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Clergy of African descent in England

23 October 2015


From Professor David Killingray

Sir, — Thank you for the article on the Revd Arthur Harley, the black “pioneering priest” (Features, 2 October). Harley is an interesting man, but certainly not the first black clergyman to serve in an English parish.

The first known man of African origin or descent to be a curate or incumbent was Bryan Mackay, Vicar of Coates, 1799-1847. Two sons and one grandson of Nathaniel Wells, a wealthy black landowner and JP in Chepstow, entered the Church’s ministry; they were followed in the 19th century by Alexander Crummell (briefly a curate in Ipswich), Edward Cragg Haynes, Robert Gordon, and Henry Armstrong Smyth.

In the period 1900-50, Henry Mason Joseph (of the SPG), E. A. Ejesa-Osora, and Lawrence Chase Walcott, all long-resident in Britain or black British, served as curates, while several clergy from West Africa and the West Indies (Henry Tekyi-Mensah, Ernest de Coteau, and George Llewellyn Palmer) spent time in English parishes.

I would be most grateful if your readers could let me know of other names and parishes where clergy of African origin and descent served.

72 Bradbourne Road
Sevenoaks TN13 3QA

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