Brown, James Marcus (1867-1933)
"Sunny Memories": Photograph album of the PM Mission in West Africa
James Mark (later Marcus) Brown was born on 1st October 1867 in Southampton. He was raised in the Primitive Methodist Church, where his father was a local preacher for more than fifty years, and entered the ministry from the Kingston-on-Thames Circuit in 1892. In his second year of training he was invited by the General Missionary Committee to travel to West Africa where he arrived in December 1893. ***1***
The Primitive Methodist Missionary Committee had already established a mission at Santa Isabel, Fernando Po but wanted to extend their mission on the mainland of Nigeria. Two towns, Oron located on Rio Del River and Archibong town located on the Aqua Effey River were visited. Archibong town was finally chosen. So once all arrangements had been made Marcus (as he was known) and a Bubi Christian couple, Mr & Mrs Knox, were sent out from Fernando Po to found a Mission Station in Archibong. Thus, Archibong, in the land of the Efik, became the first Primitive Methodist Mission Station in Nigeria.
Unfortunately Marcus was only in Nigeria for two years, ill health cutting short his missionary work. However whilst in Archibong Marcus discovered John Enang Gill, a native Efik, who came to the station as a child, worked as his house-boy and became the first Efik Primitive Methodist Missionary.
Returning home Marcus married Jessie Urquhart on 28th October 1896 at the Mathers Hotel, Dundee according to the form of the United Presbyterian Church. He gives his address as Douglas, Isle of Man. Jessie was a nurse at Dundee Royal Infirmary. ***2***
In 1898 their daughter Lilian Urquhart was born in Hyde, Cheshire and in 1903 their son Norman Marcus was born in Smethwick, Staffs. The Primitive Methodist Leader of 13th July 1905 states “On leaving Birmingham Third Circuit for Sowerby Bridge, the Rev. J. Marcus Brown was presented with a marble clock, a travelling bag, a gold mounted umbrella, and a sum of money in recognition of his six years’ ministry. Mrs Brown also received a valuable umbrella and a beautiful handbag. They enter their new circuit with many hearty wishes for continued success”. By 1911 the family were living in Lancaster. Marcus also served in the Leeds District.
In 1920 the family moved south to Bromley Common PM Church in the Penge and Bromley District, at the end of September 1933 they moved again to Richmond in Surrey where on 9th October Marcus died after a heart attack.
In March 2014 I was contacted by the Rev J Marcus Brown’s grandson, Jeremy Lawson, because he had in his possession his Grandfather’s photograph album and had no one to pass it on to. I understand that when missionaries were sent out they were each given a camera so what follows is what Marcus recorded in his album called “Sunny Memories”. (There are a few photos of places other than West Africa which I assume he collected from friends).