Hoxton Missionary College (1826-1830)

 

The Hoxton Missionary College was established by the London Missionary Society in the recently vacated premises of Hoxton Independent Academy, in Hoxton Square, London, close to the Society's headquarters. It opened on 10 October 1826, but lasted for only four years, closing in midsummer 1830. The Society decided to establish a London-based academy after the death of their missionary tutor, David Bogue of Gosport, in an effort to save money and to allow all of the directors to be more involved in the planning of their missionaries' training. Accordingly, they acquired the remainder of the lease of the property in Hoxton Square from its previous occupants at an annual rent of £130, closed their original training centre, Bogue's academy at Gosport, and transferred the students to London. Ebenezer Henderson, Bogue's successor at Gosport, also moved to London to serve as the theological and resident tutor at Hoxton. Daniel Godfrey Bishop, one of the senior students at Homerton College, was appointed classical tutor. Because Bogue had allowed the students to use his own library, the directors were forced to appeal for books, and also for philosophical apparatus, to equip the college: 'Besides works on general and theological literature, such books would be particularly acceptable as treat of the Evidences, Criticism, and Interpretation of the Sacred Scriptures' ('Mission College Library', 454). A major donation was made in 1826 by William Alers Hankey, treasurer of the London Missionary Society.
 
John Angell James delivered the sermon at the academy's opening. While little is known about the programme at Hoxton, James's sermon hints that at least part of Bogue's mission strategy was carried over into this new programme. According to James, 'It is perfectly obvious to every thinking mind, that the only work to be done by foreigners is to introduce the gospel into a country, and then to send it forward by the hands of native converts. We must send out seed corn for the first harvest, and then expect that this first harvest should furnish the seed for future ones' (James, Missionary Prospects, 40). Accordingly, in addition to studying theology, missionary candidates spent much of their time at Hoxton learning languages, especially the dialects indigenous to the fields in which the missionaries had been assigned. To accomplish this task the students made use of recent work published by other London Missionary Society missionaries and held within the Society's library or manuscripts obtainable from other London institutions, such as the British Museum or the Royal Society. For example, after receiving his assignment to China, Samuel Dyer began to learn Chinese whilst a student at Hoxton Missionary College by studying Robert Morrison's Chinese Bible and Chinese-English dictionary and grammar, as well as the Chinese library Morrison exported to London. It was expected that missionaries, such as Dyer, having gained knowledge of these languages prior to deployment, would be better equipped to produce and distribute further translations (these, in turn, were predicted to lead to mass conversion).
 
The college was intended to receive twenty students when it opened in 1826, but the number of students trained is not clear. On the whole, the college did not live up to its expectations. The directors gained a greater control over the training programme and their missionaries continued to succeed in their fields, but the Society still found the costs of running an independent college unsustainable. Consequently, when Henderson accepted the invitation to become theological tutor of Highbury College in April 1830, the directors considered 'the expediency of keeping up, at a great expense, a distinct Academical Establishment, seeing they are only able to send forth a limited number of new missionaries from year to year' ('Appointment of a New Tutor', 222). They therefore agreed to close the academy at midsummer because 'the expense is disproportionately great to the object accomplished by the Mission College' (SOAS, CWM/LMS, Home, Board Minutes, Box 20, 15 March 1830). Henceforth, the London Missionary Society made use of other academies to train its missionary candidates, such as Homerton, Highbury, and Newport Pagnell, and the preparatory academies at Rothwell (or Rowell) and Turvey. This temporarily brought an end to any universal London Missionary Society training experience (or, by default, any standard mission strategy), but saved the Society a considerable amount of money and afforded the Society's students interaction with the rest of the British dissenting community. Bishop became a tutor at Homerton Academy on the closure of the college.
 
Christopher A. Daily
 


Archives

SOAS, CWM/LMS, Home, Board Minutes, Boxes 18-21.
DWL, NCL/129/1, Hoxton Independent Academy minute book, 1821-35.

Published sources

'Appointment of a New Tutor at Highbury College', Congregational Magazine, new series 7 (1830), 222-23.
'Domestic Miss. Intelligence: Mission College', Evangelical Magazine and Missionary Chronicle, 4 (1826), 493-95.
James, J. A., Missionary Prospects: A Sermon the Substance of which was Delivered in Hoxton Chapel on Tuesday Evening October 10 1826 at the Opening of Hoxton College as a Missionary Academy (Birmingham, 1826).
'Mission College Library', Evangelical Magazine and Missionary Chronicle, 4 (1826), 454.
Porter, Andrew, 'Founders of the London Missionary Society (act. 1795)', ODNB. 
 



Christopher A. Daily, 'Hoxton Missionary College (1826-1830)', Dissenting Academies Project, Dr Williams's Centre for Dissenting Studies, April 2012.