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Dictionary of Miramichi Biography

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COUSINS, HENRY THOMAS, Baptist minister, Newcastle field, 1909-14; b. Wimborne, Dorset, England, 20 Sep 1857, s/o John Cousins and Elizabeth Bowring; m. 1882, Lovedy Anne Brookshaw, a native of South Africa; d. Washington, D.C., 16 Sep 1926.

After finishing his schooling in Wimborne, Henry T. Cousins was trained as an evangelist and missionary of the Congregational Church at Cliff (then Hulmecliffe) College in Calver, England, and at Harley College, in London. Although originally a Congregationalist, his views on baptism and other doctrinal questions had altered by the summer of 1880, and he was admitted to the Baptist ministry in South Africa. His first two appointments were at Port Alfred and Port Elizabeth in the Cape Colony. When he was stationed at Port Alfred, he may also have been in charge of a government school, as stated in a Canadian newspaper in 1913. At Port Elizabeth in 1886, at least, he had responsibility for a school as well as the Baptist church.

When a call was issued in 1888 for ministers for the goldfields of the Transvaal, Cousins offered his services. After forming a congregation at Krugersdorp he accepted the pastorate of the Baptist church in Pretoria. The South African writer K. E. Cross states that he was "an energetic young man in his thirties, full of zeal, with an equally energetic wife." Within a year, he and his wife had plans drawn to build a church in Pretoria. "In September 1891," states Cross, "amid high hopes, the foundation stone of a new building was laid by Staats President S. J. P. Kruger. Unfortunately, zeal had outrun financial discretion. A large sum of money had been borrowed at a high rate of interest to pay for the building. The congregation was small, and times were hard. The financial burden was too heavy for the church to carry, and in 1892 Mr Cousins resigned and returned with his wife to England."

In the fall of 1893 Cousins was appointed pastor of a new English-language Baptist church at Colwyn Bay in North Wales. While based there he published three books on South African themes: Matabeleland (1894), Tiyo Soga: The Model Kafir Missionary (1897), and The Boers as Others See Them (1900). Another edition of the second book was issued in 1899 under the title, From Kafir Kraal to Pulpit: The Story of Tiyo Soga, First Ordained Preacher of the Kafir Race. The title page of this edition refers to Cousins as the author also of a work entitled "Slavery in Africa." As a published writer he was eligible to join the British Society of Authors, in which he claimed membership. It was stated as well that he was a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (FRGS).

Cousins's pastorate at Colwyn Bay lasted fifteen years, until 1908, and was the lengthiest in the early history, if not in the entire history of the church. After he resigned, he left Britain for New Brunswick. He arrived in Saint John in 1909, and after supply preaching on several Sundays at the Baptist church in Newcastle, was invited to accept the pastorate. He did so and quickly came to be "highly respected" and "dearly beloved" by the congregation, which regularly showered him with gifts and flattery in an effort to retain his services. During his term the Newcastle church, which dated from the 1850s, was rebuilt from the ground up, in accordance with plans prepared by the firm of H. H. Mott & Co., with which his son Victor Cousins was employed as an architect. Under a contract awarded to Henry Ingram of Newcastle the building's seating capacity was doubled, rooms were added for Sunday school use, memorial windows were installed, and a bell tower was erected. At a ceremony held in May 1914 the pastor and his wife rang the new church bells, which were a gift from Lord Beaverbrook.

In 1913, Cousins was serving as moderator of the New Brunswick Baptist Association. He remained in the province for five years, acting as Protestant chaplain to the lazaretto at Tracadie, as well as pastor at Newcastle and Lower Derby. In the spring of 1914 he explained that he had achieved his purposes on the Miramichi and submitted his resignation. When he began, the Newcastle church had twenty-five members. When he left, it had sixty-one.

Cousins went to Washington, D.C., where he was minister of Anacostia Baptist Church for eight years. He was then appointed Protestant chaplain of the leprosarium at the United States Marine Hospital at Carville, Louisiana. This was seen as significant and self-sacrificing work, and before he and his wife left Washington in the fall of 1922, they were received at the White House by President Warren G. Harding and Mrs Harding, who were themselves adherents of the Baptist church.

Cousins contracted tuberculosis in Louisiana and was forced to retire after two years. He returned to Washington, where he died four days before his sixty-ninth birthday. He left his wife and two sons.


[b/d] official death records [m] Cousins genealogical data online / Acadia archives; Advocate 14 Jul 1909, 20 Aug 1913, 4 Jul 1918, 16 May 1922, 17 Oct 1922, 5 Oct 1926; annual 1927; Cousins biog. data; Cousins documents; Leader 9 Jul 1909, 7 Jan 1910, 3 Feb 1911, 18 Jul 1913, 10 Apr 1914, 19 May 1922, 1 Oct 1926, 5 Apr 1978; Maritime Baptist 3 Jun 1914, 21 May 1924; Tucker; Washington Sunday Star (D.C.) 19 Sep 1926; Who Was Who in Lit.; World 30 May 1914


On the Miramichi, Cousins was referred to as "Dr Cousins," and a PhD was appended to his name in the newspapers and in his obituary in the 1927 Baptist yearbook. No doctoral degree is attributed to him in the South African, British, or United States sources consulted for this sketch, but "PhD, FRGS" appears after his name on the cover of his book, From Kafir Kraal to Pulpit. His intellectual accomplishments are not in question, but it would appear unlikely that he held an earned PhD. In the education section of his "letter of nomination" for the chaplaincy in Louisiana in 1922, no degrees are shown.