John Williams

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John Williams

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1796 - 1893

History

John Williams was a Reverend in the Anglican Church of England, and was commissioned as a missionary in 1816 by the London Missionary Society. In 1917, Williams and his wife Mary Chawner voyaged first to Australia and from there to the Society Islands in the South Pacific Ocean. Their first missionary post was established on the island of Raiatea. Williams and his wife later engaged in mission trips to the Polynesian islands with other London Missionary Society representatives. The couple was also involved in mission work in the Cook Islands, specifically the islands of Aitutaki and Rarotonga. In 1834 the Williamses returned to Britain. During this time, John William oversaw the printing of the New Testament which he had translated into the Rarotongan language. While in London Williams published a work titled “Narrative of Missionary Enterprises in the South Sea Islands” that helped expand awareness in England of the South Seas Islands region. Throughout their careers, the Williamses were well known for the success of their mission work

In 1837, John Williams returned to the Polynesian islands on the mission ship Camden, commanded by Captain Robert Clark Morgan. In 1839, John Williams and fellow missionary James Harris were engaging in missionary work on the New Hebrides [Republic of Vanuatu] islands. On November 20, 1839, Williams and fellow missionary James Harris landed on the island of Erromango. As they approached the shore they were attacked and killed by the people living on the island, and ritualistically cannibalized. Unbeknownst to the missionaries, a few days prior, traders had landed on the island of Erromango and the people erroneously thought Harris and Williams were returning traders. In 1839, a memorial stone in Williams’ honor was erected on the island of Rarotonga.

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Copied from MemoryBC on November 24, 2015 by Katie Ferrante.

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