RepositoryJesuits in Britain Archives
Ref NoABSI/SJ/52
TitleFr Peter Prestage SJ (1842-1907)
DescriptionThis collection of personal papers includes a diary, a spiritual notebook, correspondence and a register from the school established at Empandeni by Fr Prestage.
Admin_HistoryPeter Prestage was born in London on 27 February 1842. He was educated at Mount St Mary's College, at the College of the Society in Li├Ęge and at Stonyhurst College from 1853. He entered the Society of Jesus on 7 September 1860, joining the novitiate at Beaumont.

After his noviceship, Prestage studied philosophy at the seminary at St Mary's Hall and between 1866 and 1873 was second prefect at Stonyhurst. He studied theology at St Beuno's and was ordained priest in September 1875. After a tertianship at Tronchiennes in France he was sent to South Africa in 1877.

Fr Prestage taught at St Aidans College in Grahamstown for five years. In 1882 he left the English Province to join the Zambesi Mission, which was then an independent mission. He was sent 'up country' to the territory which was to become Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). He was based initially at Tati, an early trading post in Matabeleland. It was in this period that he first visited Lobengula. In 1884, Prestage moved to GuBuluwayo (Old Bulawayo). The early Zambesi Mission was not successful and in 1886 Fr Alfred Weld, Superior of the Mission, ordered the withdrawal of the Jesuits from Matabeleland. Fr Prestage had obtained permission from Lobengula to settle at Empandeni and, in 1887, he and Fr Andrew Hartman SJ returned to establish a mission school at Empandeni.
The Jesuits were forced to withdraw again from the territory in the late 1880s. Fr Prestage withdrew to Mafeking in South Africa where he was appointed chaplain to the police. In 1891, Fr Prestage was given permission to travel to Macloutsie with a group of Dominican sisters. From there the party proceeded to Salisbury (now Harare). Fr Prestage was involved in the establishment of the mission at Chishawasha and did eventually return to reopen the station at Empandeni.

In 1904 Fr Prestage discovered the original grave of Fr Augustus Law who had died at Umzila's Kraal in November 1880. Fr Law's remains were conveyed to Chishawasha for burial in the cemetery there. Fr Prestage spent the final two years of his life in Gwelo (Gweru). He died suddenly on 11 April 1907 after journeying to Fort Victoria (Masvingo). He was buried in the public cemetery at Masvingo.

A full obituary can be found in 'Letters & Notices' 29, pp. 211 - 214, and in the 'Zambesi Mission Record' starting at Volume 3, number 37 (July 1907), pp. 257-266 and continuing throughout the volume.
Related Material - Copy of obituary of Fr Bartolomeus Kroot SJ, nd: U/12 and W/11/5.
- Copies of letters from Fr Prestage at Empandeni to Fr Weld, 1887: U/4.
- Copies of letters from Fr Prestage at Tuli, Fort Victoria and Salisbury, 1891: W/11 and U/9.
- Copies of letters from Fr Prestage at Fort Victoria, 1893: U/14.
- Papers of Fr Augustus Law SJ: SJ/32
- Zambesi Mission Papers, 1874-1893: MSB/37
- Zambesi Mission, Zimbabwe and Rhodesia: see index cards.
- Fr Alfred Weld SJ: see index cards
- 'Journeys beyond Gubuluwayo to the Gaza, Tonga and Lozi: Letters of the Jesuits' Zambesi Mission, 1880-1883', translated by Veronique Wakerley (Weaver Press, 2009). BY 42.1 D.
AccessConditionsThe papers are available subject to the usual conditions of access to archive material in the Jesuits in Britain Archives.
DS/UK/993Prestage; Peter (1842-1907); Jesuit priest1842-1907

    Showcase items

    A list of our latest and most exciting new items.

    Copyright ©