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CHURCH MISSIONARY SOCIETY ARCHIVE

Section IV: Africa Missions
Part 3: Nigeria - Yoruba, 1844-1880

Part 3 concentrates on the Yoruba Mission, 1844-1880, in Nigeria.  There are:

  • Individual Letter Books for 1852-1876.
  • Letter Books for 1844-1880.
  • Mission Books for 1845-1880.
  • Original Papers for 1844-1880 again organised in both a general series and a second sequence arranged alphabetically by surname of missionary: A-F is in Part 3; F-Y is in Part 4.

The opening up of Nigeria to Christian mission originated in the desire of British merchants to extend their trade on the West Africa Coast.

  • The first Niger expedition was in 1841 and two CMS men were members of it.  One of them was Samuel Crowther, by then a teacher at Freetown, who was chosen because he was himself a Yoruba from Western Nigeria. The papers here document the events that followed.
  • Crowther and a young Englishman, Henry Townsend, were sent to begin the Yoruba mission with its headquarters at Abeokuta.
  • The papers show that Henry Venn, Chief Secretary at CMS headquarters in England, strongly supported economic development as a means of spreading the Gospel.
  • Crowther was commissioned to establish an African mission to evangelise Africans. In 1864 he was consecrated as Bishop of the Niger Territories. The material covered here enables scholars to look at the impact of his policies. He centred the mission stations on schools and emphasized the need for missionaries and converts to exercise direct Christian influence on the laws and customs of the people.
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