Rev William Kendall Gale

Pioneer Methodist Missionary

I offer below some information about one of my ancestors, Rev William Kendall Gale , founder of many churches in Madagascar. If anyone has further information about him, Please let me know. Addingham is a small village about 3 miles from Ilkley in West Yorkshire.

Addingham man’s pioneering work

A missionary who left a small Wharfedale village to establish churches and schools in Madagascar is The Reverend William Kendall Gale, the son of an Addingham master stonemason and Methodist preacher, and was a pioneering missionary in northern Madagascar from 1908 until his death in 1935.

In his missionary work, he established 250 village churches, plus schools for training teachers.

His life and work has been researched by a member of Mount Hermon Chapel, Addingham, and a plaque to commemorate him has been unveiled there.

William Kendall Gale was baptised at Mount Hermon Wesleyan Reform Church, as it was then known, in July 1873. He was educated at Addingham National School, leaving at 15 to work for a Burnley firm.

After studying in London, he returned to Addingham as pastor of Mount Hermon.

He studied further in the early 20th Century, and headed overseas with his wife and children in September 1908, bound for Madagascar.

Life was not easy as a missionary, by all accounts. Some of the locals were initially hostile, and even met him armed with spears and axes on occassion. He also suffered malaria, black water fever and dysentery. Kendall Gale and his family returned to England every five years for a break, and word of his work quickly spread, gaining him something of a following.

He had intended to retire in 1937, hoping to have established 300 churches in Madagascar before doing so. Sadly, he suffered complications from an operation in 1935 and passed away.

Comments about this page

  • Edgar , thanks for that, I have only just seen your message, I will try to have a look at the plaque next time I am in Yorkshire  (Though brought up in Keighley I am on the Wirral now)

    By Brian Moate (10/07/2015)
  • Hi I have some copies of some of the letters he wrote while serving in Madagascar, they are difficult to read but my  wife typed them out for me. I collected them while I was researching the history of Mt Hermon Chapel. A blue plaque has just been unveiled outside the Chapel put there by Civic Society and Addingham Parish Council commemorating his life’s work

    By Edgar Clarkson (04/06/2014)

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