John Baillie of Swaziland




September 21, 1855, at 41 Buccleuch Street, Edinburgh, Scotland

Annie Elizabeth Grieve, on May 15, 1886 at ___, Durban, South Africa

July 25, 1930, at his home in Pretoria, South Africa




Zerub Baillie, Jane Baillie née Anderson

William Anderson Baillie, Zerub Baillie Jr. (1), Jane Young Baillie, Robert Anderson Baillie, Alexander Baillie, Zerub Baillie Jr (2), Walter Baillie, George Baillie, Agnes Baillie

John Henry Baillie, Kathleen Mary Baillie, Andrew Welcome Baillie, Frances Emma Baillie, Robert Grieve Baillie


(Click on thumbnail for full picture)


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Birth record of John Baillie.

TRANSCRIPT: 1855. Births in the district of Newington and Grange, borough of Edinburgh. No. 502: John Baillie, not present, male. Date: 1855 September twenty-first, 4 p.m. Address: 41 Buccleuch Street, Edinburgh. Father: Zerub Baillie, Journeyman Cabinet Maker, 23 years, House (?) parish of Oxton, Berwickshire. When and where married: 1854 Edinburgh. Mother: Jane Baillie. Maiden name Anderson. Her first child. 20 years. Birthplace: Cousland, B. of Cranston, C. of Edinburgh. Informant: Zerub Baillie, father, not present. When and where registered: October 5, Edinburgh. Registrar: Joseph Morrisson. Ref.: B-1855-685/2-502 Edinburgh / Newington & Grange MLN.

Oxton (at national grid ref. NT495535, about 5 miles north of Lauder, and just off the A68) is in fact the main village in the Berwickshire parish of Channelkirk.   'House' is perhaps 'Hillhouse' or 'Airhouse', which are farms in the parish, or simply an error.   Cousland (NT377684) is a village in the Midlothian parish of Cranston.

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John Baillie

John Baillie was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. At the age of 25, he was recorded by the 1881 Census as being an "ironmonger's assistant". The IGI (ref. below) records his birthplace as Midlothian, Edinburgh Parish.

Letters to John Baillie from his friend Henry F. Grieve

The Baillie family moved to Sunderland, northern England, in about 1865. John befriended Henry F. Grieve and became involved with the Young Men's Christian Association.

These letters from 1889 to 1891 contain much valuable information about John Baillie's early career as a missionary, and also about his family life and personality. Apparently he contributed financially, while working as a draper's assistant in Barberton, to the costs of institutionalizing his wife's elder brother Samuel W. Grieve in a mental asylum. For a time, his younger brother Walter assisted in his (part-time, voluntary) mission work in Barberton.

John Baillie was ordained by the Rev. Andrew Murray (see a letter from Baillie to Rev. Albert A. Head, Feb. 12, 1897).  He was the pioneer missionary of the newly formed South Africa General Mission, whose chairman was Rev. Murray.

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John Baillie and Annie Elizabeth Grieve, just married

John Baillie went to South Africa in the mid-1880s. Family legend has it that he intended to work as a missionary there but went as a businessman in order to be self-supporting. He spent some time in Queenstown, working for a draper. Once established, he sent for his bride, Annie Elizabeth Grieve, the youngest sister of his friend Henry. He and Annie were married on May 15, 1886, in Durban, South Africa. They moved to Barberton in about 1888, where John worked again for a draper.

I think this is a photograph taken at their marriage in Durban in 1886, to judge by their age, and by the fact that the picture was obviously on display.  On the other hand, why, on their marriage day, would John Baillie be sitting on a pile of straw with a tree behind?

Notice his height compared with hers -- almost as high, though he is seated!  Aptly did Spencer Walton consign remarks in his diary about John's "little wife".

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 Travel in Swaziland in the 1890s

John Baillie and his family traveled by ox cart. The location and the names of the individuals in this photograph are not clear but may be the Baillie family in 1894, when Kathleen Baillie was two years old.



According to Beryl Moll née Webb, John Baillie took to bee-keeping in Swaziland.  The objective was to provide honey for the family.



The family returned to England about every seven years for “furlough”.  This was a stay of several months during which they did deputation work, viz. went to churches all over the country to talk about their work.

Travel was not easy.  A letter from Rev. A. Mercer to Rev. Spencer Walton reveals that the latter had planned to put the family on the new ship, the Tantallon Castle.  But Rev. Mercer corrects him: “We think you must have forgotten that our workers go out and come home by Intermediate boats, … 2nd class” (March 13, 1896).  Together with their three children, they sailed for England on May 20, 1996, from Delagoa Bay, in the Harlech Castle, arriving in England on July 11.  They stayed until April 1897.

They left the eldest child, John Henry, in Sunderland with his aunts, and departed for South Africa on April 24, 1897, with the Avondale Castle.

The SAGM paid the Baillies 15 pounds per month during the period.

John Baillie loved photography, the “new technology” of his age.  The SAGM paid £6.9.1 for a camera and equipment for him in 1897.

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 Baillie family, about 1912.

John and Annie Baillie, with their daughters Frances (back) and Kathleen ("Kathie", front). Location probably Hebron Mission Station in Swaziland.

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 John Baillie with SAGM missionaries and Swazi preachers, about 1922.

John Baillie is in the back row, first on the left. Annie Baillie is in the middle row (sitting), on the far right (note the enormous hat).


Parting message of John and Annie Baillie upon retirement from the SAGM


Obituary to John Baillie in South African Pioneer

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Beryl Maureen Moll (née Webb) at the grave of John and Annie Baillie

The grave is no. 1325 in the Pretoria West cemetery. Photograph taken by Theodor Arthur Moll in June 2000.

The cemetery records state that "John R. Baillie" was buried on July 27, 1930, and that Annie Elizabeth Baillie was buried on August 8, 1932 (see letter from Beryl Maureen Moll to Peter Moll, June 15, 2000). Note: We are unaware of any corroborating record of the middle initial "R." of John Baillie.

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Epitaph on the gravestone of John and Annie Baillie

The epitaph reads "IN LOVING MEMORY OF / OUR DEAR PARENTS / JOHN BAILLIE / AGED 74 / AND HIS WIFE ANNIE ELIZABETH / AGED 74 / SWAZILAND MISSIONARIES / "LIFT UP YOUR EYES AND LOOK ON THE FIELDS ". The verse is from ____ Note: The resolution is poor because it is scanned from the full-size picture above, and the text color is a light gold against grey granite.



(1) Year of birth, occupation: The 1881 British Census, in CD form, provided by the Family History Library of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Mowbray, Cape Town.

(2) Year of birth, biography: Letter from Dr. Jim Kallam of Society for International Ministries (Charlotte, N.C.) to Peter G. Moll, April 24, 2000. Dr. Kallam's Ph.D. on the South Africa General Mission includes biographical and other information in a chapter on the founding of the mission in Swaziland.

(3) Date of birth, parents’ names, city of birth: The International Genealogical Index of the Family History Library of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, in Mowbray, Cape Town. See electronic version. Also see Batch/film number C116851, serial/shot 1120, cited on page 1112 of IGI C0424 Scotland: county Midlothian. (John Baillie was "baptized" by the Mormon church on May 22, 1980, "endowed" on 9 September 1980 and "sealed to parents" on October 2, 1980; this information was "extracted", not supplied by a LDS member.)

(4) Photocopy of birth record: LDS Film 0103383 of the Scottish Civil Registration. 

(4) Transcript of birth record: Additional help with the transcription and with town names and locations from Dr. J.A. Robertson, a genealogical researcher in Edinburgh, October 7, 2002.

(4) Marriage: Electronic version of the IGI, and 1903555 FILM. Information submitted by an LDS member.

(5) Marriage: The family scrapbook of Annie Baillie née Grieve refers to her as "Annie E. Grieve" in 1885. Then a letter from Henry Grieve to John Baillie refers to the marriage in late 1886.

(6) Emigration, marriage, life in Swaziland: Kathleen Mary Jemison, 1976. John and Annie of Swaziland. Biography, published in Zulu by the South Africa General Mission.

(7) Support for Samuel Grieve: Letters from Henry F. Grieve to John Baillie, 1889-1991. As of January 2001, in the possession of Beryl Maureen Moll née Webb.

(8) Details of his ministry in Swaziland: various issues of South African Pioneer from 1890 to 1930.

(9) Newly married photograph: The photograph is in the possession of Beryl Maureen Moll, as of March 2001.  Scanned by Peter G. Moll.  Enclosed in a leather frame with a metal back held with wire (which I didn't want to take apart so as not to damage it), and with a piece of string used for hanging on a wall.

(10) Involvement with the YMCA in Sunderland: family memories (Beryl Maureen  Moll).





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