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Reverend John Williams, c.1837

George Baxter (printer)

wood engraving (Baxter print) (sheet: 21.0 cm x 12.5 cm, image: 13.0 cm x 10.5 cm)

John Williams (1796–1839) began his working life in 1810, apprenticed to an ironmonger, but in 1816, having undergone an Evangelical conversion, he volunteered for service with the London Missionary Society and was ordained. He then joined a mission to Tahiti and in 1817 travelled to the Australian colonies, spending time in Hobart and Sydney before returning to the Society Islands and establishing his own mission at Raiatea. After further missionary work in the Cook Islands and Samoa, Williams returned to England and oversaw the publication of his Rarotongan translation of the New Testament. In 1838 he returned to Sydney in the mission ship Camden, and drew considerable crowds to his meetings. Having recently given evidence before the committee of the House of Commons on Aborigines, he was influential in the establishment of the local Aborigines Protection Society, and was also responsible for founding an Auxiliary Missionary Society in Sydney. News of his violent death at Eromanga in the New Hebrides in November 1839 was received with sorrow in the colony.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2012

Accession number: 2012.172

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

George Baxter (age 33 in 1837)

John Williams (age 41 in 1837)

Subject professions

Religion

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