Rev Jacob Links

Scope and Content

Brief (17 pages) manuscript describing the life and work of Jacob Links, possibly written by Barnabus Shaw, after 1825; article on Links, with portrait, from the 'Paper relative to Wesleyan Missions and the State of Heathen Countries' (No XVIII, December 1824); manuscript copy, probably made by Links, of Rev Schmelen's catechism for the 'use of the Great Namaquas' with insert of notes by Links for sermon [1820s].

Administrative / Biographical History

Jacob Links, the son of Keudo Links, was born about 1800. His father was an important member of his tribe in Little Namaqualand [Cape Province, South Africa]. He grew up around Lily Fountain in Khamiesberg [Lilifontein, Kamiesberg, Northern Cape Province] along with his brothers Peter, Robert and Barnabus. He converted to Methodism in 1816 (most of his family also became Methodists) and when he was about 17 he assisted Barnabus Shaw as an interpreter (he learnt both Dutch and English) and as a lay preacher. Links also took on responsibilities as a schoolmaster.

In 1818 it was agreed that he should became a candidate for the ministry by the Wesleyan Methodist Conference and he became an assistant missionary working with Barnabus Shaw and James Archbell (the latter in Greater Namaqualand [Namibia]). Both Archbell and Links attempted to preach to the Bushman, particularly around Warm Bath (sometimes referred to as Nisbett's Bath) [Warmbad, Namibia], but with little success. Unable to cope with the harsh living conditions both men had to give in with Links returning to Lily Fountain. In 1822 Links was ordained.

In 1824 the Rev William Threlfall arrived in Lily Fountain to recover from illness. On Threlfall's recovery it was agreed that he would lead a party to assess whether a mission was possible north of the Fish River in Namaqualand [Great Fish River, Namibia]. Threlfall left in late June 1825 with Links and Johannes Jager, a local missionary assistant. On route they were discouraged from progressing further and found it increasingly difficult to procure a guide. However, at Warm Bath they acquired the assistance of Nauwghaap (alias Hans Jantje) as a guide. One or two days after leaving Warm Bath (around 10 August) they were joined by a group of local Bushmen and whilst camping that evening, at the instigation of Nauwghaap, Links and his two companions were murdered for their possessions. Nauwghaap, along with his conspirators, were tried and executed at Silver Fountain [Silverfontein, Cape Province] on 3 September 1827. Jacob Links left a widow. Two of his brothers, Peter and Barnabus, continued to be heavily involved with the Methodist mission in Little Namaqualand.

Further Reading:

Birtwhistle, N A, William Threlfall: a study in missionary vocation (1966);

[Boyce, W B], Memoir of the Rev. William Shaw, late General Superintendent of the Wesleyan missions in south-eastern Africa (1874);

Broadbent, S, The missionary martyr of Namaqualand : memorials of the Rev. William Threlfall, late Wesleyan missionary in South Africa, who was murdered in Great Namaqualand, together with two native converts, Jacob Links and Johannes Jager (1860);

Cheeseman, T, The story of William Threlfall, missionary martyr of Namaqualand, with some account of Jacob Links and Johannes Jager, who fell with him (1910).

Conditions Governing Access

Only to be viewed on microfiche


Archivist's Note


Related Material

Unfortunately there are no letters written by Jacob Links extant within the official correspondence for South Africa in the (Wesleyan) Methodist Missionary Society. Some of his work is mentioned by his colleagues Barmabus Shaw, James Archbell and William Threlfall in their correspondence (MMS/South Africa/Correspondence/General/FBN 1 & MMS/South Africa/Correspondence/Cape/FBN 7). The synod minutes for the Cape District may mention some of his missionary work (MMS/South Africa/Synod Minutes/FBN 1). An additional image of Links can be found within MMS/Africa/Photographs/Box 1194 (file 1).