The Church’s sense of the loss sustained by the death of
those missionaries is expressed in the following :—
Minute of General Assembly as to the Deaths of Missionaries
At Edinburgh, the ist day of June 1891, Which day the General
Assembly of the Church of Scotland being met and constituted, inter
alia,—The General Assembly having been informed by its Foreign Mission
Committee of the death at Blantyre on 10th November of the Rev. Robert
Cleland; the death at Blantyre on 13th January of Mrs. Henry Henderson; the
death at Blantyre on 17th January of Dr. John Bowie; the death at Quilimane
on 12th February of Mr. Henry Henderson,— desires to record in its Minutes a
tribute of respect to those greatly lamented missionaries, an extract
thereof to be sent to the relatives of the deceased.
Mr. Robert Cleland was born in Coatbridge in 1857, and served
an apprenticeship as an engineer. In his twenty-first year he decided to
study for the ministry, with the view of becoming a missionary in Africa.
lie was ordained in St. George’s Church, Edinburgh, on 29th May 1887, and
sailed from London on 9th June following. During his short career of less
than three and a half years in Africa he founded the mission-station of
Chirazulo and was pioneer missionary to Mount Milanje. In addition to his
own work, he took charge of Domasi Mission for sixteen months, making good
roads and bringing in good water, while at the same time labouring with
singular consecration as a missionary. He was on a tour of inspection on
Mount Milanje when he was seized with the fever from which, five days
afterwards, he died at Blantyre.
Mr. John Bowie, M.B., C.M., was the son of an esteemed
citizen of Edinburgh, and was a very distinguished student at the University
of that city, carrying off the gold medals in Physiology, Natural History,
Practice of Medicine, &e. He had entered on a London practice, and was
rising into eminence, when he made up his mind to devote his life to
mission-work in Africa, joining his brother-in-law, the Kev. D. 0. Scott,
B.D., at Blantyre. He went out to Africa early in the summer of 1887,
accompanied by Mrs. Bowie. His great skill as a physician and surgeon and
his true missionary spirit made him a pillar of strength to the African
Mission, and his death is deeply deplored alike by Europeans and natives.
Always kind and ready to encounter every danger in the path of duty, he died
of diphtheria, contracted in an attempt to save the life of his sister’s
infant son by sucking the tracheotomy tube when the child was dying of that
Mrs. Henry Henderson, born Harriet Bowie, sister of Dr. Bowie
and of Mrs. D. C. Scott, was married and went out to Africa not much more
than two years ago. Of a bright and happy nature, with a deep under-current
of religious life, and as able as she was earnest, she was peculiarly fitted
for the duties of a missionary’s wife. She also died of diphtheria, after
the death of her only child. Before she died, Dr. Bowie, then himself very
ill, rose from bed and relieved her sufferings, though he could not save her
life, by performing the operation of tracheotomy with all his usual skill.
Mr. Henry Henderson was a son of the late minister of the
parish of Kinclaven, and passed through a full Arts course at the University
of Edinburgh. He was for some time in Australia, and there a career was
opened to him which would probably have led to wealth. But when the Church
of Scotland proposed to undertake an African Mission, he volunteered to be
pioneer missionary; and to him is due the selection of the comparatively
healthy Shire Highlands, now included in the British protectorate, and
forming a stronghold from which the country can be evangelised and civilised.
Bereft of wife and child, he set out for Europe, taking charge of Mrs. Bowie
and Miss Beck, and reached Qnilimane apparently in good health. But there he
became ill of fever on 9th January, and died four days afterwards.
Of those good and brave missionaries who have thus died in
the mission-field, it can truly be said that there was not a thought of self
in any one of them; and by laying down their precious lives for Africa, they
have pledged the Church of Scotland to prosecution of their noble
The Assembly expresses its deepest sympathy with tho widowed
mother of Mr. Cleland; with Mrs. Bowie, senior, so sorely bereaved of her
children; with the widow and young daughter of Dr. John Bowie; with Mrs.
David Clement Scott; and with the other sorrowing relatives, and commends
them all to the keeping of Almighty God.
Extracted from the Records of the General Assembly of the
Church of Scotland by me,
Wm.. Milligan, C. Eccles. Scot.