Phillips Papers

Reference code(s): GB 1835 PHP
Held at: Cambridge Centre for Christianity Worldwide (formerly known as the Henry Martyn Centre)
Domain: archival
Title: Phillips Papers
Date(s) of contents: 1902-1997
Level of description: Fonds
Extent and medium: 5 boxes of correspondence, newsletters, articles, diaries and photographs.


Name of creator(s): Phillips, Anne Phillips, John

Administrative/Biographical history: John and Anne Phillips served with the Church Missionary Society (CMS) in Nigeria, arriving there in 1954. John became tutor at the Dennis Memorial Grammar School at Onitsha and, later, principal of the James Welch Grammar School, Emevor. Anne practised as a doctor. They then moved to Sierra Leone and back home to Liverpool before being invited back to the Diocese of Niger where John was appointed as Vice Principal of the Dennis Grammar School and Religious Education Advisor to the diocese. Their stay in Nigeria bred an abiding interest in the history of Christianity and missionary activity in the region and they became collectors of diaries and other papers written by their predecessors as missionaries with the CMS.

Custodial history:

Immediate source of acquisition: Anne Phillips donated some papers to the Henry Martyn Centre in 1997. A further donation was made in 2002.


Scope and content/abstract: The papers reflect the researches of the Phillips into the history of the Niger Mission, which was established in Onitsha in 1857 by Bishop Samuel Adjai Crowther (an indigenous mission teacher who was created Bishop of "the Countries of Western Africa beyond the Queen's dominions" in 1964, thus becoming the first bishop of African descent). In particular there are many documents on the life and work of Bishop Bertram Lasbery, who became the first Bishop on the Niger in 1922 where he stayed until 1945. He was instrumental in the foundation of the Dennis Memorial Grammar School (the first grammar school in Onitsha, Igboland, named after Thomas John Dennis, a CMS missionary who served for 24 years in Sierra Leone and in Nigeria).

The detailed descriptions of the missionaries of the people, culture and landscapes in which they worked paint a vivid portrait of the lives and achievements of the Niger Mission; papers of other missionaries include:
Miss Frances Dennis, Asaba (1902-1909)
Canon Charles Foster, CMS missionary in Onitsha, Nigeria (1920s to the 1950s) and Principal of the Dennis Memorial Grammar School, Onitsha.
Bishop Morris Gelsthorpe, Eha (1920s)
Margaret and John Hubbard, Isoko (1920s)
Edith Warner, CMS missionary at Onitsha, Nigeria, and founder of St. Monica's College (1892-1924)
James Welch, CMS missionary at Isoko, Nigeria (1929-1935 and the 1950s), Director of Religious Broadcasting at the BBC (1939-1946), lecturer at Ibadan University (1950s) and director of the CMS Training Board (1960s).
Elizabeth Wilkinson, (née Macdonald), CMS missionary at Akwa, near Onitsha in Nigeria (1920s and 1930s)

System of arrangement:

PHP 1-3 - Papers relating to the life of Bertram Lasbery
PHP 4 - Papers relating to the life of James Welch
PHP 5 - Diaries of Miss Frances Dennis
PHP 6 - Diary of Bishop Gelsthorpe
PHP 7 - Writings of and papers relating to Elizabeth Wilkinson
PHP 8 - Papers of Margaret and John Hubbard
PHP 9 - Biography of Edith Warner
PHP 10 - Canon Foster's photographs


Language: English.

Conditions governing access: Refer to repository.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Finding aids: A handlist is available.


Related material: The Henry Martyn Centre also holds the Walker Papers and Papers relating to the Diocese of Northern Nigeria.

Copies: Can be provided


Note: Compiled using the collection itself, and:
Biographical dictionary of Christian missions, ed. by Gerald H. Anderson (New York: Simon & Schuster Macmillan, 1998).

Date(s) of descriptions: April 2002

African cultures
Anglican missionary societies
Colonial administration
Customs and traditions
Educational missionaries
Educational missionary work
Female circumcision (Nigeria)
Medical missionaries
Mission schools
Missionary work
Non-Christian religions
Religious activities
Rural missionary work
Wives of missionaries
Women missionaries

Personal names
Crowther | Samuel Adjai | c 1807-1891 | first bishop of African descent
Dennis | Thomas John | 1869-1917 | Church Missionary Society missionary in Sierra Leone and Nigeria
Foster | Canon Charles | 1904-1987 | Canon and Church Missionary Society missionary in Onitsha, Nigeria
Lasbery | Bishop Bertram | 1881-1976 | Bishop on the Niger 1922-1945
Warner | Edith | 1867-1925 | Church Missionary Society missionary at Onitsha, Nigeria, 1893-1924
Welch | James | 1900-1967 | Church Missionary Society missionary at Isoko, Nigeria 1929-1935 and director of Church Missionary Society Training Board
Wilkinson | Elizabeth | 1901-1991 | née MacDonald | Church Missionary Society missionary at Akwa, Nigeria, 1920s and 1930s.

Corporate names
Church Missionary Society
Dennis Memorial Grammar School
Diocese of the Niger
Ibadan University
Niger Mission

Sierra Leone
West Africa