Papers of Reverend William Arthur Crabtree

Scope and Content

A collection of materials of and compiled by William Crabtree, mostly relating to his study of African languages and translation work. It includes letters, notes, drafts for publication, manuscript and typescript vocabularies and grammars for various African languages, typescripts of some of his works, and research materials in the form of card indexes. Work by other philologists in manuscript, typescript and printed format are also represented in the collection. The collection includes a small amount of material relating to his missionary service.

Administrative / Biographical History

Administrative/Biographical History

William Arthur Crabtree (b. c. 1868-1945) was from Darlington and was educated at St Peter's School, York and King's School, Canterbury and St Catherine's College and Ridley Hall, Cambridge. He was admitted to the Church Missionary Training College in 1890 and accepted as a missionary in 1891. He sailed for Africa in 1891 and he served as a CMS missionary until 1905. He was stationed at various places: Frere Town, 1891; Mengo, Uganda, 1892; Kyagwe, 1893; Kavirondo, 1894; Busoga, 1894-1897; Mengo, 1898; Gyaza, 1899-1900; Masaba Kvirondo, 1901-1903. He was ordained as priest by Bishop Tucker in Mengo in 1893.The growth of the Anglican Church in Uganda owed much to the work of missionaries like Crabtree who saw that the translation of the bible was a necessary part of their mission work. Between 1896 and 1905, Crabtree and another CMS missionary, Frank Rowling, produced three of the four gospels in Soga and he also transferred the language, Gisu (Masaba) to writing and translated the gospels into that language. He married Ethel Bronwen Poole in 1898. He resigned in 1905 and for a while was a local clergyman in the Anglican church. He died at St Dennis, Cornwall in 1945.

Reference: Register of missionaries (clerical, lay & female) and native clergy from 1804 to 1904 ( Church Missionary Society, 1905 ). , and unpublished additions to this register in the CMS archives; Gordon Hewitt, The Problems of Success. A history of the Church Missionary Society 1910-1942 ( Volume One. London, SCM Press Ltd, 1971 ). ; Crockford's Clerical Directory, 1910


This collection forms part of the Church Missionary Society Unofficial Papers. It is arranged into one series (with sub-series): Family Papers.

Access Information

Access Conditions

Open. Access to all registered researchers.

Acquisition Information

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was deposited with the Church Missionary Society in 1962. It was transferred to the Special Collections Department in the 1980s.

Other Finding Aids

See full catalogue for more information.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to make any published use of any material from the collection must be sought in advance in writing from the University Archivist, Special Collections. Identification of copyright holders of unpublished material is often difficult. Special Collections will assist where possible with identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.

Related Material

The Special Collections Department holds the Church Missionary Society Archive, the official archive of the society which includes papers relating to Crabtree's service as a missionary

Other papers of Crabtree are held at London University in the School of Oriental and African Studies Library Reference: GB 102 MS 380335