James Hannington

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James Hannington
former Bishop of Eastern Equatorial Africa
Bishop Hannington.jpg
James Hannington
ChurchChurch of England
DioceseDiocese of Eastern Equatorial Africa
SuccessorAlfred Tucker
Personal details
Born(1847-09-03)3 September 1847
Hurstpierpoint, Sussex
Died29 October 1885(1885-10-29) (aged 38)
Busoga, Uganda
Sainthood
Feast day29 October
Venerated inAnglican Communion
Title as SaintBishop and Martyr
ShrinesBishop Hannington Memorial Church, Hove

James Hannington (3 September 1847 – 29 October 1885) was an English Anglican missionary, saint and martyr. He was the first Anglican bishop of East Africa.

Early life[edit]

Hannington was born on 3 September 1847 at Hurstpierpoint in Sussex, England, about eight miles from Brighton, where his father ran a warehouse,[1] and was part of the family that ran Hannington's Department stores.[2] His father, Charles Smith Hannington, had recently acquired the property known as St. George’s. During Hannington's childhood, he blew off his thumb with black powder.[3] As a boy he was a collector.[4]

For Hannington's early education a tutor had been engaged, but when he was thirteen he was sent to the Temple School at Brighton, where he remained for the next two-and-a-half years, although he was an indifferent student.[4]

Hannington left school at fifteen to work in his father's Brighton counting house. He obtained a commission in the 1st Sussex Artillery Volunteers and rose to the rank of major.[1] Under his training and supervision, his detachment won prizes at the annual camp competitions.[4]

Ministry[edit]

In 1867 the chapel which Hannington's father had built in the grounds of his property was licensed for Anglican services.[5] At twenty-one, Hannington decided to pursue a clerical career, and entered university at St Mary Hall, Oxford, He was President of the Red Club and captain of the St. Mary Hall Boat.[1] In 1872, the death of his mother spurred a change in Hannington's life; he was awarded his B.A., and on 1 March 1874 was ordained as a deacon, and took charge of the small parish of St Peter in Trentishoe, Devon.[6] In 1875 James became curate-in-charge at St George’s, Hurstpierpoint where he stayed until volunteering for missionary work in east Africa in 1882.[3] He had by then been married for five years.

Around 1882, Hannington heard of the murder of two missionaries on the shores of Lake Victoria. This led to him offering himself to the Church Missionary Society (CMS) and he left England on 17 May, setting sail for Zanzibar on 29 June, as the head of a party of six missionaries. Crippled by fever and dysentery, Hannington was forced to return to England in 1883.[7]

In June 1884, having recovered, Hannington was ordained bishop of Eastern Equatorial Africa, and in January 1885, at age thirty-seven, Hannington again departed for Africa. His diocese included missions of the CMS at the coast and inland in Buganda.[7] While there Hannington collected a number of shells which were described by E. A. Smith in two papers in the Annals and Magazine of Natural History.[1]

After arriving at Freretown, near Mombasa, in Kenya, Hannington determined to pioneer a shorter and healthier highland road to Buganda, using Christian porters and undercutting the Arab slave route to the south. He was oblivious to the political consequences of traversing Busoga, a strategically sensitive area for the Buganda state. The sudden intrusion of German imperialism at the coast made the Bugandan ruler, Kabaka Mwanga, even more suspicious of Hannington's motives.[7] An oracle (emmandwa) had said that Buganda’s conqueror would come from the east. Mwanga forbade Hannington from continuing through Busoga and sent boats to take him to Sukumaland, but Hannington refused.[8] Together with his team, he safely reached a spot near Victoria Nyanza on 21 October, but his arrival had not gone unnoticed, and under the orders of King Mwanga II of Buganda, the missionaries were imprisoned in Busoga by Basoga chiefs.

Bishop Hannington Church, Hove

After eight days of captivity, by order from Mwanga II, Hannington's porters were killed, and on 29 October 1885, Hannington himself was speared in both sides.[3] As he died, his alleged last words to the soldiers who killed him were: "Go, tell Mwanga I have purchased the road to Uganda with my blood."

It is important to note that the supposed fear by Mwanga about invaders coming from the eastern direction was discussed at that time and dismissed out of hand by Alexander William Mackay, who had first hand knowledge of events from the Buganda side. In letters dated May 2nd 1886, Mackay wrote; "Had the matter of the Busoga route been the real point at issue, the king needed only to adopt our advice at the time, and request the Bishop to return to the neighbourhood of Kwa Sundu in Kavirondo, whither the boat had gone for him. But he was determined on shedding the blood of one whom he believed was a European of higher standing than merely an ordeinary missionary or traveler, as 'a challenge to the whole of Europe' as he said himself .... this case was absolutely unprovoked and unjustifiable on any ground, the extent of the crime being much increased by the fact that our brethren were coming after the King's own repeated invitation, although they themselves were, perhaps, not aware of that fact. Further we gave the King perfectly to understand who they were, and why they came via the east, viz., to avoid the Germans"[9]

Widespread persecution of Christians followed, many being killed or sold to Arab slavers.[10] Joseph Mukasa Balikuddembe, a Roman Catholic and an official at Mwanga's court, rebuked the king for the deed, and was beheaded for it. Hannington and his companions were among the first Martyrs of Uganda. Hannington's feast day in the Church of England is October 29. A dedication stone, erected in his memory along with the Bishop Hannington Memorial Church, Hove, England in 1938, bears the inscription "Thou hast turned my heaviness into joy".

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Verdcourt, Bernard, "Collectors in East Africa", The Conchologists' Newsletter, No. 77, pp. 317–318, June 1981
  2. ^ "Store history" Argus
  3. ^ a b c Graves MSL, Dan, James Hannington Captured
  4. ^ a b c Hansford, F.R.S.A., F.E., "Great Churchmen", Church Society
  5. ^ "Brief history", St George's, Hurstpierpoint
  6. ^ Photo of church
  7. ^ a b c Anderson, Gerald H., Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, W. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1998 Archived 2013-05-26 at the Wayback Machine.
  8. ^ "Katikkiro Mukasa Was Behind Many “Mwanga II Executions”, Buganda Watch, 21 May 2015
  9. ^ Mackay, J.W.H. (2013-08-21). "A.M. Mackay". doi:10.4324/9780203770597.
  10. ^ Quinn,Frederick, African Saints: Saints, Martyrs, and Holy People from the Continent of Africa, Crossroads Publishing Company, New York, New York, 2002 Archived 2013-05-25 at the Wayback Machine.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]