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Dr. Nathaniel King

Dr. Nathaniel King




Nathaniel King was born to Yoruba parents on July 14, 1847, in Hastings, Sierra Leone. His father, Rev. Thomas King, collaborated with Ajayi Crowther to translate catechisms and portions of the Bible into Nigerian languages. In 1850, Thomas King was transferred from Sierra Leone to the Yoruba mission in Nigeria, allowing Nathaniel to connect with his ancestral homeland early on. Displaying exceptional intellectual capabilities, Nathaniel caught the attention of Dr. A. A. Harrison, a missionary doctor. Under the direction of Rev. Henry Venn, Dr. Harrison initiated a "medical school" at the Church Missionary Society Theological Institute in Abeokuta in 1861, selecting Nathaniel as one of the four promising students to train.

Using Hooper's Physician's Vade Mecum as a key text, Dr. Harrison instructed his students in subjects such as anatomy, physiology, chemistry, botany, materia medica, surveying, and basic Euclidean geometry. Despite its potential, the Abeokuta medical school was short-lived. One student was dismissed, two others were assigned to teach in Lagos, leaving Nathaniel King as the only remaining student. He became Dr. Harrison’s personal assistant, but the initiative ended with Dr. Harrison’s death in 1864.

Determined to continue his medical education, Nathaniel was sent to Sierra Leone in 1866 by the Church Missionary Society to prepare for a medical career. In 1871, he was admitted to King's College, London, where he earned the M.R.C.S. in 1874. He continued his studies in Edinburgh, obtaining his M.B., C.M. in 1876 and his M.D. in 1879.

Returning to Lagos in 1878, Nathaniel King served the Church Missionary Society for an annual salary of fifty pounds, which was increased to seventy-five pounds in 1882. His exceptional skills and engaging personality helped him gain widespread respect, transcending racial barriers to become a consulting physician for many European firms in Lagos.

Nathaniel King's career was tragically cut short when he passed away on June 12, 1884. He had been instrumental in efforts to improve sanitation in Lagos and was recognized for his extensive literary and scientific knowledge. Despite his early death and the loss of a potential scientific book he was speculated to be working on, Nathaniel King's contributions to medicine and public health in Lagos were highly regarded by his peers.

Hastings, Sierra Leone

July 14, 1847

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