Having recently had occasion to deal with some statistics relating to lives resident in Africa—principally missionaries and traders—and being much struck with the exceedingly heavy mortality experienced by them, I thought a few notes on the subject might interest the members of this Society.
The source from which I obtained the necessary data is a book by the Right Reverend E. G. Ingham, Bishop of Sierra Leone, entitled Sierra Leone after a Hundred Years, and published this year by Seeley and Co. of London. The greater part of the book is taken up with an account of missionary work, which, however important it may be in its own place, does not at present concern us; but on pp. 200–208 inclusive, there are some figures which are quite a “find” from an actuarial point of view. They consist of a list of 113 European missionaries who went out to Sierra Leone, with dates of the commencement of their residence in Africa, and of the termination of residence there by death, or by the missionary returning home. The majority of them appear to have lived in Sierra Leone itself, which has a notoriously deadly climate, though a few seem to have gone to places in the neighbourhood; and I think that an examination of the figures will convince any one that that town fully deserves its name of “the white man's grave,” besides giving an approximate measure of the risk incurred by Europeans living there. Unfortunately, the particulars given are not quite complete; the dates of termination of residence in Africa being omitted in eight cases, and the dates of death in two cases. Also in one case, although the date of termination of residence in Africa is given, that of its commencement is omitted.