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Collection 135 Ephemera of Alfred R. Tucker

Identifier: CN 135

Scope and Contents

Correspondence, maps, clippings, pamphlets, photographs, and sketches relating the career and ministry of Alfred R. Tucker, Anglican Bishop of Uganda. Topics relate to missions in East Africa, social conditions and changes there, translation of the Bible, the abolition of slavery and a biography of Tucker planned by Mary Carus-Wilson.

This collection is distinguished by its intimate picture of African life and the missionary church in this part of Africa at a period when technology was first introduced, describing effects of the first railroad, telegraph and steam launches. It also presents a detailed story of the interaction of missionary and political forces which combined to abolish slavery in this territory.

Series 1: Photographs

The photographs include one of Bishop Tucker in Africa and nineteen photographs of his sketches of scenery, dwellings, churches, and daily life in Central East Africa and Uganda.

Series 2: Paper Records (Box List)

The first box in this collection contains primarily letters written by Tucker to various people. Folders 1-1 through 1-3 contain Tucker's letters from Africa and England to his family, friends, and biographer, Mary Carus-Wilson. Folder 1-4 contains correspondence to Ashley Carus-Wilson. Folder 1-5 contains responses from friends and co-workers requested by Mrs. Carus-Wilson for use in her biography. Folder 1-6 includes newspaper clippings, magazine articles, and miscellaneous items described below. There are nineteen photographs of Tucker's sketches and one portrait of Tucker. The material is in chronological order imposed by the archivist. Penciled notations in brackets in the right-hand corner are added by the archivist.

The letters from Bishop Tucker in folders 1-1 through 1-3 describe his daily life as an itinerant bishop, which included portage marches to all sections of the interior to visit churches and mission stations to baptize, confirm, administer communion and ordain and train clergy and lay evangelists, and planning for construction of a cathedral at Mengo and churches for native English congregations. He describes the problems of portage marches which included extremes of weather, illness, desertion of porters, dangers from tribesmen, and difficulties of terrain. The medical work of the Doctors Cook, development of schools, arrangements for translations and his contacts with George Pilkington, relationships with Roman Catholic missionaries, Muslims and the Sultan of Zanzibar are covered in these letters. He details also the legal steps required which led to the abolition of slavery and alleviation of suffering and expansion of mission territory as a result of the railroad, steam boat and telegraph. (Joan Plubell Mattia has suggested that the letters in these folders addressed to "My Dear Brother" are to Rev. H. E. Fox, secretary of the Church Missionary Society. Ms. Mattia made the transcripts to correspondence which researchers will find in folders 1-1, 1-2, 1-3, and 2-1.)

Correspondence in folder 1-4 contains a letter from George Pilkington to Professor Ashley Carus-Wilson discussing his return from Uganda to arrange for publication of translations of the New Testament. A second letter to Carus-Wilson from K. Borup concerns a journal and photographs from East Africa to be circulated in Canada. A third letter concerns publications of the Canadian Church Missionary Association branch of the Church Missionary Society, England.

Folder 1-5 contains responses from friends and co-workers of Tucker for the biography of Mrs. Carus-Wilson. They describe his personal habits and personality, abilities as a statesman, artist, and spiritual leader, his physical and moral courage, and relationships with his European colleagues and Africans. The Carus-Wilson book was interrupted by the war and correspondence in 1927 indicated that it had no yet been completed. The folder does not include information on its publication.

Folder 1-6 contains newspaper and magazine clippings of eulogies of Tucker at the time of his death, statistics on Africa, missionary hymns and prayers, mission maps and lists of slides of mission territories.

The second box in this collection includes correspondence, pamphlets, and sketches. The correspondence (folder 2-1) consists of letters written by Tucker to a colleague and to his biographer. They describe plans for a party of missionaries to travel from the coast to Uganda, comments on Roman Catholic missions there, and his experiences at the baths in Karlsbad, Austria, where he was recovering from illness. One letter outlines plans for viewing sketches made in Africa for use in the biography to be written by Mrs. Carus-Wilson.

The pamphlets (folder 2-2), Mengo Notes and Uganda Notes, 1900-1902, are unofficial newsletters from the missions to be distributed in Africa and England. They include reports of personnel, episcopal visits, medical missions, schools, progress, and problems with churches, governments, and tribal leaders. They are a valuable record of the period, with many details of current African culture, medical challenges, and changing governmental structure, as well as a chronicle of church growth.

Twelve plates of Tucker's sketches, folder 2-3, include one group photograph. A printed description by Sarah Geraldina Stock gives details of five sites, including Church Missionary Society Stations at Nassa, Kisokwe, and Usambiro.


  • Created: 1890-1927

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.

Biographical Information

Alfred Robert Tucker was born April 1, 1849, the second of five sons, to two artists, Edward Tucker and Julia Maile. The family lived in Ambleside in the Lake District. Alfred was trained as an artist and painted under his mother's maiden name, Alfred Maile. As a result of an exhibition of his work, he met and married Josephine Sim, a member of the Society of Friends and the daughter of William Fisher Sim of Southport, Lancashire, England. They had one son, Hathaway. By 1874 he was successful enough to have his paintings exhibited at the Royal Academy. In the process of painting a picture of a homeless mother and child, he decided that his life work should instead be aiding the needy and he subsequently entered Christ Church, Oxford, graduating in 1882 at age thirty-three. Admitted to deacon's Orders in the Anglican Church, he spent the next three years working under E. P. Hathaway at St. Andrew-the-Less, Clifton. In 1885 he began work as a Curate at Durham with Rev. H. E. Fox, Vicar of St. Nicholas.

Early in the year 1890 the Church Missionary Society was searching for a successor to the late Bishop Parker who had been sent to the newly-created See of Eastern Equatorial Africa. He died of fever before reaching his post, and was to have succeeded the late Bishop Hannington, who had been murdered by tribesmen, also before reaching his territory. Because Tucker had written the Society requesting duty in Africa, he was selected for the post, the first Curate to become a Bishop. On the evening of his consecration at Lambeth Parish Church, May 1890, he departed for Africa. He arrived in Uganda on Christmas day, 1890, having walked nine-hundred miles to the interior.

For the next twenty years Bishop Tucker administered the work of the area of Central East Africa, becoming Bishop of Uganda in 1899 when the diocese was divided into three territories. One of his first acts was to authorize the translation of Scriptures into native languages instead of Swahili. In 1895 he recruited the first women missionaries in Africa as teachers. Though in 1890 no medical facilities existed, by 1901 he had originated hospitals with 158 beds, and clinics serving 127,000 a year. In these years he also set up primary schools, high schools and a college for chiefs' sons, "King's School," to train African Christians. The work of the diocese included setting up trade schools to train workers in a changing technology. Largely as a result of Tucker's vigorous appeals and continuous action, slavery was ultimately abolished under the British Protectorate in October 1907. during his service in Africa the number of lay evangelists rose from six to 2,036, with thirty-two native clergy. In 1891 there were seventy communicants, and in 1907, 18,078. The number of worshipers rose from 25,300 in 1897 to 52,471 in 1907, and the number of churches from 321 to 1,070 during the same years.

He returned to England for the first time in 1891, where he gave a successful appeal at Exeter Hall for support of the missionary work of the African diocese. After the death of Queen Victoria, he returned again in 1902 for the coronation of Edward VII, taking with him the Premier of Uganda and the tutor of King Daudi. The latter Tucker had confirmed as a Christian. He was the son of King M'Wango, who had ordered the murder of Hannington, the first Anglican bishop sent to Uganda. In 1906 Tucker was sent to Karlsbad, Austria, to recuperate from accumulated illnesses. The autobiographical account of his experiences, Eighteen Years in Uganda and East Africa, in two volumes and illustrated with his own water colors, was published in 1908. While in England to raise funds, his weakened physical condition led him to accept a position as Canon of Durham Cathedral. He served there from 1911 until his sudden death in Durham while attending a meeting of a Committee on Faith and Order, June 15, 1914.

He was eulogized in The Guardian as one of the "most gifted pioneer missionary Bishops." As stated in his autobiography, his desire was ". . . not to turn them into Black Englishmen . . . rather to strengthen their own national characteristics." His leadership in Africa was distinguished by the encouragement of a native black church in which ". . . not a single half-penny of English money" was used to support its clergy, teachers, and evangelists.


2 Boxes

2 Photograph Files

Language of Materials


Accruals and Additions

The materials in this collection were purchased from manuscript dealers by the Billy Graham Center Archives in 1980, 1981, and 1986.

Accession 80-73, 81-29, 86-111

November 12, 1980

Frances Brocker

R. Shuster

S. Kouns

June 19, 1981, revised

Frances L. Brocker

M. Arnold

December 19, 1986, revised

Paul A. Ericksen

J. Nasgowitz

Separated Materials

The following books have been given to the Evangelism and Missions Collection, Buswell Library.

Accession 86-111

Tucker, Alfred. Eighteen Years in Uganda and East Africa (London: E. Arnold, 1908).

Collection 135 Ephemera of Alfred R. Tucker
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Roman Script

Repository Details

Part of the Evangelism & Missions Archives Repository

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