The letters reproduced here were donated by Charles Partridge Esq. of Stowmarket, Suffolk. Mr. Partridge was by profession a colonial administrator and sometime district commissioner of the area where Mary Slessor pursued her religious and civil calling.
Charles Partridge’s letter of 1950 to Dundee’s Chief Librarian (see below) bears remarkable testimony to the close friendship which had developed between himself and Miss Slessor. In the last paragraph, Partridge laments the loss of his colleague, friend and confidante, who had died 35 years previously.
24th August 1950
Thank you for your letters of 14th and 21st August, and for this copy of The Review which at page 16 tells of the “Mary Slessor Memorial Window” and gives a full-page picture of it.
By registered post, I send for the acceptance of the City of Dundee 81 letters and postcards written to me by Miss Slessor 1905–1914, arranged in chronological order. Some I received during my “leaves” from Nigeria, and some were written during her leaves in Scotland. A few of them may have been addressed to my father – Charles Partridge senior of Stowmarket. All are sent “without prejudice”, as lawyers say. Matters which were then of a confidential nature are, presumably, no longer so.
It has occurred to me that, at some future date, some Society or person interested in Miss Slessor may like to publish these letters. If so, I should like to know of it, and to receive copies of such publication. Moreover, I could lend many photographs of the IKOT-EKPENE District. Should I then be dead, communication should be made to my kinsman and executor: Everett Partridge, West Sampsons Hall, Kersey, Hadleigh, Suffolk.
By ordinary parcels’ post, I send the four books specified in my first letter.
During my long life, I have had intercourse with many distinguished people, chiefly men. Of the women, I place first Mary Slessor, whom you call “the White Queen of Okoyong!” She was a very remarkable woman. I look back on her friendship with reverence – one of the greatest honours that have befallen me – and I had and still have a superstitious feeling that she has been and still is one of my Guardian Angels. (I have been twice seized by cannibals, thrice shipwrecked, etc., etc.!) This belief exists in spite of my being agnostic (non-knower) and non-religious, though, as we all are, thoroughly imbued with the ethics of Christianity. Excepting Miss Slessor, I thoroughly disapprove of all missionaries!
Should these additions to the archives of the City of Dundee be mentioned in any report or in any local newspaper, please be so kind as to send me a copy.
Later on, when I can find the box put away in the lumber-room, I will also send to Dundee the phonographic records of her voice.
Just now I have read Miss Slessors last letter to me, dated 24th Dec. 1914, written three weeks before her death. I dare not read any other letter – it hurts!
Charles Partridge died in 1955 and is still fondly remembered, particularly in his home county of Suffolk. Robert Partridge of West Sampson’s Hall has kindly lent his approval to the publication of these letters on the Internet.
Dundee City Council has waived copyright in respect of this edition of the letters, and associated text. Their reproduction in this format is intended to further the world-wide study and appreciation of Miss Slessor’s life and work. Researchers are, however, respectfully requested to acknowledge their provenance in the following terms:
“Dundee Central Library, Mary Slessor Collection”