Taylor, William Ernest
Name of creator(s): Taylor | William Ernest | 1856-1927 | missionary and Swahili scholar
Administrative/Biographical history: Born in Worcester, England, 1856; educated at King's School, Worcester; won a scholarship to Hertford College, Oxford; 3rd class in classical honour moderations, 1876; enrolled in the Medical Faculty, Edinburgh University, 1879-1880; did not complete his medical education; became a deacon, 1880; served the Church Missionary Society (CMS) in East Africa, 1880-1884; began to learn Swahili soon after his arrival and became acquainted with eminent Swahili scholars there; collected Swahili manuscripts, both poetry and prose; returned to East Africa as CMS missionary, 1885-1889; ordained priest, 1885; travelled extensively among the Giryama (north of Mombasa) and studied Giryama (a Bantu language closely related to Swahili); married Catherine Tesseyman (d 1959) in Hull, 1892; served again in East Africa, 1892-1896; returned to England, 1896; posted to Cairo, 1898-1900; sent to Khartoum as a chaplain, but returned on medical grounds a few months later, 1903; ended his connection with the CMS, 1904; subsequently held a succession of clerical appointments, the last at Halton Holgate, Lincolnshire; retained his interest in Swahili, examining for the War Office and translating for the Salvation Army; died at Bath, 1927. Publications include: African Aphorisms; or, Saws from Swahili-land (1891); Giryama Vocabulary and Collections (1891); The Groundwork of the Swahili Language (1898); contributed to Mrs F Burt's Swahili Grammar and Vocabulary (1910); contributed to C H Stigand's A Grammar of Dialectic Changes in the Kiswahili Language (1915); Ukumbosho wa Uongozi (Memorandum of Guidance for East African Field Officers) ; translations of the Bible into Swahili and Giryama, published 1889-1909.
Custodial history: Taylor's bequest of his linguistic books and manuscripts to the British Museum was declined, and his widow Catherine sold some printed books to the School of Oriental (later Oriental and African) Studies (SOAS), and Swahili notebooks and papers to William Hichens (whose collection subsequently passed to SOAS).
Immediate source of acquisition: Various, including donation from Mrs E Hichens in 1945.
CONTENT AND STRUCTURE
Scope and content/abstract: Collected papers, c1810-c1899 (some undated), of the Rev William Ernest Taylor, including Swahili verses, proverbs, chronicles, stories, songs, hymns, religious texts, and vocabularies, and some of Taylor's own correspondence.
System of arrangement: Some files contain more than one item.
ACCESS AND USE
Language: Swahili, also including some Giryama and Arabic. Mainly Arabic script, some Roman.
Conditions governing access: Unrestricted.
Conditions governing reproduction: No publication without written permission. Apply to archivist in the first instance.
Finding aids: Incomplete handlist. Cataloguing is in progress under the Swahili Manuscripts Project at the School of Oriental and African Studies.
Related material: The School of Oriental and African Studies holds other collections on Swahili and other African languages, including papers of J W T Allen (Ref: PP MS 20), William Hichens (various references), Alice Werner (Ref: MS 380393), and W H Whiteley (Ref: PP MS 42).
Archivist's note: Compiled by Rachel Kemsley as part of the RSLP AIM25 project. Sources: P J L Frankl, 'W E Taylor (1856-1927): England's greatest Swahili scholar', AAP, lx (1999), pp 161-174; information from Annmarie Drury, Swahili Manuscripts Project, School of Oriental and African Studies; British Library OPAC.
Date(s) of descriptions: Jul 2002