Military Project

Thursday, July 18, 2013

George Prentice

George Prentice was born on the 15th Jan 1871 at Mid-Greenwell near Carnwath in Lanarkshire, Scotland.  He was the son of James and Christine Prentice (nee Elder) and at the time of George's birth his fathers occupation was that of a farmer (source: Select Births and Baptisms 1564-1950)

During the Scottish census of 1871, George was three months old and living with his parents James and Christina Prentice along with his seven brothers and sisters at Carnwath, Lanarkshire.  His fathers occupation was that of a famer of 58 acres

George's mother died in 1876 and during the Scottish Census of 1881, George, now ten years old was  living with his father and five brothers and sisters at Craigen House, Carnwath, Lanarkshire.  His fathers occupation was that of an agricultural labourer

George moved to Edinburgh, Midlothian and was a medical student at Edinburgh University when on the Scottish Census of 1891, aged twenty, he is seen to be living at 56 George Square, St Giles Edinburgh.  Three years later George qualified as a doctor at Edinburgh University and was a licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians Edin. 1894, Licentiate of the Royal College of Surgeons Edin. 1894 and a Licentiate of the Royal College of Phys. Surg. Glasgow 1894 (source: British Medical Registers)

He was ordained as a minister in 1894 by the Free Church of Scotland at the Presbytery of Biggar and Peebles.  (source: Annals of the Free Church of Scotland ref: Sharon)

George moved to Africa as a missionary and the first documented evidence found for George in Nyasaland (sometimes called the Nyasaland Protectorate and now Malawi) is from 'Politics and Christianity in Malawi 1875-1940' which states that: 'In 1897 George toured the northern spheres of the Luangwa valley, making contact with Senga who lived in large stockaded villages surrounded by thorn trees, visiting the Kamanga and seeing evidence of the Swahili dwellings among the Bisa.  George's British Medical Registration for 1898 gives his address as being Loudon, Nyasaland Protectorate

The 'Historical Dictionary of Malawi' states that: 'Missionaries and mission hospitals were the first point of contact between Western medicine and Malawian societies.  Besides a churchyard and a school, almost every mission station had a health clinic.  The first doctors to work in Malawi were missionaries, they were also the first to conduct surveys of the various diseases that afflicted the people.  Doctors n this category included George Prentice and others.  The first Malawian medical personnel were trained at mission hospitals and formed the core of the medical support staff of the government health system

In 'Daybreak in Livinstonia: the story of the Livingstonia Mission, British Central Africa' it is stated that 'The four Tongan teachers had travelled to Kasungu in 1897 before George Prentice left them and continued his own travels.  This would indicate that George had been in Kasungu in 1897 but had travelled to Bandawe.  His British General Medical Registration for 1899 gives his address as being in Bandawe, British Central Africa

The Livingstonia Mission was initiated by members of the Free Church of Scotland two years after the death of David Livingstone at Chitambo on the 1st May 1873.  The first site chosen was at Cape Maclear at the southern end of Lake Nyasa in Nyasaland.  The Mission later moved to Bandawe further up the lake due to the unsustainable malaria-induced death rate amongst missionaries at Cape Maclear

George would later be distantly related to David Livingstone, when his daughter Margaret Christina Prentice married John Smith Moffatt (later Sir John Smith Moffatt O.B.E.) who was a grandson of David Livingstone. (source: information from living relative of George Prentice)

George worked with Dr. Robert Scott when he first settled in Africa.  George and Dr. Scott were both Scottish and they returned to Scotland where they gave a series of talks on life in Livingstonia (also known as Kondowe) located in the northern district if Rumphi in the British African Protectorate.  During this trip back home to Scotland, George was undoubtably introduced to Dr. Scott's sister Agnes Tudhope Scott.(source: Zambian newpaper cutting)

On the 10th May 1900, George married Agnes Tudhope Scott at St Michael and All Angels Cathedral which is situated on the mission grounds at Blantyre, Nyasaland, the marriage was registered with the British Consulate in Nyasaland

When Dr. George Prentice was appointed to Kasungu in Oct 1900, four Tongan teachers had been working there since 1897 and had opened seven schools.

The children of George and Agnes Prentice were:
  • Margaret Christina Prentice - born in 1902, at Kasungu, Nyasaland and his British General Medical Registration for 1903 lists him as being at Kasungu, Ngara, British Central Africa
  • Isabel Agnes Scott Prentice - born on 26 Feb 1906 at The Orchard, Bridge of Allan, Stirlingshire, Scotland.  George was present at the birth and presumably on leave from the Kasungu Mission in Nyasaland.  His British General Medical Council registration for 1907 gives his address as being Kasungu, Ngara, British Central Africa (source: Scotlands People and British Medical Registers)
  • James Scott Prentice - born in 1908 at Kasungu, Nyasaland
  • Robert Scott Prentice - born on 30 Jul 1910 at Bridge of Allan, Stirlingshire, Scotland.  The birth was registered and witnessed by a nurse which probably means that George was not in Scotland but had remained in Nyasaland (source: Scotlands People)
George's British General Medical Council registration for 1911 gives his address as being Kasungu, Ngara, British Central Africa(source: British Medical Registers)

The 'Historical Dictionary of Malawi' states that at the start of World War One, there were six hospitals in the colony
  • Karonga - 2 beds  
  • Fort Johnston (Mangochi) - 6 beds
  • Zomba - 46 beds
  • Blantyre - 12 beds
  • Port Herald (Nsanje) - unknown number of beds
  • Dedza - unknown number of beds
On the 17th Jan 1916, George and Agnes Prentice's second child Isabel Agnes Scott Prentice died, aged nine, at the Royal Scottish Nursing Home in Edinburgh.  She had been ill for five days with acute appendicitis leading to her death from acute peritonitis, confirmed by her death certificate.  Her grandfather, was present at the death and registered the death while her parents George and Agnes were most likely at Kasungu, Ngara, British Central Africa at the time of the death (source: Scotlands People)

During World War One, George was a Captain with the 3/1 Kings African Rifles and was later transferred to the 4/1 Kings African Rifles with the rank of Medical Officer (source: Medal Index Card)

Later, he transferred to the Nyasaland Field Force.The London Gazette Supplement of the 28 Aug 1917 states that George is a Temporary Captain with the Nyasaland Field Force with effect from the 1st May 1917

George's British General Medical Registration for 1919 gives his address as being Kasungu, Ngara, British Central Africa

On the 12th Feb 1924, George arrived in London, from Biera, Mozambique onboard the Royal Mail Ship Goorkha and on the 12th Aug 1927, George departed from London for Biera, Mozambique on the Royal Mail Ship Electrician

George's British General Medical Registration for 1931 gives his address as Kennetpans, Clackmannan

George's British General Medical Registration for 1935, 1939, 1943 and 1947 were for Fort Jameson, Rhodesia

George died on the 29th Feb 1948 and was buried at the Aylmer May Cemetery, Rhodes Park, Lusaka, Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia).  It is of interest that George's titles on the cemetery records are Dr Rev, further evidence that he was a vicar with the Free Church of Scotland when he initially went to Africa


Post Zambia

Historical Dictionary of Malawi

Politics and Christianity in Malawi 1875-1940

Daybreak in Livingstonia: the story of the Livingstonia Mission, British Central Africa

Aylmer May Cemetery

Further research
  • George was a medically qualified doctor and ordained minister with The Royal Free Church of Scotland.  His qualifications were L.R.C.S. and P.Ed.  The L.R.C.S. is a medical qualification but I haven't as yet found out what the P.Ed refers to.


  1. I have a particular interest in Dr George Prentice, as he was recognised as finding the first land vertebrate fossils in Zambia (then, Northern Rhodesia) in the mid 1920's. I have done a lot of research on him, and have seen his grave in Lusaka.

  2. Hello Steve

    Thank you for your comment. Please contact me at, I have got a lot of information on George Prentice, he was a fascinating man, maybe we could share information.