Crowther, Samuel Ajayi

ca. 1806–1891
Anglican bishop

Samuel Ajayi Crowther was an educated traveler, translator, and missionary who was named the first African bishop in the Anglican Church. Born in what is now NIGERIA, Crowther was captured and sold into slavery at the age of 12. A British antislavery ship rescued him at sea, however, and took him to FREETOWN, SIERRA LEONE. There he was baptized and educated by the Christian Missionary Society (CMS). Crowther soon began to study and to preach in the YORUBA language, and in 1843 he became a minister in the Anglican Church. He served as a pioneering member of CMS Yoruba missions and helped translate the Bible into Yoruba. In 1857 Crowther became leader of the Niger Mission and opened five new mission stations, including one for the Niger Delta.

In 1864 the Anglican Church named Crowther Bishop of Western Equatorial Africa with responsibility for missions in LIBERIA, Rio Pongas, and other places. In 1890, however, European missionaries critical of Crowther’s administration of the Niger Mission forced him to resign. Before his death a year later, Crowther helped plan the reorganization of the Niger Delta Mission, and his son later became its pastor.

Crowther, Samuel Ajayi