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Clergy of African descent in England

by
23 October 2015

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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.

DAVID KILLINGRAY
72 Bradbourne Road
Sevenoaks TN13 3QA

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