top of page
CrowtherLetters 1864-8

NIGER MISSION     CA3/O4 Bp. Samuel A. Crowther. Letters. 1864-8

Revd. H. Venn             Gbebe August 21st 1865.


Revd. and Dear Sir,


            I am thankful to inform you that we have safely arrived at the upper stations, and met all things going on well. I have been enabled to carry out thus far the plan laid down for the location of the mission agents, that I fondly hope and anticipate a permanent occupation of these new claims for the future.

            Mr. Taylor has been instructed to superintend the establishment of the two outstations, at Onitsha, while I take under my direction those of Idda and Lokoja. Revd. Mr. Coomber is stationed at Idda assisted by Mr. Phillip catechist and William Carlin a young assistant schoolmaster. They are at present lodged in a hired house till the mission station is built towards the dry season. I shall drop down to Idda in the course of a few weeks to arrange about procuring building materials, against that time: - Rev. Mr. John is stationed at Lokoja assisted by Mr. Newland from Gbebe, both being of Hausa parents and speaking the language, a mission among the Hausa speaking population will be fairly attempted. - Mr. C. Paul catechist is located at Gbebe to be associated with Messrs Thomas and Priddy.

            The mission station at Gbebe has suffered from fire this year about the end of April, a fire accidentally broke out from an open lamp light which caught some combustible matter about it and set the house on fire: as it may be expected all things, which were in open unceiled fire proof rooms, were consumed: but most fortunate; the loses were not extreme. Samuel had very promptly executed my order to build a fire proof storeroom, which he had accomplished, in which all the bales of cotton made ready for shipment had been carefully stored before this accident happened. He had also made another room fireproof in addition to the old small store; all within these were saved from destruction by fire. When I first heard of the fire at Onitsha, I was very much afraid they were all burnt out of everything and must have been destitute of the means of procuring food; but I am thankful to say the losses did not come to the extent of my fear; what have been earned have enabled them, not only to obtain their food but also to reroof all the houses which were burnt and to improve them also by making all the rooms fireproof ceiling against future. both my two sons and Dorogu have exerted themselves, most praiseworthily under these circumstances; the experience of Samuel  in house building has been laid out to advantage.

            The corrugated iron roofing sheet, for the stores have arrived at the [illeg], the Thomas Bazley in returning to the [?illegible?] to [???illegible???] the remaining cargo for the trading establishments at Onitsha and Lokoja when she will also bring up the roofing sheets for Onitsha and Gbebe.

            As the Thomas Bazley remains up here but one week, i can only write this in general information, hoping to be able to enter into particulars in my next.


I remain Revd. and Dear Sir Your most obt. humble servant. S.A. Crowther.





Mission House Lokoja. Feb. 17th 1866.


Right Revd & Dear Sir,


            I was very glad to have received the parcel of letters which you sent me through Abdramanu. It came safe to hand on the 16th inst. You will perhaps have heard by this time of the death of the late Mr. Maxwell [???] & therefore I have delivered the letters enclosed for him to W. Fell who is now acting in his room. He desires me to inform you that he has spoken to King Masaba very strongly about the conduct of the present King of Gbebe towards us as Missionaries especially those at Gbebe - Upon a complaint made by Mr. Paul - He and I had been to the King to see about it, but I am sorry to say that the King would not and did not receive us well, It was rather condescending in Mr. Fell to have gone down at once to Gbebe to see about the said complaint especially as he had just been preparing for his voyage up to Bidda, but nothing could exceed  the shocking manner in which he was received by the King. He was about to report his conduct to the Governor of Lagos, but I prevented him from doing so as the King had not done anything actually against Mr. & Mrs Paul but only threatened to prevent their fetching yams for Messrs Fell and Edwards, the latter of whom had refused to sell him some powder. This was the foolish ground of his threatening . he said that had Mr. Paul or Thomas interfered in the powder affair he would surely have had it. I would have written you of this but I feared the Governor of Lagos would take it very warmly should also be informed of it and any harm done to Gbebe, we whose calling is quite of a different nature shall be involved in the matters. Not long after our visit to Gbebe, the King's slaves seized some yams from Mr. Paul which he had bought for Mr. Fell & Edward, and up to this time they have not been delivered up as yet.  This was also reported to Masaba who at once dispatched his messengers to the King of Gbebe that if he molested your people any more he would ask him of it; they have already returned from Gbebe & before that things have been going on pretty quiet but I know not what may happen tomorrow - Mr. Fell wishes me to inform you that for your sake he would afford to Mr. & Mrs Paul as well as to the others of our party who are at Gbebe all the protection in his power. It is very difficult to send anything down the River this time since the war has been going on between Akaya and his brother the present King of Gbebe. We shall at all events get someone to take the several letters you have sent to their respective owners. You will be glad to hear that one chapel is very near being completed. I have written you that Messrs Fell & Edwards had promised to render me all the assistance there is in their power, the former had sent me his men when we were putting up the roof and the latter still promises to furnish the interior of the chapel, I would rather call the building a chapel than schoolroom and hope you will like the internal arrangement according to English taste when you see them. I have been obliged to give in to Mr. Edwards with respect to those arrangements as he will have to provide us with a reading desk. Communion lid? & table & seats for himself & Mr. Fell or whoever might be here in their places. I have shewn him your directions as to what amount of money I should have to carry out the building s with & he kindly promises to have this amount given me besides what I shall take on your own account. I am glad to inform you that I have redeemed a little boy on the Society’s foundation according to your order. Mr. Newland wishes me to remind you of his eye-glasses & I must remind you of my Bible and Prayer Book & other important things as you will bring up for us, We need a bell up here very much, our children have increased to 20 - who attend school regularly, I fear bye and bye I shall have very much to do that way.  I shall be thankful too for  any school books or other things that you will be pleased to send up for the station

            As I have already written you some time ago, I must conclude this letter by tendering our best regards to yourself and family and   

I am, Right Revd & Dear Sir, Yours respectfully. (signed) Thos. C. John





                                    Lokoja, February 22nd 1866.


Right Revd & Dear Sir,

            I am very sorry to inform you of the sad catastrophe which has lately occurred at Gbebe in consequence of which the agents of the society have all removed to Lokoja. Late in the evening of the 19th inst. Mr. & Mrs Paul came up to Lokoja informing me and Mr. Fell of a war or fight about to take place at Gbebe itself. Hitherto the two brother kings had been only fighting without but on this day they were determined to conquer or die. The neighbouring tribes were all leagued with Akaia against his brother the ex-King who had now on his side but the chief of Odokodo. He had on a former occasion sent to the Consul for Powder and he had not got it, for which he blamed the Mission party at Gbebe & had been treating them very unkindly - but now that he was in the greatest extremity, he was obliged to beg Mr. Paul to come over to Lokoja & obtain some powder for him. It was quite true that there was none & Mr. Fell & Edward said that it would be out of place to punish him with it had there been any. Mr. Paul in the strength of his coming over to communicate the King's message to Mr. Fell managed to convey a portion of his own property over to Lokoja. Had he not done so then without doubt all would have been plundered the next day. Early in the morning the next day Mr. Fell sent some messengers to the King assuring him that there was no powders & at the same time requesting him to see that the whole of the Mission party be brought over to Lokoja together with their property. The messengers delayed until war began to approach. Some fear[ed] for their safety and rightly too for the whole of the village was in great confusion - the boom of cannons wee continually heard for the fight had begun - and scarcely had the Mission party been able to rescue their property when the robbers entered the mission store and carried away everything in it, Mr. Paul will be better able to give you an accurate account of this part of the affair. Well no resistance could be then offered to the plunderers, the fellows threatened to kill one of our party if they made the least resistance. Thus it was that thro the courage of Mr. Abbega they were able to arrive at Odokodo late in the evening of the 20th on the 21st they started for Lukoja: On that very day the town was set on fire and there is scarcely anybody in the town now it is very mournful ruins. Much praise is due to Mr. Fell for the prompt assistance which he most opportunely rendered us to which is owing under Divine Providence the preservation of these our friends. We cannot but ascribe it all to the will of God. Who is able eventually to overrule this evil to good. with our kind regard


            I remain  Right Revd & Dear Sir respectfully yours (signed) Thos. C. John.





Bidda. March 30th 1866.


Right Revd. & Dear Sir,


            From the date of this letter you will at once see where I am at present. Mr. Edwards and I with several others arrived here only yesterday - and the King expecting us up here has detained Abuduramanu through whom I received your letter at Lokoja and as he is about to leave this place for Lagos tomorrow, I feel I must send you a few lines informing you of the objects of my taking a trip up to Bida so early, King Masaba had sent for Mr. Edwards that his people might buy some things which they wanted but could not come at while they were at Lokoja. He asked me to accompany him at first I had declined but having Mr. Paul and others to take my place I consented to go with him just to represent our body to him. Mr. Fell has been here representing the Government, Mr. Edwards has now represented the mercantile party. & he would let me represent the Church - Besides, he has been very kind to me assisting me now and then in my works at Lokoja. I therefore felt that in ought to accompany him; to witness whatever might happen to him, as he would whatever happened to myself. I have left the place in charge of Mrs. Paul, and the buildings are being carried on by Messrs Thomas and Newland. Perhaps before this reaches you you will have heard of the destruction of Gbebe and the robberies committed on the Society's property. So you will have to make great preparations for your house at Lokoja, which is now in the course of being thoroughly repaired, I have not done any more work on mine I was changing the roof and setting up a better - The workmen had been so troublesome in the course of building the Chapel, that after finishing it there was not sufficient time I feared to carry out my own house and yours to completion. Besides, Mr. Fell in the name of Government has lessened the Mission premises by 40 ft in the direction of your house a road of that width being made from Government house right through our premises to the camp towards Odokodo. But he has made a compensation of 80 ft below the road right in front of our house which with an addition of some more ground I am now enclosing either for the C.M.S. for the future Mission House or for something else as you may think proper on this consideration as well as the others which I have already mentioned I have deferred repairing the Mission House as you had wanted it to be done. Very sorry to hear of the death of Abiodun Mrs Thompson's son. I don't know whether you have heard of it or not so also of Jane, Mr. Coombers' daughter a beam from the ceiling of the house having fallen upon her while she was sleeping on a sofa & Mrs Coomber frowing?? I have to get me a good stock of school apparatus as my little school is getting pretty interesting having had such a valuable assistant as Mr. Paul even if it were for a short time. I hope you are all well. Mrs John joins me in kind regards to family & self.

            Respectfully yours (signed) Thos. c. John.


            P.S. I beg to mention that according to custom I have been advised and after advice I have made a present to King Masaba of £5 in stock in the Society's name. Mr. Edwards gave him goods to the value of £15 in the name of the W. A. Company. And you will very well fancy how kindly received we have been, every day we have bowls of food more than our party could consume besides very good accommodation. Mr. Edwards begs to be kindly remembered to you.

            Yours respectfully (Signed) Thos. C. John.




Mission House Gbebe. Confluence of Zworra and Tsadda. 4 Janry. 1866


Right Revd. and dear Sir,

            I am exceedingly glad to have this opportunity of communicating with the coast by land, for Mr. Fell is very willing to recieve all our letters & to have them sent, & I hope that they would safely reach Lagos after a few weeks. No sooner had the ship gone than I fell sick, suffering very much from severe dysentery, it was so severe that my being restored to health again seemed almost impossible, but now thank God I have been much improved in health, my being unwell has prevented my study of the Igbira language for two months, but now I have resumed it again, Mrs. Paul was then suffering from her old complaint the tooth-ache, the Europeans at Lokoja in hearing of our ill health immediately sent us medicines, they even sent to say that if we are not better after having tried what they sent us we must come over to Lokoja that we may be attended took so that we get better before we return to Gbebe, but I am glad to say that their medicines did us great good Mr. Maxwell afterwards took us up with Mr. John to Mount Patte for a change which helps greatly to improve our health. I am exceedingly sorry to add that this our great fried died after a short attack from dysentery on the 21 of December last. Mr. Fell is now going on with the consular service.

     We often times heard say that Masaba the King of Nupe wished us to remove from Gbebe as he is coming to war with the town, & in case of refusal on our part to remove should anything happen to us during the conflict, he is not at all responsible as we have been forewarned, but we remained unmoved by this threat, and determined not to run away from the few converts we have, but now such fear are dying away as Gbebe is now under his immediate control.

            The war which was heading on between the two opposers for their being King of Gbebe, viz Akaia and Abaje has now assumed a serious aspect, they both had determined on war. The inhabitants of the town look upon Akaia as being unfit to govern and they have now accepted Abaje as their king. He was nominated on the 13th November, and crowned on the 17th of that month by the mutual consent as it is said of the whole town; soon after this the new king sent to Masaba at Bida to inform him of his being made King and to submit himself and his town to him, thus he readily and willingly accepted for this was what he wanted. Masaba to show his approbation sent his messengers with some presents to confirm him and also sent to the surrounding chiefs as far as to Ugbo, that he has approved of Abaje's being made the King of Gbebe. Abaje will pay the usual tribute a consul from Bida is about being sent to Gbebe. The war between Abaje & his brother has commenced on the 16th December at the lower part of the river near Ugbo and another engagement also on the 1st of January we really know not how it will terminate.

            The people of Gbebe said that Akaia is beaten this I could not rely upon for it needs corroboration as one could not hear from the opposing party. Before the war commenced about one half of the inhabitants have escaped from the town to some of the neighbouring towns. In fact Gbebe was surrounded by enemies on three sides, they expected Masaba from the north, a Basa chief on the east, Akaia joined by Sintaku on the south now the only enemy they have to contend with is Akaia, our having remained in the town during these troubles has kept up our members also, some of the heathens also are kept through our stay, every day they would come to watch us to see whether we are already gone, and should we go hto Lokoja, and not return sooner, they would conclude at once that we have foreseen danger, now the runaway have returned with a few exceptions but some have removed altogether from Gbebe.

            You will be sorry to hear that three of the boys transferred to you from Gbebe station viz; Lato, Brima, and Sinalu have been removed to Lokoja by late Mr. Maxwell. He wrote to say that Mr. Bouchier on leaving informed him of some children left at Gbebe station by late Dr. Baikie, viz; five boys and three girls and that I must have them sent back he also sent a few yards of velvet which he said we should appropriate to school expenses, I in return wrote him to say that as the children were left under my care by you and you are not present I really know not what to do and also informed him that provision is made already by the Society for their support , however I went to him the next day to see him about the children, Mr. John also went with me, we told him that these boarders are the only children in school & should he remove them, we shall be obliged to close up the school the velvet I took with me to return it, which he said no, I must take it, he never meant to give it for expenses defrayed for them, but as present from Government & that he hoped to give some to Mr. John also for his school, so I took it back, he also said that he did not know that the boarders are the only children in the school, but he would have three of the boys, so the three already mentioned were sent over to him. I feel for their being removed & more for Lato as he is promising, and besides you wished me to pay greater attention to him and Obadiah Thomas.

            The walls around the mission yard have been falling down here and there, they are now being put up. I am sorry to say that we suffer from things taken from the factory, oftentimes after having paid canoe expenses to Lokoja the things taken are sold at a price lower than they are given us, now things are sold at a price higher than 25 percent more than they were before you left . grey cotton is sold at the same price The blockade of the lower part of the river cause by the intestine war has caused us no little trouble of mind for the brethren at Idda, because should the war continue long they will be prevented from coming up for supplies when theirs are exhausted, and news have often reached us that things have become dearer at Idda especially provisions, but this report has been falsified by a man who came from Idda a few days ago, he said that provisions are paid only little dearer than when the road was opened he said for large yams are sold for 800 cowries, when we  were first informed that two small yams are sold for 1000, we believe  this man for he said he knew Balu and has often gone to the Mission yard to see her & the Mission party I shall be very much thankful should you give to Mr. Josiah your son an order to get me a single barrelled nipple gun with also two extra nipples, a cotton umbrella, and a good lantern will be also thankful, should you write the Editor of the African Times that I should like to have my name subscribed to his paper, & that you send him the  usual amount

Sepsions Standard Alphabet is highly necessary. The time given to prepare letters being too short, no quarterly returns sent, we are in want of some carpenters, too! The amount spent in the station is about 8 bags including boarders' feeding The Sacrament of the Lord's supper will be administered by Mr. John on Sunday the 14 Janry. The female members of our congregation are regular in attending the means of grace but the men are somewhat careless.

            I hope you and family are well. our sincere regards to you all. I remain Right Revd and dear Sir your obdt. servant (signed) C. Paul.





Lokoja, River niger. 27 February 1866.


            Right Revd and dear Sir,

            I am exceedingly sorry to inform you of the destruction of Gbebe, and this took place on the 20th day of February, by the combined forces of the Bassas and Akaia's party. No sooner had the steamers left than we have been hearing of wars and rumours of war, all against Gbebe. Since the fight, commenced in November last, the king and chiefs have not been on good terms with us the Mission party, because we could not join with them in their wars, and have been stealing and seizing things belonging to us, but we tried to live peaceably with all men.

            On the 19th instant the booming of the cannon at Ogbo tells us that the contending parties have met each other in the field, and this continued from about 7 in the morning till 10; and about 11 a.m though contending parties met the men of Gbebe at a place called Obu at the southeastern part of the town, and fought when some were killed and wounded on both sides. The next day the men of Gbebe being unable to cope with their enemies, left them in the field and deserted the town. The Consul Mr. Fell, has done very well for us; he sent over his messenger Abiga to the King that we should leave the town before it be set on fire, the King was at first reluctant, but afterwards consented. Whilst we were seeing about the removal of some of our things, the men of Odokodo who came to assist Gbebe; entered the Mission Yard plundered everything but fortunately we saved some of our clothes. These plunderers entering the yard were shooting with their arrows whatever creatures they met with; i narrowly escaped their swords and arrows Mr. Fell has done much for us; he spent large amount of property and money for our safety, and besides he provided clothes for the children and lodging for us. If Mr. Fell had not sent over to Gbebe, none of us would have escaped for we have no canoe of our own, and no one to cross us over to Lokoja, in fact I do not know how to return thanks to him. On Wednesday morning the town was set on fire, so that Gbebe is now a ruinous heap; the ruins only mark the place where Gbebe once stood. This important town is now swept away from the face of the earth. I feel very much for the loss of Gbebe, our congregation was increased, as well as the number of children which has come to 15. Some succeeded in following us to Lokoja, though others are now dispersed into the surrounding countries.

            We shall be thankful to the bishop should he favour us by sending this information to Mr. & Mrs White.

            Our kind regards to you and family. I remain Right Revd. & Dear Sir Your obt. servant. (signed) C. Paul.


P.S. We shall be thankful to the Bishop should he get us 12 lbs of sugar and a lb of tea.




River Niger. Confluence of Kwara & Tshadda. Lokoja July 25 1866.


Rev. H. Venn.


Revd. and Dear Sir,


            We arrived here in safety on Saturday the 21st inst. and met all our agents at the different stations doing well. I have taken Mr. Taylor from Onitsha and Mr. Coomber from Idda, to come up here with me, that we may have a Conference Meeting to consider what arrangements, can better be made for the advantage of the mission.

            The Thomas Bazley will return to the coast with a cargo of palm oil from Onitsha, and to make two trips more for the same purpose. Trade very encouraging.

            In her absence Messrs Taylor & Coomber and myself will pay a visit in our own boat to some of the adjacent villages on the river, and there drop down to Idda Mr. Coomber's station, to inspect the work there and lay out plan for future operations.

            Lokoja has become a place of refuge to many of the unfortunate fugitive from Gbebe after its destruction by the war between the two rival brothers, Abaje & Akaia, particulars of which will be sent in due time.

     The loss of the mission station at Gbebe with all the mission property there is total. I have not yet been able to inspect the ruins, on account of the continued hostilities between the two brothers, who intercept the river to prevent canoes passing to and fro.

            Revd. Mr. John is exerting himself most creditably both to himself and to ther Society he represents at Lokoja

            Mr. C. Paul has acted the part of a faithful soldier at his post at Gbebe during the civil war, he kept his post till it was no longer tenable, when he was obliged to quit at the same time the head warrior did, the last moment the enemies took possession of the town and commenced the work  of plunder on the mission property, threatening Mr. Paul with death if he dared to in[ter]fere: his zeal in this occasion was highly spoken of both by Mr. W. Fell the Consular Agent and Mr. Edwardes, Agent of the West African Company Limited, both of whom I am glad to inform you have rendered the Mission agents invaluable assistance at that critical time of perplexity.

            Last Sunday the 22nd instant was a great day for Lokoja when it was favoured with the presence of three native clergymen officiating with me at the morning service, Mr. Edwards playing the harmonium which greatly added a pleasing & lively tone to the service at which about 90 persons were present including 19 Mohammedans, some of them persons of rank, who, I was informed have been in the habit of attending. Mr. John’s service previous to this. The service was partly in English and Haussa. Text St. Luke 4th V. 18-19.

            Although we have suffered the loss of Gbebe station in property, yet I do not think we do so much in our converts, the greater portion of whom have retreated here with their teachers.


            The supplies for "Ventor"?? have been all barely received and brought up to the station, eight package, excepting which I hope Mr. Nicholson will receive and send up to us, when there shall be an opportunity from Lagos. The two large Bells have safely reached their destination and I am very much obliged to the Parent Comttee for their promptness in sending these supplies.

            I must now bring this to a close as it is only a letter of condensed journal in formation, which i hope will allay the anxiety and apprehension of the Committee as regards the safety of the mission in time of war and disquietude of the people.

            We beg an increased interest in your prayers that the God of missions may continue to be with us, protect us and





Lagos Jan 3rd 1867.


My dear Sir,


            I have received your letter of 23rd Nov. last, and have seen Mr. Thos Lewis your chief agent at Lagos and the Niger and have also seen Mr. Fisher who arrived here in one of your sailing ships. I sincerely hope the Company will be fortunate in these recent appointments - In that letter you expressed your reliance upon the governors, myself, the missionaries and my sons, to render Mr. Lewis every possible assistance for the Company's interest. It is needless for me to assure you on the part of myself and my sons, that we have been doing so & will continue so to do as long as any of your agents is willing to receive any advice from us or any assistance that we can render. my last letter will have informed you that some of your agents have scorned advice from us, because they knew everything & can manage for themselves without our aid - To tell you the truth, such  persons consider us to be in their way, & as such any advice we can give and assistance we may render are considered officious. Therefore you will have perceived by that letter that, I have almost made up my mind no more to interfere in the Company's business, but to let matters take their own course; though I am certain they will make a mess of things in the country, the only thing I regret is, they will go away & leave us in the lurch to rectify their mischiefs with which we have nothing to do, the best way we can to secure the interest of our mission.

            We have experienced the same thing already in connection with late Mr. McGregor Laird's Factory at Abo, which involved him in great losses, and to this day the effects of mischiefs done by his agent with the natives are still being felt. We who have to remain & work in the country have to suffer the consequences. I believe I have pointed out these things to you again & again, because I do not with them to occur again up the Niger - Thus much for that

            The Niger is a new ground to work at: to improve it, civilize its natives must mingle among the people and encourage them to acts and habits of industry. Being a missionary myself I could not possibly attend to teach these secular things, therefore adopted the system which I did at Abbeokuta when the first cotton raw gin was introduced: I set my son Josiah to work it,  & the first bags were packed with [?] and sticks till no more cotton could be got  [??] we persevered in doing this till you sent out a press what is the result now?

            In 1862, I adopted the same plan up the Niger. I took my son Dandeson in the "Investigator" & he made three such bags load as above described which were brought down in the "Investigator"

            In 1863, I took Josiah up in the "Investigator" with a small government press which he put up & induced the natives to collect cotton, he succeeded & pressed six bales of about 130 lbs each which were brought down in the "Investigator"

            In 1864, I took both Samuel & Josiah up to put up the corrugated iron roofs which were purchased for the Church Missionary Society because they are experienced in such things but unfortunately the iron sheets did not go up that year. Still in hopes they might come both of them stayed up the river, in the meantime  encouraging the collection of cotton & other produce, & by the time the "Thomas Bazley" made her first trip in 1865, they had made 50 bales of about 130 lbs each which were consigned to you, but unfortunately they were lost in the St. Laurence.

            After 14 months stay up the Niger they came down in the "Thomas Bazley", the first time they took passage in her. During the time the "Thos Bazley" stayed up the river, both Samuel & Josiah rendered her every possible assistance by purchasing fuel, stock, & giving advice &c. Mr. Mac Coskry who was your agent then and is now in England can testify to the truths of these things as far as he knew them.

            From the above statements, the question arises: Have these young men been useful to me or not? Have they exerted themselves or not, to introduce industrial habits and call forth the vast resources of the country? Of whom could I have taken such advantages, except of my sons to co-operate with me? In 1866, the first trip in July was the first time that Samuel & Josiah went up in your ship to see & arrange for future operations with me in those unexplored regions in the Niger.

            From what I can gather by your letters, all such traders who do not go up to settle in the country, will not be taken up in your ship. I should like to know whether my sons who have been so helpful to me and serviceable to the cause of trade up the Niger are included in this rule? because they are not immediately prepared to settle altogether up the Niger.

            There is one grievous complaint against them in your letter as made by Mr. Finlay. viz that "they are traders in calabashes & light goods which sadly took too much room to the detriment of the Company's own room for cargo" This is not strictly true. Had you asked Mr. Finlay where did he store those calabashes? if he has any respect for straightfoorrwardness he would have told you - That at the suggestion of Bishop Crowther, they were stored up on the top of the house over the aft deck where oars, sails, spars, & other such articles are thrown to be out of the way, so they were not in the holds, where he had to store the Company’s cargo nor on deck but on the top of the house. How could these have proved detrimental to the room for the Company's cargo? He is still in England & perhaps in your service, if he has not yet put his determination to leave you as soon as he arrives to execution; he will tell you what I state to be the truth. When these calabashes were put in the holds, whether at Lokoja, or at the Nun, there was no sufficient cargo in the holds, at the Nun the holds were nearly empty when he put them in. I moreover told Mr. Finlay, that in the "Investigator" they used to put such light things in the long boat or on the top of the boiler or lashed them alongside the bulwark, as they were light & were not injured by the rain - this is the other side of the question.

            But I must tell you the truth: the prejudices began at Lagos, I knew this and therefore made all arrangements for the voyage before Mr. J.Fees left for England, so passage could not be refused to those whom he did not like.

            If Mr. Finlay found fault with calabashes and packs & charged double freight for them, what could he say for charging me for conveying 12 pcs of inch plancks savon & freighted at Onitsha; six to the distance of 50 miles & four to the distance of 70 miles to Lokoja, freight 16/8 !! These boards were used as platforms in the hold to facilitate digging salt out for sale. I remonstrated with him for such unreasonable charges but he would have his own way - Again, I took two boys with me from Lagos to Lokoja to facilitate my visiting the stations in my own boat. For these two boys my servants & boatmen I had to pay 15$ each just as for myself. I told Mr. Finlay this was not fair but he would not reduce the amount. So I had too pay 16.13.4 to him for these two boys alone -Therefore to avoid unpleasantness on my arrival at Lagos I paid him the full amount of his charges & represented the matter to the Committee of the Church Missionary Society.

            Mr. Finlay's overbearing conduct has called for such long explanation of matters that the directors may see both sides of the question: for I am sure they will do what is just. I myself was so annoyed by his regardless conduct that I had to beg him to put me on shore with my boat and I would work my way up the best way I could: and that if I was going to be subjected to such treatment from him I would decidedly arrange with the Committee of the Church Missionary Society & decline going up the Niger in the Company's ship for the future. These facts he can substantiate if you like to prove them.

            If it will be acknowledged both myself on behalf of the Church Missionary Society & my sons have contributed much to encourage the West African Company Limited in their attempts to develop the trade of the Niger & to help the agents of the Company every way.

            If it will be acknowledged, both myself on behalf of the Church Missionary Society, and my sons, have, both by labour & money contributed greatly to encourage the W.A. Co Limited in their attempts to develop the trade of the Niger.

            At the first year of the "Thos Bazley" voyage up the Niger, our payment to the Company's agents ran thus-

            1865. I paid on account of the C.M .Society

charges for passage & freight to the stations - 204. 0. 5 1/2

                        -do-                              -do- private a/cs -     22. 18.10

Purchases at the Establishment at Onitsha       -  188. 0. 4 1/2

            -do-                  -do-                  -do-        Lokoja                       -  127. 12.9

Total paid by us in 1865 --       -           -           -           -  542. 12.5

Samuel's passage & freight down the River  -    44. 12.0 1/2

Josiah's                        -do-                                                          13.  0.6


1866. I paid to Mr. Finlay for passage and freight & small sundry purchases                                                              -  180  14.11

For purchase at the establishment.                               -  178.  6. 8


                                                                        =                                     359.  1. 7


Passage of Mr. & Mrs. Josiah up & down the river 20. 16. 8

The disputed charges for 1866 not

yet paid by them                      ---                    --                     ----

Total paid to the Company in two years by us    980.  3. 2 1/2

We do not refuse to pay if your agents are but reasonable.


            Besides these, all produce collected by Samuel and Josiah saleable in European markets, whether ivory, cotton  or oil, are consigned to the Company direct, and to no other except those calabashes so much complained of with as few country cloths which are sold to the natives at Lagos.

            Mr. Finlay's prejudices against us has called forth such long & particular explanation of matters, that the Directors may see and judge for themselves.

            You suggested in your letter "Can your son Samuel in some other educated person not be found who could get made quite pure, and send here in the dry state in cakes 3 or 4 inches square and 1 or 2 inches thick, and also to collect plants of the country that are known for their medical virtues"? This is the very reason I always took them to travel with me up the Niger, they can devote their attention to such things which I cannot -- But if they are shut out from visiting the country by the rule alluded to, the accomplishment of such an object is at present defeated, unless attained through another channel


            I remain &c. &c.            S.A. Crowther.


[CMS]     [NAK Lokoprof ]     [NAK Ilorprof]     [NAK SNP]     [F.O/CO]     [Miscellaneous]

bottom of page