Name of creator(s): Williams | John | 1796-1839 | missionary
Administrative/Biographical history: Born at Tottenham High Cross, London, England, 1796; son of John Williams by the daughter of James Maidmeet; educated at a school in Lower Edmonton; apprenticed to an ironmonger, 1810; his piety in early youth waned until he became a member of the Tabernacle chapel, City Road, Moorfields, London, 1814; appointed London Missionary Society (LMS) missionary to the South Seas, ordained at Surrey Chapel, married Mary Chauner (d 1852), and started his journey to the South Pacific via Sydney, 1816; arrived at Moorea, 1817; travelled from Moorea to Huahine, 1818; frustrated by existing LMS practices, moved to Raiatea and, encouraged by the island's chief, Tamatoa, helped to start a mission there, 1818; Williams was anxious to reach inhabitants of the other scattered islands, but the LMS directors were critical of his schemes; sailed to Sydney to obtain medical advice for his wife and while there purchased a schooner, the Endeavour, for missionary work, 1821; returned to Raiatea, 1822; travelled to the Hervey Islands and introduced Christianity there, 1823; visited the islands of Rurutu and Rimatara, 1823; plans to reach the more distant islands were thwarted by financial constraints which forced Williams to dispose of the Endeavour; sailed to Raratonga, in the southern Cook Islands, 1827; translated part of the Bible into Rarotongan; while there, built the Messenger of Peace, in which he returned to Raiatea, 1828; visited Rurutu and Rimatara, 1828-1829; set out in the Messenger of Peace to visit the Hervey and Samoan Islands, 1830; proceeded to the Friendly Islands (Tonga) and made arrangements with Wesleyan missionaries there regarding the division of missionary labour; settled eight teachers in Samoa and returned to Raiatea, 1830; sailed for Rarotonga, intending to revise the Rarotongan version of the New Testament, and visited the Hervey Islands, 1831; following a hurricane in Rarotonga, visited Tahiti to obtain supplies, visited Raiatea, and returned to Rarotonga, 1832; visited Samoa, Keppel's Island, and proceeded to Rarotonga via the Friendly Islands, where the Messenger of Peace was repaired, 1832-1833; having completed the revision of the Rarotongan New Testament, spent time in Tahiti, Rarotonga, and Raiatea, 1833; sailed from Tahiti for England, 1834; superintended publication of the Rarotonga New Testament by the British and Foreign Bible Society, 1835; his public addresses and appeal raised mission funds and a vessel for work among the islands, the Camden, was purchased and fitted out; his published account of his work stimulated public interest, 1837; sailed to Rarotonga via Sydney and Samoa, 1838-1839; proceeded to Tahiti, Moorea, Huahina, Raiatea and other islands, travelled from Rarotonga via Aitutaki to Samoa, and founded a mission station at Fasitoouta, Upolu, 1839; visited Rotuma and Tanna in the New Hebrides (Vanuatu) and proceeded to Erromanga, where his party was attacked and two of them, including Williams, killed, 1839; their remains were subsequently partially recovered and taken to Upolu for burial; his wife returned from Samoa to England, 1841-1842; father of Samuel Williams and John Chauner Williams. Publication: Narrative of Missionary Enterprises in the South Sea Islands (1837 and later editions). Due to his fate Williams became a legend and inspiration for missionaries and a series of seven LMS mission ships were named John Williams.
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.
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.
CONTENT AND STRUCTURE
Scope and content/abstract: Papers, 1807-1962, of and relating to John Williams and his family, comprising letters and papers of John Williams, c1816-1839, the recipients including his parents and his son Samuel; letters and draft letters of John Williams, 1837, chiefly concerning his Narrative of Missionary Enterprises; his copy of The works of Horace (translated by Philip Francis, London, 1807); correspondence and papers of John C Williams and his wife, 1837-1845; letter from Mary Williams to the Rev Timothy East, 1846; glass negatives of the Rev Samuel Williams and his wife, undated; papers relating to John Williams, 1838-1930, mainly biographical information; photographs and engravings of people and places connected with John Williams; genealogical charts of the Williams family, undated; correspondence and papers, 1867-1962, concerning John Williams's descendants and commemorative events.
System of arrangement:
ACCESS AND USE
Conditions governing access: Unrestricted.
Conditions governing reproduction: No publication without written permission. Apply to archivist in the first instance.
Finding aids: Unpublished handlist to file level.
Related material: The School of Oriental and African Studies holds the records of the London Missionary Society (Ref: CWM/LMS), including letters from individual missionaries, among them John Williams (Ref: CWM/LMS South Seas Incoming Correspondence); his candidate's papers (Ref: CWM/LMS Candidates' Papers Box 17 No 35); his LMS journals, 1821-1822, 1823, 1832-1833, 1839 (unfinished), and a typescript copy of his journal, 1830 (Ref: CWM/LMS South Seas Journals Box 4 File 59; ibid Box 5 File 67; ibid Box 6 File 98A; ibid Box 7 File 101; ibid Box 9 File 123); miniature portraits of him and his wife (Ref: CWM/LMS Miniature Portraits Box 1 Bundle 1 Miniatures 3-4) and other portraits of them, including some copies (Ref: CWM/LMS General Portraits Box 6).
Copies: Published on microfiche by IDC Publishers.
Archivist's note: Compiled by Rachel Kemsley as part of the RSLP AIM25 project. Sources: Dictionary of National Biography; Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, ed Gerald H Anderson (1998); LMS Register of Missionaries, ed James Sibree.
Date(s) of descriptions: Feb 2002