The missionaries



The missionaries of the London Missionary Society who served in the Cook Islands were:-

1. Rev John Williams. Several visits between 1823-1839

2. Rev Charles Pitman. 1827-1854

3. Rev Aaron Buzacott. 1828-1857

4. Rev William Gill. 1845-1860

5. Rev Henry Royle. 1839-1876

6. Rev George Gill. 1845-1860

7. Rev Wyatt Gill. 1852-1883

8. Rev Ernest Krause. 1859-1867

9. Rev James Chalmers. 1867-1877

10. Rev George Harris. 1871-1893

11. Rev John Hutchin. 1882-1912

12. Rev William Laurence. 1884-1905

13. Miss Ardill. 1892-1898

14. Rev James Cullen. 1894-1902

15. Miss Large. 1895-1902

16. Rev Percy Hall. 1900-1916

17. Rev John Jones. 1901-1905

18. Rev Bond James. 1902-1934

19. Rev George Eastman. 1913-1918

20. Rev Herbert Bralsford. 1927-1930

21. Rev Henry Cater. 1931-1943

22. Rev Robert Challis. 1933-1947

23. Rev William Murphy. 1947-1956

24. Rev Bernard Thorogood. 1956-1963

25. Rev John Sturney. 1958-1964

26. Rev John F. Clerke. 1964-1967

27. Rev Bernard Thorogood. 1968-1970

28. Rev F.W. Bealing. 1972-1974


John Williams

John Williams (1796-1839) was an English missionary. active in the South Pacific . Born near London , England , he was trained as a foundry worker and mechanic. In September 1816, the London Missionary Society commissioned him as a missionary at Surrey Chapel London. In 1817, John Williams and his wife voyaged to the Society Islands, a group of islands that included Tahiti, accompanied by William Ellis, and his wife. John Williams and his wife established their first missionary post on the island of Raiatea. From there, they visited a number of the Polynesian island chains, sometimes with Mr & Mrs Ellis and other London Missionary Society representatives. Landing on Aitutaki in 1821 they used Tahitian converts to carry their message to the Cook Islanders. One island in this group, Rarotonga (said to have been discovered by the Williamses) rises out of the sea as jungle-covered mountains of orange soil ringed by coral reef and turquoise lagoon and Williams became fascinated by it. The Williamses became the first missionary family to visit Samoa

The Williamses returned in 1834 to Britain, where John supervised the printing of his translation of the New Testament into the Rarotongan language. They brought back a native of Samoa, named 'Leota' who came to live as a Christian in London. At the end of his days, Leota was buried in Abney Park Cemetery with a dignified headstone paid for by the London Missionary Society, recording his adventure from the South Seas island of his birth. Whilst back in London, John Williams published a "Narrative of Missionary Enterprises in the South Sea Islands", making a contribution to English understanding and popularity of the region, before returning to the Polynesian islands in 1837 on the ship Camden under the command of Capatin Robert Clark Morgan.

Most of the Williamses' missionary work, and their delivery of a cultural message, was very successful and they became famed in Congregational circles. However, in November 1839, while visiting a part of the New Hebrides where John Williams was unknown, he and fellow missionary James Harris were killed and eaten by cannibals on the island of Erromango during an attempt to bring them the Gospel. A memorial stone was erected on the island of Rarotonga in 1839 and is still there. Mrs Williams is buried with their son (Samuel Tamatoa Williams, who was born in the New Hebrides) at the old Cedar Circle in London's Abney Park Cemetery; the name of her husband and the record of his death were placed on the most prominent side of the stone monument.


Charles Pitman

Pitman is a borough, located in Gloucester County, New Jersey. It was formed from land originally located in Mantua and Glassboro Townships, and is named after Reverend Charles Pitman, D.D.

In its early beginnings, Pitman was mostly part of Mantua Township, with some acreage in Glassboro Township. In 1871, land in this section of Gloucester County was chosen for a new Methodist summer religious camp, as it was "convenient and desirable" land, which included good sources of water.

On March 17, 1872, under the sponsorship of Reverend Perry, presiding elder of the Bridgeton District of the Methodist Church, the New Jersey Conference Camp meeting Association was formally chartered. They had the authority to adopt ordinances governing people within the bounds of their area.

The land that became known as "Pitman Grove," (most of which was west of the railroad line) was purchased in several parcels by the New Jersey Conference Camp Meeting Association. The first parcel was bought from West Jessup of Mantua Township and contained sixty acres. Later on approximately ten more acres were purchased from Joseph Jessup (just east of Broadway) in order to insure that the Camp Meeting had land between the turnpike and the railroad. Even more parcels of land were bought later and eventually the Association owned land at what was later known as Summit Avenue (east of the railroad) and extending west through the Grove section to Cedar Avenue, including a strip west of Cedar Road to Alcyon Lake (along Lake Avenue).



Aaron Buzacott

Aaron Buzacott the elder March 4, 1800 , - September 20, 1864, a Congregationalist colleague of John Williams (the 'Martyr of Erromanga'), author of ethnographic works and co-translator of the Bible into the language of Rarotonga, was a central figure in the South Seasmissionary work of the London Missionary Society, living on Rarotonga (one of the Cook Islands) between 1828 and 1857.

Missionary work in the South Seas

Aaron Buzacott considered schools constitute one of the most important departments of missionary labour, and he paid special attention to the selection and education of native people. This purpose was advanced by his purchase of a piece of land on Avarua (Rarotonga) for 150 dollars, funded by the London Missionary Society; around which he paid for a stone wall built, and within which four cottages for Rarotongan families and single men, and a college building which still exists (Takamoa Theological College), were completed. Besides Mr Buzacott himself, the college was also staffed by Mrs Sarah Buzacott - who taught the married women students writing, arithmetic and needlework. The building architecture was designed to withstand the most violent hurricanes and was still in good condition when the Buzacott family left in 1857 owing to Aaron's ill health.

The work of the college built on educational work to record Cook Islands Maori and print books in the native language. English only became the dominant language on the islands after the missionary period, and though it was taught at the college, the training of local pastors to encourage reading in the native language was seen as the key. This project of education in the native language, had begun in 1821 with the arrival of the missionary John Williams on Aitutaki. In 1823 his entourage, which included the native Tahitian from Borabora, Papehia, arrived on Rarotonga, soon to be joined by Charles Pitman in 1827 and, in 1828, by Buzacott. Initial translation of the Bible commenced in 1828 and was completed in 1851. Buzacott's Te Akataka Reo Rarotonga (published 1854-69) long remained the authoritative grammatical resource. By the early 1830s a printing press was in full operation under Buzacott's guidance, and by the mid-1850s most Rarotongans were able to read.
In 1831 Aaron Buzacott visited all the islands in the Hervey Group, with John Williams, and found them to suffer badly from hurricanes and cyclones during the winter. To help prevent famine he introduced the sweet potato, growing a crop in a piece of ground granted by the chief. Intense interest was arounsed when he showed that the crop could be sold to a passing captain in exchange for coloured calicoes The effect was magical records Mr Buzacott, Chiefs and people were eager for 'eyes' and 'tops' for planting. a suitable district was fixed upon and in a given week the whole population turned out. In the following year Mr Buzacott and John Williams traveled to Tahiti together.

Aaron Buzacott later visited Samoa (in 1834, and again in 1836) where he found American and English sailors who had run away from whaling ships, living on the islands with the permission of Samoan Chiefs but without schools. Mr Buzacott wrote: It was pleasing to observe, by contrasting the present condition of Rarotonga with that of Samoa, the progress the gospel had already made among us. Aaron Buzacott visited England 1847-51, being for that time a communicant under the pastoral care of the Rev. Henry Allon of Union Chapel Islington near London





William Gill

GILL, WILLIAM WYATT (1828-1896), missionary, was born on 27 December 1828 at Bristol, England, son of John Gill of Barton Hill and his wife Jane, daughter of Richard Wyatt, yeoman. Nurtured in Kingsland Congregational Chapel, Bristol, he became a member at 14 and his thoughts turned early to the ministry. After three years at Highbury College, London, and a year at New College, University of London (B.A., 1850), he was discouraged from missionary work, but his eagerness to accompany Rev. Aaron Buzacott to the Cook Islands met with approval and in June 1851 he was accepted by the London Missionary Society. He was ordained at Spa Fields Chapel on 11 July and on 15 November arrived at Hobart Town in the mission ship John Williams. With Buzacott and Henry Hopkins he visited Launceston, Melbourne and Geelong on missionary work. On 23 November he reached Sydney where he met Mary Layman Harrison, a pious Anglican. According to Buzacott, he 'had to run the risk of his neck to get her having had to go to the "Turon gold diggings" to get her Father's consent' before they were married by Dr Robert Ross on 19 December.

Gill worked at Mangaia, Cook Islands, in 1852-72 except for five months in 1858 at Rarotonga in charge of the institution for training native teachers and a visit to Sydney in 1862-63. In 1872 with Rev. A. W. Murray he visited the principal islands in Torres Strait and on 7 November landed the first teachers, including six Cook Islanders, at Kataw in New Guinea. In 1873 he sailed for England where he read to the Royal Geographical Society his paper 'A Visit to Torres Straits and Mainland of New Guinea'. It was included with other articles in his Life in the Southern Isles; or, Scenes and Incidents in the South Pacific and New Guinea (London, 1876), a work that established his repute in mission circles. His more scholarly work, Myths and Songs from the South Pacific (London, 1876), published at the instigation of Professor Max Müller, did much to improve the missionary image among scientific workers. Gill resumed missionary work and was stationed on Rarotonga from April 1877 until he retired in November 1883 after his wife died in July. In December Gill went to Sydney and in January 1884 sailed to New Guinea with another party of Rarotongan teachers. In 1885 he published in London an account of this voyage in Work and Adventure in New Guinea 1877 to 1885, a work ascribed to James Chalmers and himself, and Jottings from the Pacific. Through the influence of Sir George Grey the New Zealand government had published his Historical Sketches of Savage Life in Polynesia (Wellington, 1880), which was revised for missionary readers as From Darkness to Light in Polynesia (London, 1894).




George Gill.

Rev. George Gill, congregationalist minister, formerly a missionary. pastor of Westgate Congregational Chapel from 1861 to 1880. He grew up in London and married when quite young. In 1844, he and his wife set sail for the South Sea Islands as missionaries under the auspices of the London Missionary Society. To be precise, they went to Mangaia in the Cook Islands, which is about as far out into the ocean as you can get. Here they worked for 13 years before moving on to Raratonga in the same island group. An elder brother, the Rev. W.W. Gill had previously worked there. Mr and Mrs Gill had a large family, and in about 1855, the older boys were sent to England, presumably for their schooling. The son of a native chief came with them, but was tragically drowned en route. When the rest of the family eventually left the islands for England in 1860, the young chief's mother, Akatu Vaine, came with them as nurse to their children. She called them 'her family'. Mr Gill was appointed first pastor of the new Westgate Chapel, which opened in July 1861, and his name lives on in 'Gill Street' off Clifton Street. They lived on Grimshaw Street at first, and then moved to Woodfield, a detached house at the far end of Clifton Street. Akatu Vaine, affectionately called 'Opoo' was of course a nine-day wonder when she first came to Burnley, but she became a familiar figure as time went by. She was a big built woman with a cheerful face, and people respected her for the careful way in which she looked after the children. She died in January 1877, aged about 70, and is buried in Burnley Cemetery. Mr Gill was tremendously active at Westgate, making it into an influential chapel not only in the religious sense, but also as something of a cultural centre. ....

The ethics are not important here. The point I want to make is that in the Rev. Gill's day such a missionary would have been an exceptionally capable and all round man, able to turn his hand to anything, and by all accounts, Mr Gill was such a person. Likewise, in his own context, was his grandson, Eric, a thoughtful and individualistic man who was nevertheless the acknowledged master of a wide range of technical skills.


James Chalmers

James Chalmers (4 August 1841 - 8 April 1901) was a Scottish-born missionary, active in New Guinea.
James Chalmers was born in the fishing village of Ardrishaig, Argyleshire, Scotland, the only son of an Aberdonian stonemason . The family moved to Inverary when James was seven, he went to the local school, and then to grammar school for about a year when he was 13. He then was employed in a lawyer's office at Inverary, and before he was 20 decided to become a missionary. In 1861, he joined the Glasgow City Mission as an evangelist. Here he met the Samoan missionary, George Turner, who suggested he apply as a missioanry candidate, and eight months later was sent by the London Missionary Society to Cheshunt College near London to carry on his studies. He was a good student, though not a brilliant one, always ready for practical jokes, and already showing capacities for leadership. On 17 October 1865 he was married to Jane Hercus and two days later was ordained to the Christian ministry. It had been decided that he should go to the South Pacific island of Rarotonga in the Cook Islands, although he had hoped to work in Africa.
On 4 January 1866 Chalmers sailed in the missionary ship John Williams to Australia, arriving in May. After a stay of three months he left for the New Hebrides (now Vanuatu). The ship ran on an uncharted rock and had to go back to Sydney to be repaired. It sailed again and was wrecked in January, though fortunately all on board were saved. Eventually he arrived at Rarotonga on 20 May 1867.
Chalmers was initially disappointed to find the island partially christianized, but soon found there was much work to be done. There was a good deal of drunkenness to be fought, and the directing of the natives energies into wiser practices. He learned the language, did much teaching, and became personally popular, his Raratongan name was Tamate. Chalmers also produced a monthly newspaper. He gained much experience which was to be used in his later work, but he felt a strong urge to devote his life to more untutored men.


George Harris

George Harris (1844 - 1922) was an American College president. He was born at East Machias, Me. and graduated from Amherst College in 1866 and from Andover Theological Seminary in 1869. From 1883 to 1899, he was professor of Christian theology at Andover Theological Seminary and from 1899 to 1911 president of Amherst College.
He is author of Moral Evolution, (1896) and Inequality and Progress, (1897). He was one of the editors of the Andover Review from 1884-93.


John Hutchison (1827 - 1908)

BLACKWOOD, JOHN HUTCHISON (1827-1908), shipowner and pastoralist, was born on 28 December 1827 at Dowhill, near Kirkoswald, Ayrshire, Scotland, son of Hew Blackwood, farmer, and his wife Janet, née Richard, of Auldhouseburn. His elder brothers James and Richard migrated to Melbourne and John followed them, arriving on 21 August 1852. In 1853 he entered a shipping partnership with Captain James McMeckan, and the firm McMeckan, Blackwood & Co. conducted an agency for the steamer Havilah in the Melbourne-Adelaide trade. In the shipping boom during the gold rushes the partners acquired the agency for four more steamships. In 1858 the firm built its first steamer, Omeo, which brought the submarine telegraph cable for the Cape Otway-Tasmania connexion on her maiden voyage from England. More ships were bought and the firm began a regular Melbourne-Wellington run in 1858. With the New Zealand gold rushes a branch was established in Dunedin and eventually the company had to employ another twelve ships.

Meanwhile business from the Melbourne-Adelaide trade was increasing with extensive cargoes of wheat and flour. After 1870 a general cargo and passenger traffic developed between Melbourne and Port Darwin, where the Omeo had carried men and equipment for laying the submarine cable to Java. A trade was also built up between Melbourne, Adelaide and the south-eastern ports of South Australia.




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