Classic DACB Collection

All articles created or submitted in the first twenty years of the project, from 1995 to 2015.

Macaulay, Thomas Babington (B)

Anglican Communion
Sierra Leone

Nigeria churchman, remembered notably as the founder and first principal of the historic Church Missionary Society (CMS) Grammar School in Lagos.

He was one of the many distinguished people born in Sierra Leone of “recaptive” parents,–originally from what is now Nigeria,–who later went to live in their parents’ country of origin. In some cases the recaptives themselves, i.e. people freed from slave ships and settled in Freetown, such as Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther went back to settle in the land from which they had been captured. Macaulay was the eldest of the three sons of Ojo Oriare, a recaptive from Ore Aganju in Ikirun district, and from Oyo, a granddaughter of the founder of the Ile-Ogo. They lived at Kissy in the Sierra Leone colony, where the father was named “Daddy Ojo,” after being enslaved, rescued, resettled, and married. Thomas Macaulay was, like very many children of recaptives, brought up by the CMS.

He attended the Fourah Bay Institution then run by the CMS, and was sent to the Church Missionary College run by the Society in Islington, London, where Crowther had been a few years before. This was under a CMS scheme started in 1845 for technical training for West Africans, which included training partly in Britain. T. B. Macaulay returned to Sierra Leone and worked as a tutor at the CMS Grammar School from 1849 to 1951. Then while not yet in orders, he was put in charge of the Anglican mission’s pastoral work at Regent, one of the recaptives’ villages just outside Freetown proper.

In 1852 he was transferred to the “Yoruba Mission” which the CMS ran with many Sierra Leonean clergymen and other assistants, including Crowther who was bishop of Western Equatorial Africa in 1864. The mission was based mainly at Abeokuta, where missionary work had started in 1845. Macaulay was sent there and put in charge of the Christian Institution, a school set up for industrial and practical training in particular.

In 1854 he was ordained. Then he married Abigail Crowther, the second daughter of Bishop Samuel Crowther. Their children included the famous politician Herbert Macaulay renowned in Nigeria for his strong opposition to British rule.

Rev. Macaulay ran the CMS Mission stations at Igbein and at Owu, both in Abeokuta. Then, in 1859, he founded the new CMS Grammar School in Lagos in response to a growing need for secondary schooling for the children of Christians. The Sierra Leone-born (Saro) community in Lagos gave its full support to the establishment. In 1867 a fund for a new building was launched, on the initiative of J. P. L. Davies.

The school, where Nathaniel Johnson went to help Macaulay as a tutor in 1870, had 28 pupils at that time. In the following years, the number varied between 25 and 40. Later it was to increase greatly as the Grammar School became one of Nigeria’s leading secondary schools. Its founder, T. B. Macaulay, was also noted for his contributions to the translation of the Bible into Yoruba.

He died on 17 January 1878 during a smallpox epidemic.


Sources Consulted Include:

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