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Edward Steere was a bishop of Zanzibar and a linguist of Swahili. He produced a Swahili translation of the Anglican prayerbook[1]

Steere was born at Charles Street, London, the only son of William Steere, a barrister. He attended school in Hackney and then at University College School.[2] He proceeded to University College, part of the University of London, taking his BA in 1847 and an LL.B. in 1848. His peers at UCL included Joseph Lister, Walter Bagehot, and future home secretary Henry Matthews. He was a member of the Debating Society[3] and attained his Doctor of Laws in 1950, winning the university's gold medal for examination performance,[4] and was called to the Bar on 7 June 1850.[5] He joined Inner Temple, and spent his spare time exploiting the nearby Reading Room of the British Library, as well as developing an interest in printing and established his own small private press.

In 1854 Steere and a group of friends from the congregation of St Matthew's Church, City Road, London, joined together as the "Brotherhood of St Mary" and amalgamated with the Guild of St. Alban's, a church charity founded around 1852 by Shirley Palmer, a Birmingham surgeon, to minister to the local poor. This brotherhood established the Guild's first London chapter, of which Steer was made steward; With the Guild he brought 55 children to be baptized at St Matthew's on Whit Monday 1854. He became the editor of the Guild's magazine, which he himself printed on his own press, and devoted a great deal of time to its efforts.[6]

In autumn 1854 he received an inheritance of £1,500 from the death of an uncle and left the Bar, moving in among the poor communities with which he worked and selling his books to raise funds for them.[7] The following May he moved to Tamworth, to reestablish the ruined chapel called "The Spital"

His Swahili Tales (1869)[8] was cited in Frazer's The Golden Bough.[9]

Steere developed the UMCA's mission of training African liberated slaves to become ministers. He advanced the work of the mission's school at Kiungani, writing to Oxford University to request that that institution send a regular supply of young graduands to train the local African trainee clergy.[10]


  1. ^ Reed (1997) p.75
  2. ^ Heaney, R. M. (1909). A Memoir of Edward Steere, D.D., LL.D, third missionary bishop in Central Africa. Universities' Mission to Central Africa.  Unknown parameter |city= ignored (help) p.1
  3. ^ Heaney (1909) p.6
  4. ^ Heaney (1909) p.9
  5. ^ Heaney (1909) p.10
  6. ^ Heaney (1912) p.33
  7. ^ Heaney (1912) p.34
  8. ^ Graves-Johnston, Michael. Eastern Africa. p. 59. ISBN 095542271X. 
  9. ^ Frazer, JG (2008). The Golden Bough - A Study in Magic and Religion. Read. p. 314. ISBN 1443739987. 
  10. ^ Reed, Colin (1997). Pastors, partners, and paternalists. Brill. p. 38-39. ISBN 9004106391.