Thomas, John


IDENTITY STATEMENT
Reference code(s): GB 0102 MMS Boxes 652-657
Held at: School of Oriental and African Studies Library
Domain: archival
Title: Thomas, John
Date(s) of contents: 1786-1875
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent and medium: 6 boxes

CONTEXT

Name of creator(s): Thomas | John | 1796-1881 | missionary
Thomas | Sarah | d 1867 | née Hartshorn | wife of the missionary John Thomas

Administrative/Biographical history: Born at Worcester, England, 1796; blacksmith at Hagley, Worcestershire; became a Methodist and soon began to preach; married Sarah Hartshorn (d 1867); accepted by the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society (WMMS), 1824; pioneering missionary to Tonga (the Friendly Islands) in the South Seas; arrived in Tonga, 1826; preached at Hihifo, Tongatapu, 1826-1828; moved to the island of Ha'apai, 1829; baptized the chief Taufa'ahua Tupou, 1831; a Tonga-wide revival movement began, 1835; Thomas enthroned Tupou, with English rites, as first king of all Tonga, 1845; although the WMMS withdrew from Samoa (1839) by agreement with the London Missionary Society, Thomas advocated re-entry and supported Tupou's policy of sending Tongan Wesleyan missionaries to Fiji and Samoa; persuaded the Australasian Wesleyan conference (which took over the Pacific from the British Wesleyans in 1855) to reverse the LMS decision regarding Samoa; following a visit to England his influence with Tupou waned, 1850s; retired to England and became supernumerary minister at Stourbridge (Worcestershire), 1860; died, 1881. Publication: translated Hymns, Catechisms, Prayers, &c for the use of the Wesleyan Societies in the Friendly Islands (1861).

The connection of John and Sarah Thomas with Methodism in Glasgow, and the provenance of the items relating to it, is unclear.

Custodial history: The papers were deposited with the Methodist Missionary Society and form part of the special series of biographical papers of individual missionaries.

Immediate source of acquisition: Deposited on permanent loan with the records of the Methodist Missionary Society from 1978.

CONTENT AND STRUCTURE

Scope and content/abstract: Papers, 1786-1875, of John and Sarah Thomas, including John Thomas's journals and memoranda books, 1821-1875, including his religious reflections, life in England and Tonga, and missionary work; sermon notes, undated; manuscripts on Tonga and the South Seas, including mythology, religion, history, and ranks of chiefs, undated; photographs, prints and drawings, most unlabelled, of people and places in Tonga, undated [1820s-1850s?]; two accounts of the life of Sarah Thomas by John Thomas [1867 or after]; miscellaneous correspondence, 1825-1873, of John and Sarah Thomas, including letters from John Thomas to Wesleyan Mission House; journals of Sarah Thomas (née Hartshorn), 1826-1855, including her experiences in Tonga; account book for building a new Methodist chapel in Glasgow, 1786-1792; steward's account book, 1813-1820, of the Methodist Society, Glasgow, including Leaders' meetings minutes, 1813-1820.

System of arrangement:

ACCESS AND USE

Language: English and Tongan

Conditions governing access: Unrestricted, but only to be viewed on microfiche. Originals to be consulted only with written agreement from the Methodist Church.

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

Finding aids: Unpublished handlist.

ALLIED MATERIALS

Related material: The School of Oriental and African Studies holds the records of the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society (Ref: MMS/WMMS), including letters from John Thomas in Tonga (Ref: MMS Australasia Correspondence Friendly Islands). SOAS also holds a photocopy of a letter (1857) from Thomas in Tonga to his brother-in-law, referring to mission activity there (Ref: MS 380449).

Copies: Published on microfiche by IDC Publishers (SOAS ref: Fiche Box Number Special Series 37-41). Microfilm in the Mitchell Library, Sydney, Australia.

DESCRIPTION NOTES

Archivist's note: Compiled by Rachel Kemsley as part of the RSLP AIM25 project. Sources: Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, ed Gerald H Anderson (1998); Alphabetical Arrangement of Wesleyan Methodist Ministers (1878); Wesleyan Methodist Church Minutes of Conference (1881), pp 34-5; British Library OPAC.

Date(s) of descriptions: Mar 2002


INDEX ENTRIES
Subjects
Accounting
Ancient religions
Building operations
Christianity
Christians
Clergy
Construction engineering
Diaries
Drawings
Evangelistic missionaries
Evangelistic missionary work
Finance
Financial administration
Literary forms and genres
Methodism
Methodists
Missionaries
Missionary work
Mythology
National cultures
Nonfiction
Oceanic cultures
Ordained missionaries
Photographs
Prints
Prose
Protestant nonconformists
Protestant nonconformity
Protestantism
Protestants
Religion
Religions
Religious activities
Religious belief
Religious buildings
Religious doctrines
Religious experience
Religious groups
Religious history
Religious institutions
Religious movements
Religious texts
Sermons
Social structure
Theology
Travel
Travel abroad
Visual materials
Wives of missionaries

Personal names
Thomas | John | 1796-1881 | missionary
Thomas | Sarah | d 1867 | née Hartshorn | wife of the missionary John Thomas x Hartshorn | Sarah

Corporate names
Methodist Society | Glasgow
Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society

Places
Asia and the Pacific
England
Glasgow
Lanarkshire
Oceania
Scotland
Tonga
UK
Western Europe
Worcestershire