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Callaway, Henry (DNB01)

CALLAWAY, HENRY (1817–1890), first missionary bishop of St. John's, Kaffraria, in South Africa, born at Lymington in Somerset on 17 Jan. 1817, was the eleventh child of an exciseman, formerly a bootmaker, and of his wife, the daughter of a farmer at Minehead, Shortly after his birth his parents moved to Southampton, thence to London, and finally to Crediton, where his father was appointed supervisor of excise. He was educated at Crediton grammar school, and in May 1833 he went to Heavitree as assistant teacher in a small school. The head-master, William Dymond, was a quaker, and Callaway inclined to his opinions. In 1835 he went to Wellington as private tutor in a quaker family, and in the spring of 1837 he was admitted a member of the Society of Friends. In April 1839 he entered the service of a chemist at Southampton, but soon afterwards removed to Tottenham as surgeon's assistant to E. C. May, a former acquaintance. Early in 1841 he began studying at St. Bartholomew's Hospital, and was licensed by the Royal College of Surgeons in July 1842, and by the Apothecaries' Society in April 1844. He took rooms in Bishopsgate Street in the summer of 1844, and in a short time succeeded in making a fair practice. He also held posts at the Red Lion Square (now Soho Square) Hospital, St. Bartholomew's, and the Farringdon dispensary, and about 1848 he took a house in Finsbury Circus. The impaired state of his health compelled him to sell his practice, worth about 1,000l. a year, in the summer of 1852, and in October to proceed to southern France; and he soon afterwards quitted the Society of Friends. On 12 Aug, 1853 he graduated M.D. at King's College, Aberdeen, having resolved to practise as a physician.

With returning health, however, the idea of mission work took increasing possession of him, and at the beginning of 1854 he wrote to John William Colenso [q.v.], bishop of Natal, offering his services. He was accepted by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, and ordained deacon at Norwich on 13 Aug. On 26 Aug. he and his wife left England in the Lady of the Lake, reaching Durban on 5 Dec. After Christmas they moved to Pietermaritzburg, where he remained in charge of the mission church at Ekukanyeni, in the neighbourhood. On 23 Sept. 1855 he was ordained priest, and on 14 Oct. St. Andrew's church was opened, and he was placed in charge. In the beginning of 1858 he obtained a grant of laud from government beyond the Umkomanzi river, and settled at a vacated Dutch farm on the Insunguze, which he named Spring Vale, At this settlement he began 'that life among the natives which has made his name a household word in South Africa.' In 1868, when Robert Gray [q.v.], bishop of Cape Town, consecrated William Kenneth Macrorie, bishop of Natal, in place of Colenso, Callaway after some hesitation resolved to support Macrorie.

From the beginning of his residence at Spring Vale, Callaway studied native beliefs, traditions, and customs. In 1868 he published 'Nursery Tales, Traditions, and Histories of the Zulus,' a valuable contribution to folklore, which was printed at Spring Vale. Between 1868 and 1870 he published his greatest work, 'The Religious System of the Amazulu,' which appeared in four parts : 'The Tradition of Creation;' 'Amatonga, or Ancestor Worship;' 'Diviners;' and 'Medical Magic and Witchcraft.' The last part was not completed. These works, owing to the lack of appreciation by the public, remained incomplete, but their scientific value is very great. They are perhaps the most accurate record of the beliefs and modes of thought of an unlettered race in the English tongue.

In December 1871 the South African bishops petitioned the Scottish episcopal church to establish a bishopric in Kaffraria, and on All Saints' day 1873 Callaway was consecrated missionary bishop of St. John's, Kartraria, at St. Paul's episcopal church, Edinburgh. On 2 June 1874 he received the honorary degree of D.D. from the university of Oxford, and on 2o Aug. he left England. In 1876 the headquarters of the diocese were removed to Umtata. In 1877 war broke out, and Umtata was fortified by the directions of the governor, Sir Bartle Frere. After the conclusion of the war an important advance was made in regard to native education, which Callaway had peculiarly at heart, by the foundation of St. John's Theological College at Umtata in June 1879. The failure of Callaway's health caused the consecration of Bransby Key on 12 Aug. 1873 as coadjutor-bishop, and in June 1886 he resigned the bishopric. Returning to England in May 1887 he settled at Ottery St. Mary in Devonshire in 1888. He died at Ottery on 26 March 1890, and was buried in Ottery churchyard on 31 March. On 14 Oct. 1845 he married Ann Chalk, a member of the Society of Friends. They had no surviving children.

Besides the works already mentioned and several pamphlets, Callaway was the author of:

  1. 'Immediate Revelation,' London, 1841, 12mo.
  2. 'A Memoir of James Parnell,' London, 1846, 12mo. 3. 'Missionary Sermons,' London, 1875, 16mo.

He also translated the book of Psalms into Zulu in 1871 (Natal, 16mo), and the Book of Common Prayer in 1882 (Natal, 8vo).

[Miss Benham's Henry Callaway (with portrait), 1896; Athenæum, 1890, i. 471; Times, 29 March 1890.]

E. I. C.