Westgarth, James William

Reference code(s): GB 0237 Edinburgh University, CSCNWW 6
Held at: Centre for the Study of World Christianity, University of Edinburgh
Domain: archival
Title: Westgarth, James William
Date(s) of contents: 1906-1945
Level of description: Fonds
Extent and medium: 1 file


Name of creator(s): Westgarth, James William

Administrative/Biographical history: James William Westgarth, was a missionary with the Qua Iboe mission in Nigeria. The mission was formally established in 1892 on evangelical and interdenominational lines and owed its origins to the efforts of Samuel A. Bill who had been working in the valley of the Qua Iboe river, Eastern Nigeria since 1887. It was for many years the only mission operating between Calabar and the Niger. Westgarth went out to Nigeria with the mission in 1906 and was based at Ikotubo until his first furlough in 1908. While in England he married Frances Archer (Fanny) and they returned to Nigeria together in 1909. Westgarth then set about establishing a base in the district near the Cross River around Aka and Uyo. Fanny died in August of 1909 but Westgarth later remarried and remained in the area for many years. Returning to the field after furlough in early 1913 he concentrated on pioneering and evangelical work in the district and the following years saw a rapid expansion. Westgarth had direct experience of the Spirit Movement of 1927 which he came to interpret as revival and a token from God. As Field Secretary he was responsible for co-ordinating the missionaries' response. Encouraged by the events, the mission began to look for new areas to work in and in 1929 Westgarth made preliminary investigations in the Cameroons and soon after further north in Nigeria in the Igala region around Idah. Westgarth was still in Uyo in 1945.

Custodial history: Westgarth sent some of his diaries, or extracts from them, to his son, Bill.

Immediate source of acquisition: The papers were presented to the Centre for the Study of Christianity in the Non-Western world when it was in Aberdeen.


Scope and content/abstract: The collection consists of: a diary June 1906-Jan 1912 (almost daily entries describing his experiences and life with the mission dating from his departure from England); notebook 1915-1924 (notes on mission work, relations with schools and local churches, and agreements with chiefs and church leaders, includes notes on mission accounts and supplies); diaries 1923-24 (brief entries for most days); diary 1927 (entries for most days, diary covers the period of the Spirit Movement); and a copy of a letter from Westgarth in Uyo to his son Bill describing a dream he had had and referring to his diaries (1945).

System of arrangement: The material is in one file.


Language: English.

Conditions governing access: Contact the repository for details.

Conditions governing reproduction: Contact the repository for details.

Finding aids: A handlist is available.


Related material: Some of the papers of the Qua Iboe Mission are held by PRONI (the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland), other relevant ones are in the National Archives of Nigeria, Enugu. The E. M. T. Epelle papers in CSCNWW contain material on the history of Qua Iboe churches and mention Westgarth. Westgarth himself wrote a book on the Spirit Movement and his experiences published c 1950s.

Copies: Copies of the 1906-12, 1923-4 and 1927 diaries and of the 1915-24 notebook are also in the CSCNWW library.


Archivist's note: Compiled by Caroline Brown, Centre for the Study of Christianity in the Non-Western World, Edinburgh University.

Note: The biographical history was compiled using the following material: (1) the collection itself, (2) The Quest of Souls in Qua Iboe Eva Stuart Watt (London: Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1951), which has several extracts from reports or remarks by Westgarth.

Date(s) of descriptions: 7 July 2001


Personal names
Westgarth | James William

Corporate names
Qua Iboe Mission

West Africa