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Section III: Central Records

Part 15: The Church Missionary Society Record, 1830-1875, held at the Church Mission Society Library

The Church Missionary Society Record, covering 1830-1875, is a continuation of The CMS Monthly Paper (published as Section III, Part 10 of the Church Missionary Society Archive). It is divided into the following sections which contain rich and invaluable information for researchers wanting to learn more about the early years of the society's work, both at home and abroad.

Home Proceedings: information about missionaries including biographies, dismissals, ordinations, deaths and departure of missionaries to the foreign field, lists of contributions given to the society, work in the home districts, proposals for new missions, obituaries of missionaries, reports of conferences, extracts from the Annual Reports, and details on grants received. The issue for 1830 details the proceedings of Mr G G Greenway, the lay-agent for the society in Kent and Sussex:

"Like most other journeys of this kind there has been a mixture of success and disappointment in the prosecution of our object. In some places, the Lord has been pleased to open a door of access: in others, to keep it closed.

On the 24th of February, I met the Ladies' Committee at Tunbridge Wells; and immediately after, the Gentlemen's Committee. Having laid before them the present aspect of the Society's Missions, and the state of our Funds, arrangements were made for Quarterly Meetings, and a fresh canvass of the town."

Foreign Intelligence: is divided into mission areas. There is a general overview of the news of the mission followed by extracts from the letters and journals of missionaries working in the area. The issue for 1830 contains extracts from the journal of Rev Charles Friend, based at Chunar in North India. Such an extract is illustrative of the rich variety of content to be found in this part:

"Jan 2 1829 - After studying some time, I visited the Hospital: and had some conversation with several poor sick creatures, diseased in mind and body. Went to the English School; and afterward heard Charles Doss read in English.

Jan 9, 1929 -In the afternoon we went, according to engagement, to a neighbouring Village; where a learned Brahmin and Devotee resided, who wished to converse with Mr Bowley. We found him dwelling within the precincts of a temple near the river, attended by some other Brahmins, and by some wealthy men who wished to hear the discussions.

Jan 11 1829 - We had an interesting afternoon at the Bazaar. Perceiving a man performing poojah (worship) to a small lamp, I requested Mr Bowley to take the opportunity of speaking to him. Mr Bowley pointed out the absurdity of worshipping a light of his own forming, and the sinfulness of neglecting the light which God had furnished.

Jan 16 1829 - Rode, before breakfast, with Mr Smith and Mr Bowley, to Turnbull Gunge. Here we found several pilgrims returning home: they had been carrying water from Allahabad to Baijnaught and other places, in order to pour it on the indecent emblems of Mahadeo. The water had been in small glass goblets, containing nearly a quart; which were placed in round baskets, and carried on bamboos: rich individuals sometimes employ persons to perform for them this meritorious act."

The following extract is taken from the journal of Mr Cockran of the North West America Mission, featured in the 1836 issue of The Church Missionary Society Record:

"June 21 1835 - Preached at the Rapids in the morning, and at the Indian Settlement in the afternoon. Both places were thinly attended, and the few present were incessantly coughing. An epidemic now rages of the most alarming nature: it seizes the old, the middle-aged, the young, and the infant: all are groaning, and many are prostrate under its evil influence. In the Indian Settlement there is not a nurse left for each family..

June 24 1835 - Visited the Indian Settlement: went through the houses: found not one free from the disease: the children were lying in groups of three or four on some of the floors: the parents stretched on beds: the mothers scarcely able to suckle their children."

The next extract is from the issue for 1850 and details some of the superstitions of the Wanika Muansa in East Africa, as described in the journal of Dr Krapf:

"Jan 15 1847 - The darkest works of heathenism were exhibited last night. We yesterday learned from the Chief that all the women of Rabbai-Empia and the adjacent hamlets were to assemble in town, and spend the night in processioning, dancing, singing, and playing the female Muansa, an instrument described in Mr Rebmann's Journal. The Chief also mentioned that it was the custom of the women to appear before every house in town, to receive a gratuity; and that accordingly they would come and salute us, in hope of getting some substantial present (kitu dema - a good or precious thing) from us.

At break of night they actually commenced singing, shouting and dancing, and continued their truly diabolical work, with little interruption, until day-light, when they withdrew in a state of exhaustion.

Feb 2 1847 - We slaughtered a goat today. An Emnika wanted the blood of the animal for superstitious practices but of course we refused his petition. He advised us to shut our doors, as the Muansa would be playing or rather sounding tomorrow..

Feb 4 1847 - After the women had in the morning cleared away the grass and filth of the roads, the Chiefs and older men appeared with curious instruments, which, when beaten by a piece of wood, made a noise very much resembling that of a weaver's spools."

Recent Intelligence: offers up-to-date news of missionaries including deaths, births, furloughs, and arrivals with selections from the Proceedings of the Committee (covering correspondence and patronage). The following extracts give an idea of the type of material to be found in this section. The first is from the issue for 1830:

"North India - Intelligence has been received from Archdeacon Corrie, under the date of the 4th of Nov, that the Rev John Latham was about to return home, an account of ill health..

South India - At a Meeting of the Friends of Female Education, held in the Church Missionary Society's Church, Madras, May 16 1829, a Committee was formed for the promotion of this important object in the Madras Presidency."

Later issues contain fuller descriptions of events. The following is from the 1860 issue and describes work with opium-smokers. Mrs Gough, in her letter of 10 August 1860, writes:

"When I last wrote, in the month of May, we were about to send two native Christians into the district from whence the greatest number of opium-smokers had come, and, amongst them, the one whom I mentioned as an applicant for baptism. He was received into the Church, and remained as a guest in our house for some days before he returned home. My husband furnished our native brethren with a list of the persons whom he had received from the neighbourhood they visited, and they succeeded in finding out a large proportion of them. There were instances in which they had returned to their old habit, but there were comparatively few, about one in five, and the report they brought was, on the whole, an encouraging one."

Each volume of The Church Missionary Society Record contains an index of names and places and a detailed contents page ensuring easy reference for researchers.

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