Nineteenth-century evangelical Protestant missionary groups commonly assumed that they were the most apt providers of education to non-Europeans in British colonies. Christian schooling was deemed imperative for modernising societies to withstand secularising forces. This significant study examines this assumption by drawing on key moments in the development of missionary education from the 1830s to the beginning of the twentieth century. The book is the first to survey the changing ideologies behind establishing mission schools across the spectrum of the British Empire. It examines the Negro Education Grant in the West Indies, the Aborigines Select Committee (British Settlements), missionary conferences in 1860 and 1910 as well as drawing on local voices and contexts from Southern Africa, British India and Sri Lanka to demonstrate the changing expectations for, engagement with and ideologies circulating around mission schools resulting from government policies and local responses. By the turn of the twentieth century, many colonial governments had encroached upon missionary schooling to such an extent that the symbiosis that had allowed missionary groups autonomy at the beginning of the century had morphed into an entanglement that secularised mission schools. The spread of ‘Western modernity’ through mission schools in British colonies affected local cultures and societies. It also threatened Christian religious moral authority, leading missionary societies by the World Missionary Conference in Edinburgh in 1910 to question the ambivalent legacy of missionary schooling, and to fear for the morality and religious sensibilities of their pupils, and indeed for morality within Britain and the Empire.
The Select Committee on Aborigines (British Settlements)
those who had not been protected nor
provided with a chance to be ‘improved’ through Western
forms of justice and education, nor to engage fully in British
commercial networks? It was with such questions in mind that the
Aborigines Committee was established in 1835.
Establishing a SelectCommitteeonAborigines (BritishSettlements)
A year after first bringing his
Settlement was held up as a model of missionary
success in this regard during the House of Commons’ SelectCommitteeonAborigines (BritishSettlements) of 1837, where reports
were heard of devout Khoikhoi converts cultivating the soil and
regularly observing the Sabbath. 97 Settlers, however, could also employ the same
logic to demolish such visions of Christian order: they did so by
workers and hence better profits
for those who employed them. 30 As the Report from the SelectCommitteeonAborigines (BritishSettlements) put it in 1837, summing up the
views of Britain’s Evangelicals: ‘We have had abundant proof
that it is greatly for our advantage to have dealings with civilized men
rather than with barbarians. Savages are dangerous neighbours and
unprofitable customers’. 31
’s Land. 14
The Report of the SelectCommitteeonAborigines (BritishSettlements) , published two years later, was based on the gathering of numerous testimonies from British colonial possessions. It not only sketched the abuses suffered by the indigenous peoples but was also intended to provide the authorities with the recommendations to rethink the empire’s administration in line with the principles of responsibility and benevolence towards the colonised peoples. The writers of the report and their supporters thought the stakes were very high. The example
The contestation of time in settler-colonial Victoria
the SelectCommitteeonAborigines (BritishSettlements ), 1837 , pp. 82–3; Richard Broome, Aboriginal Victorians:
A History Since 1800 (Sydney:Allen & Unwin, 2005 ), p. xxiii;
Lester, ‘Humanitarians and White Settlers’, p.
SLV, MS 12699, box 3504/9, Letters, J. Orton to
B. Shaw, Memorials , p. 47.
Report from the SelectCommitteeonAborigines (BritishSettlements) , 1837 , Minutes of Evidence , vol. 1,
Walter Gisborne, p. 365.
Anthony Pagden, European Encounters with the New World
Aboriginal subjects and Queen Victoria’s gifts in Canada and Australia
University Press, 2000).
British Parliamentary House of Commons,
Report from the SelectCommitteeonAborigines (BritishSettlements), 7 (1837), no. 425.
Alan Lester and Fae Dussart, Colonisation
Biblical literacy and Khoesan national renewal in the Cape Colony
Ido H. Enklaar, Life and Work of Dr. J. Th. Van der Kemp, 1747–1811: Missionary Pioneer and Protagonist of Racial Equality in South Africa (Cape Town and Rotterdam: Balkema, 1988).
House of Commons Parliamentary Papers (hereafter, HCPP), 538 of 1836, ‘Report from the SelectCommitteeonAborigines (BritishSettlements)’, p. 583
Better ‘the Hottentot at the hustings’ than ‘the Hottentot in the wilds with his gun on his shoulder’
Julie Evans, Patricia Grimshaw, David Philips, and Shurlee Swain
Report of the SelectCommitteeonAborigines
(BritishSettlements) with the Minutes of Evidence , British
Parliamentary Papers (1836, Evidence; 1837, Report ), vol. 7,
Ibid ., p. 62.
For the dual role