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George Grenfell

1849-1906. Baptist missionary. Born in Cornwall, he grew up in Birmingham, and after a short apprenticeship in the Cameroons (1875-78) he led a pioneer party to the Congo in 1878. By inclination an explorer, he traveled 15,000 miles on the Congo and its tributaries (1884-86), winning recognition from the Royal Geographical Society. For over twenty years he supervised Baptist Missionary Society work, and continued exploring in two steamers he himself assembled. His base after 1889 was Boloba, where he engaged in conventional missionary work. He considered European rule preferable to intertribal conflict and Arab slave-raiding. He therefore welcomed the Congo Free State and was at first highly regarded by its authorities. King Leopold consulted him in 1887 and appointed him to an international boundary commission in 1892-93. Later Grenfell condemned official atrocities and was treated with marked disfavor. This prevented him from completing a chain of stations linking up with the Church Missionary Society in East Africa.