Janes' Sierra Leone Diary

Reference code(s): GB 0469 Ms Acc 78
Held at: Angus Library, Regents Park College
Domain: archival
Title: Janes' Sierra Leone Diary
Date(s) of contents: 1954
Level of description: Fonds
Extent and medium: One volume (123 pages).


Name of creator(s): Janes, Herbert Charles (1884-1977)

Administrative/Biographical history: The Baptist Missionary Society (BMS) had established a mission in Sierra Leone in 1795 under the auspices of the Bristol-trained missionary Jacob Grieg; however, Grieg's political activity in the form of objection to taxation without representation led to his being expelled by the BMS Committee, and to the resulting end of the Sierra Leone mission.

It was in this context that in 1954 Sir Herbert Janes undertook a trip on behalf of the Baptist Commonwealth and Colonial Society (BCCS), in his capacity as its former president, to investigate the state of Baptist churches in Sierra Leone. The preface of his diary explains that the Sierra Leonian churches were not actually under the auspices of any missionary society at the time, nor had any contact with such organizations. However, the BCCS had "some years ago" taken over a trust for the purpose of the support of the church in Sierra Leone. Accounts from an indigenous pastor, Cole, had given rise to anxiety over the condition and extent of the Sierra Leonian Baptist church, which prompted Janes' fact-finding mission.

Janes himself was born in Hertfordshire in 1884. He was a self-made and self-educated man, rising to the top of the building industry, becoming Mayor of Luton, and being knighted in 1954. Baptised as a young man, he also held offices as the chairman of the Baptist Commonwealth and Colonial Society, the chairman of the Baptist Missionary Society (in 1950) and the president of the Baptist Union (in 1956). He died in 1977.

Custodial history:

Immediate source of acquisition: Donated to the Angus Library in 1998 by Janes' grandchildren.


Scope and content/abstract: Typed and bound transcript of Janes' diary from 7 October to 22 November 1954, including a short preface. The diary is an account of Janes' trip on behalf of the Baptist Commonwealth and Colonial Society (BCCS), in his capacity of its former president, to investigate the state of Baptist churches in Sierra Leone.

The diary commences with an account of Janes' voyage from Liverpool to Sierra Leone via the Canary Islands, accompanied by the secretary of the BCCS, Frank Morton. The diary continues with an account of their arrival in Freetown, Sierra Leone, and their subsequent meetings with local clergy, namely Cole, an indigenous Baptist pastor, Methodist and United Brethren Church ministers, and American Baptist clergy and missionaries. Janes' and Morton's survey extended into the interior of the country, and involved visits to local churches, schools and villages, in an attempt to gather information on the extent of Baptist influence. However, little was discovered, and the diary's coverage is accordingly greater on matters such as details on local life, customs and food, congregational practices and social observations, and accounts of the actual travelling. The diary concludes with Janes' and Morton's intention to continue supporting the tenuous 150 year old link between the British and Sierra Leonian Baptist churches, investing staff and finances in return for regular reports. The diary finishes with an account of Janes' voyage home.

System of arrangement: Typescript bound into a single volume.


Language: English.

Conditions governing access: Unrestricted.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Finding aids: None.


Related material: The Angus Library also holds the Baptist Union Library, which includes a copy of the official report of Janes' Sierra Leone trip.

The original MS of Janes' Sierra Leone Diary is in the Bedfordshire and Luton Archives, JN 84.


Note: Compiled using the collection itself, and,
Hubert Janisch, 'Man who laid foundations for the future', Baptist Times, 30th June 1977.
Brian Stanley, The history of the Baptist Missionary Society 1792-1992 (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1992).

Date(s) of descriptions: September 2002.

Ancient religions
Cultural heritage
Cultural interaction
Customs and traditions
Field work
Food customs
Indigenous clergy
Maritime transport
Religious activities
Religious communities
Religious groups
Religious institutions
Religious organizations
Religious practice
Research work
Travel abroad

Personal names
Janes | Herbert Charles | 1884-1977 | chairman of the Baptist Commonwealth and Colonial Society and Baptist Missionary Society
Morton | Frank | secretary of the Baptist Commonwealth and Colonial Society

Corporate names
Baptist Church
Baptist Commonwealth and Colonial Society

Sierra Leone
West Africa