List of Early Missionaries in Nigeria

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From the 15th Century until the 17th Century, the efforts to evangelize made by the French, Portuguese, Catholic-controlled Italian Government, and missionary bodies in the Benin and Warri areas were futile and resulted in catastrophe. It was not until 1841 that the British Government sponsored Niger Expedition, of which missionaries from the Church Missionary Society of the Church of England were part of, did progress in missionary works begin to thrive. Between the period of 1841 and 1900, the Church Missionary Society of the Church of England, the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society from England, the French Catholic Society for African Missions, the United Presbyterian Church of Scotland, and the Southern Baptist Convention of the United States, carried out missionary expeditions of significant success in the then Niger Area, presently regarded as Nigeria.

List of Early Missionaries in Nigeria

This is a list of early missionaries in Nigeria:

  • Reverend Samuel Ajayi Crowther

He was part of the first British Government sponsored Niger Expedition of 1841. Originally a freed African slave from Freetown, Sierra Leone of Yoruba ancestry, was instrumental in the establishment of Christian missions in Nigeria. As a missionary of the Christian Missionary Society, he wrote hymns and translated the Bible into the Yoruba language. He was ordained in 1845 and got consecrated as a Bishop in 1864.

  • Reverend Henry Townsend

He was a missionary of the Christian Missionary Society of the Church of England that arrived in Nigeria in 1843. By 1844, he erected the Ake Church in Abeokuta. After ordination in England in 1843, he returned to Abeokuta, and he and his wife Sarah Townsend remained until 1867. The couple later transferred to Lagos to become co-principals of the Christian Missionary Society (CMS) from 1871 till 1872. He is also reputed to have helped Rev. Ajayi Crowther in writing hymns in the Yoruba language as well as publishing a Yoruba newspaper in 1859.

  • Sarah Townsend

Wife of Rev. Henry Townsend, Sarah Townsend was a missionary under the Christian Missionary Society. She participated in establishing mission presence in Abeokuta for over two decades. Later on, she and her husband, Rev. Henry Townsend, were co-principals of the C.M.S Female Institution of Lagos from 1871 until 1872.

  • Thomas Birch Freeman

Thomas Freeman was a missionary of Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society that arrived in Nigeria on request of freed slaves from Freetown, of Yoruba and Aku extraction residing in modern-day Lagos, for a minister. With collaborations with other missionaries like William De Graft, he built a Mission house and Chapel, which was completed in November 1842. His missionary expeditions took him to Egba, Abeokuta, and Dahomey(a Kingdom that existed in present-day Benin from 1600 until 1904).

  • Elizabeth Booth

She was a wife to Thomas Birch Freeman and was part of the missionary expedition to Nigeria. From 1937 until her demise in 1838, she carried on evangelical duties within West Africa.

  • Bishop Brown

He was a missionary from Sierra Leone that arrived in Nigeria in March 1859. He was in charge of the Ake Church in Abeokuta originally erected by Rev. Henry Townsend. He was dedicated to the growth of the Ake Church that he ordained a Priest and grew the church to a capacity of a hundred and eighty members.

  • Henry Nau

An American missionary with the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod(WELS) began the preparatory work for WELS in Nigeria, alongside his wife in 1936.

  • William Schweppe

He was a missionary of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod that arrived Nigeria in 1937 to lead the mission work of WELS. He successfully established churches in Ibesikpo, which gave rise to the present Lutheran Church of Nigeria.

  • Leola Schweppe

She was the wife of Dr. William Schweppe. She and her husband were charged by the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod to lead missionary expeditions in Nigeria. They were able to successfully establish churches in Ibesikpo.

  • Norbert Reim

He was a missionary that participated in missionary work in Ibesikpo under the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod during the mid-1940s.

  • George Baer

Arrived in Nigeria between 1944 and 1948 as part of the missionary staff stationed in Ibesikpo by the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod.

  • Edgar Greve

He was among the missionary staff involved in mission work in Nigeria between 1944 and 1948. He was part of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod.

  • William Winter

William Winter was a missionary with the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod that participated in missionary work in Ibesikpo between 1944 and 1948.

  • Alvin Werre

He was a missionary under the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod that carried on missionary work in Ibesikpo between 1944 and 1948.

  • William De Graft

  • Thomas Bowen Jefferson

He was an American missionary with the Southern Baptist Church. He set up a mission chapel in the Ijiaye area and another mission outpost at Ogbomosho. He furthermore continued his missionary expeditions, moving to Badagry and later to Abeokuta, whereafter he returned to the United States due to failing health.

  • Bickerstheth

  • Gardiner

  • Anna Hinderer

She was a British missionary with the Christian Missionary Society. She arrived in Ibadan in 1852, and with her husband, David Hinderer, they set up a mission in Ibadan and also built schools for young children which she taught and ran the affairs.

  • Johanna Veenstra

She was a missionary with the Christian Reformed Church who arrived in Nigeria in January 1920. She was reputed to have made indelible contributions to the area she served during her missions in Nigeria.

  • Bishop Shanahan

  • Father Joseph Lutz

  • Father Berghero

  • Mary Slessor

She was a missionary of Scottish origin with the United Presbyterian Church. She is regarded as the first solo female missionary to Nigeria when she arrived in 1876. Calabar and the neighbouring communities were the areas she performed her missionary work. She encouraged women’s rights and protected children, notably, in the abolition of infanticide of twins in the Efik regions.

  • Reverend Williams Anderson

A Scottish missionary with the Scottish Presbyterian Church. After he was ordained in 1849, he arrived in Nigeria later that year, particularly, Duke Town in Calabar, where he served as Head of Station of the mission until his retirement in 1891. He facilitated several social reforms such as the abolition of human sacrifices in aristocratic funerals, in collaboration with Rev. Hope Masterson Waddell.

  • Reverend Hope Masterson Waddell

As a missionary of the Scottish Presbyterian Church, he arrived in Calabar in 1846. For seven years he carried on teaching English and converting the locals to Christianity. He and other missionaries facilitated the abolition of human sacrifices in the Calabar area. The Hope Waddell Institute is named after him.

  • David Hinderer

A German missionary with Church Missionary Society, he arrived in Badagry on March 25, 1849. Badagry was so receptive to missionaries at that time, so he moved to Abeokuta before finally settling in Ibadan in 1853, where he carried on preaching engagements and educating young children with the aid of his wife, Anna Hinderer.

  • Adolphus Mann

He was a missionary that engaged in preaching engagements in Ijaye after he arrived from Abeokuta in 1853.

 







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