Kemp, John Theodosius Van Der

Reference code(s): GB 0102 CWM/LMS Africa Personal Box 9
Held at: School of Oriental and African Studies Library
Domain: archival
Title: Kemp, John Theodosius Van Der
Date(s) of contents: 1573, 1763-1932
Level of description: Fonds
Extent and medium: 1 box of archival material


Name of creator(s):
John Theodosius Van Der Kemp (1747-1811)

Administrative/Biographical history: Born in Rotterdam (Netherlands), 1747; served as an army officer; studied medicine at Leyden and Edinburgh; received his degree, MD, University of Edinburgh, 1782; practised as a physician in Zealand, 1782-1795; his conversion followed the drowning of his wife and only child in a boating accident, 1791; came into contact with the Moravian Brethren at Zeist and heard of the newly-founded London Missionary Society (LMS); appointed LMS missionary to South Africa and ordained in London, 1797; helped to found the Netherlands Missionary Society; embarked for South Africa, 1798; arrived in Cape Town, 1799; ministered among the Xhosa for two years; to Graaff Reinet, 1801; ministered to the Khoikhoi (Hottentots); moved with the first Khoikhoi congregation to Botha’s Farm, near Algoa Bay, 1802; founded a mission station at Bethelsdorp, 1803; his marriage to a young Malagasy convert who he had redeemed from slavery, Sara Janse, was considered shocking, 1807; composed a hymn celebrating the abolition of the slave trade, 1807; also wrote a commentary on Romans xiii-xvi and a midwifery textbook for use at Bethelsdorp; an opponent of slavery and advocate of the rights of the indigenous population, Van Der Kemp was unpopular with the majority of Europeans in the Cape Colony; planned to found a mission in Madagascar but died at Cape Town while carrying out the arrangements, 1811; a pioneer of LMS work in South Africa, he was to have become superintendent of its missions there.
See also:
John Theodosius Van Der Kemp, Principles of the Word of God for the Hottentot Mission (1804).
John Theodosius Van Der Kemp, Memoirs of the Rev J T Vanderkemp MD (1813).

Custodial history: The papers were deposited with the London Missionary Society and form part of the special series of personal papers of individual LMS missionaries and officers. Some of Van Der Kemp’s papers were destroyed by fire before 1855. At that date a selection of the surviving papers passed from his widow to the Rev William Ellis (1794-1872) of the LMS. Others were acquired later.

Immediate source of acquisition: Deposited on permanent loan with the records of the London Missionary Society by the Congregational Council for World Mission (later Council for World Mission) in 1973.


Scope and content/abstract: Papers, 1573, 1763-1932, of and relating to John Theodosius Van Der Kemp, comprising pages from his diary, 1763-1791; list of patients in a Dutch military hospital, 1793-1794; miscellaneous papers, 1801-1804; correspondence, 1802-1811, the subjects including missionaries, supplies, travel, and colonial policy and administration; various undated manuscripts in his hand, including medical notes and notes for sermons; his Bible (1573), comprising the Old Testament in Hebrew and New Testament in Greek; papers relating to his family, 1816-1817, 1849, including financial affairs; miscellaneous papers on Van Der Kemp and Bethelsdorp, 1826 and undated; a manuscript on the conversion and call of Van Der Kemp to missionary work and his voyage to the Cape [early 19th century]; manuscript copy of his autobiography, apparently translated by F G Hooper, 1820; a manuscript précis and extracts from his autobiography [early 19th century]; correspondence and papers, 1921-1932 and undated, on Van Der Kemp, relating especially to A D Martin’s biography Doctor Vanderkemp, and including press cuttings and a photograph of his grave.

System of arrangement: *


Language: English, Dutch, Latin, Greek, Hebrew.

Conditions governing access: Unrestricted.

Conditions governing reproduction: No publication without written permission. Apply to the Archivist in the first instance.

Finding aids: Unpublished handlist; detailed typescript list stored with the material.


Related material: The School of Oriental and African Studies holds the records of the London Missionary Society (Ref: CWM/LMS), including correspondence of J T Van Der Kemp before he went to South Africa (Ref: CWM/LMS Europe Incoming Correspondence); his journal, 1798-1799, from his voyage on board the convict ship, the Hillsborough (bound for Botany Bay), from Portsmouth to Cape Town via Madeira and the Canary Islands (Ref: CWM/LMS South Africa Journals Box 1 File 1); a print, an engraving, and a photograph of a painting of J T Van Der Kemp (Ref: CWM/LMS General Portraits Box 6).


Compiled using:
Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, ed. by Gerald H. Anderson (Cambridge: William B. Erdmans, 1998).
A Register of Missionaries, Deputations etc from 1796-1923, ed. by James Sibree (London: London Missionary Society, 1923).

Date(s) of descriptions: 27th February 2002

Ancient religions
Colonial countries
Evangelistic missionaries
Evangelistic missionary work
Health services
Literary forms and genres
Medical personnel
Medical profession
Medical sciences
Missionary work
Newspaper press
Ordained missionaries
Political systems
Press cuttings
Religious activities
Religious belief
Religious doctrines
Religious experience
Religious groups
Religious institutions
Religious movements
Religious texts
Travel abroad
Visual materials

Personal names
Hooper | F G | fl 1820
Kemp | John Theodosius | Van Der | 1747-1811 | Dutch missionary x Van Der Kemp | John Theodosius x Vanderkemp | John Theodosius
Kemp | Van Der | family | missionaries in southern Africa x Van Der Kemp | family x Vanderkemp | family
Martin | A D | fl 1927-1947 | author

Corporate names
LMS | London Missionary Society xx London Missionary Society xx Missionary Society
London Missionary Society xx LMS | London Missionary Society xx Missionary Society
Missionary Society xx LMS | London Missionary Society xx London Missionary Society

Cape of Good Hope
Province of the Eastern Cape
South Africa
Southern Africa
Western Europe