Cargill Diary

Reference code(s): GB 0231 MS 0911
Held at: Aberdeen University, Special Libraries and Archives
Domain: archival
Title: Cargill Diary
Date(s) of contents: 1920-1920
Level of description: Fonds
Extent and medium: 47 pages of loose typescript notes


Name of creator(s):
Bulloch, John Malcolm (1867-1938)
Cargill, David (1809-1843)

Administrative/Biographical history: David Cargill was born in Brechin, Forfarshire, Scotland on 20 June 1809, the second son of James Cargill, a banker, and Grace Mary Cameron Cargill. He graduated MA from King's College, Aberdeen in 1830. Whilst studying in Aberdeen he joined the Aberdeen Methodist Circuit, and in 1831 was admitted to the church as a preacher. In 1832 he received his first missionary appointment for the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society, to Tonga, in the South Pacific. He married Margaret Smith (1809-1840), of Aberdeen on 6 September 1832 in Old Machar parish, Aberdeen, and left the country with his wife in October that year. They worked together on Vava'u, Tonga with another missionary for three years, during an important period of Christian development and revival. The Cargills then moved with their young family and other missionaries to the Fiji Islands, where Christian influence was minimal. Margaret died there on 2 June 1840, and David Cargill, griefstricken, returned to Britain for a short while with their four daughters. He remarried on 27 November 1841, to Augusta Bicknell, and shortly afterwards was re-appointed to a training mission on Tonga. On 30 April 1842 Cargill, his new wife, four daughters and their governess sailed for Hobart, Tasmania, aboard the Haidee. His children became seriously ill with measles during the voyage, but survived; his son David was born aboard ship on 11 August 1842. During the voyage Cargill preached to his fellow passengers; the ship arrived at Hobart in late August of 1842. Cargill preached at many settlements in Tasmania, including Port Arthur. On 15th December 1842 the Cargills again set sail, this time on board the Triton, bound for their final destination of Tonga. The Triton arrived at Vava'u in Tonga on 21 January 1843. Cargill took over the superintendancy of the Vava'u Wesleyan mission from Peter Turner, and spent the next three months preaching at various mission stations, but was struck by dengue fever, leading to severe exhaustion. This illness, combined with continuing grief for the loss of his first wife, deepened the depression to which he was prone; he died of an overdose of laudanum on 25 April 1843.

Cargill is credited with his co-worker, William Cross, with establishing the Wesleyan Church in Fiji. As a trained linguist he also wrote the first grammar and dictionary for a Fijian language and supervised the translation of parts of the Bible into Fijian.

John Malcolm Bulloch was born in 1867 and graduated MA from the University of Aberdeen, in 1888. His father, John, was editor of the Aberdeen magazine, Scottish Notes and Queries. Bulloch followed his father into journalism, beginning his career with the Aberdeen Free Press, but later moving to London, where he worked on various illustrated papers, including The Sketch, The Illustrated London News and The Graphic (of which he was editor). From 1924, he was chief literary critic of Allied Newspapers and a well-known theatre critic. Despite living and working in London, he retained a deep commitment to his roots in Aberdeen, and published several historical articles in The Aberdeen University Review. He died on 6 March 1938, after a short illness.

John Malcom Bulloch appears to have had no relation to the Cargill family, his interest in David Cargill's diary being aroused by a chance meeting with an old Fiji merchant in London, around 1919, and his keen interest in the history of his home town. For further information about his life and career see obituaries in The Aberdeen University Review, 25 (1937-38) 195-9.

Biographical notes about David Cargill and his descendants are contained in the collection itself and an obituary was published in the Wesleyan-Methodist Magazine, 1844. See also:
David Cargill, Memoirs of Mrs. Margaret Cargill, wife of the Rev. David Cargill; including notices of the progress of Christianity in Tonga and Feejee (London: J. Mason, 1841).
John Malcom Bulloch, 'An Aberdeen Graduate as a Pioneer in Fiji', Aberdeen University Review, 8 (1920-21), 232-7.
Mora Dickson, The inseparable grief; Margaret Cargill of Fiji (London: Epworth Press, 1976).
The diaries and correspondence of David Cargill, 1832-1843, ed. by Albert J. Schutz, Pacific History Series, 16 (Canberra: Australia National University Press, 1977).

Further information regarding David Cargill can be viewed at a website created by his great-great-grandson, John Higgins. The site contains the text of John Malcolm Bulloch's 1921 article, as well as family portraits, and can be accessed at:

Custodial history:

Immediate source of acquisition: Deposited in Aberdeen University Library c 1938 , by John Malcom Bulloch.


Scope and content/abstract: Typed transcript of David Cargill's diary, mostly written during his second missionary journey from England to Fiji, on board the Haidee, 1 May 1842 - 29 March 1843, transcribed by John Malcolm Bulloch. The entries record life on the voyage from England and the pastoral work engaged in, with brief accounts of sermons preached and the reactions of the passengers; a stopover in Tasmania; and activities (mostly preaching and mission administration) in Tonga until a few days before his death. The record also contains biographical notes, compiled by John Malcom Bulloch, about Cargill and his descendants, many of whom forged successful careers and held notable positions in the British colonies.

System of arrangement: Single item.


Language: English.

Conditions governing access: Open, subject to signature accepting conditions of use at reader registration sheet.

Conditions governing reproduction: Subject to the condition of the original, copies may be supplied for private research use only on receipt of a signed undertaking to comply with current copyright legislation.

Permission to make any published use of material from the collection must be sought in advance from the Head of Special Libraries and Archives of Aberdeen University ( and, where appropriate, from the copyright owner. Where possible, assistance will be given in identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.

Physical characteristics: No physical characteristics affecting use of collection.

Finding aids: A very brief collection level description is available on the Aberdeen University Library Catalogue.


Related material: Aberdeen University, Special Libraries and Archives also holds genealogical records of the Cargill family (MS 3218) of Strathmore, correspondence relating to David Cargill and his family, 1826 - 1881 (MS 2566), and other manuscripts of John Malcolm Bulloch.

Portraits of David Cargill and his second wife, Augusta are deposited at Aberdeen University, under the care of its Marischal Museum. Further details are available from the Head of Special Libraries and Archives (

The School of Oriental and African Studies holds the archive of the (Wesleyan) Methodist Missionary Society / Methodist Church Overseas Division, which includes correspondence from Cargill in its Australasia series.

Some correspondence from David Cargill, written to the Wesleyan Missionary Society during his mission in Tonga, is held by the Wesleyan Mission Society, London.

Related correspondence, diaries and A grammar of the Fijian language (Lakemba, 1839) are included in the Australian Research Collections held by the Mitchell Library of the State Library of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.

The original diary was held by the Fiji Museum but appears to have been lost.

The School of Oriental and African Studies holds a microfilm of the journal of David Cargill (30 April 1842 - 2 April 1843) and the certificate commemorating the presentation of the journal to the Government of Fiji (classmark M653).


Archivist's note: Compiled by Caroline Brick on behalf of the Mundus Project, with reference to:
A collection level description from the Archives Hub.
The diaries and correspondence of David Cargill, 1832-1843, ed. by Albert J. Schutz, Pacific History Series, 16 (Canberra: Australia National University Press, 1977).
Biographical dictionary of Christian missions, ed. by Gerald H. Anderson (New York: Simon & Schuster Macmillan, 1998).

Date(s) of descriptions: July 2002.

Mission administration
Mission policy
Missionary work
Protestant nonconformists
Religious activities
Religious groups
Religious texts
Rural missionary work
Travel abroad

Personal names
Bulloch | John Malcolm | 1867-1938 | journalist
Cargill | David | 1809-1843 | Methodist missionary in Oceania
Cargill | family | of Strathmore

Corporate names
Haidee | ship
Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society