“Henry Boston, African Native Pastor”

BIPOC Voices in the Victorian Periodical Press

Please turn your mobile device to landscape or widen your browser window for optimal viewing of this archival document.

Henry Boston, African Native Pastor.

Born 1830.   Died 1874.

WE announced in our last the death of the Rev. Henry Boston, Native Minister on the Bullom Shore, a low swampy country to the north of Sierra Leone. The following account of his life and death has been written at the request of our missionary, the Rev. L Nicholson, by his son, Mr. Nathaniel Henry Boston, who is a promising student at the C.M. College at Fourah Bay, Sierra Leone. As a further illustration of the blessing vouchsafed to the late pastor's labours, we may mention that Bishop Cheetham,on a recent visit, confirmed fifty of his people:—

A Brief Sketch of the Life and Death of the Late Rev. Henry Boston, First Native Minister of the Bullom Mission.


It is indeed with many melancholy and painful efforts that I now accede to your request, and send you a short account of my late dear and much lamented father, the Rev. Henry Boston, of the Bullom Mission. He was born on the 8th April, 1830, at the village of Gloucester in Sierra Leone. His parents were John and Jane Boston, liberated Africans, the former of the Egba, and the latter of the Yoruba tribe. He had a sister named Maria, and after her a brother named John, who died in February, 1868.

With his sister and brother he attended the day school of his little village, and after he had gone through the elementary course of education which that school supplied, he was removed by his parents, and apprenticed to a tailor in Freetown. By diligence and attention he soon acquired a good knowledge of his trade, and at the end of his apprenticeship he set up a shop in Freetown, and worked for himself as a master tailor. It was whilst he was thus engaged that the Lord in His good providence opened a way for him to leave his secular calling, to attend to the spiritual wants of men. For, on the return of the Rev. George Nicol (his townsman, and for whom he cherished a great affection and veneration) from England, he proposed to employ him as a bookseller; to this he readily agreed, and at once changed his occupation of tailoring for bookselling.

On the 16th of December, 1850, he was admitted into the C.M.S. College of Fourah Bay, under the principalship of the Rev. E. Jones, M.A., through the recommendation of the Rev. G. Nicol, tutor of the College, and Rev. Nathaniel Denton, pastor of Regent.

On April 13th, 1852, he was sent out of the College to the Society's field of labour by the C.M. Committee in Freetown, with the consent of the Principal. He laboured zealously and prayerfully as the village schoolmaster of Bathurst, till May, 1861, when he was promoted catechist, and sent over to reopen the Society's Mission on the Bullom shore. The difficulties and dangers which he had to encounter were of no ordinary nature, but he fought bravely and hard in attacking that stronghold of Satan, and therefore he was a successful instrument in the hand of God in turning many from darkness to light.

On Trinity Sunday, May 22nd, 1864, he was admitted to deacon's orders, and on the 23rd December, 1866, he was ordained priest in St. George's Cathedral, by the Right Rev. E. H. Beckles, D.D., the then Lord Bishop of Sierra Leone.

It is not for me to say how he discharged his duties, both pastoral and missionary; but it will be admitted on all hands that he performed his high trust with diligence, energy, faithfulness, and devotedness, to a degree well worthy of imitation. His labours were abundantly blessed; for that land, once a wilderness and a solitary place, has had abundant reason to be glad, and the desert to rejoice and blossom as the rose. He dearly loved his people, and endeavoured, as much as it was in his power, to promote both their temporal and eternal interests.

The late Rev. G. R. Caiger, the then superintendent of the Bullom Mission, writes in the Church Missionary Record for January, 1864:— "The work in the Bullom is full of encouragement. I spent three or four days with our native agent, Mr. Boston, who is decidedly the right man to occupy that position. I had many opportunities of talking with him on the nature of the work, its difficulties, &c., and it was apparent from everything I could see that he was labouring amongst the people as one who felt the responsibility of having souls committed to his care. His labour would seem to confirm his own statement to me: 'I have a large heart for the people.' I remained over one Sunday to administer the Communion, and I confess I was not prepared to see our church so crowded with attentive listeners," &c.

In all his successes he was wont to give all the glory to God, and to look upon himself as a mere unworthy instrument.

In March last he was suddenly seized with a very strong attack of fever and pains in the back, which was thought to have been occasioned by his frequent exposure to wind and weather during his missionary itinerancies through the swamps and marshes of the Bullom country. He came over to Sierra Leone for a change, and spent about three weeks at the mountain village of Regent, which did him some good. At the end of this time he proposed to return to Bullom; many of his friends and relatives tried to dissuade him from returning so soon, as the change was too short to do him much good; but he determined to go, as he had just begun to rebuild his church at Yongro, and, as he said, "the progress of the work necessarily required his presence." When they saw that he would not be persuaded, like the disciples of Cæsarea, they ceased, saying, "the will of the Lord be done." Accordingly, on Friday, the 22nd of May, he left Freetown and returned to Bullom. He there continued gradually to recover, although he had now and then a relapse, until the two weeks previous to his death, when he grew worse, and suffered much. He breathed his last at noon of the 15th July.

The corpse was brought that night in an open boat to Freetown, landed at Fourah Bay, and thence carried to Glouchester, his native village. At four o'clock in the afternoon of Thursday, the 16th of July, his remains were removed from his father's house to St. Andrew's Church, Gloucester; he was then carried to his grave, amidst the lamentations and weeping of a large company, from among his much-loved relatives and friends, and also of his flock of Bullom: who, nevertheless, sorrowed for him who now rests in Jesus, not as those who have no hope. He has left behind to mourn his loss, his beloved wife, aged parents, his six dear children, and many other relatives, and also his parishioners: many of these depended solely on him for their every human aid and support.

But what is so much our loss in his eternal gain, as he has left unto us the firm assurance that he has only fallen asleep in the loving arms of Jesus. On the day of his death, having called his only sister to his bedside, he said, "I am going home to-day; I advise you to work while it is day, for when the night of death comes you will never be able to work." When asked, "Are you praying?" he replied, "O yes! that Saviour whom I have preached to others, that Jesus whom I have pointed out to others, on Him alone is my every hope and trust." He then called for bread and wine, but as wine could not be got there, he took water instead, and himself partook of a last memory of Christ's death. After this he said, "I want to go home, I am going home to-day. Come! Lord Jesus, come quickly, and take my spirit home." Having said this, without a struggle or a groan his immortal spirit left its earthly tenement, and winged its flight to the realms of the blest. "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord, for they rest from their labours, and their works do follow them."

"Thou art gone to thy grave; but we will not deplore thee,
Whose God was thy ransom, thy guardian and guide!
He gave thee, He took thee, and He will restore thee;
And death has no sting, for the Saviour has died."

I only pray that a double portion of the spirit of Elijah may rest on Elisha; that I may be endued with a double portion of his missionary zeal and devotedness to the service of God, instrumental in my master's hand in turning many from darkness to light, and from the power of sin unto God. And as I close I cannot but hope that many of my country- men and others who may read this short but imperfect sketch of this departed man's laborious and zealous life, will be fired to greater diligence and missionary zeal for the futherance of the Redeemer's kingdom, and that we may all become "followers of them who through faith and patience are now inheriting the promises."

Nathaniel Henry Boston.

Digital Publication Details

Title: “Henry Boston, African Native Pastor”

Subtitle(s): “A Brief Sketch of the Life and Death of the Late Rev. Henry Boston, First Native Minister of the Bullom Mission”

Creator(s): Anonymous; [L. Nicholson]; Nathaniel Henry Boston

Publication date: (1874) 2022

Digital publishers: One More Voice, COVE

Critical encoding: Kenneth C. Crowell, Cassie Fletcher, Adrian S. Wisnicki

One More Voice identifier: liv_026037

Cite (Chicago Author-Date): Anonymous, [L. Nicholson], and Nathaniel Henry Boston. (1874) 2022. “Henry Boston, African Native Pastor: ‘A Brief Sketch of the Life and Death of the Late Rev. Henry Boston, First Native Minister of the Bullom Mission. By His Son.’” Edited by Kenneth C. Crowell and Cassie Fletcher. In “BIPOC Voices,” One More Voice, solidarity edition; Collaborative Organization for Virtual Education (COVE). https://onemorevoice.org/html/bipoc-voices/digital-editions-amd/liv_026037_HTML.html.

Rights: Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International

Accessibility: One More Voice digital facsimiles approximate the textual, structural, and material features of original documents. However, because such features may reduce accessibility, each facsimile allows users to toggle such features on and off as needed.