William Charles Willoughby (1857-1938)



William Charles Willoughby (1857-1938)


William Charles Willoughby was born in 1857 in Redruth, Cornwall, England. Ordained as a minister in 1882, he was swiftly appointed to the Central African Mission of the London Missionary Society and was posted to Zanzibar as a joint leader of a bullock caravan that was heading to Unwamyezi. His first visit to Africa ended almost before it could begin as he came down with malaria and had to return to England recover. He was to stay in England for ten years before returning to Africa in 1893.

In the 10 years he was in England Willoughby got married, had children and moved to Birmingham. Eventually in 1889, he was appointed Pastor of the Union Street Church in Brighton, Sussex.

Willoughby was the Pastor at the Union Street Chapel for five years before leaving Brighton in 1893 and going first to South Africa and then onto Botswana to become a missionary, this time taking his wife and three young children with him (BHBH).
Willoughby was appointed to a missionary position in Palapye which was the capital of Khama III. As well as his missionary work Willoughby also worked as Khama’s secretary. In 1895 Willoughby helped to organise the visit of Khama III, Bathoen I and Sebele I to the UK. In 1903 when Khama III relocated the capital of the Bamangwato to Serowe Willoughby and his family went too. During his time in Palapye Willoughby created a large collection of artefacts. The details of how this collection was made are unclear despite our efforts to uncover this. Willoughby's collection was loaned to Brighton Museum in 1899 and converted into a donation in 1936 before his death. (NSty)
In 1904 Willoughby was appointed the first principal of Tiger Kloof School near Vryburg in South Africa. Willoughby returned to Botswana in 1914 and spent three years working as a missionary near Molepelole. From 1919-1931 he worked as Professor of African Missions in the Kennedy School of Missions at Hartford, Connecticut. (NSty)


Making African Connections


Parsons, N., 1998. "King Khama, Emperor Joe And The Great White Queen." London: University of Chicago Press.
Rutherford, J., 2009 "Little Giant of Bechuanaland: A Biography of William Charles Willoughby Missionary and Scholar" Gabarone: Botswana Society and Mmegi Publishing.


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