Thomas Birch Freeman

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Thomas Birch Freeman (9 December 1809 in Twyford, Hampshire – 10 August 1890 in Accra) was a Methodist missionary and colonial official in West Africa.[1][2][3]


Thomas Birch Freeman

Born in Twyford, Hampshire,[4] Thomas Birch Freeman was the son of an African father, Thomas Freeman, and an English mother, Amy Birch. He worked as a gardener and botanist for Sir Robert Harland at Orwell Park near Ipswich until dismissed for abandoning Anglicanism for Wesleyan Methodism. Under Freeman, nine (9) schools were established in the colony of Gold Coast (present day Ghana) in 1841, out of this, (all were in Gold Coast) three were for girls. He opened more schools, by 1880, he had about 83 schools with roughly 3000 students. In 1838 he went as a Methodist missionary to West Africa, founding Methodist churches in the Gold Coast in Cape Coast and Accra, and establishing a mission station in Kumasi. In 1850, Freeman established agriculture farms at Buela near Cape Coast (all in present-day Ghana). He also went to towns in southern Nigeria and to the kingdom of Dahomey.[4] In 1843, while on furlough in Britain, he was active in the anti-slavery cause.[4] After resigning as a missionary in 1857, he was employed by the colonial government as civil commandant of Accra district from 1857 to 1873.[5][6]

Freeman married four times. His first two wives, who were white British women, died soon after they arrived in West Africa, and he subsequently married two local women. In 1873, he rejoined the Mission, and together with his son, promoted Methodist work in the southern Gold Coast.


  1. ^ "Freeman, Thomas Birch (1809-1890) | History of Missiology". Archived from the original on 2017-11-30. Retrieved 2018-06-07. 
  2. ^ "Thomas Birch Freeman 1809-1890 Methodist Ghana". Archived from the original on 2018-06-07. Retrieved 2018-06-07. 
  3. ^ Milum, John (1893). Thomas Birch Freeman : missionary pioneer to Ashanti, Dahomey, and Egba. Robarts - University of Toronto. New York : F.H. Revell Co. 
  4. ^ a b c "Freeman, Thomas Birch", in David Dabydeen, John Gilmore, Cecily Jones (eds), The Oxford Companion to Black British History, Oxford University Press, 2007, p. 178.
  5. ^ John Flint, ‘Freeman, Thomas Birch (1809–1890)’ Archived 2015-09-24 at the Wayback Machine., Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, September 2004; online edn, Jan 2008, accessed 4 Jan 2010
  6. ^ Allen Birtwhistle, Thomas Birch Freeman. West African Pioneer, London: The Cargate Press, 1950.