The First Converts, 1853—Excursion
up Qua River—First Marriage in Duke Town, 1854
The Mission had been at work for over seven years
ere the first converts openly professed Christianity. Then the first-fruits
appeared at all the three stations. At Creek Town,on the afternoon of the Lord's
day, 16th Oct. 1853, Mr. Goldie publicly baptized in the king's yard a young man
named Esien Esien Ukpabio, who became the first native teacher, and afterwards
pastor, and is now the "father" of the Missionary Presbytery of Biafra, and one
of the few links connecting heathen and Christian Calabar. He was what is called
half-free—that is to say, a slave born in the country, who is entitled to some
privileges which are not possessed by the slaves introduced from another
country. The next convert was a freeman, the king's own son, known as "Young Eyo,"
who became Eyo III. He was baptized by Mr. Goldie on the 30th of October, and
then along with Ukpabio sat clown at the Lord's table. Immediately after
gathering in these first-fruits, Mr. Goldie had to leave Calabar for a time. He
had been engaged in preparing a dictionary and a grammar of the native language,
and had, by too close application, so injured his eyesight that his brethren and
his medical advisers urged his departure as the only means under God of
preventing the total loss of sight. Mr. Waddell was in Scotland at the time, so
that Mr. Goldie could ill be spared ; and it was not known in Calabar that a new
recruit, in the person of Mr. Alexander Sutherland, teacher, would soon join the
Mr. Anderson's letter of 30th Nov. 1853 refers to
the first converts at Creek Town, Duke Town, and Old Town, to the baptism of
three of his house children, and to five candidates for baptism, and to the
great need of help for the work of the Mission:—
You would be rejoiced to hear from Mr. Goldie of
the baptism of two young men at Creek Town. You will now be glad to learn that
two of our young women here have also been "added to the Church." They are both
members of our household, and have been so for nearly four years and a half,
during the whole of which period they have been under instruction. The elder of
the two is called Mary Taylor Anderson. She is a native of Egbo Shary —was
brought to market here for sale about the middle of 1849, and was redeemed in
part by our friend Dr. Taylor and in part by ourselves. She appears to be
eighteen or nineteen years of age. The youngest,called Sarah Anderson [sister of
Ukpabio], you have seen. Being weak and sickly, she was committed to us by King
Archibong's mother, not long after we came here in 1849. We claim her freedom on
King Archibong's note of hand, given us before we took her to Britain in 1851.
The claim was lately disputed by Mrs. Archibong (as she is called), but the
assembled gentlemen of the town decided that it is valid. Mary was baptized on
the last Sabbath of October. Sarah also was to have been baptized on that day,
but, having gone to see her mother, and having been detained at Creek Town on
that Sabbath, she was baptized on the first Sabbath of November, on which day we
had the comfort of seeing both of them partaking, with hearts evidently
impressed, along with us of the memorials of our Lord's broken body and shed
blood. Considering the perils by which they are surrounded in this dark land,
while we rejoice over them, we do so with trembling. Your prayers will, I am
assured, ascend with ours to the Good Shepherd in behalf of these lambs of the
flock. He can—I trust will-—keep them unspotted from the world, and preserve
them to His heavenly kingdom and glory.
I may here mention that other two women have been
this year admitted into the fellowship of the Church at this station. First,
Mrs. Haddison, who was brought up among our Baptist brethren at Fernando Po and
Cameroons. She was married to my assistant, Mr. J. Haddison, in the earlier part
of the year. The second was Mrs. Lee, originally from Baltimore, U.S., where she
long drank of the bitter cup of slavery. She has been for some years a widow,
and makes her living chiefly, if not solely, by washing clothes for the shipping
here. Eight of her little children occupy graves in America, Liberia, Fernando
Po, and Old Calabar, and I daresay she has wept over each little slumberer's
coffin (as Mrs. Stowe says) "just as naturally as if she had been a white
woman." She was connected with the Methodists in Baltimore.
On the first Sabbath of November, I embraced the
opportunity of Mr. Edgerley's being with us to have our three youngest adopted
or redeemed children baptized. The eldest of these, whom we call Agnes Tod,
seems about eight years old. Mrs. A. redeemed her two or three years ago, when a
poor, diseased, miserable-looking creature. After a great deal of care and
nursing by both Mrs. Goldie and Mrs. A., she is now thriving well. The second is
Andrew Somerville. Me was with us in Britain in 1851. The third, whom we call
Margaret Marshall (after a much-valued Jamaica friend), seems about twelve or
fourteen months old. Her mother died in July, and as the poor infant seemed
likely soon to die also,her owner, by name and style Egbo Tom, Esq.,
considerately dashed her to us on the 30th of the same month. Mrs. A. and I
demurred about accepting the present, unless accompanied by a writ of
manumission. This was readily granted, and we received the poor outcast, or
rather orphan, as a trust from on high. She is thriving very well now, and will,
we trust, continue to do so.
On Sabbath first, Mr. Edgerley purposes baptizing
a young man [Joseph Edgerley or Edungikan], who has been long one of his
domestics at Old Town. The first-fruits of each station will then have been
brought in and presented to the Lord. O for a speedy and an abundant
I have had two very interesting conversations
with Young Eyo since his baptism. He met with great opposition in taking the
important step. He needed the spirit of a martyr, and he seems to possess it.
Mr. Goldie has probably written you the very interesting particulars. The combat
is now fairly begun in this battlefield between the powers of heaven and
hell,—the opposing forces have met face to face,—the struggle may be fell, and
furious, and protracted. Never has the Mission been in a more interesting state
than at present—never has it more needed the prayers and sympathies of the
Church at home.
Before this reaches you, you will have learned
that Mr. Goldie has had to leave us for a season. We felt deeply grieved to part
with him on the 31st ult. The absence of two brethren at once leaves Mr.
Edgerley and myself too much to do, especially as we have access to two of the
ships in the river. I have frequently to conduct five or six meetings on the
Sabbath, and feel it very exhausting. Indeed, last Sabbath evening and all
Monday I felt as I did last December, immediately before the attack of fever
which nearly sent me to the grave. But still, I have not the heart to say "No,"
when invited to speak the words of eternal life in any yard in town or on any
ship in the river.
December 1.—Thus far had I proceeded last
evening, when the Forerunner made her appearance. I was forthwith put in
possession of yours of October 23, announcing the very pleasing intelligence
that help is at hand. I trust that we shall ere long be cheered by Mr.
Sutherland's arrival. In the meantime we "thank God and take courage."
I forgot to state at the proper place that we
have at this station just now five candidates for baptism—four young men and one
The school has not been so well attended this
year as it was last. There have been about 100 children at school in all, but
the average attendance has not exceeded 45. I shall have more opportunity for
hunting out scholars when Mr. S. arrives.
Mr. Thomson is looking feeble. He is much in need
of a change of climate. According to arrangement, I supplied at Creek Town on
Sabbath, Nov. 20. King Eyo is as bright as ever. Had three well attended
An excursion up the Qua River was a pleasant
holiday at the beginning of a new year.
Monday, Jan. 9, 1854. — Accompanied by Mr.
Edgerley, Mr. Thomson, and Dr. Eastwood (surgeon of one of the ships), went off
this evening in the John Robson for an excursion up the Qua River. Anchored off
Seven Fathom Point for the night.
Tuesday, 10.—Lifted anchor this morning and
proceeded to the mouth of the Qua River, where we waited till the commencement
of flood tide. We then proceeded up the river to Qua landing, where we landed
and took a short walk, and off which we anchored for the night.
Wednesday, 11. — Got up on the flood to a
beautiful anchorage, with a fine sandy beach, where we lay during the ebb. About
noon weighed anchor and proceeded up the river. Saw only one small hut all the
way. Between five and six P.M. we anchored off a beach called Esuk Obutong,
where two or three canoes were lying. We ascertained that there is a road to Old
Town from this beach. We took a walk into the country a mile or two, and reached
a small plantation village. We learnt from the people there that Old Town is ten
or twelve hours journey from their abode. The ground here is high compared with
that of Calabar; there is much good timber; and the soil, which is clayey, seems
rich and strong. We left a few mango seeds with the people at the village, which
they promised to plant and look after. Returned to the boat for the night.
Thursday, 12.—Early in the morning went up the
river till we could not stem the current. This was only a mile or so above Esuk
Obutong. We learned from the people at the plantation that about a mile above
the place we reached the river becomes so small and the channel so full of large
stones, that even canoes cannot proceed farther. Had time permitted we would
have hired a canoe and proceeded as far as possible, but we were anxious to be
home by Friday evening, so we turned the boat's head and retraced our course. At
a small creek about a mile below Esuk Obutong, we stopped a little and landed.
We found two new cottages, the inhabitants of which are employed in clearing
ground for a new plantation. The people, houses, and plantation (which is to be)
belong to Obuma, the mother of the late King Archibong of Duke Town. We then
proceeded down the river, and anchored for the night off the north end of Robson
Friday, 13.—Started this morning with the first
of the ebb tide, got down to the mouth of Qua River, where we lay till the tide
turned, and got up to Duke Town about four P.M.
We must have been at the least sixty miles up the
Qua River—that is, about twenty miles farther than any of us have been on any
previous occasion. During the whole of our progress the only human habitations
we could see from the river were a small village at Qua landing, about
twenty-five or twenty-eight miles from its mouth, and a small hut about
twenty-five miles above that. The whole region looks desolate — mangroves
abundant—river very shallow in many places. We had morning and evening worship
on board the boat, and at the hallowed hour of prayer I for one could not survey
the dreary scene around without at the same time looking forward to a " good
time coming," when the river shall become one of the byways of commerce, if not
one of its highways—when its banks shall be studded with towns and villages,
churches and schools—when old men leaning on their staves shall be seen
surveying the ebb and flow of the waters—and when the ears of passers-by, such
as we were, shall be greeted by the mirthful sound of children at play, or
arrested by the cadence of the morning or evening song of praise.
Thursday, Feb. 2.—Her Majesty's steamer Antelope,
with Consul Beecroft on board, came up the river yesterday. To-day King Eyo and
King Duke received the last instalment of goods promised to Kings Eyamba and Eyo,
when they signed the treaty for the abolition of the slave-trade in, or rather
from, this river.
Friday, 3. — A large meeting in schoolroom
to-day, called by Consul Beecroft, for the settlement of sundry palavers betwixt
himself, on behalf of several British and Spanish subjects on the one part, and
the Duke Town gentlemen on the other part. He lectured them well on their
barbarous treatment of the three Fernando Po men whom they made prisoners last
year, because they attempted to convey one of their own countrymen from his
house of bondage. The Consul took a noble stand also on the side of humanity in
regard to some of the prevailing habits here, and strongly and justly condemned
the ordeal of the escre and the destruction of twin children. He also urged on
them the importance of their giving attention to the instructions of the
missionaries, men whom they sent for to instruct themselves and their children.
This led him to condemn the practice, long since abandoned at Creek Town, but
still kept up here, of having Kgbo runners out on the Sabbath, and thereby
preventing all except a few of the free people from attending either meetings or
Sabbath school. He also claimed liberty of conscience for all who wish to join
the Church. I have no doubt that this visit of the Consul will be remembered,
and prove productive of much good at this station.
On Feb. 8th, Willie Tom Robins, the superstitious
old chief of Old Town, died. His death was concealed from the white people as
long as possible, and in the meantime blood was profusely shed. Mr. Edgerley,
unhappily, was laid down with fever at the time, and could do nothing to arrest
the work of death; but Mrs. Edgerley and Mr. Thomson did what they could. The
number killed could not be fully ascertained; but the chief's two eldest sons,
five or six of his wives, and a considerable number of slaves, were poisoned,
shot, or hanged. Mr. Anderson, in his Journal, refers to the Breach of the Egbo
Laiu against Human Sacrifices that had taken place:—
Feb. 11. — Reported to the Duke Town authorities
a breach of Egbo law committed at Old Town on occasion of the death of King
Willie Tom. . . . Handed them the names of eighteen persons who have been
slaughtered. Of these five perished by esére, the administration of which is no
breach of Egbo law; but the remainder were otherwise butchered, in defiance of
Egbo law. The Duke Town gentlemen seem resolved to take up the case with some
vigour. But I have long suspected that Egbo law too much resembles cobivcbs—it
entangles the weak, but the strong back through with impunity.
Friday, 17. — Needful of a day's recreation, went
to Creek Town with Mrs. A. Attended King Eyo's dinner. Glad to see that he is
anxious to deal with the Old Town murderers. A severe thunderstorm in the
evening. On our return home, found that the electric fluid had shivered our
flagstaff to pieces, and killed two of our goats. We felt grateful that all the
people in the yard, young and old, were safe.
Wednesday, 22. — This evening had the pleasure of
solemnising a marriage ceremony for the first time in this country.2 The happy
couple are David King and Abasi Ekong. I may state why the bridegroom is so
named. Some years ago, when he and other schoolboys were selecting English names
for themselves, he pitched on "King David." I represented to him that this was
scarcely a suitable appellation for him, but that I knew a great and good man in
my country called David King, and that I thought this would be a better name for
him than King David. As it was a matter of no importance to him in what order
the words were placed, he adopted the suggestion. He is a grandson of the late
King Eyamba; and as the grandfather used to designate himself "king of all black
men," so has the grandson for some years written himself "David—king of all
black boys." The bride is a daughter of Jemmy Henshaw's. They are the first free
natives of the country who have been married after "white man's fashion." Mrs.
A. had some difficulty in getting a dress capacious enough for the bride, and
she is not nearly so corpulent as the most of her countrywomen; but, after being
arrayed in a gown (for the first time in her life), and neatly turbaned, her
appearance was very becoming. She seemed fully alive to the importance of the
step she was taking. The ceremony was celebrated in the schoolroom in the
presence of a goodly number of interested spectators. I look on this marriage as
an event of great importance. Here is one of the most influential young men in
the country bidding a public farewell to polygamy. He has had a plurality of
wives, but now stands strongly pledged to keep by one only. I have reason to
hope that others of our young men will ere long follow his example.
Thursday, 23.—The Golden Age'hove in sight
between five and six o'clock this evening. Went down to meet her, and on
reaching her was glad to find Captain Davies, Mrs. D., their fine little boy
about eight months old, and Miss Miller [returning after furlough], all well.
Sabbath, 26.—Among the pleasant sights of this
day deserves to be noticed the unexpected one of the newly-married pair at our
English service in the evening. The bride was rather better dressed than on
Wednesday evening, having got on a very neat straw bonnet. They walked arm in
arm both to church and from it, which is quite a new thing among the Calabarese.
This is the first time that we have ever seen a Calabar man treat his wife as an
equal. At the close of the service, I was glad to see the ship-captains and
surgeons, who had been worshipping with us, shake hands kindly and respectfully
with the young couple.
Thursday, March 2.—Met at Creek Town to-day a
very interesting class of five boys, all desirous of being baptized. In so far
as I examined them, I was much pleased with the extent of their knowledge of
Scripture history, doctrine, and precept. Their attainments reflect much credit
on Mr. Thomson's diligence and perseverance. I believe that they have received
most of their instruction from him. Only one is a native of Calabar ; the others
have been imported from neighbouring countries. On inquiring at them as to their
family connections, the touching reply of four was, being interpreted, "Our
fathers and mothers are not; we are slaves." I trust that they are under the
teaching of the Holy One, and that they all are, or shall be, of the number of
those whom the truth makes free. They all wish immediate admission to the
Church, but I have seen so much discomfort and mischief arise in churches
elsewhere from precipitous admissions to Communion, that I do not feel at
liberty to assume the responsibility of their immediate baptism, and especially
after only one examination and one day's acquaintanceship. I have had cause to
reject several applications for immediate baptism here, and in each case I have
had cause of thankfulness that I rejected the application.
Tuesday, 7.—The Duke Town gentlemen being rather
reluctant that we should have a place of worship in the immediate vicinity of
their palaver-house, lest we and Egbo should come into collision, and having
expressed their willingness that I should take possession of a very excellent
site occupied by a decayed house belonging to the supercargoes in the river,
provided they (the river .gentlemen) did not mean to repair their house and
retain it as a place of rendezvous, I put myself in communication with the white
gentlemen on the subject, and feel glad that all the four proprietors of the
house now in the country, viz. Captains Calvert, Davies, Lewis, and Cuthbertson,
very readily gave up their right and title to both site and remains of the old
house in my favour, or rather, in favour of the Mission. It only remains now, I
believe, that Duke Antaro get a dash for the use of the land, which is on his
family property, and then Mr. Hogan will go on with his work. He is now ready to
Wednesday, 8.—By arrival of the mail packet we
are all glad to learn that Mr. and Mrs. Goldie had got safely home on 20th Jan.
Our prayer shall be for their speedy return. The harvest truly is plenteous, but
the labourers are few—oh, how few! May it speedily please the Lord of the
harvest to send forth more labourers into this portion of the field!