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John Williams (1796–1839) was an English missionary, active in the South Pacific. He was born at Tottenham High Cross, London, England, educated at a school in Lower Edmonton, and apprenticed to an ironmonger in 1810. His piety in early youth waned until he became a member of the Tabernacle chapel in Moorfields, London in 1814; he was then appointed London Missionary Society (LMS) missionary to the South Seas, ordained at Surrey Chapel, and married Mary Chauner. He 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. He 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. In 1827 he sailed to Raratonga, in the southern Cook Islands and translated part of the Bible into Rarotongan; while there, he 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.

Born: 1796
Died: 1839