James Hannington

James Hannington

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James Hannington

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James Hannington (3 September 1847 – 29 October 1885) was an Anglican missionary, saint and martyr.


Hannington was born at Hurstpierpoint in Sussex, England, on 3 September 1847. A poor scholar, he left school at fifteen to work in his father's Brighton counting house. At twenty-one, Hannington decided to pursue a clerical career, and entered university at St. Mary's Hall, Oxford, where he again proved to be a desultory student. In 1872, the death of his mother spurred a change in Hannington's life: he was awarded his B.A., and on 1 March 1874 was ordained as a deacon, and took charge of the small parish of Trentishoe in Devon.

Around 1882, Hannington heard of the murder of two missionaries on the shores of the Victoria Nyanza. This led to him offering himself to the Church Missionary Society, and he left England on 17 May, setting sail for Zanzibar on 29 June, as the head of a party of six missionaries. Crippled by fever and dysentery, Hannington was forced to return to England in 1883.

In June 1884, having recovered, he was ordained bishop of Eastern Equatorial Africa, and in January 1885, Hannington again departed for Africa. After arriving at Freretown, near Mombasa, Kenya, he decided to focus on opening a new route to Uganda: together with his team, he safely reached a spot near Victoria Nyanza on 21 October, but his arrival had not gone unnoticed, and under the orders of King Mwanga II of Buganda, the missionaries were imprisoned in Busoga by Basoga chiefs.

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