David Livingstone and Leytonstone
There are three great links between David Livingstone and Leytonstone:
Horace Waller, Abdullah Susi and James Chuma, and the ‘Last Journals of David Livingstone’ that they edited together in Leytonstone, and had published in 1874.
Horace Waller, Abdullah Susi and James Chuma were all companions of David Livingstone and were all inspired by him. After David Livingstone’s death on 1st May 1873, at Chitambo Village, Ulala, his body was carried by his African companions to Zanzibar and then brought to England. His body lay in state for two days in the Royal Geographical Society. A day of national mourning was announced. There was a funeral, at State expense, in Westminster Abbey on 18th April 1874, attended by the Prince of Wales. One of the pallbearers was Jacob Wainwright, another African companion of Livingstone, who had accompanied Livingstone’s body on the voyage from Zanzibar. Another pallbearer was Horace Waller.
Horace Waller had been inspired by David Livingstone and went to Africa to work with him in 1861 as part of the Universities Mission to Central Africa. What he saw there changed his life. After his return to England in 1862, he attended the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society’s Conference in Paris in 1867, and in the same year he was ordained by the Bishop of Rochester to a curacy of St John’s Chatham. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society in 1864, and in 1870 he became a member of the Committee of the Anti-Slavery Society. He worked steadily for the removal of slavery in East Africa, for the rest of his life.
He was appointed Vicar of Leytonstone in 1870. In 1871 the House of Commons appointed a committee to investigate the East African Slave Trade, and he and Edmund Murge helped to persuade that committee to recommend Sir John Kirk for the appointment of permanent political agent at Zanzibar. Through this appointment a treaty between the Sultan of Zanzibar and Great Britain declared the slave trade by sea to be illegal.
Abdullah Susi and James Chuma had been faithful companions of David Livingstone in Africa. They were devoted to him and came to England in 1874. They stayed at Leytonstone’s Vicarage with Horace Waller. They attended the Church, sang in the Choir, and went to the local school. But their most important work was to share, with Horace Waller, in the Vicarage, in editing the ‘Last Journals of David Livingstone’. When these journals were published, they were widely read, and made a deep impression. The Vicarage was on the site now occupied by Matalan. In my view, the memory of what these three men did together there in 1874 should be recorded on a Blue Plaque or in some other way. They are inspiring and early example of how we can work together to serve God’s Kingdom of Justice and Mercy.
The best short introduction to David Livingstone, in my view, is by C.S Nicholls ‘ David Livingstone’ published by Sutton Publishing in 1998. ISBN 0-7509-1591-9. The book includes photos of Abdullah Susi, James Chuma and of Jacob Wainwright.
There is a short article on Horace Waller in the Dictionary of National Biography.
There is a biography of Horace Waller by Dorothy o. Helly called ‘Livingstone’s Legacy- Horace Waller and Victorian Mythmaking’. It includes a fine photo of Abdullah Susi, James Chuma, Agnes and Tom Livingstone, David Livingstone’s children, and Horace Waller. It was taken at Newstead Abby, Nottinghamshire in 1874. This book was published by Ohio University Press, Athens, Ohio and London in 1987.
There is also a biography of ‘David Livingstone- Mission and Empire’ by Andrew C .Ross published by Hambledon and London in 2002
The David Livingstone Centre is run by the Scottish National Memorial to David Livingstone Trust. It is based at 165 Station Road, Blantyre, Glasgow G72 9BT, Tel No 01698 823140.
It is a valuable resource for all research on David Livingstone.
As 2013 marks the 200th anniversary of his birth and the 140th anniversary of his death, it is good to ponder his life and his influence on Leytonstone and the world.