John Mackenzie Papers

Archive Unit

Scope and Content

Correspondence, 1858-1899 and undated, of John Mackenzie while in southern Africa, including his work in Bechuanaland and at Hankey, comprising letters received and copies or drafts of letters sent, the subjects including travel, missionary work, other missionaries, finance and personnel, and events in South Africa, including colonial jurisdiction.

Administrative / Biographical History

Born to a devout Church of Scotland family in Knockando, Scotland, 1835; studied at Bedford; volunteered for service with the London Missionary Society (LMS), 1855; appointed to the Makololo mission, South Africa; ordained in Edinburgh, 1858; married Ellen Douglas (1835-1925); sailed to Cape Town and travelled on to Kuruman, 1858; set out with his wife for Makolololand, 1860; travelling northwards to the Zouga River, he met Roger Price (1834-1900) and heard of the disasters which had befallen Holloway Helmore’s party of missionaries; travelled with Price to Lechulatebe’s Town and returned to Kuruman with Helmore’s two surviving children, 1860-1861; missionary to Shoshong, the town of the Bamangwato tribe, 1862; a second scheme for a mission to the Makololo also proved abortive; visited Matabeleland, 1863; returned to Shoshong, 1864; built a church at Shoshong, 1867-1868; visited Kuruman, 1868; visited England, 1869-1871; visited Matabeleland, 1873; appointed tutor at the Moffat Institution and began classes, 1873; moved to Kuruman when the Institution transferred there, 1876; also pastor of the native church and congregation at Kuruman; visited England, 1882-1884; resigned from the LMS, 1884; appointed and resigned a government appointment as Resident Commissioner in Bechuanaland, 1884; advocated direct imperial rule to prevent settler takeover of native territories; appointed LMS missionary pastor at Hankey, South Africa, 1891; died at Kimberley, 1899.

For further information see:

John Mackenzie, Ten Years North of the Orange River: a story of everyday life and work among the South African Tribes from 1859 to 1869 (Edinburgh: 1871).

John Mackenzie, Day-dawn in dark places. a story of wanderings and work in Bechwanaland (London: Cassell, 1883).

John Mackenzie, Austral Africa; losing it or ruling it: being incidents and experiences in Bechuanaland, Cape Colony, and England, 2 vols (London: Sampson Low & Co., 1887).

William Douglas Mackenzie, John Mackenzie: South African Missionary and Statesman (London: Hodder & Stoughton,1902).

William Douglas Mackenzie, John Mackenzie (London: London Missionary Society,1921).

Conditions Governing Access


Acquisition Information

Deposited on permanent loan with the records of the London Missionary Society by the Congregational Council for World Mission (later Council for World Mission) in 1973.

Other Finding Aids

Handlist available

Archivist's Note

Compiled using:

Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, ed. by Gerald H. Anderson (Cambridge: William B. Erdmans, 1998).

A Register of Missionaries, Deputations etc from 1796-1923, ed. by James Sibree (London: London Missionary Society, 1923).


Custodial History

The papers were deposited with the London Missionary Society and form part of the special series of personal papers of individual LMS missionaries and officers.

Related Material

The School of Oriental and African Studies holds the records of the London Missionary Society (Ref: CWM/LMS), including letters from individual missionaries, among them Mackenzie (Ref: CWM/LMS South Africa Incoming Correspondence); Mackenzie’s candidate’s papers (Ref: CWM/LMS Candidates’ Papers Box 11 No 6); his reports from Bechuanaland, 1882, and Hankey, 1893-1894, 1896-1897 (Ref: CWM/LMS South Africa Reports Box 2 Files 28-9, 31-2); three photographs and a drawing of him (Ref: CWM/LMS Missionary Portraits Box 4).