Thompson, Thomas

Anglican Communion

Thomas Thompson was the first Anglican missionary to Africa. Thompson was born in Gilling, Yorkshire, England, and was educated at Christ’s College, Cambridge, where he later became fellow and dean. He offered himself to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (SPG) in 1745 and was sent to Monmouth, New Jersey. His meetings with black slaves prompted him in 1751 to approach the SPG with an offer to serve as a missionary to the Guinea coast. He settled at Cape Coast Castle, in the Gold Coast (Ghana), in 1752 and, with the help of a leading local African, Cudjo, selected three African boys for education in England. One of these, Philip Quaque, became the first non-European to be ordained in the Church of England (1765). Thompson was forced by ill health to return to England in 1756, but Quaque returned to Africa and ministered at Cape Coast Castle as an Anglican priest for 50 years. Thompson became vicar of Reculven (1757-1761) and of Elham in Kent (17611773), where he died. In 1758 he wrote Two Missionary Voyages, an account of pagan practices and beliefs; in 1772 he wrote a pamphlet defending the slave trade.

Timothy Yates


Margaret Dewey, The Messengers (1975).

C. F. Pascoe, Two Hundred Years of the SPG, 1701-1900 (1901).

H. P. Thompson, Into All Lands (1951).

F. Wolfson, Pageant of Ghana (1958).

This article is reproduced, with permission, from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, copyright © 1998, by Gerald H. Anderson, W. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved.