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1819-1873; e.m. 1842

WM missionary, born at St. George's, Grenada, the son of a Scottish sea captain and 'a coloured lady of comparative intelligence and respectability'. He spent six years, 1826-1832, at a Scottish boarding school before entering on a commercial career back in Grenada. In 1845, under the aegis of T.B. Freeman, he began a lengthy ministry in West Africa, including the Gold Coast and the Ashanti Mission. He married a Ghanaian wife, a member of the Fante Akam royalty. In 1872 he was appointed Chairman of the District and General Superintendent of the Mission, but died on 11 October 1873, debilitated by fever.

His son Arthur Wharton (1865-1930), thought to have been the world’s first black professional association football player, was born in Jamestown on the Gold Coast. In 1882 he moved to England to train as a WM missionary, but abandoned this to become an all-round sportsman. In 1886 he set what was then world record for running the 100-yard sprint in ten seconds, and was also a cricketer and cyclist. He began his footballing career as a goalkeeper for Darlington and then played for Preston North End, reaching the FA Cup semi-final in 1886-7. In 1889 he joined Rotherham Town as a professional, moving to Sheffield United in 1894. Having developed a drink problem, his football career finally ended at Stockport County on 1897. He subsequently became a coal miner at Edlington and died a penniless alcoholic at Springfield House Sanatorium, Doncaster on 13 December 1930 and was interred in a then unmarked grave at Edlington.

Sources

  • William Moister, Henry Wharton, the story of his life and missionary labours in the West indies, on the Gold Coast and in Ashanti (1875)

Entry written by: DCD
Category: Person

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