Freeman, Thomas Birch


IDENTITY STATEMENT
Reference code(s): GB 0102 MMS Boxes 594-597
Held at: School of Oriental and African Studies Library
Domain: archival
Title: Freeman, Thomas Birch
Date(s) of contents: 1837-1928
Level of description:
Extent and medium: 4 boxes

CONTEXT

Name of creator(s): Freeman | Thomas Birch | 1809-1890 | missionary

Administrative/Biographical history: Born at Twyford, Hampshire, England, son of an English mother and a freed African slave, Thomas Freeman, 1809; joined the Methodists; moved to Ipswich and became a preacher; head gardener on a Suffolk estate, but lost his position owing to his Methodist activism; accepted by the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society, 1837; sailed to the Gold Coast, west Africa, 1837-1838; missionary on the Cape Coast (where an indigenous Methodist church had been tenuously supported by a succession of English missionaries), 1838-1857; visited Kusami, the Ashanti capital; married, for the second time, Lucinda Cowan (d 1841) at Bedminster, Somerset, 1840; visited England to appeal for funds and recruits, 1841; the publication of his journals made him a celebrity; his pioneering work in founding many mission stations and chapels in the area underpinned later Methodist success in Ghana, western Nigeria, and Benin; married for the third time, 1854; financial controversy and other difficulties caused him to retire from missionary work, 1857; civil commandant of Accra, 1857-1860; remained in the Gold Coast, farming, writing, and preaching; returned as a missionary, to Anamabu, west Africa, 1873-1879; Accra, 1879-1886; retired and settled at Accra, 1886; died, 1890. Publication: Journal of Various Visits to the Kingdoms of Ashanti, Aku and Dahomi ... with an historical introduction by the Rev J Beecham (2nd edition, 1844); Missionary Enterprise No Fiction (1871), a semi-autobiographical novel [by Thomas Birch Freeman].

Custodial history: The papers were deposited with the Methodist Missionary Society and form part of the special series of biographical papers of individual missionaries.

Immediate source of acquisition: Deposited on permanent loan with the records of the Methodist Missionary Society from 1978.

CONTENT AND STRUCTURE

Scope and content/abstract: Papers, 1837-1928, of and relating to Thomas Birch Freeman, comprising journals, 1837-1845, including his life and work in Africa; a manuscript account of a journey from Badagry to Dahomey, 1842-1843, perhaps prepared for publication, with a letter, 1843, from George Maclean concerning the manuscript; letterbooks, 1848-1857, containing copy letters from Freeman; Freeman's manuscript history of the rise and progress of Wesleyan missions in the Gold Coast to 1838 [after 1838], with later, undated manuscript transcript; typed transcript [20th century], lacking chapters I-II, of Freeman's reminiscences [1884] of the Gold and Slave Coasts, including his extensive travels in the region, and microfilm negative of the typescript; typed transcript [20th century] of two letters to Annie Goulstone (1849); copy certificate, 1928, recording Freeman's marriage to Lucinda Cowan (1840).

System of arrangement:

ACCESS AND USE

Language: English

Conditions governing access: Unrestricted, but only to be viewed on microfiche. Originals to be consulted only with written agreement from the Methodist Church.

Conditions governing reproduction: No publication without written permission. Apply to archivist in the first instance.

Physical characteristics: Some damage by bookworm.

Finding aids: Unpublished handlist.

ALLIED MATERIALS

Related material: The School of Oriental and African Studies holds the records of the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society (Ref: MMS/WMMS), including letters from individual missionaries, among them Freeman (Ref: MMS/WMMS West Africa Correspondence). SOAS also holds a transcript of a letter from Freeman to the Wesleyan missionary Robert Brooking, 1855, describing the work of the Cape Coast mission (Ref: MS 380587).

Copies: Published on microfiche by IDC Publishers (SOAS ref: Fiche Box Number Special Series 6-7).

DESCRIPTION NOTES

Archivist's note: Compiled by Rachel Kemsley as part of the RSLP AIM25 project. Sources: Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, ed Gerald H Anderson (1998); Alphabetical Arrangement of Wesleyan Methodist Ministers (1847, 1888 editions); Wesleyan Methodist Church Minutes of Conference (1891), pp 66-7; British Library OPAC.

Date(s) of descriptions: Feb 2002


INDEX ENTRIES
Subjects
African cultures
Ancient religions
Autobiographies
Christianity
Christians
Diaries
Evangelistic missionaries
Evangelistic missionary work
Literary forms and genres
Methodism
Methodists
Missionaries
Missionary work
National cultures
Nonfiction
Prose
Protestant nonconformists
Protestant nonconformity
Protestantism
Protestants
Religions
Religious activities
Religious groups
Religious institutions
Religious movements
Travel
Travel abroad

Personal names
Freeman | Lucinda | d 1841 | née Cowan | second wife of Thomas Birch Freeman x Cowan | Lucinda
Freeman | Thomas Birch | 1809-1890 | missionary
Goulstone | Annie | fl 1849 | sweetheart of Thomas Birch Freeman
Maclean | George | fl 1843

Corporate names
Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society

Places
Africa
Badagry
Benin
Dahomey
Ghana
Nigeria
West Africa