Balmer, William Turnbull
1866-1928; e.m. 1899

WM missionary in West Africa, teacher, linguist and author, was born at Philadelphia, Co. Durham on 16 October 1866. With experience as a teacher and headmaster, he was sent in 1901 to open 'the Richmond College of West Africa' in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Revered as a wise and sympathetic headmaster in both Freetown and Cape Coast, he later set up co-operative ministerial training with the Anglican CMS at Fourah Bay College in Sierra Leone. Compelled by ill health to return to England, he was set apart in 1922 for the work of the WMMS 'West Africa Literature Society' and its Atlantis Press. He wrote a series of readers in English and a widely used Catechism. He learned several African languages and his last assignment was in the *Côte d'Ivoire where, in his sixties, he embarked on Adjukru, helping to refine a script and to translate Mark's Gospel. He died at Welwyn Garden City on 5 May 1928.

  • John Pritchard, Methodists and their Missionary Societies 1900-1996 (2014), pp.104-6, 118