Thursday, January 19, 2012

Rev Alfred Nicholls

After an association of 55 years with the Baptist witness on the island of Saint Helena the Rev Alfred Nicholls died on July the 7th, 1959, at the age of 90 years.
Alfred was born in Rochester, Kent, on the 17th June, 1869, of a Baptist family. He was the youngest of seven children. At the age of 18 he came to a saving faith in Jesus Christ and thereafter never wavered in his service to the Master.
At the age of 21 years he left with the Royal Garrison Artillery and served with the forces in India, Burma and Jamaica.
From the first day of his arrival on the island of Saint Helena he linked his witness with the Baptist cause and in the long period of this association he served as a deacon, church secretary and, on the departure of the last "imported" pastor from the island, the weight of the pastorate fell on his shoulders. This responsibility he carried with success for twenty years. In recognition of his long and valued service the Baptist Union of South Africa made him an accredited minister of the union at the assembly in 1934. In the same year he was awarded the Order of the British Empire by George V. In 1953 he was honoured with the Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal.
Alfred had arrived on Saint Helena as a sergeant later having purchased his release he entered the police and rose to the position of Superintendent of Police on the island. It was on his retirement from this post that he became the self-supporting pastor of the island church. During his long stay on the island Alfred bore a faithful and consistent witness for Christ.
In 1906 he married Miss Caroline Jamieson, an islander born of English parents and for many years their home was a centre of Christian activity in Jamestown.
An unfortunate schism in the church in 1938 was the cause of much sorrow to Alfred and for twenty years he was virtually an "outsider", but happily, in 1957 this breach was healed and the Rev Alfred Nicholls once more found happy fellowship with his own people.
Written by: Syd Hudson-Reed


  1. Unfortunately none of his children and descendants are/were associated with the Baptist church, perhaps because of the "schism" of 1938, which followed the removal of about 20 names for "Russellite Heresy" (Jehovah's Witnesses). It was during Mr Nicholls' tenure in 1925, a couple arrived bearing a letter of introduction signed by "Rev" Russell commending them as "qualified Bible Teachers". Poor old Nicholls, stretched to the limit with 5 congregations, readily accepted their help, not realising they were JW heretics, and so the poison entered the Baptist church. Upon Rev. Ralph Merrithew's (a Southern Baptist Pastor, with his own support) arrival in 1937, he took steps to remove the Russellite members, and I believe that this precipitated the "schism" between Nicholls and Merrithew, resulting in Nicholls' expulsion. We lost 2 congregations to the JWs (Arno's Vale chapel in Levelwood, and Bethel chapel in Longwood) and the island now boasts the world's highest proportion of JW members and associates (about 1 in 30 islanders). That was the real "schism" which Rev Wilfred Edmunds overlooked in his 1957 "An Isolated Family".

  2. Very interesting. Is it me or does the island of Saint Helena attract history to itself like moth to the flame?