Hanney, George Henry (1879-1955)

Rev. George Henry Hanney
Supplied by Jonathan Davies

Transcription of obituary published in the Minutes of Conference

GEORGE HENRY HANNEY: born near Wigan in 1897, became a Primitive Methodist minister in 1902, and gave the whole of his forty-seven years in the active work to the Eastern Nigeria District of West Africa. He thus established a record for Methodist workers which may never be broken, and which is all the more remarkable when it is remembered that Oron, on the Cross River estuary, the only circuit in which he laboured, is reckoned one of the unhealthiest areas of all the West African coast. 

The District was young when he arrived, Primitive Methodism having embarked on its mainland adventure from the Spanish island of Fernando Po only a few years earlier, Its workers had been few. He had the singular experience, at the time of his retirement to Birkenhead in 1949, of having  worked with all but three of the nearly two hundred missionaries who had helped to extend the District to the Benue River, four hundred miles in the interior, with work among five tribes, and with almost eight hundred churches, several hospitals, and many schools, and a Christian community of about fifty thousand. In all these developments, he played an active part. 

In his earliest years, he helped to establish stations at Jamestown, Urua Eye, and Ebukhu, and also assisted in the building of a Training Institution at Oron. With his first wife, he began a small boarding-school for girls which later developed into the present Mary Hanney Memorial School, the handsome buildings of which he designed and erected. 

He took the deepest interest in every new advance into the interior, and, out of his wise knowledge of the African mind and heart, gave valuable counsel and encouragement to those who had to carry them through. No white man knew the African better than he, and none was more beloved by his people. To them, as to his colleagues, he was known as ‘Etubom’ Hanney, a title of high honour among the Efik people, meaning ‘Father of the Canoe’. Always of a deep humility, he neither sought nor accepted district office. He was content to serve his people with a devotion that never failed, and gladly would he have laid himself down for his long rest among them could he have had his way. His name and fame will live in the long African memories. 

He died on 4th July 1955, in the seventy-seventh year of his age and in the fifty-second of his ministry.


George was born on 7 January 1879 at New Springs, Wigan, Lancashire, to parents John, a policeman (1891), and Sarah Elizabeth. He was baptised on 2 February 1879 at Whelley PM Chapel, Wigan.

He married Mary Pearson (1879-1927)) on 23 December 1905 at Bradshawgate PM chapel, Leigh Rd, Leigh Lancashire. They had one daughter.

Lillian Maude Pearson (1908-1992) – married Carlos Edward Wiles, a PM minister, in 1929

He married Georgina Elizabeth Harrison (1896-1983) in the spring of 1928 at Birkenhead, Cheshire. Birth records identify two daughters.

  • Sara (b1930) – married Roy L Slack in 1950
  • Georgina (b1934)

George died on 4 July 1955 at The Northern Hospital, Liverpool, Lancashire.


  • Hartley
  • 1902 E Nigeria
  • 1949 Supernum


Methodist Minutes 1955/150

W Leary, Directory of Primitive Methodist Ministers and their Circuits, 1990

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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