Finding Number (Click this to view full catalogue structure)CMS/ACC1042
TitleAccession 1042: Papers relating to Henry and Winifred Mathers née Coombs
Extent2 boxes, 1 outsize item
Date[1892]-[early 21st century]
DescriptionPersonal and family papers predominantly relating to the Venerable Archdeacon Henry Mathers' and Winifred Louisa Mathers' work in the Upper Nile Diocese 1926-1946. There are a few earlier records arising from their last years under the CMS Uganda Mission, retrospective accounts referring to earlier work in Uganda, and tributes and records dating from after they retired and returned to live in England. There are also explanatory notes on, and accompanying, some of the records written by Mary F. Bishop, granddaughter of Henry and Winifred Mathers, [early 21st century].

Including: correspondence, c 1920-1955; handwritten and typescript notes, 1930s-mid 20th century; magazine and newspaper cuttings, 1930s-c 1952; printed literature, [1892]-mid-20th century; a licence and photograph relating to Winifred Mathers, 1938 and 1959.

There are no letters from Winifred Mathers, and little of her own writing, in the collection. However, there is news of her work in Henry Mathers' correspondence and in other papers relating to the couple's shared life and activities.

The papers will be of interest to anyone researching the Mothers' Union and handicrafts in CMS missions, as well as the life of the Mathers, Buwalasi Teacher Training College, CMS, and diocesan history.
ArrangementThis collection is held as part of the 'Church Mission Society Unofficial Papers'. It is arranged in two series:
F: Family papers
Z: Photographs
Access ConditionsThe majority of the collection is open to all registered researchers. Two items are closed for conservation reasons. Details are given at file level.
Finding AidsA catalogue of this collection (forming part of the wider CMS 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.
Access StatusPartially closed
Administrative History1. Winifred Louisa Mathers (1881-1964), née Coombs, teacher and missionary

Winifred Louisa Mathers was born 18 December 1881 in Twerton-on-Avon, Bath. She was studying at the YWCA Training Home in Chelsea when she applied to become a missionary with CMS. She 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.

She worked at Ankole, Kyadondo (Gayaza), and Kyagwe and Bugerere (Mukano) before her marriage to Reverend Henry Mathers in 1909. During her 41 years of service her roles included teaching and serving as Secretary and Treasurer for the Mothers' Union in the Upper Nile Diocese.

In 1955, she was made a CMS Honorary Life Governor.

She died 6 September 1964.

2. Henry Mathers (1877-1951), Archdeacon and missionary

The Venerable Archdeacon 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 (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 with the 'Uganda Mission' and then from 1926 with the 'Upper Nile Mission' (known as the 'Elgon Mission' 1927/1928-1937/1938).

His first years were spent at Usukuma, Busoga, Budu, Bukedi, and from 1919-1922 at Kako. In January 1907 he opened a new mission station at Kumbya (Busoga). During these early years he married, had three children, returned to England to study at Church Missionary College, Islington, was ordained and awarded a BA and MA (Theology) from Durham University. In 1923 he was appointed Archdeacon in what was then 'Eastern Province' of Uganda (now Province of Uganda).

After leaving Kako, the Mathers were based at Nabumali or Mbale until their final return to England in 1946. When the new diocese of the Upper Nile was formed in 1926, it combined northern and eastern sections of the Uganda Diocese and the area covered by the CMS Southern Sudan Mission. CMS established a new 'Upper Nile Mission' covering parts of the Northern and Eastern Provinces of Uganda, including Nabumali and Mbale. In the 23 years leading up to retirement from CMS, Venerable Archdeacon Mathers served as Rural Dean and District Missionary in the Masaba Deanery of the Upper Nile Diocese.

The Mathers returned to live in England in 1946. H. Mathers retired from CMS 14 July 1947; in England he was instituted to the Parish of Sutton with Upton and appointed Canon Emeritus of the Upper Nile.

He died 29 December 1951.

1944: Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to education in Uganda.

3. Marriage and children

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. Paul died of pneumonia whilst the family were travelling to England for Patrick's admission to the Church Missionary Children's Home. William went out to Uganda with CMS in 1933. During the children's early school years, Henry and Winifred spent some months apart as she returned to England for the sake of the children.

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).

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); CMS/ACC1020.
Custodial HistoryWhen the circular letters were sent out, they were to be kept by Thomas Mathers Esquire of Lochee, Dundee, Scotland.

Prior to donation for the archive, the papers were held by Alistair Mathers, grandson of Archdeacon Henry Mathers and Winifred Mathers. They had been sorted by Mary Felicity Bishop, the Mathers' granddaughter and author of 'CMS Missionaries in Uganda 1903-1946: Archdeacon Henry "Manjasi" and Mrs Winifred Mathers' [2015], 'The Early Diaries of Henry Mathers and Winifred Louisa Coombs 1904 and 1906' (2015), and 'The Origins and History of the Mothers' Union in Uganda - 1946' (2016).

When the collection was received by the Cadbury Research Library, the papers were filed in plastic wallets in a lever-arch file. The spine of the lever arch file was labelled: ‘Archdeacon Henry and Mrs W. L. Mathers Uganda 1903-1946'. The archivist removed the papers from the plastic wallets and lever arch file during accessioning. The papers have been kept in their original bundles, and where plastic wallets were marked with a circular sticker labelled 'Sent to Angus' or '+ Angus’, this information is given in the catalogue.
AcquisitionPresented by Alistair Mathers, 25 May 2024.
CopiesPermission to make any published use of any material from the collections must be sought in advance in writing, from the Director of Special Collections as custodian of the archive (email: Requests to publish should be accompanied by a copy of proposed text and images. The Cadbury Research Library will assist where possible with identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.
Related MaterialThere are papers relating to the Mathers in the official archive of the Church Mission Society (GB 0150 CMS).

Cadbury Research Library holds the official archive of the Church Mission Society which includes records relating to the Mathers, and mission work in Uganda and the diocese of the Upper Nile (GB 0150 CMS). There are further records relating to the Mathers in the sequence of CMS Unofficial Papers, most notably CMS Accession 749: Papers of Rev Henry Mathers (GB 0150 CMS/ACC749) and CMS Accession 1020: Printed papers relating to Henry Mathers and Winifred Mathers née Coombs (GB 0150 CMS/ACC1020).
Associated MaterialsSelected letters of Winifred Mathers, written from 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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