Thomas Birch Freeman

1809-1890. First Wesleyan Methodist missionary in Ghana to survive for more than a short period. Born near Winchester, son of a West Indian father and an English mother, he worked as a gardener and botanist, offering for overseas service in 1837. He arrived at Cape Coast at the beginning of the following year and started work single-handed after the death of all his predecessors. His interests extended to architecture, botany, agriculture, and education, but his dominant concern was the geographical expansion of Christianity. He visited Kumasi, capital of Ashanti, in 1839, and Badagry and Abeokuta, now in Nigeria, in 1841-42, calling at Abomey, the capital of Dahomey, during his return journey. By 1856 he had built up a strong church and an educational system which included thirty-five schools, four of them in Nigeria and Dahomey. He had also, however, incurred cumulative over-expenditure of more than £10,000, and in 1857 he resigned from the ministry. For some time he worked in government service in Ghana, returning to the ministry in his later years.