Order with this ReferenceMMS/Special Series/Biographical/South Seas/FBN 37-42
Ref NoMMS/17/02/10/08
TitleMr John and Mrs Sarah Thomas
Date(s) of Creation1786-1875
Level of DescriptionSub-Sub-Series
Extent6 boxes
Name of CreatorThomas; John (1796-1881); blacksmith; ordained missionary
Thomas; Sarah (fl 1824-1867); née Hartshorn; missionary wife
Administrative & Biographical HistoryBorn at Worcester, England, 1796; blacksmith at Hagley, Worcestershire; became a Methodist and soon began to preach; married Sarah Hartshorn (d 1867); accepted by the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society (WMMS), 1824; pioneering missionary to the Friendly Islands [Tonga] in the South Seas - arriving in 1826; preached at Hihifo, Tongatapu, 1826-1828; moved to the island of Ha'apai, 1829; baptized the chief Taufa'ahua Tupou, 1831; a Tonga-wide revival movement began, 1835; Thomas enthroned Tupou, with English rites, as first king of all Tonga, 1845; although the WMMS withdrew from Samoa (1839) by agreement with the London Missionary Society, Thomas advocated re-entry and supported Tupou's policy of sending Tongan Wesleyan missionaries to Fiji and Samoa; persuaded the Australasian Wesleyan conference (which took over the Pacific from the British Wesleyans in 1855) to reverse the LMS decision regarding Samoa; following a visit to England his influence with Tupou waned, 1850s; retired to England and became supernumerary minister at Stourbridge, Worcestershire, 1860; died, 29th January 1881.

Further Reading:
Latukefu, S, Church and state in Tonga: the Wesleyan Methodist missionaries and political development, 1822-1875 (1974);
Luckock, John Thomas: extracts from the journals and private diaries of Rev. John Thomas; edited by Mrs Stuart Luckcock, with an outline of his life and times by Rev. Francis Luckcock (1981);
Luckcock, J L, Thomas of Tonga, 1797-1881: the unlikely pioneer (c1990);
Rowe, G S, A pioneer. A memoir of the Rev. John Thomas, missionary to the Friendly Islands (1885);
Telford, J, Makers of our missions. Pages from the lives of Methodist missionaries (1895);
Thomas, J, Hymns, catechisms, prayers, &c. for the use of the Wesleyan Societies in the Friendly Islands (1861).
Held at:SOAS University of London
DescriptionPapers, 1786-1875, of John and Sarah Thomas, including John Thomas's journals and memoranda books, 1821-1875, including his religious reflections, life in England and Tonga, and missionary work; sermon notes, undated; manuscripts on Tonga and the South Seas, including mythology, religion, history, and ranks of chiefs, undated; photographs, prints and drawings, most unlabelled, of people and places in Tonga, undated [1820s-1850s?]; two accounts of the life of Sarah Thomas by John Thomas [after 1866]; miscellaneous correspondence, 1825-1873, of John and Sarah Thomas, including letters from John Thomas to Wesleyan Mission House; journals of Sarah Thomas (née Hartshorn), 1826-1855, including her experiences in Tonga; account book for building a new Methodist chapel in Glasgow, 1786-1792; steward's account book, 1813-1820, of the Methodist Society, Glasgow, including Leaders' meetings minutes, 1813-1820.
Access StatusTemporarily Closed
Conditions Governing AccessOnly to be viewed on microfiche.
CopyrightCopyright probably held by Methodist Missionary Society.
Conditions Governing ReproductionFor permission to publish, please contact Archives & Special Collections, SOAS Library in the first instance
Language(s) of MaterialEnglish
Tonga (Tonga Islands)
Other Finding AidsHandlist available
Related MaterialAlso within the records of the (Wesleyan) Methodist Missionary Society is the official correspondence (with extracts from journals) for John Thomas (MMS/Australasia/Correspondence/Tonga/FBN 12-14). Furthermore, the synod minutes will detail his work, and that of his colleagues, in the Friendly Islands district (MMS/Australasia/Synod Minutes/Fiji & Tonga/FBN 2).

In addition, we hold a photocopy of a letter (1857) from Thomas in Tonga to his brother-in-law, referring to mission activity there (MS 380449). A letter by him can also be found within the Steele Collection (MMS/Special Series/Various Papers/FBN 46).

The Mitchell Library at the New South Wales State Library in Australia holds letter books, correspondence, manuscripts, etc, by or relating to Thomas, 1829-1879.
Access Points - SubjectClergy
Missionary work
Oceanic cultures
Social structure
Travel abroad
Wives of missionaries
Access Points - Person, Corporate & Family Names
Name CodePerson, Corporate or Family NameType of Entity
GB/SOASNAF/P480Thomas; John (1796-1881); blacksmith, ordained missionaryPerson
GB/SOASNAF/P545Thomas; Sarah (fl 1824-1867); née Hartshorn, missionary wifePerson
GB/SOASNAF/C146Methodist Society; GlasgowCorporate
Access Points - Places
Place CodePlace Name
2635167United Kingdom
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