Africa: Church of Scotland Missions

Reference code(s): GB 0237 Edinburgh University Library Gen. 827F
Held at: Edinburgh University New College Library
Title: Africa: Church of Scotland Missions
Date(s) of contents: c 1899-1910
Level of description: Fonds
Extent and medium: 1 volume


Name of creator(s): Church of Scotland Missions

Administrative/Biographical history: The volume includes illustrations of missions in three areas of Africa: South Africa (mainly Lovedale), Calabar and Livingstonia. The first Scottish missionary society to send missionaries to South Africa was the Glasgow Missionary Society (GMS) in 1821. Lovedale, named after the secretary of the GMS, was established in 1824 but the mission was destroyed during the war of 1834. Missionary activity continued and in 1841 Lovedale Seminary was established under William Goven. It offered education, ministerial training and practical and technological courses for all students, black and white. Tiyo Soga, the first African ordained to the Christian ministry in South Africa and an important contributor to the success of the church, was educated there. Soga went on to build up successful missionary stations at Emgwali and Tutura. James Stewart, Free Church missionary, became the head of Lovedale in 1866 and emphasised technical and general education for all Africans, not just the gifted few. His emphasis on preparing leadership for an African rather than multi-racial church reflected tensions that were to trouble the South African church and missions for many years. Lovedale's importance was very quickly recognised. The Mfengu people in the Transkei contributed sums towards a similar institution, the Blythswood Missionary Institute. The Calabar mission had its origins in Jamaica when the emancipation of slaves gave weight to proposals take the Christian message to Africa. In 1846 a party landed in Old Calabar, now Nigeria, led by Hope M. Waddell a Scottish Missionary Society missionary, and backed by the United Secession Church, although the mission was brought under the supervision of the United Presbyterians in 1847. Waddell remained at the mission until 1859. He was joined by William Anderson, a dominant figure at the mission from 1849-1891, and Hugh Goldie who became the mission's leading Efik scholar and translator. Progress was at first slow, the mission concentrated partly on education and partly on preaching by which they hoped to effect both religious and social change. They were particularly concerned to alter such practices as ritual killing, the killing of twins and poison ordeals. Church membership remained small, but in the 1880s some growth was evident and the mission began a period of expansion of which the appointment of Mary Slessor to Okoyong was part. The Hope Waddell Institute in Duke Town was established during this period. Political changes in the early part of the twentieth century increased the attraction of Christianity and young African teachers, many trained by Alexander Cruickshank, as well as medical missionaries began to play a more prominent role in the church. One of these, Francis Akanu Ibiam, was to become a major figure in independent Nigeria. The Presbyterian Church of Nigeria was formally constituted in 1945 and the mission itself was finally abandoned in 1960. The Free Church Livingstonia mission was established as a memorial to David Livingstone after an earlier survey by James Stewart. Strongly backed by the Central African Trading Company, a station was first set up on the south of Lake Malawi in 1875 and then moved to Bandawe on the west side of the lake in 1880. The mission was dominated by Robert Laws, an ordained doctor who arrived with the first party and directed the work there for fifty-two years. Laws believed strongly in education and vocational training and in 1894 an Institution was established which trained many of the Africans who were to go on to establish churches throughout Malawi. Figures such as Donald Fraser and W.E. Elmslie played a key role in consolidating the strength of the church in the early part of the twentieth century and in 1926 the Church of Central Africa (Presbyterian) was formed.

Custodial history:

Immediate source of acquisition: The album was presented to Edinburgh University Library by the Church of Scotland Mission Committee in 1953 but was not formally accessioned until 1965.


Scope and content/abstract: An album of illustrations (c 1899-1910) taken from mission publications such as journals, pamphlets and newsletters and depicting life at Church of Scotland missions in South Africa, Calabar and Livingstonia. The volume includes indexes for the majority of the pictures.

System of arrangement:


Language: English.

Conditions governing access: Contact the repository for details.

Conditions governing reproduction: Contact the repository for details.

Finding aids: The volume includes an index for most of the pictures. It is mentioned in the Edinburgh University Library subject checklist (C3) Manuscripts on Africa.


Related material: The National Library of Scotland holds many records of the Church of Scotland and some of individual missionaries, such as William Anderson. Papers of some of the missionaries associated with these missions, such as Robert Laws, are also at Edinburgh University Library. Some photographs of Lovedale are at Edinburgh Special Collections (photo. ill. 163). Edinburgh University New College Library has some material relating to the Calabar mission (MSS CALA and MSS BOX 52.5.1-6). Other notable collections include Mary Slessor's papers at Dundee (one letter is at Edinburgh Special Collections Gen. 766/6) and James Stewart's papers at the National Archives in Zimbabwe.


Archivist's note: Compiled by Caroline Brown, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives.

Note: The histories were compiled using the following material: (1) Vision and Achievement 1796-1956 A History of the Foreign Missions of the Churches united in the Church of Scotland Elizabeth Hewat (Edinburgh: Thomas Nelson and Sons Ltd., 1960). (2) Dictionary of Scottish Church History and Theology Nigel M. De S. Cameron (ed.) (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1993)

Date(s) of descriptions: 7 July 2000


Personal names

Corporate names
Calabar Mission | Nigeria
Church of Scotland
Livingstonia Mission | Malawi
Lovedale Mission | South Africa
United Presbyterian Church of Scotland

South Africa
Southern Africa
West Africa