James Johnson (minister)

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For the Anglican bishop in England, see James Johnson (Bishop of Worcester). For the Anglican colonial bishop, see James Johnson (Bishop of St Helena).
James "Holy" Johnson
Born c. 1836
Sierra Leone
Died 1917 (aged 80–81)
Nationality British Subject, Sierra Leonean, Nigerian
Alma mater Fourah Bay Institution
Occupation Minister and politician
Known for Political activity

James "Holy" Johnson (c. 1836–1917) was a prominent clergyman and one of the first African members of Nigeria's Legislative Council.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

He was born in Sierra Leone in 1836 to liberated African parents of Yoruba origin. Johnson enrolled in a Church Mission Society (CMS) school, then went on to Fourah Bay Institution, located in Freetown, graduating in 1858.


Photograph of Lagos Mission in 1885.
Back row: W. Morgan, Charles Phillips, J. White, Archdeacon Hamilton, Nathaniel Johnson, Isaac Oluwole, R.E. Willoughby
Middle row: Rev. V.S. Wright, Mrs. Ingham, Bishop Ernest Graham Ingham, Mrs. Darwin Fox, Rev. James Johnson, Rev. J.W. Dickinson
Front row: Rev. F.W.Dodd, Rev. W. Darwin Fox

He was a school teacher until 1863, when he entered the ministry.

The CMS was impressed by Johnson's potential, and sent him to its Yoruba mission in Nigeria, first in Lagos and then in Abeokuta. He was unsuccessful as a missionary, perhaps because of his rigid morality, and in 1880 was instead appointed pastor of the Breadfruit Church in Lagos.[1]

When the Lagos Colony was separated from the Gold Coast in 1886, the legislative council of the new colony was composed of four official and three unofficial members. Lagos Colony Governor Alfred Moloney nominated two Africans as unofficial representatives, Johnson and the trader Charles Joseph George.[2]

In 1890, Johnson became assistant Bishop of the Niger Delta and Benin territories, holding this post until his death in 1917.

He believed in a puritan, evangelistic Christianity, but was hostile to other aspects of European culture which he felt were not suitable to Africa.[1]

See also[edit]