Papers of Rev. William Arthur Crabtree

Reference code(s): GB 0150 CMS/ACC27
Held at: Birmingham - University of, Information Services, Special Collections Department
Title: Papers of Rev. William Arthur Crabtree
Date(s) of contents: 1888-circa [1935]
Level of description: Sub-fonds
Extent and medium: 1 box, 22 bundles, 21 docs., 19 sections, 7 items, 4 vols.


Name of creator(s):

Administrative/Biographical history: William Arthur Crabtree (b c 1868-1945) was from Darlington and was educated at St Peter's School, York and King's School, Canterbury and St Catherine's College and Ridley Hall, Cambridge. He was admitted to the Church Missionary Training College in 1890 and accepted as a missionary in 1891. He sailed for Africa in 1891 and he served as a CMS missionary until 1905. He was stationed at various places: Frere Town, 1891,; Mengo, Uganda, 1892; Kyagwe, 1893; Kavirondo, 1894; Busoga, 1894-1897; Mengo, 1898; Gyaza, 1899-1900; Masaba Kvirondo, 1901-1903. He was ordained as priest by Bishop Tucker in Mengo in 1893.The growth of the Anglican Church in Uganda owed much to the work of missionaries like Crabtree who saw that the translation of the bible was a necessary part of their mission work. Between 1896 and 1905, Crabtree and another CMS missionary, Frank Rowling, produced three of the four gospels in Soga and he also reduced the language, Gisu (Masaba) to writing and translated the gospels into that language. He married Ethel Bronwen Poole in 1898. He resigned in 1905 and for a while was a local clergyman in the Anglican church. He died at St Dennis, Cornwall in 1945.
References: Register of missionaries (clerical, lay & female) and native clergy from 1804 to 1904 (Church Missionary Society, 1905), and unpublished additions to this register in the CMS archives; Gordon Hewitt, The Problems of Success. A history of the Church Missionary Society 1910-1942. Volume One (London, SCM Press Ltd, 1971); Crockford's Clerical Directory, 1910

Custodial history: Deposited by Prof. A. N. Tucker, School of Oriental and African Studies, London, 1962

Immediate source of acquisition:


Scope and content/abstract: A collection of materials of and compiled by William Crabtree, CMS missionary to Uganda and philologist, mostly relating to his study of African languages and translation work. It includes letters, notes, drafts for publication, manuscript and typescript vocabularies and grammars for various African languages, typescripts of some of his works, and research materials in the form of card indexes. Work by other philologists in manuscript, typescript and printed format are also represented in the collection. The collection includes a small amount of material relating to his missionary service

System of arrangement: This collection forms part of the Church Missionary Society Unofficial Papers. It is arranged into one series (with sub-series): Family Papers


Language: English

Conditions governing access: Open Access to all registered readers

Conditions governing reproduction:

Finding aids: A catalogue of this collection to file and item level is available in electronic format on the University of Birmingham Information Services Online Archive Catalogue. A paper copy of this catalogue is also available for consultation in the Special Collections Department reading room.


Related material: The Special Collections Department holds the Church Missionary Society Archive, the official archive of the society which includes papers relating to Crabtree's service as a missionary


Date(s) of descriptions: Created 16/08/2001, modified 16/09/2002

African languages

Personal names
Crabtree | William Arthur | b 1868 | missionary and philologist

Corporate names
Church Missionary Society

East Africa