RepositoryJesuits in Britain Archives
Ref NoABSI/SJ/32
TitleFr Augustus Law SJ (1833-1880)
LevelSub fonds
DescriptionIllustrated journals and correspondence, Naval certificates, religious and spiritual writings and material relating to the mission to the Zambezi. A fork.
Admin_HistoryFr Augustus Henry Law SJ was born on 21 October 1833. His father, The Honourable William Towry Law was an Anglican clergyman, son of Lord Ellenborough, and Augustus was his eldest son. William Towry Law's wife, Augusta, died on 16 October 1844 while giving birth to their eighth child, a girl also named Augusta. William Towry Law then married Matilda Montgomery on 25 January 1846. Law was sent to boarding school at Somerton. In 1845 Law joined the Royal Navy at the instigation of his uncle, Lord Ellenborough, who was First Lord of the Admiralty. In the 8 years Law was in the navy he made several voyages and circumnavigated the globe. He served aboard HMS Carysfort, HMS Hastings, HMS Amazon, and HMS Encounter as well as HMS Excellent, and was promoted to Lieutenant.

In 1851 William Towry Law resigned his living and became a Catholic, as a result of the Gorham judgement. Law and most of his siblings also became Catholics, and Law left the Navy in 1853 and joined the Jesuits on 14 January 1854. He was ordained priest on 24 September 1865 and took his final vows on 15 August 1872. After his novitiate at Hodder, Law taught at St Aloysius College at Glasgow, then started his four year course of Theology at St Beuno's in October 1862. From 1866-1871 Law was at British Guiana (Guyana), mainly based at Berbice, during which time he learnt Portuguese and was licensed to preach in it and also started to learn Chinese. On his return to Britain he worked mainly at Galashiels and Edinburgh, then on 21 September 1875 left for Grahamstown, South Africa, travelling with Bishop James David Ricards, Titular Bishop of Rhithymna and Vicar Apostolic of the Cape of Good Hope. Law and Ricards together were instrumental in founding St Aidan's College, Grahamstown, which was to act as a school and a base for missionary activity.

In 1879 Law was chosen to be part of a mission towards the Zambezi River. This was led by Fr Henry Depelchin SJ of the Belgian Province and in addition to Law consisted of Fr Antony Terörde SJ, Fr Charles Croonenburgs SJ, Fr Charles Fuchs SJ, Br Theodore Nigg SJ, Br Joseph Hedley SJ and Br Francis Sadeleer SJ. They left Grahamstown in April 1879 and travelled with ox-waggons over 900 miles north to Shoshong, arriving a year later, in March 1880. Here the chief, Lobengula, refused them permission to settle, so they continued on to Gubuluwayo. The party then split into two. Fr Depelchin continued on towards the Zambezi, but Law decided to go to Umzila's territory, about 300 miles east, and continue the mission there. He was accompanied by Fr Charles Wehl SJ and Br Hedley and Br Sadeleer. It was a difficult journey. Fr Wehl got lost and was presumed dead on 6 August 1880. Law and the two brothers continued to Umzila's Kraal, but had to abandon their waggon on the way. Umzila initially was friendly and gave them a hut to live in and some food but then provided little more food. The three Jesuits became ill and malnourished. Br Sadeleer went back to the waggon and then on to seek help, but Law and Br Hedley stayed in their hut, growing weaker. Law kept a diary throughout this period and said his last Mass there on 10 October 1880 and continued to write his diary until 13 October 1880. He died on 25 November 1880.

Law's father, William Towry Law, did not hear of his death until May 1881 and at once started collecting Law's letters and other writings. He soon published a 3 volume 'Memoir' of his son which consisted mainly of transcripts of Law's letters. His collections and those of his daughters form the basis of the archival material catalogued here.
Related Material - Law, W. T., (ed) Memoir of Father Law SJ Part 1. London, Burns and Oates, 1882. BY 44 L
- Law, W. T., (ed) Memoir of Father Law SJ Part II. London, Burns and Oates, 1882. BY 44
- Law, W. T., (ed) Memoir of Father Law SJ Part III. London, Burns and Oates, 1883. BY 44 L
- Law, W. T., (ed) Selections from the Private Meditations of Rev. Father Augustus Henry Law SJ. Not published, 1884. BY 44 L
- Wakerley, Veronique, (trans) and Roberts, R. S., (ed) Journeys beyond Gubuluwayo to the Gaza, Tonga and Lozi. Letters of the Jesuits' Zambesi Mission 1880-1883. Weaver Press, Harare, 2009. BY 42.1 D.
- Russell SJ, Matthew, Augustus Law SJ, Notes in Remembrance. London, Burns and Oates, 1888. BY 44 L.
- Typed copies of letters from the Zambesi Mission including from Fr Law SJ. CK
- One of Law's sketchbooks is housed at Stonyhurst College
AccessConditionsThe papers are available subject to the usual conditions of access to archive material in the Jesuits in Britain Archives.
DS/UK/966Law; Augustus (1833-1880); Jesuit Priest1833-1880

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