A Guide to the James Bankin Collection, 1869-1924 Bankin, James Collection 10662-c

A Guide to the James Bankin Collection, 1869-1924

A Collection in
Special Collections
The University of Virginia Library
Accession Number 10662-c


Special Collections, University of Virginia Library

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Processed by: Special Collections Staff

Special Collections, University of Virginia Library
Accession number
James Bankin Collection 1869-1924
Physical Characteristics
This collection contains 33 items.

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Use Restrictions

See the University of Virginia Library’s use policy.

Preferred Citation

James Bankin Collection, Accession #10662-c, Special Collections, University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville, Va.

Acquisition Information

This collection was purchased from Charles Apfelbaum Rare Books & Collections, Valley Stream, New York, by the Library on May 2, 1986.

Scope and Content

This collection contains 33 items, 1869-1924, including letters, diaries and scrapbooks, of Rev. James Rankin, Minister of Muthill, Perthshire, Scotland.

There are twenty-four letters from Rankin written chiefly to Louisa Caird (McCullough) Paterson, 1869-1870, first asking her to become his wife and then involving plans for their wedding and married life. Their marriage, which took place on April 19, 1870, began as a practical arrangement and gradually developed into a more affectionate relationship as shown throughout the letters. Also included are carte-de-visite photographs of the Rankins.

The diaries, journal, and letterbook, 1880-1881, kept by Rankin, concerning his trip to Nyasaland, Africa to investigate charges against the Blantyre Mission. The Church of Scotland's Foreign Mission Committee sent him to Blantyre, and gave him the authority to make necessary changes. It was also requested of Lord Granville, the Foreign Secretary, that H. E. O'Neill, the British Consul in Mozambique, assist Rankin. Because O'Neill was ill, a lawyer named Alexander Pringle was appointed to act as Deputy Commissioner. This investigation was the result of a pamphlet published by a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, Andrew Chirnside, who had been visiting Blantyre and observed the inhuman treatment of natives.

On June 29, 1880, Rankin set out for East Africa, and kept a diary of his trip, including in it records of supplies and medicines, and of passage by train and steamer. While traveling through the various cities and countries-Paris, France; Turin, Ancona, Bologna, and Brindisi, Italy; Alexandria and Suez, Egypt; and Aden, Arabia-Rankin briefly described cities and railway stations and included a few rough sketches of houses, buildings, and furniture.

On July 14, 1880, Rankin left Aden on the S. S. Abyssinia on his way to Zanzibar, Mozambique, and Quelimane, Africa. While in Mozambique, Rankin visited the British Consul, H. E. O'Neill, who had been instructed to assist him by the Foreign Office. O'Neill introduced Rankin to the Governor-General who sent a letter to the Governor of Quelimane, Jose S'A.S' Avila, requesting that he also assist O'Neill and his party in any way possible. Upon arriving in Quelimane, Rankin was met by Vice-Consul Nunez. During his stay in Mozambique and Quelimane, Rankin made observations about the status of the natives as well as the opinions of the men in government with whom he spoke. The governments of Zanzibar, Mozambique, and Quelimane were cooperative with each other and the investigation, especially since they wished to keep the problems of the mission from the Portuguese, lest they claim jurisdiction at Blantyre. There had been gradual liberation of slaves in Mozambique and Quelimane during 1872-1877, but some natives asked to be returned to their former owners because their life was so difficult under Portuguese rule. They were made to pay an excessive poll tax, and forced to live in huts with small gardens because the land belonged to the government and there was no cultivation allowed by the natives beyond their own needs. It was believed that for the most part the missions were for the good of the natives, and that the natives should be kept from Portuguese rule. Rankin also made note of discussions concerning the charges at Blantyre.

Once at Blantyre, Rankin inspected the station, including the buildings, garden, fields, operations, and villages, and spoken with members of the staff. He made notes on the prison including measurements, things growing in the garden, stories of floggings, the neglectfulness of the Messrs. Moir (managers of the Livingstonia Central Africa Company), the irregularity of the mails, refusal to pay the proper price for canoes, reduced wages, and other problems.

While Deputy Commissioner Alexander Pringle began taking depositions at Blantyre in September 1880, a party consisting of Henry Henderson, John Buchanan, and Rankin set out in search of a site for a new station suitable for work among the Makololo.

In November 1880, when the diary resumes (Volume II is missing), Rankin has left Blantyre and has begun analyzing the depositions and writing an outline of the Blantyre cases for his report.

The letterbook kept from May-October 1880 includes newspaper clippings and letters to the editor as well as handwritten copies of letters concerning charges against the Blantyre Mission. There are letters among Rankin, Alexander Pringle, James C. Herdman, and Andrew Chirnside, including instructions from Herdman to Rankin on his investigation of Blantyre, and an agreement between the Rev. Duff McDonald, head of the Blantyre Mission and Messrs. J. & F. Moir, managers of the Livingstonia Central Africa Company.

There are also two scrapbooks of newspaper clippings, one of which concerns the Scottish Church Mission in Nyasaland, Muthill in Perthshire, Scotland, and Normandy during 1892-1895, and the other, 1912-1924, contains articles about characters of Todlowrie, and essays and poems from Scottish newspapers.

Further information concerning the Scottish Church missions in British Central Africa may be found in South Africa: The English People Overseas, Volume VI, by A. Wyatt Tilby; The Story of the Rhodesias and Nyasaland and The Beginnings of Nyasaland and North-Eastern Rhodesia, 1859-95, by A. J. Hanna; Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia: Corridor to the North by Norman H. Pollock, Jr.; and, The Shire Highlands (East Central Africa) As Colony and Mission, by John Buchanan (with preface by James Rankin). These books, as well as others about Nyasaland, can be found in the Library.

Contents List

James Rankin, Manse of Muthill, Perthshire, Scotland, to Louisa Caird (McCullough) Paterson and her father 1869-1870
Letterbook kept by James Rankin, including fair copies of letters among James C. Herdman, Alexander Pringle, Rankin, and others, and newspaper clippings, concerning the investigation of the Blantyre Mission 1880 May-Oct
Diaries kept by James Rankin on a trip from Muthill, Perthshire, Scotland to Nyasaland, Africa, to investigate the Blantyre Mission, Volumes I & II 1880 June-Sep, 1880 Nov-1881 Jan
Journal kept by James Rankin during the canoe voyage on the East African Rivers-Quelimane, Quaga, Zambesi, and Shire-enroute to the Blantyre Mission 1880 Aug
Printed Memorandum to Lord Salisbury, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs from W. H. Penney and Horace Waller, Missionaries in Nyassa-Land 1887 Mar 9
Scrapbook of newspaper clippings re the Scottish Church Mission in British Central Africa; Muthill, Perthshire, and more 1892-1895
Scrapbook of newspaper clippings-essays and poems from Scottish newspapers 1912-1924
Photographs of James and Louisa Caird (McCullough) Paterson Rankin n.d.