Crowther, Samuel Adjai (DNB01)

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CROWTHER, SAMUEL ADJAI (1809?–1892), bishop of the Niger territory, was born of negro parents about 1809 at Oshogun, in the Yoruba country, West Africa. In 1821 the village was raided by Fulahs, and Adjai carried off as a slave. The vessel on which he was shipped was captured by a British cruiser, and Adjai landed at Sierra Leone in June 1822. There he entered the Church Missionary Society's schools, and in 1825 was baptised, taking the name of Samuel Adjai Crowther. In 1826 he was brought to England, and on his return entered as the first student at Fourah Bay College, Sierra Leone. He showed so much aptitude that in 1834 he was made tutor of the college. In 1841 Crowther was chosen to join the expedition sent up the Niger by the British government, and discharged his part so well that the Church Missionary Society invited Crowther to England, where he was ordained by the bishop of London in 1843, the first African associated with the Church Missionary Society to receive holy orders. From 1843 to 1851 Crowther worked as a missionary in the Yoruba country. Coming to England in 1851 he was presented to the queen, and then returned once more to his own land. In 1854 he accompanied the Niger expedition of the African Steam Navigation Company; and when a third expedition was formed in 1856, Crowther went with it as the head of a missionary party. In 1864 he was again summoned home, and consecrated bishop of the Niger territory. His subsequent life was devoted to evangelistic and organising work in his diocese, varied by an occasional visit to England. Towards the end difficulties arose in connection with the life and administration of the native church, which had grown up under Crowther's care; but he himself retained to the full the confidence and affection which he had won in earlier life. He died at Lagos on 31 Dec. 1892. He married an African girl, who was rescued with him from the slave ship and afterwards baptised Susanna. They had several children, among them Dandeson Coates Crowther, archdeacon of the Niger Delta.

[Stock's History of the C.M.S.; Headland's Brief Sketches of C.M.S. Workers, No. ii.; Page's Samuel Crowther, 1888.]

A. R. B.