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William and Louisa Anderson
Part II - Jamaica Period, 1839-1848 - Chapter 7


Appointment to Old Calabar, 1846—Transference of the Agents of the Scottish Missionary Society to Board of Missions of United Presbyterian Church, 1847— Call to succeed late Rev. W. Jameson—Departure from Rose Hill, 1848

In a letter of date 29th January 1846, the Rev. A. Elliot refers to the new mission to Old Calabar, Western Africa, of which the Rev. Hope Masterton Waddell, of Mount Zion, Jamaica, was the pioneer:—

The African Mission is taking prodigiously. It approves itself to every friend of the gospel, and has excited the utmost enthusiasm. Who is to be sent to join Mr. Waddell? Whoever it is, let us hear by him of your doings and welfare, and of Mrs. Anderson's.

The next letter from Mr. Anderson, dated 19th November 1846, informs Mr. Elliot that the former has been appointed to join Mr. Waddell:—

About this time you will probably be hearing that I have been appointed by the Missionary Board in this island to follow Messrs. Waddell and Jameson to Africa. I feel as if you had a right to all the information I can give on this subject; but as I have not time to write to you at length, I take the liberty of enclosing a letter for Mr. Somerville, which I beg you to forward immediately, that he may by all means (if requisite) write to Mr. Blyth or me on the subject by the first Jamaica packet. You will gather from that letter—which peruse and please seal—all that I can at present say on the subject. I wish earnestly that all uncertainty were removed from the matter, and that the Master would say speedily either "Go" or "Stay." But we must let patience have her perfect work. (The "personal objection" referred to in Mr. S.'s letter is, what you are aware of, my dental defects.) Mr. Blyth thinks that all objections will be overruled, and that no obstacle lies in the way of my going "far hence." He thinks I should leave Dr. Brown and the Scottish Missionary Society nolens volens. I have written him that I do not at all like the nolens. You may know, sooner than I perhaps, from Dr. Brown or Mr. Somerville whether the Directors have consented to my removal or not. If they have, and if intimation of it be on the way, then you may henceforth look on me as a Ford missionary to Africa. I am so selfish that I half regret, in the prospect of leaving Rose Hill, that I did not retain the Communion service, etc., sent me by Ford and Dalkeith Sabbath scholars, as personal property, that I might have them to take to Africa; but I feel consoled by the thought that your young people will surely renew their liberality should I require such articles in Africa.

We had, with you, I presume, our Communion Sabbath on Sabbath the 1st inst. I concluded the table services from the words—"I will not henceforth drink of the fruit of the vine," etc. I felt that it might be my last Communion Sabbath in this place. When I look forward to the dark future—to my last Sabbath among my little flock, the farewell sermon, etc. etc.—I feel oppressed. I doubt not but this note will lead you to sympathy and prayer with mc in the present crisis.

Mr. Waddell has written for me to join him in Africa. I may state that Mr. Blyth's letter to ine conveying notice of my nomination to Africa was a surprise to me. I had no more thought of being sent to Africa than of being sent to the moon. I never considered myself as the man for such high and important work. The treasure being in such a weak, frail earthen vessel as I, O may the excellence of the power be of God, that He may be glorified by me in life or in death, in America or Africa! ...

We are moving on here the old way. Good school— church increasing slowly. Now 150 communicants here, and about 70 at Cedar Valley. I dispense the Communion at Cedar Valley always that day four weeks after the Communion here.

Mrs. Anderson fights nobly by my side, but is never very strong. She injured herself by over-exertion before I came here. She taught Carron Hall school on Sabbath, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and here on Friday and Saturday. This was far too much for any person to do. I know of no one who does nearly so much in Jamaica. She narrowly escaped consumption the year before I came here. If we go to Africa, we hope that the voyage will benefit us both. I felt very poorly a month or two ago, but feel quite vigorous again.

If you ascertain from Dr. Brown or Mr. Somerville that we shall not go to Africa, at least for the present, will you be kind enough to instruct James Tod to forward the articles I sent for some time ago, as speedily as possible?

I hardly expect that Mrs. Watson (of Lucea) will be alive when you receive this. How is George Hall getting on? I asked him to come out to Cedar Valley; I wish you would back me. But we don't like to let good members leave our congregations here—you, no doubt, feel as we do.

The Board propose to send Mr. Caldwell or Mr. Gregory here in my place.

Mr. Waddell arrived at Fort Maria in the Warree on 24th December 1846, after his pioneer expedition to Old Calabar, and was cordially welcomed by his brother-in-law, the Rev. John Simpson, and the brethren in the north-eastern part of the island. Mr. and Mrs. Anderson would probably have accompanied Mr. Waddell on his return to Calabar, but for the circumstance mentioned in the letter quoted below. The Warree set sail from Lucea harbour on the 15th of March 1847, taking with her, in addition to Mr. Waddell, the Rev. Hugh Goldie, who, after six years' labours as a teacher and catechist at Stirling and Negril, had been ordained for the African Mission by the Falmouth Presbytery on July 17, 1846, and Mrs. Goldie, Mr. H. B. and Mrs. Newhall, Mr. Henry Hamilton, a brown man, mission carpenter, and Mary Brown, who afterwards became his wife—parents of the Rev. H. Hope Hamilton, Jamaica—and Samuel Duncan and his wife, and Sarah Brown, a black girl, and two assistant carpenters.

Mr. Anderson writes to Mr. Chisholm, Dalkeith, under date 4th Oct. 1847:—

I do not know what to say about my going to Africa. I referred it to the Committees at home to decide on the matter. You are aware that in the end the Directors of the Scottish Missionary Society agreed to transfer me to the (Secession) Synod's Board of Missions. Intelligence of this reached Jamaica only a day or two before the Warree sailed for Africa. I wrote Mr. Somerville afterwards on the subject, expressing my willingness to go to Africa or wherever the hand of Providence may lead me. He replied, giving me to understand that the Synod's Committee look on me as their pledged agent for Africa,— that they regard favourably my request to be sent to Africa via Scotland, if at all,—but that they do not judge it advisable to order me home immediately, till they hear from Africa, and be able to send a reinforcement to Jamaica. Thus the matter stands. I know not the day or the hour when I may be called on to leave this sphere and proceed to the distant land.

One thing I may say about the matter. It is this. My consenting to go to Africa at all has been purely out of deference to the opinions of others and the will of Providence as indicated by those opinions. I know that some who have gone to Africa have felt as if their day of usefulness in this land were over, and that others would carry on their work here better. Now, my feeling is that I am just in my proper sphere—that 1 cannot be more useful anywhere than where I am at present. However, I shall consider the will of the Church as an indication of the will of the Master; and if the Committee here and the Committee at home persist in saying to me, "Thou art the man for Africa," I must, of course, submit to their decision. One thing, however, I feel that I ought not to do—leave this station till a successor be on the spot. Were I to consult my own wishes and feelings, and, I believe, those of all this neighbourhood, the conclusion would be—"Here let me live, labour, die, and be buried." But I trust I have learned to say from the heart, "Not my will, but Thine be done."

The origin of the movement that led to the formation of a Synod of the Presbyterian Mission Churches in Jamaica is described in this letter: [In January 1848 it was agreed to form the Synod of the Presbyterian Church of Jamaica, and the first meeting was held al Falmoulh on 9th January 1848.—See M'Kerrow's Foreign Missions, p. 321.] —

At a late meeting of the Eastern District Committee of Presbytery (consisting of Messrs. Cowan, Simpson, Campbell, and Anderson), it was agreed to overture the Presbytery at its meeting in January to form itself into a Synod, and to give the four District Committees Presbyterial powers—i.e. to constitute them Presbyteries. It is impossible for all the ministers to attend each meeting of Presbytery at present. Presbytery generally meets at Montego Pay. I am the farthest from that town, and to go there costs me about £2 sterling, and to return, as much, besides being completely knocked up for a week after I get home. In the event of the division of Presbytery, we propose that Synod shall meet annually at Falmouth or Montego Pay one year, in Kingston or Spanish Town the next, etc. This would require from none of the brethren more than one long journey in two years.

We of the Eastern Committee have been very anxious to commence a station in Kingston. The United Presbyterian Church has no station in any of the principal seaport towns of Jamaica. These are Kingston, Montego Bay, and Falmouth. At the latter two places the Free Church has stations. While we were planning about commencing operations in Kingston, Mr. Goldie of the Scottish Establishment there died. The session applied to one of the Presbytery's preachers, Mr. Callender, to supply their church with sermon. A pro re nata meeting of Presbytery was held at Montego Bay, at which Mr. Callender was ordained. He immediately proceeded to Kingston, and is now labouring there with much acceptance. We have thus been enabled to begin work in that city in a very providential way. Kingston Kirk is, I believe, or was, under the Established Presbytery of Edinburgh. Should said Presbytery send out another minister, I believe there will be a split in the congregation. Ninety-nine-hundredths of the people will follow Mr. Callender. Should no minister be sent out, the Kingston congregation will quietly put themselves under our Presbytery. There is abundant room for other three or four ministers in Kingston.

I am one of a Committee to meet with the American Congregational brethren on this day week to have a conference with a view to their union with the Presbytery. They are five in number, and are of the excellent ones of the earth. Their accession would make a strong Eastern Presbytery. . . . Perhaps you have heard from Mr. Jas. Tod that our beloved sister, Mrs. Beardslie (of the American Mission), left this world for a better at the beginning of August. Since that time her husband's health has been rather delicate. He spent last Friday with us here. He is now superintendent of the Mico Institution, Kingston. It is a sort of Normal Seminary. . . .

I would not grudge is. 6d. postage for The Lambs of the Flock, by Mr. Brown. I have been much helped by his Dzvellings of Jacob, a copy of which Mr. Tod sent to Mrs. A. I see that Mr. Brown is one of the Mission Board.—With affectionate regards to Mrs. Chisholm and the young folks, in which Mrs. A. joins, I am, my very dear friend, ever yours, Wm. Anderson.

"After the union took place between the United Secession and the Relief Churches in May 1847,an arrangement was made," says Dr. M'Kcrrow, "by means of which the missionaries in Jamaica that were connected with the Scottish Missionary Society were placed under the superintendence of the Board of Missions connected with the United Presbyterian Church. This arrangement was accomplished in a most amicable manner, and gave great satisfaction to all parties concerned." Intimation of the transference of the Jamaica Mission of the Scottish Missionary Society, and of the Kaffrarian Mission of the Glasgow Missionary Society, to the care and the support of the United Presbyterian Church, was made in the Missionary Record for October 1847. The missionaries themselves cordially agreed to the transfer of their services to the Board of Missions of the United Presbyterian Church, and the Report of the Scottish Missionary Society for 1848 contains excerpts from letters received by the Secretary, Dr. Win. Brown, from the missionaries. Mr. Anderson wrote as follows :—

I regret that matters have come to the present pass, in regard to the Society. The intelligence is not, however, wholly unexpected. Before I left home, it was the opinion of several of the Secession ministers with whom I conversed, that in a short time the agents in Jamaica of the Scottish Missionary Society would become the Synod's. Looking at the aspect of affairs in Scotland, contrasting things now with what they must have been when the Scottish Missionary Society was formed (1796)—considering the numerous demands made, especially in a year like the present, on the liberality of the Scottish public, and seeing how strenuously each section of the Church labours to support and extend its own particular mission or missions—however much we regret, we can hardly wonder that a catholic Society like the Scottish Missionary should be overlooked by the mass. I think the arrangement proposed, namely, that of transferring us and our stations to the Synod's Board of Missions, is the very best that could be made. In so far as I am concerned, I cordially concur in it, though I feel deeply grieved that it should be necessary. Some of my earliest recollections are interestingly associated with the Society. In the days of my boyhood it was long the only Missionary Society of which 1 ever heard; its monthly Registers and Quarterly Papers were the only periodicals that, so far back as I remember, ever entered my father's dwelling. But perhaps the purposes of God with the Society have been accomplished; it has finished the work for which He designed it, and He is now calling on it to leave the field to others. If such be the case, it becomes us humbly to say, "Not our will, O Father, but Thine be done." Yet, when the announcement goes forth to the public that the Scottish Missionary Society has given up its Jamaica Missions, there will be sadness in the souls of those who have been its faithful and constant supporters; and I should think, too, that there are many, many to whom the announcement will cause a pang of deep regret, because they have not done what they could for its support.

In the Missionary Record for August 1848 appeared the following statement regarding the choice of Mr. Anderson to supply the place of the late Rev. William Jameson at Old Calabar:—

The Rev. William Anderson, who for eight years has been labouring very assiduously and successfully at Rose Hill, was chosen by the brethren in Jamaica as one of the agents that were last year to accompany Mr. Waddell to Africa; but circumstances occurred which, to his great disappointment, prevented him from going at that time. The Mission Board, cordially approving of his appointment, intimated that they would look to him as the next brother that would be called upon, when a proper opportunity should present itself, to join the devoted band at Old Calabar. This opportunity was afforded by the lamented death of the Rev. William Jameson (at Creek Town on Aug. 5th, 1847). The following extract from a letter of Mr. Anderson, written when he received tidings of Mr. Jameson's death, shows that he is a person of kindred spirit, and that he is well fitted to succeed that most excellent and beloved servant of God:—

"On reaching home, I found a letter lying for me from Mr. Goldie. After mentioning the sore bereavement, Mr. G. asks me, 'Are you ready to come out and fill his place? We surely cannot consent to lose the favourable footing we have gained in this land; and of all the brethren in Jamaica, I know of none who can so conveniently come as yourself. I know that to go to Africa, and 'to fill his place', are very different things. But should the Mission Board wish it, I stand ready to do the one and to attempt the other. I suppose it is not needful that I say more on the subject than I have said to you in my former letters. I look on myself as not my own, as the property of God, and, in some respects, of the Church; and my wish is just to be what and to be where He wills. I regard the decision of such a body of men as your Mission Board as a broad intimation of what He would have me to do. To the difficulties and the dangers connected with the mission to Old Calabar I cannot shut my eyes; but if the Board wish another agent from Jamaica to proceed thither, 'here am I, send me.' In view of toil, dangers, difficulties, disease, and early death, I think I can say, 'None of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, that I may finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.'"

These are the words of a man who lived, as the subsequent extract proves, in the affections of his flock, and who occupied a station, in reference to which he says in the same letter, "for the encouragement of anyone, either in Scotland or in Jamaica, who may at any time wish to come to Rose Hill, you can assure him that there is not a prettier nor a healthier locality in Jamaica than this"; and yet he is prepared to give up all his comforts, and to expose himself to the perils of Central Africa, in obedience to the call of duty, and for the sake of the perishing heathen at Old Calabar. Surely this is the spirit that ought to animate the missionary of the Cross!

A letter inviting him home was on its way across the Atlantic at the very time when Mr. Anderson was penning the words which we have quoted. He at once complied with the request which it contained; and the following very interesting communication, dated Montego Bay, 25th May 1848, describes the intense sorrow which his leaving caused to his attached people:—

"In compliance with the directions of the Mission Board, transmitted to us through you, we have bidden farewell to our lovely mountain home, and are thus far on our way to dark Africa. On the morning of the 18th, with heavy hearts, and amidst the tears and lamentations of many, we tore ourselves away from the scenes of many laborious, many happy, some sad, and also, we trust, some useful days. The people amongst whom we had laboured, more or less, for upwards of eight years, showed us all possible kindness. They plentifully supplied us with ground provisions and fowls for the voyage, and carried them and our luggage to Fort Maria, a distance of fourteen miles. A goodly number of both old and young accompanied us during our journey. When we reached Port Maria, the boat which was to carry us to this place had not arrived. It did not reach Port Maria till Friday evening the 19th. We embarked about 9 A.M. of Saturday. Upwards of twenty of those who had come with us on the Thursday had remained till that time, to guard our provisions, and 'to see the last of us.' With them we had a sorrowful parting at the wharf. The Lord reward their kindness to us, His unworthy servants.

"I had a laborious, painful, and exciting season for a week or two before we left Rose Hill. I may look over my Journal for the last few weeks:—

"'Sabbath, April 16.—A solemn day. Preached, as I suppose, my last sermon to the young here (Rose Hill), from Joseph's words to Benjamin, "God be gracious unto thee, my son."

"'Monday, 17.—At Kingston looking after a ship.

'"Tuesday, 18.—On board several ships. Did not get a passage. Reached home about midnight.

'"Friday, 21.—Fast Day. Good congregation. Preached from Isa. lviii. 1.

'"Tuesday, 25.—Attended a juvenile missionary meeting at Carron Hall A.M. Attended meeting of Presbytery p.m. Demitted charge of Rose Hill congregation to Presbytery.

"'Monday, May 1.—Visiting families at Facey for the last time. Oh, how sad were many!

'"Friday, 5.—Fast Day at Carron Hall. Preached there for the last time to a large congregation.

"'Saturday, 6.—A day of tranquillity. Preparing for to-morrow.

'"Sabbath, 7.—A deeply interesting day. My last Communion at Rose Hill. Much weeping among many. Mr. Cowan came P.M. to deliver the closing address. A number of Carron Hall people were over. About 200 sat around the table of the Lord. A day much to be remembered.

'"Monday, 8.—Visiting a number of families for the last time. Good meeting in the evening.

"'Tuesday, 9.—Visiting more families. Preached and baptized at Braemar. Went to Carron Hall in the evening.

"'Wednesday, 10.—Addressed and took farewell of Goshen congregation. They are deeply interested in Old Calabar, where their late pastor's mortal remains repose, and seem interested in me as his successor.

"'Friday, 12.—Visiting from house to house all day. Good meeting in the evening. Session meeting till midnight.

"'Saturday, 13.—Worn out. Under medicine—unable to study. What for the morrow, it being my last Sabbath here?

"What lime my heart is overwhelmed, and in perplexity, Do Thou me lead unto the Rock that higher is than I."

'"Sabbath, 14.—A trying, solemn, and deeply interesting day. My last Sabbath where I have spent almost every Sabbath for eight years and three months! The Lord sent to my aid, somewhat unexpectedly, Mr. J. Rodgers, teacher. Port Maria. He delivered an excellent discourse in the forenoon from 1 Pet. i. 13.  read in the afternoon, and founded my farewell discourse (which I regret I have been unable to study) on Paul's farewell address to the elders of Ephesus. Gave to each one in my Sabbath morning class, and to each of the Sabbath-school teachers, a copy of Rev. Dr. William Brown's Selection of Passages of Scripture, and to each one present who could read, one of Rev. Joseph Brown's Lambs of the Flock.

"'Monday, 15.—Good meeting in the evening.

'"Tuesday, 16.—Putting things in order. An evening meeting, at which I delivered my last address at Rose Hill, from Heb. xii. 2: "Looking unto Jesus."

'"Wednesday, 17.—Rev. Messrs. Cowan, Simpson, Campbell, Day, and Teal met with the congregation and delivered suitable and excellent addresses. Held our last sessional prayer meeting in the evening. It was a long, interesting, and refreshing one. I never heard men pour out their whole souls to God more fervently. We wept and prayed, yet rejoiced and praised together. The elders prayed in rotation. They made supplication with strong crying and tears for the bereaved congregation, my partner, and myself.

"'Thursday, 18.—A day never to be forgotten by us. But to this day I have referred at the beginning of my letter, and the remembrance of it is so overpowering that I cannot enlarge in regard to it.

"'Friday, 19.—At Port Maria. Took farewell of the congregation there in the evening. A good number of my own people were present. The Copses boat came for us in the afternoon.

"'Saturday, 20.—The breeze springing up about 9 A.M., we embarked in the boat. We were out all day, and quite sea-sick. We reached this place (Montego Bay) in safety, and had just stepped on board the Copse when the town-clock struck twelve—the midnight hour.

'"Sabbath, 21.—Before I got up, an elder of the church here was on board to get me to preach—no supply having been provided by the Presbytery for this day. I was enabled to go through the services of the day with comfort to myself, and fondly trust that they were not altogether unprofitable to others.'"

The Cornwall Chronicle stated that Mr. Anderson preached in Montego Ray also on the last Sabbath of May, and after the evening service "delivered an interesting account of how he came to be selected as one of the Society's agents for that Mission. From the sincerity and simplicity of manner in which Mr. Anderson gave utterance to his thoughts and feelings, the attentive congregation seemed deeply affected. We commend him and his esteemed partner to the care of Him who rules the winds and waves, and trust that they may be made instruments of mercy to many of the benighted inhabitants of long-degraded, long-neglected Africa."

Mr. and Mrs. Anderson arrived safely at Leith on the 17th July 1848.

The Rev. John Cowan, in a letter of 5th June, when adverting to the sorrow which the removal of Mr. Anderson has caused to the people of Rose Hill congregation, mentions the following beautiful incident:—

I was at Philipsburg last week. There are some very good people there. We had a good meeting. Early next morning, I heard four of the families who reside there engaged in singing their morning song of praise. One of them was so near, that on going to the window during the time of prayer, I could hear with some distinctness. I heard the husband pray for Mr. Anderson and the African Mission, which he did with fulness, fervour, and intelligence.

The Rev. George Blyth, in his Reminiscences of Missionary Life (1851), writing of Rose Hill, says: "The removal of Mr. Anderson to Calabar has been very injurious to this congregation. The Rev. James Caldwell of Mount Horeb, who had been appointed Mr. Anderson's successor, died suddenly of yellow fever on 27th September 1848, before he had been able to remove to Rose Hill." The Rev. Archibald Muir, formerly of Largo, who had gone out to Jamaica for the benefit of his health, took charge of Rose Hill for nine months during 1849-50, but the progress of his disease compelled him to abandon work in which he had become deeply interested and which had endeared him to the people, and return to Scotland, where he died on 9th December 1850. Before leaving Jamaica, he sent home on behalf of Rose Hill a fervent appeal, which was published in the Missionary Record for July 1850. In it he said: "I do trust and pray that this needful, healthful, and extensive field of usefulness shall not be lost sight of by the Mission Board, and that some true-hearted, healthy, earnest man will speedily again be set apart to cultivate it." But both church and school remained vacant for a considerable time. In July 1851 the Rev. John Campbell of Goshen wrote, that in Mr. Anderson's time the school was a very flourishing one, but that after he left there was no proper teacher for it, and there having been no minister at the station since he left, with the exception of the brief term of Mr. Muir's occupancy, both church and school had fallen far behind. A teacher trained at the Mico Institution had, however, been located there for twelve months, and under him, wrote Mr. Campbell, the school had considerably revived; but he added, "we greatly require a minister for Rose Hill, and the Mission Board is under peculiar obligations to send one." At length, in November 1851, the Rev. Wm. S. Heddle, previously of City Road Church, Brechin, took temporary charge of Rose Hill. In the Record for July 1852 he wrote regarding the injury which a state of vacancy does to a Jamaica congregation, and in the Record for February 1853 he described the reorganisation of the church, which was necessary owing to the lapsed condition into which the congregation had fallen during the prolonged vacancy. But, unfortunately, Mr. Heddle had to leave Rose Hill in May 1854. The Rev. Alexander Robb of Goshen wrote that his labours were a priceless blessing to the people. Mr. Heddle returned to Scotland, and, at the request of Dr. Somerville, the Foreign Mission Secretary, wrote a plea for a missionary for Rose Hill, which was published in the Record for November 1855. It was not, however, till 19th May 1857 that the Rev. Thomas Boyd, who had volunteered for Jamaica, was inducted to the pastoral charge of Rose Hill congregation. Nine years thus elapsed from the time Mr. and Mrs. Anderson left Rose Hill before a permanent pastor was obtained for the infant congregation. Mr. Anderson's worst forebodings regarding the future of the station, if he had to leave it before his successor was on the spot, were unfortunately realised, and he was entirely right in his feeling that he ought not to quit the station until he could leave it in the hands of another agent. However, his judgment in this matter was overruled, and, while Duke Town gained by his accession to the staff of the Calabar Mission, Rose Hill suffered severely by his removal from Jamaica. Much of the results of his labours at Rose Hill were lost, and many of the converts and members who had hardly been set free from legal and moral slavery lapsed into bondage to sin and superstition for want of their faithful, sympathetic spiritual guides, who had been prematurely taken from them.


 


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