Finding Number (Click this to view full catalogue structure)CMS/ACC1020
TitleAccession 1020: Printed papers relating to Henry Mathers and Winifred Mathers née Coombs
Extent3 volumes, 1 item
DescriptionA small compilation of papers comprising biographical accounts of the lives of Archdeacon Henry Mathers (1877-1951) and Mrs Winifred Louisa Mathers (1881-1964), missionaries to Uganda, compiled by their granddaughter, Mary Felicity Bishop in 2015; a talk on the Mothers' Union in Uganda given by Mary Bishop in 2016, and an annotated copy of a CMS leaflet printed in 1948 which quotes Henry Mathers.

The papers by Mary Bishop include transcripts of the Mathers' diaries and are richly illustrated with copies of contemporary photographs including images of the Mathers before, during and after their CMS service overseas; Church Missionary College (Islington); fellow CMS missionaries to Uganda (Rev Rogers, Bishop Willis, Archdeacon and Mrs Kitching, Rev Wilson, Miss Lang, Dr and Mrs Ernest Cook, Miss Madge Piffin, Miss Bingham, Miss Foster); clergy and pastors outside Nabumali Cathedral (1920s); Apolo Kivebulaya (1864-1933); 'Damali' (a Biblewoman); Rev Tomusange; local dignitaries; the Mothers' Union started by Winifred Mathers and Mrs Kitching in 1926; the 'leper colony', Kumi Island, Lake Victoria, building of Bulawasi Teacher Training College and a school in Kamuli.

The pamphlets highlight the pioneering spirit and achievements of the Mathers, their faith and commitment to mission and the people of Uganda. They will also be of interest for the history of the Church and the Mothers' Union in Uganda.
ArrangementThis collection forms part of the Church Mission Society Unofficial Papers. It is arranged into a single series: Miscellaneous Papers
Access ConditionsAccess to all registered researchers.
Finding AidsA catalogue of this collection (forming part of the wider CMS/ACC unofficial papers catalogue) is available on the online archive catalogue. Click on the Finding Number to display the summary contents list of the catalogue and to view the full catalogue. A paper copy of this catalogue is also available for consultation at Special Collections.
Access StatusOpen
Administrative HistoryWinifred Louisa Mathers, nee Coombs, was born 18 December 1881 in Twerton-on-Avon, Bath. She was studying at the YWCA Training Home in Chelsea when she applied to CMS and went on to train at 'Highbury' (1904) and Bermondsey (1906). She was accepted as a CMS missionary 31 July 1906 and departed for the CMS Uganda Mission 28 October of that year. She worked at Ankole, Kyadondo (Gayaza), and Kyagwe and Bugerere (Mukano) before her marriage to Reverend Henry Mathers in 1909. During her 41 years service in Uganda, her roles included teaching and acting as Diocesan Secretary and Treasurer for the Mothers' Union in Uganda.

Henry Mathers, known in Uganda as 'Manjasi', was born at Mullahead, Tanderagee in County Armagh, Ireland (now Northern Ireland), 28 December 1877. After leaving the family farm, he worked as an assistant in a linen factory in Belfast. He studied at the CMS Preparatory Institution in 1899, Church Missionary College 1900 and Livingstone College 1903 before being accepted as a lay missionary 21 April 1903. He set sail for Uganda 17 November 1903 so beginning 43 years of service with CMS.

Henry and Winifred married in Horsham, 9 December 1909. Their three children, William Henry (b 1911), Patrick (b 1913) and Paul (1917-1919), were born in Kamuli, Africa. William and Patrick were educated in England, spending their early years at the Church Missionaries' Children's Home, Limpsfield, Surrey before going on to St Lawrence's College, Ramsgate; William went out to Uganda with CMS in 1933. Paul died of pneumonia whilst the family were travelling to England for Patrick's admission to the CM Children's Home.

Henry's first years were spent with the CMS Uganda Mission at Usukuma, Busoga, Budu and Bukedi during which time he married, had three children, returned to Church Missionary College, Islington and was ordained before being awarded a BA and MA (Theology) from Durham University; he was appointed Archdeacon of the Eastern Province of Uganda in 1923. When the Diocese of the Upper Nile was formed in 1926, the Mathers' work in Mbale and the Masaba District (Nabumale) came under the new CMS Elgon Mission (renamed 'Upper Nile Mission'). In the 23 years leading up to retirement from CMS, Henry served as Rural Dean and District Missionary in the Masaba Deanery of the Upper Nile Diocese including a stint as acting Secretary of the Upper Nile Mission (appointed October 1939).

The couple's pioneering roles included Henry opening a new mission station at Kumbya (Busoga) in January 1907 and itinerating with Winifred by means of motorcycle and side-car in the early 1920s. A minute recording the couple's retirement from CMS, highlights the extent of their achievement and commitment: 'It is given to very few to be the pioneers of a new diocese and to remain in its ministry until it embraces a fellowship of 180,000 baptized members ...' (CMS/G/C/1/104 page 20).

In 1944 Henry was awarded an OBE for services to education in Uganda. When he and Winifred retired to England, he was instituted to the Parish of Sutton with Upton and appointed Canon Emeritus of the Upper Nile.

Henry Mathers died 29 December 1951. Winifred Mathers died 6 September 1964.

Sources: the records; 'Register of missionaries (clerical, lay & female) and native clergy from 1804 to 1904' (Church Missionary Society, 1905); 'Church Missionary Intelligencer', December 1906; CMS General Secretary's minutes of 23 September 1947 (CMS/G/C1); records of the Church Missionaries' Children's Home (CMS/G/AMc 3); 'Supplement to the London Gazette', 8 June 1944 available online at (accessed 30 June 2016).
AcquisitionThe collection was presented by Mary Felicity Bishop, June 2016; 'The Origins and History of the Mothers' Union in Uganda - 1946' was presented by the author and added to the collection in November 2016.
Archival NoteCatalogued by I. Frlan. Cataloguing undertaken June and November 2016. Prepared in accordance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000 and Church Missionary Society cataloguing guidelines.
Related MaterialCadbury Research Library holds the official archive of the Church Missionary Society which includes records relating to Archdeacon Henry Mathers and Winifred Mathers and mission work in Uganda and the diocese of the Upper Nile (GB 0150 CMS). There are also records relating to the Mathers in the sequence of CMS Unofficial Papers, including Accession 749: Papers of Rev Henry Mathers (GB 0150 CMS/ACC749) and Accession 1042: Papers of Henry Mathers and Winifred Mathers (GB 0150 CMS/ACC1042).
Associated MaterialsSome letters of Winifred Mathers, written whilst a missionary at Mbale, are held by the Cambridge Centre for Christianity Worldwide (formerly known as the Henry Martyn Centre) in the collection entitled, 'Pirouet donation' (GB 1835 PIR).


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