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JAMES HANNINGTON (1847-1885)

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Originally appearing in Volume V12, Page 922 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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JAMES HANNINGTON (1847-1885), English missionary, was born at Hurstpierpoint, in Sussex, on the 3rd of September 1847. From earliest childhood he displayed a love of adventure and natural history. At school he made little progress, and left at the age of fifteen for his father's counting-house at Brighton. He had no taste for office work, and much of his time was occupied in commanding a battery of volunteers and in charge of a steam launch. At twenty-one he decided on a clerical career and entered St Mary's Hall, Oxford, where he exercised a remarkable influence over his fellow-undergraduates. He was, however, a desultory student, and in 1870 was advised to go to the little village of Martinhoe, in Devon, for quiet reading, but distinguished himself more by his daring climbs after sea-gulls' eggs and his engineering skill in cutting a pathway along precipitous cliffs to some caves. In 1872 the death of his mother made a deep impression upon him. He began to read hard, took his B.A. degree, and in 1873 was ordained deacon and placed in charge of the small country parish of Trentishoe in Devon. Whilst curate in charge at Hurstpierpoint, his thoughts were turned by the murder of two missionaries on the shores of Victoria Nyanza to mission work. He offered himself to the Church Missionary Society and sailed on the 17th of May 1882, at the head of a party of six, for Zanzibar, and thence set out for Uganda; but, prostrated by fever and dysentery, he was obliged to return to England in 1883. On his recovery he was consecrated bishop of Eastern Equatorial Africa (June 1884), and in January 1885 started again for the scene of his mission, and visited Palestine on the way. On his arrival at Freretown, near Mombasa, he visited many stations in the neighbourhood. Then, filled with the idea of opening a new route to Uganda, he set out and reached a spot near Victoria Nyanza in safety. His arrival, however, roused the suspicion of the natives, and under King Mwanga's orders he was lodged in a filthy hut swarming with rats and vermin. After eight days his men were murdered, and on the 29th of October 1885 he himself was speared in both sides, his last words to the soldiers appointed to kill him being, " Go, tell Mwanga I have purchased the road to Uganda with my blood." His Last Journals were edited in 1888. See also Life by E. C. Dawson (1887); and W. G. Berry, Bishop Hannington (7908).
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