CROWTHER, Samuel Ajayi

Born 1807
in

Osogun, Oyo State

Crowther

Ajayi

Samuel
He was the first African bishop in the Anglican Communion. He also translated the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer into Yoruba in his pioneering of Christian-Muslim interactions in the Upper and Middle Niger regions. His parents gave him the name 'Ajayi' as a symbol of importance. They also consulted the Ifa Oracle to find out which of the four hundred traditional Yoruba deities he would grow to worship. The Ifa priest was said to have warned them against dedicating him to any idol having foreseen that he would worship the Almighty God
Gender: Male
Name of Spouse Asano who adopted the name Susan after she became a Christian
Father's Name
Mother's Name

Dandeson Coates Crowther

Abigail, married Thomas Babington Macaulay and the two had Herbert Macaulay.

Profession Clergy
Working Experience
N/A

At approximately age thirteen, Ajayi was enslaved by Oyo and Fulani Muslims who invaded Osogun. Ajayi was traded six times before he was sold to a Portuguese slave-ship captain.

Great Britain abolished the slave trade in 1807 and attempted to suppress illegal traffic using Royal Navy patrols on the coast of Africa. In April 1822, a British patrol stopped and impounded the slave ship that carried Ajayi.

The captives on board were transported to the colony of Sierra Leone where they were liberated. Several years after arriving in Sierra Leone, Ajayi experienced a religious conversion. He recalled that “it pleased the Lord to open my heart,” and sought membership in the Anglican Church.

Ajayi was baptized by the Anglican Church Missionary Society (CMS) and took the name Samuel Crowther after an eminent clergyman and member of the CMS’s home committee. After his conversion, he became one of the first students to attend Fourah Bay College, a school founded by the CMS in 1827 with the purpose of training Africans in Sierra Leone for Christian service.

In 1841 Crowther began his first missionary work in Nigeria.

After this Nigerian Expedition, Crowther went to England and studied at the CMS College in London. His studies there led to his ordination by the Anglican Church in 1843. After his ordination, Crowther and several others opened a new mission in Yorubaland. He made important linguistic contributions, publishing A Vocabulary of the Yoruba Language, and later translating the Bible and The Book of Common Prayers into the Yoruba language.

In 1841, Crowther was chosen to join a missionary expedition to Niger by James Fredrick Schon.

Noticing his immense contributions towards the Niger Expedition, Schon sent a letter to the church authorities telling them all about Crowther’s work and recommending that he be ordained.

After the expedition, Crowther was recalled to England, where he was trained as a minister and ordained by the Bishop of London.

He went back to Africa in 1843 where he opened a mission in Abeokuta, in today’s Ogun State, with an Anglican missionary named Henry Townsend.

In 1864, he was ordained as the “Bishop of the countries of Western Africa beyond the Queen’s dominions” which made him the first African Bishop in the Anglican Church.

December 31, 1891
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