Qua Iboe Mission Records
Name of creator(s):
Administrative/Biographical history: In the mid-1880s a group of chiefs from the Ibeno region of the Niger Delta approached the Calabar Mission of the Free Church of Scotland for a missionary. The over-extended mission, unable to comply, passed on the request to Henry Grattan Guinness at his Harley Missionary Training College in London, where he circulated it. One of the trainees, Samuel Alexander Bill (1864-1942) from Belfast, responded energetically, sailing without financial backing. The Calabar Mission could not afford him, and he started work alone at the mouth of the Qua Iboe River in December 1887, designing and constructing for himself a house, and the church at Ubenekang.
The Qua Iboe Mission Council was formed in 1891 by representatives of the leading Belfast churches, of various denominations, to support his work. It financed agents and workers in the Delta until 1908. Missionaries were drawn from Presbyterian, Baptist, Quaker and other backgrounds: teachers were borrowed from the Calabar Mission until the 1940s.
The Qua Iboe Church (now the United Evangelical Church of Nigeria)had by 1987 founded two colleges of theology, including the Bible College at Ikot Ekang, Abak (started in the 1940s), three post-primary teaching institutions including Etinan Institute (started 1915), a hospital (started 1927) and a printing press, both at Etinan, as well as numerous primary schools. The move to Etinan (first evangelized by John Kirk, from Ibeno, in 1897) was doubtless prompted by the inaccessibility of the original station.
Membership of the Church was at first confined to rural areas, only slowly penetrating the towns and cities.
For further information see: E.B. Ikpe, Qua Iboe Church of Nigeria: the first hundred years: the next jubilee published in 1987; Robert L. MacKeown Twenty-five years in Qua Iboe: the story of a missionary effort in Nigeria , London, 1912.
Custodial history: The collection was in the possession of the Qua Iboe Mission until January 1978 when it was transferred in its entirety to the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland for permanent preservation.
Immediate source of acquisition: Deposited by the Qua Iboe Fellowship in 1978.
CONTENT AND STRUCTURE
Scope and content/abstract: There is detailed correspondence about the work and development of the mission from 1888 to 1942, including a large section of 725 letters, 1900-42, from the Superintendent in the field, Samuel Bill, to Mr R.L. McKeown (himself a missionary in the field 1899-1901) as General Secretary of the mission in Belfast. Also, detailed diaries of Samuel Bill, 1887-1941, and his loose-leaf daily journals, 1902-22.The earliest diary, Sept.-Oct. 1897, is an original daily account of the initial voyage to Ibeno via Old Calabar. Other contents of the archive include: bound volumes of the Mission Quarterlies, 1892-1962; Annual Reports of the Belfast Qua Iboe Missionary Association (including financial reports), 1889-1941; minute books, records of donations, financial statements, etc. of the Mountpottinger and Londonderry auxiliaries of the Central Council, 1896-1960, which were established for fundraising and spreading information. There are also a range of photographs pertaining to the mission , c.1890-1940, including one of Samuel Bill and his family taken in 1896. The collection is a major source for research into missionary work in West Africa from the 1890s onwards. It is particularly useful because of the large volume of correspondence and diaries which have survived.
System of arrangement: See Extent and medium
ACCESS AND USE
Conditions governing access: Normal PRONI conditions apply.
Conditions governing reproduction: The papers are owned by the Qua Iboe Fellowship. Enquiries about copyright and permission to publish should be directed to the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland in the first instance.
Finding aids: See PRONI reference D/3301 for catalogue of the papers. The catalogue is available for consultation in PRONI's Public Search Room.
Copies: There is a microfim copy of the archive (MIC/434)
Note: This description was compiled using Eno Benjamin Ikpe, Qua Iboe Church of Nigeria: the first hundred years: the next jubilee (Uyo, 1987), Gerald H Anderson, ed. Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions (Simon and Schuster Macmillan, NY,1998) and data from the RASCAL website.
Date(s) of descriptions: September 2002