Reverend John Campbell in South Africa 1815

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Map Code: Ax02423

By the 19th century, when the Cape Colony came under British rule, South Africa was a major hub for maritime trade between Asia and Europe, and in the wake of traders came successive waves of Christian missionaries, originating in the Netherlands, the British Isles, France in the United States. Many missionaries were intrepid explorers, travelling far into the interior. They translated the Bible and hymnbooks into local languages, and the coastal regions of South Africa were increasingly seen as a “gateway”, through which the Christian religion would penetrate into the interior. John Campbell (1766–1840) was a Scottish missionary, who was instrumental in founding the British and Foreign Bible Society and became a director of the London Missionary Society. He was sent to the Cape in 1812 by the London Missionary Society to inspect mission stations there. He set off from Cape Town in 1813 and headed north, making an extensive circuit, before returning to his starting point. His account of the trip ‘Travels in South Africa, undertaken at the request of the Missionary Society’, was published on his return to London in 1815.

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