert, Hugo, Hulme, Human, Hutchinson, Hyam
Innes, Isaac, Ismail
Jackman, Jacobs, Jaffray, Jakubowicz, Jarvis, Jay, Jensen, Johnson, Jones, Jooste, Jordaan, Joubert
Kallmann, Kay, Keith, Kelufwe, Keppie, Key, Keyte, Kietzmann, Kimpton, Kirby, Kirk, Kissock, Klein, Kleusch, Klis, Knight, Kohl, Kozak, Kozakiewicz, Krol, Kruger, Krzesinska, Kukne, Kwitkowska, Kwtkowsky
Lad, Ladds, Lajacz, Lamb, Landanski, Landless, Landsberg, Lang, Lapatto, Lazarus, Le Roux, Lean, Lee, Leslie, Letchworth, Lettmann, Lewis, Liebenberg,  Light, Limbada, Lindeque, Lindley, Lineker, Loewenstein,  Logie, Loosen, Lord,  Lovell, Lowe, Lunat, Luzanna
Mac millan, Macfadyean, Macfarlane, Mackenzie, Macrae, Majewska, Mallaghan, Manning, Manson, Maree, Maritz, Marmon, Marrapodi, Marriott, Martin, Masters, Masur, Matheison, Mathews, Mattiussi, Matuk, Maybin, McGaghey, McGregor, McIntyre, McKenzie, McLaren, Melville, Meman, Mendelsohn, Merico, Merry, Merwin, Methuen, Meyer, Meysher, Mieczystawa, Miller, Minnaar, Mistry, Mitchell, Mitchelson, Molyneux, Morris, Morton, Moss, Mostert, Mouritzen, Mroz, Mulla, Muller, Murphy, Murray, Murry, Myburgh
Nagdi, Naik, Naismith, Neethling, Nefdt, Nel, Nell, Nimmo, Noyce
Oberholster, Oberholtzer, Ogilvie, O'Gorman, Old, Omar, Omions, Oosthuizen, Ormsby, Osborne, Ousthuizen
Paduchowski, Palciwitz, Palmary, Pandor, Parekh, Parmar, Parr, Parsons, Patel,  Paul, Payne, Peacock, Penfold, Pentz, Peplow, Perfect, Perrin, Philips, Pickering, Pienaar, Pience, Pipenic, Plenkel, Poilly, Popiel, Posesisyna, Potgieter, Pottinger, Pratt, Prentice, Price, Prime, Prosak, Pukliez, Pullen, Pullock
Raaths, Radcliffe, Ralph, Rautenbach, Rex, Reynolds, Richardson, Rickett, Roberts, Robertson, Rocher, Roderick, Romans, Roos, Roper, Rose, Ross, Roux, Rutkowska, Ryan,

Salene, Salgueiro, Santos, Schafers, Schmid, Schoeman, Schwagel, Scmickerling, Scott, Scotten, Scott-Hayward, Senekal, Sergeant, Shapiro, Shardlow, Shawe, Short, Sialafyaka, Simon, Sivewright, Skinner, Skobie, Skwanek, Slement, Slusarewicz, Smit, Smith, Smith, Sola, Soloman, Sonnekus, Spain, Speck, St??, Staislawa, Staley, Stander, Stanislaw, Stanley, Stecko, Steer, Steirer, Stellon, Stephens, Sterk, Sterley, Steyn, Stols, Strauss, Strydom, Stylianos, Suchocki, Suleman, Swanepoel, Swanepool, Swarbreck, Swarmers, Swart, Sweet, Swiegelaar, Swiegers, Sykes, Szelpuk, Szezzpek, Szkwarkowski

Takarozyk, Tapson, Tattis, Tavares, Taylor, Teagle, Tee, Terblanche, Ternieseh, Thomas, Thompson, Thomson, Thornicroft, Thornville, Thorpe, Tillett, Timmins, Tregaskis, Triveda, Trivedi, Trundle, Trytsman, Turner, Twilley


van Biljon, van Blerk, van der Heever, van der Merwe, van Deventer, van Heerden, van Niekerk, van Rensberg, van Schalkwyk, van Staden, van Tonder, van Vuuren, van Werkhoven, van Werrhoven, van Zyl, Vaughan, Venter, Verinder, Vermeulen, Viljoen, Virgin, Visagie, Vlotman, Voges, Vos, Vozos

Wackrill, Waddell, Wade, Waldman, Walker, Walton Waring, Wassermann, Wasziewicz, Waters, Waugh, Wdowa, Webb, Weber, Wells, Wessels, Wheeler, Whittaker, Wienand, Wilks, Willans, Willey, William, Williams, Williamson, Wilson, Wiltshire, Wisnieska, Wisniewski, Wood, Wright, Wroe, Wulfsohn, Wulpowitz

Yarborough, Yeats, Young,
Zajaczkowski, Zambori, Zaverdinos, Zbiginien, Zofia, Zunckel

I've included a photo of the cemetery plan here, with larger labels on it for the main burial sections.

 James Zulu was the (very helpful) caretaker when I visited in 2011 and 2016. Here he is pointing at Hamilton's grave, which is number 1145, in the English Section on the right hand side near the gate. It's in the middle column, five spaces from Lagos Road, but all that's there is a number plaque. (I think the grave to the left of his is Waring.)

View of Hamilton grave area, English Section near the gate
If you would like to add or correct any information for any relatives or friends interred at Aylmer May Cemetery there is a contact address: Mrs. Carrol Fleming ( who runs the Aylmer May Cemetery website.


  1. Can't find the Alyer May Cemetery website? Does someone know the link?


  3. It's at the top of this post...

  4. Hello Anton,
    I found your blog while searching online for any trace of my great-uncle, James Hamilton, who died in Lusaka in the late 1950s. I believe it may be his grave that is listed in the Aylmer May register - would you happen to have a photo of that grave/headstone?
    Thank you for your blog and all the information that you have published, and the links to the Aylmer May website!
    Regards, Karen Hamilton

  5. Hello Karen, the register does say James Hamilton... I'll see if I can find something, fingers crossed. Glad you've found something of interest!

  6. Sadly I don't seem to have Hamilton! Sorry about that... The register says he was born 1881, the burial was in 1956, in the English section, he was methodist, and buried by Allan & Co. The cemetery may be able to help -- I don't expect to be back in Lusaka for a while. It's possible there wasn't a stone, but who knows. Maybe I missed it.

    1. That's a shame but thank you for checking, and for the additional details. All the details fit with what I know of him.
      I looked online for newspaper archives from the region but I couldn't find any with pre-1960 archives. Have you come across any useful links in this regard?
      Thanks again!

    2. I visited the site a few days ago and can confirm there is no Hamilton gravestone, however I will post some photos of the area soon.

  7. The short answer is that I don't think you will find much out there online -- it's one of the reasons I started doing this... Depending on the prominence of the person you may find something in a uk paper (london gazette, perhaps), and depending on the work they were in there may be other sources -- many missionary records are at the SOAS in London. Or there may be an obituary in a regional uk paper, depending on their roots. Not much digitisation has taken place in Zambia, as far as I know.

  8. Is Dr Aylmer William May buried in this Cemetery.and his wife Dulcie Hughes, Do you know the names for his 3 children, Thanks, I am of Kilmoganny Kilkenny Ireland the birth place od Dr May and am researching the family.

    1. The burials at Aylmer May Cemetery are listed above, although I haven't listed ashes interments (and haven't seen a register of those). I only have access to the information mentioned here, and some books in my library. I doubt I will have information about May's children. You probably want to search South African records, see here for a marriage record

    2. Hello.
      Dr Aylmer May was my grandfather and I will be able to help fill in some of the gaps.
      I live in Dublin and can be contacted at


Please leave your comment and I'll get back to you if I can help.

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