Elizabeth Golby

Archive Unit

Scope and Content

Principally comprising photographs of staff, patients and facilities in Methodist missionary medical institutions in Eastern Nigeria. With a small number of letters and newspaper cuttings.

Administrative / Biographical History

Elizabeth Golby was born in Hook Norton, Oxfordshire, on 24 May 1908 and grew up at Castle Wharf, Hertfordshire. Her father, who worked in local government, was a Methodist lay preacher as well as the chapel steward for the Banbury Circuit. Golby was educated at Dashwood Road Day School but, after her mother's death, she took over domestic duties for the family at the age of twelve. As a child she was a member of both the Band of Hope and the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society Juvenile Missionary Association and as a teenager was involved in lay preaching for the Wesleyan Methodist Girls' League.

In 1928 Golby began four years of training as a nurse at St Luke's Municipal General Hospital, Bedford, culminating in a Staff Registered Nurse certificate and a certificate in midwifery from the Central Midwives Board. Golby's application to the Women's Work section of the Methodist Missionary Society was initially rejected so she agreed to temporarily assist at a foot clinic for pottery workers in Longton, Staffordshire. However, upon re-application to the MMS she was successful and then she spent three terms at Kingsmead, Birmingham, preparing for her role as a medical missionary. On 8th August 1934 she set sail from Liverpool for Nigeria aboard the MV Accra.

After initially being stationed at the hospital at Ikot Ekepene Golby was asked to work at a 'Bush Hospital' at Oburo Idua, near Oron, in January 1935. The compound was not fully complete so Golby found herself having to supervise its finalisation and then run a clinical practice. After a brief furlough she returned to Nigeria in the spring of 1936 and was again stationed at Ikot Ekepene. During this period a seriously ill baby was brought to Golby but died under her care. She was charged with murder but found not guilty, with the judge criticising the village for its original neglect of the child. She then temporarily relocated to Uzuakoli Leper settlement before returning to England on furlough. Whilst on furlough she married her colleague, the Methodist missionary and minister Rev Norman Green, at Banbury on 21 July 1938.

Golby, now a married woman, was not able to continue in her official post and no longer worked directly for the Women's Work section of the MMS. However, as a missionary wife her medical skills were still in constant use albeit this time at Ebukhu and with no formal recognition or remuneration. She also found herself involved in training nursing staff as well as some involvement in her husband's evangelical work. However, the combination of pregnancy and war meant that she returned to England in 1940.

In 1945 she went back to Nigeria to be with her husband at Ibiaku and assisted him with his work (as well as raising their two sons) before returning to England again in 1949 where she remained. Her husband continued working in Nigeria until ill-health forced his return in 1963 (he died on 1 December 1967). Elizabeth Green maintained a keen interest in Nigeria and mission work (being involved in Women's Work activities in Britain) until her death on 7 February 1993.

Further Reading:

Atkinson, Christine, Wesley's child: the life story of Elizabeth Green (1988)

Dorothy (Doris) Alice Coe (1901-1986) served as a medical missionary in Nigeria for the (Primitive) Methodist Missionary Society from 1929 to 1934, principally at Ikot Ekepene.

Conditions Governing Access


Archivist's Note


Conditions Governing Use

For permission to publish, please contact Archives & Special Collections, SOAS Library in the first instance

Copyright held by various

Custodial History

A small number of items originally belonged to Doris (Dorothy) Coe. Donated to the Methodist Church by Elizabeth Green, 27 October 1982.

Related Material

Any extant correspondence written by Elizabeth Golby whilst a medical missionary in Nigeria will be amongst MMS/Womens Work/Correspondence/Africa/FBN 4-5). A brief autbiographical account of her work and life (under her married name of Green) is available (MMS/Special Series/Celebrate Together/Box 1206).