Leacock Hamble James
Leacock Hamble James, a missionary of the Church of England, was born at Cluff's Bay, Barbadoes, Feb. 14.1795. His family was descended from a noble English ancestry. Slaves were an element of respectability in Barbadoes, and his father had many. Young Leacock received his early education at Codrington College, Barbadoes. Through Dr. Coleridge, bishop of Barbadoes and Leeward Islands, he became reader in his native parish, and in connection studied with his pastor, Rev. W. M. Harte. and obtained deacon's orders in January, 1826. While acting as assistant priest of St. John's Church he became very decided in his religious views, and extended the privileges of the Church to all the parish's slaves, at the same time liberating all his own slaves. The hatred and open reproach of the whites even the bishop could not calm. Leacock was transferred to the island of St. Vincent, and then to Nevis, where he became rural dean and pastor of St. Paul's Church, Charlestown. He there fought polygamy with success. But soon reverses came-difficulty with the bishop, insurrections of the slaves, and fall of property. He left for the United States, and settled in Lexington, Ky., in 1835. His confirmation, neglected in his youth, here took place on arrival. He fell into the society of such men as Dr. Coit, Dr. Cooke, Amos Cleaver, and found many friends in Transylvania University. He gained a livelihood by teaching until 1836, when he became pastor of a new congregation, St. Paul's. Difficulty soon arose here also, and led to his removal. His friends scattered to different parts of the Union. Bishop Otey stationed him in Franklin parish, Tenn. Soon after, urged by friends, he preached six months to a new congregation in Louisville, Ky.; he then returned to his old parish. He bought a small farm in New Jersey, near the city of New Brunswick, and settled on it in. 1840. He now preached in different places — for a few Sundays in and about Bridgeport, Conn.; then he supplied the winter service of the absent pastor of Christ Church, New Brunswick. In 1841 his personal appearance in the West Indies recovered for him some of his property there. He returned to the States, and was appointed to two small stations near his farm. In 1843 he became rector of St. Paul's Church, Perth Amboy. In 1847 his health and property called him to the West Indies again. By a letter from bishop Doane, bishop Parry's reception was such that he decided to remain, and in 1848 his Perth Amboy congregation accepted his resignation. He revisited the island of Nevis, and, at the peril of his life, preached vehemently against some of the immoral practices prevalent there. In 1852 he preached again for one year in St. Peter's Church, Speightstown, Barbadoes. In 1854 he preached in St. Leonard's Chapel, Bridgetown. On July 15,1855, he became the first volunteer to the West Indian Church Association for the furtherance of the Gospel in Western Africa (recently formed by bishop Parry), sailed for England, visited and prepared there, reached Africa, and landed at Freetown, Sierra Leone, Nov. 10. Aided by the bishop of Sierra Leone and colonel Hill, its governor, he founded at length a station, the Rio Pongas. At Tintima village he gained over one out of the five hostile negro chiefs. An educated black coming with him from Barbadoes, John H. A. Duport, and a converted negro chief, Mr. Wilkinson, aided him greatly; the latter gave him a site for his dwelling and chapel. Ill health drove the missionary to Freetown to recruit. Returning, he opened a school for boys, with an attendance which increased to forty. He was aided with money, books, and clothing from England, and his congregations in Perth Amboy, Kentucky, and Tennessee. His territory soon widened, the natives became favorable, and the school increased. Again sickness drove him to his friends in Sierra Leone. Against their advice, and that of the bishop of Barbadoes, he returned to his post. He seemed to recover, and laid plans for future efforts; but died August 20,1856. As a result of his labors, a large missionary field was opened. His biography is written by Rev. Henry Caswall, D.D. (London, 1857, 12mo), a friend, and English secretary of the society under which he acted.