Mortimer, Sir Charles Edward C.B.E. (1886-1974)

Transcription of obituary published in the Minutes of Conference

SIR CHARLES EDWARD MORTIMER, C.B.E.: born at Shipley, Yorkshire, on 1st January 1886. He trained for the Methodist ministry at Hartley College, Manchester, 1907—1910. He served in several circuits, Oakengates (Salop), Harrogate and Ryde and Ventnor, until 1916, when a severe breakdown in health necessitated superannuation. Medical advice suggested that the illness, acute arthritis, could be alleviated in a dry and warm climate. As his parents were then living in Nairobi, Kenya, he joined them, and early in 1917 secured a post as clerk in the Lands Department. By 1937 he had risen to become Commissioner for Local Government, Lands and Settlements. 

For seventeen years he was a member of the Legislative Council and for nine years a member of the Executive Council. He was Deputy Speaker for four years, and held a number of government’ posts, as well as twice being Mayor of Nairobi. In 1974, at the age of eighty-eight, he visited his son, Leonard Mortimer, in Brisbane, Australia, and died there on 3rd September. The funeral service was conducted by the Chairman of the Brisbane District, Rev. George Nash, O.B.E. 

Charles Mortimer was a faithful and generous supporter of the Church, and of many social institutions, throughout his fifty-eight years in East Africa. He preached until his latter years and was greatly respected in all the churches. Some of his outstanding qualities were: devotion, humility, geniality, and industry. In his retirement he used his experience and position to help social and religious organisations, notably Rotary and the Order of St. John. He was one of the important builders of the Kenya nation, becoming a citizen in 1964, and contributing immensely throughout his life to Christian witness, service, and good community relations.


Charles was born on 1 January 1886 at Shipley, Yorkshire, to parents Joseph, a butcher, and Lucinda.

Charles worked as a butcher before entering the ministry (1901). He was baptised on 21 February 1886 at Low Lane Methodist Chapel, Shipley.

He married Sarah Annie Oldfield (b1885) on 30 December 1914 at Saltaire Road PM Chapel, Shipley, Yorkshire.

The 1933 Methodist Who’s Who reports that they had four sons.

Charles died on 3 September 1974 at Brisbane, Australia.


  • Hartley
  • 1910 Oakengates
  • 1913 Harrogate
  • 1914 Ryde & Ventnor
  • 1917 Nairobi
  • 1926 Stoke Newington (S)


Methodist Minutes 1975/194

W Leary, Directory of Primitive Methodist Ministers and their Circuits, 1990

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

Comments about this page

  • Thank you. Jane Barber, for this new information.

    By Jacqueline (07/08/2020)
  • Jane and Jaqueline – Many thanks for the additional information about Charles.

    By Geoff Dickinson (06/08/2020)
  • Sir Charles married twice. His first wife, Sarah Annie Oldfield, died in 1918. He then married Winifred Theresa Christina Whitehouse in 1920.

    There were two sons from his marriage to Sarah Annie Oldfield – Kenneth and Leonard and a further two, from his marriage to Winifred – Derek and Philip.

    Kenneth moved to Sussex, England in 1955 and Leonard moved to Brisbane, Australia. Both Derek and Philip died at the age of 19; Derek in Switzerland and Philip was drowned in the sinking of the SS Ceramic, Dec 1942.

    I, Jane Barber (née Mortimer), am the daughter of Kenneth Mortimer. Sir Charles was my grandfather.

    By Jane Barber (06/08/2020)
  • Sir Charles Mortimer is part of my husbands family tree, having married Winnifred Whitehouse. Unless we are talking about two different people, he was knighted by Princess Elizabeth on her visit to Nairobi in 1952. While there she learned of her fathers sudden death.

    Name: MORTIMER, Charles Edward CBE, Sir

    Birth Date: 1 Jan 1886 – Shipley, Yorkshire

    Death Date: 3 Sept 1974, Queensland, Australia

    First Date: 1917

    Profession: Commissioner for Lands and Settlement in 1939, appointed 1938. Originally Clerk, Land Office 1917. Dep. Speaker and Chairman of Comms. Kenya Legco.. Retired 1954. Member for Health, Lands & Local Govt. in 1953. Secretariat

    Area: Nairobi

    Married: 1920 – Winifred Theresa Christina, d of A.E. Whitehouse, d. 1973

    Children: 2 s., one Philip Arthur Joseph was drowned in the sinking of the SS Ceramic, Dec 1942

    Book Reference: Staff 39, Who’s Who, Staff 53, Debretts, KAD, Red 25, Colonial, Who’s Who 63, Dominion, Foster, Web, Gazette, Red 19, Red 31

    School: Hartley’s College, Manchester

    General Information:

    Debretts – formerly a nominated MLC, Kenya, Member for Health, Lands and Local Govt., and Commr. for Local Govt., Lands and Settlement
    KAD 1922 – Land Office Assistant, Dept. Of Lands
    Who’s Who 63 – Land Dept. Clerk 1917-28; Lands Secretary 1938-45; Member for Health and Lands and Local Government 1946-50 and 1952-54; Member of Kenya Legco 1938-54; Companion of St. John and Chairman of Council for Kenya; President of YMCA.
    Dominion – Lands Secretary, Local Government Lands & Settlement 1930
    Foster – A Methodist
    Web – President of Nairobi Rotary Club – 1942-43
    Gazette – 12/11/1919 – Register of Voters – Nairobi, South Area – Charles Edward Mortimer – Civil Servant – Valley Road
    Red Book 1919 – Land Dept – Clerk – C.E. Mortimer
    Gazette – Voters List 1936 – Nairobi South – Mrs Winifred Theresa Christian Mortimer, Valley Road
    Gazette – Voters List 1936 – Nairobi South – Charles Edward Mortimer, Civil Servant, Caledonian Rd., Nbi

    By Jacqueline (06/08/2020)

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