Zerub Baillie of Old Calabar




On ___, 1831, at ___

To Mary Marshall Cowan, on June 7, 1860, at 2 Steads Place, South Leith

On August 4, 1865 at Liverpool, England. Buried in the Grange Cemetery, Edinburgh.




William Baillie (1806-1858) and Margaret Baillie née Hislop (1806-1862)

Andrew Baillie, John Baillie, Robert Baillie, Elizabeth Baillie

Willie Baillie, and an adopted Nigerian boy



Zerub Baillie of Old Calabar

Rev. Zerub Baillie was sent by the Broughton Place congregation of the United Church of Scotland to the mission of the church at Old Calabar (present-day Nigeria) in May 1856. (The Old Calabar mission had been founded in 1846 by members of the United Secession Church which later became the United Church of Scotland.) Rev. Baillie went to Ikorofiong and then to Ikonetu, 10 miles north-west of Duke Town, on the Cross River. He quickly became a "favorite of the local people" as he had studied medicine in order to promote his missionary endeavors, and drew crowds to the dispensary at Duke Town. He was "able-bodied, energetic, and full of good humour". He journeyed on the river in a sloop in order to meet his potential parishioners. He and the other missionaries promised King Eyo that they would keep their mission stations free of traders.

He returned to Britain for a few months at the end of 1859, and married Mary M. Cowan, returning with her to Old Calabar on August 6, 1860.


Marriage record of Zerub Baillie and Mary Cowan


Zerab Baillie, 29, missionery [sic], bachelor, Old Calla[bar?], West Africa

Present residence: 23 Lauriston Place, Edinburgh

Son of William Baillie, merchant, Fountain Hall by Stow, & Margaret Hislop

Mary Cowan, 26, [no occupation], spinster, 2 Steads Place, South Leith

Dau. of Rev. John Cowan, missionery [sic], & Margaret Marshall

No relationship [between the parties being married]

Married 7.6.1860 at 2 Steads Place, South Leith, after banns, according to the forms of the United Presbyterian Church of Scotland, by Andrew Thomson, minister of Broughton Place U.P. Church, Edinburgh

Witnesses John Baillie, James Marshall

Ref: M-1860-692/2-78 South Leith MLN


Presumably the witness John Baillie is Zerub Baillie’s younger brother who later also became a missionary in Old Calabar.


In 1861 Zerub was joined by his brother Rev. John Baillie.

In September 1862 his wife and child "sickened and died", presumably of malaria. Rev. Zerub Baillie stayed on in Old Calabar until 1865 when he too became ill, but "he too died almost as soon as he reached Liverpool" (McFarlan, p. 68).

The Rev. Zerub Baillie was a cousin of the father of Rev. John Baillie, the pioneer SAGM missionary in Swaziland.  The key link confirming the genealogical evidence uncovered by Dr. J.A. Robertson is the chance remark by Kathleen Mary Jemison (née Baillie) in her biography of her father John Baillie that he had "two uncles who died of fever when missionaries in West Africa". These “uncles” were the brothers Zerub and John.  The former died when Rev. John Baillie of Swaziland was 10 years old; he would have been old enough to attend the funeral.

Death the believer's sleep: a discourse

A sermon by Rev. W. Anderson, at the United Presbyterian Church, Broughton Place, Edinburgh, August 13, 1865, about the death of Rev. Zerub Baillie. The full text, 47 pages. (The document is formatted so as to most nearly approximate the original.)

The title page of the book

From the original edition

A page of tribute

The dedication page, from the original edition

The opening page


The gravestone of Zerub Baillie

A transcript of the monumental inscriptions in the Grange Cemetery [Scottish Genealogy Society Library, Edinburgh, unpublished, stone no. 305] has:


William Baillie, merchant, Fountainhall, died 21.9.1858 aged 53.   His wife Margaret Hislop d. 2.4.1862 aged 56.   Their son Robert d. 1837 aged 16 months.   Thr(ee?) children died in infancy.   Their dau. Eliza d. 1844 aged 11 months.


[On reverse of stone] Rev. Zerub Baillie, d. 4.8.1865 aged 34, after 9 years in Old Calabar.   His wife Mary Marshall Cowan, d. at Old Calabar, 13.9.1862 aged 28.   Their only child Willie d. 26.9.1862 aged 13 months.   Rev. John Baillie, missionary, Old Calabar, d. 7.5.1864 aged 29.   Agnes Brown, wife of Rev. Andrew Baillie, d. at Lucea, Jamaica, 25.11.1872 aged 31.





(1) Name of brother Andrew, story of the last days of his life, wife’s death and children’s death, adoption of a Nigerian boy: Anderson, William, 1865. Death the believer's sleep: a discourse delivered in the United Presbyterian Church, Broughton Place, Edinburgh (Rev. Dr. Thomson's), on Sabbath, August 13, 1865, on occasion of the death of the Rev. Zerub Baillie, missionary from Broughton Place Congregation to Old Calabar. Edinburgh: Andrew Elliot. 47 pages. Available in the libraries of Edinburgh University and of the Harvard University Divinity School.

(2) Jemison, Kathleen Mary, née Baillie, c. 1970. John and Annie of Swaziland. Children's story book about her parents, John and Annie Baillie. A partial (14 pages) translation of the original which was written in Zulu.

(3) Details about missionary deployment, dates, etc.: McFarlan, Donald M., 1946. Calabar: the Church of Scotland mission, 1846-1946. London, New York: T. Nelson and Sons Ltd. Available in the Library of Congress.

(4) The marriage record of Zerub Baillie (c. 1831-1865) and Mary Cowan: kindly furnished by Dr. J.A. Robertson, a genealogist in Edinburgh, on October 21, 2002.

(5) Year of birth of Zerub Baillie, as 1831: by back-calculating from the marriage record date and age.  Also, as 1831: back-calculating from his age as “thirty-four” from William Anderson (1865).

(6) Year of birth of Zerub Baillie, as 1834: from McFarlan (1946) and William Anderson (1865).

(7) Date of death, as August 4, 1865: from William Anderson (1865).  Coincides with the death date supplied on the gravestone (see transcription).

(8) Transcription of the family gravestone of William Baillie and Margaret Hislop: : kindly furnished by Dr. J.A. Robertson, a genealogist in Edinburgh, on October 21, 2002.



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