Order with this ReferenceMMS/Special Series/Biographical/South Seas/FBN 42 (fiche 1891-1907)
Ref NoMMS/17/02/10/09
TitleRev Thomas Adams
Date(s) of CreationLate 20th century
Level of DescriptionSub-Sub-Series
Extent1 box
Name of CreatorAdams; Thomas (1821-1885); ordained missionary; linguist
Administrative & Biographical HistoryThomas Adams, the son of Thomas Adams and Tabitha Adams (nee Grylls) was born at Litcott, Laneast near Launceston in Cornwall in 1820. He was one of seven children with two of his siblings achieving national significance: his brother William as professor of Natural Philosophy at Kings College, London, and his brother John Couch the eminent astronomer who discovered the planet Neptune.

Thomas Adams was accepted for the Wesleyan Methodist ministry in 1845 and received his training at Richmond in Surrey. In September 1846 he married Maria French and shortly afterwards they departed for the Friendly Islands District in the South Seas. He served at Tongatabu [Tongatapu, Tonga] for three years before relocating to Vavan [Vava'u, Tonga]. After five years in Vavan [Vava'u, Tonga] he returned to Tongatabu [Tongatapu, Tonga]. From about 1848 he began work on translating the Bible into Tongan which was published by the British and Foreign Bible Society in 1852. Adams was also one of the negotiators for peace at the end of the Tongan civil war.

In 1854 Adams and his wife transferred to Paramatta in the New South Wales District of Australia but after two years returned to the Friendly Islands District to serve once again in Tongatabu [Tongatapu, Tonga] and Vavan [Vava'u, Tonga]. By 1859 Adams was chairman of the district but his wife, Maria, died the following year (on 25 February) and he returned to England in 1861.

Although he retained an interest in missionary work Adams never returned to the overseas mission field again but instead worked in a number of circuits and districts in the UK - principally Wigan in Lancashire, London, Newport on the Isle of Wight and Cambridge. Whilst in Cambridge he was instrumental in obtaining the estate that the Leys School was later built on. He became a supernumerary in 1877 and died at Chatteris, Cambridge, on 24 October 1885. Two of his sons, Thomas & Alfred, became Anglican ministers.

Further Reading:
Findlay & Holdsworth, The History of the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society, (vol 3, 1921);
Toy, H. S, The Adamses of Lidcott, at Laneast, Launceston (1969);
Wood, A. H, Overseas missions of the Australian Methodist Church (vol 1, 1975).
Held at:SOAS University of London
Source of AcquisitionThe five folders of photocopies were made by the MMS from originals in the possession of Miss Hilda Harrison, Girton, Cambridge, 1969.
The other folder of photocopies was made by the MMS from originals in the possession of Miss Hilda Roseveare, Saltash, Cornwall.
DescriptionFive folders of photocopies relating to Thomas Adams being:
(I) correspondence between Adams and his parents and siblings written whilst he was in England, 1841-1846;
(II) correspondence between Adams and his parents and siblings whilst he was travelling to Friendly Islands [Tonga] and once resident there, 1846-1853;
(III) correspondence between Adams and his parents and siblings written whilst he was in New South Wales, Australia, 1854-1857;
(IV) correspondence between Adams and his parents and siblings written whilst he was in Friendly Islands [Tonga], 1859-1860;
(V) correspondence and miscellaneous material. Correspondence is between Adams and his parents and siblings written whilst in England including once he became a supernumerary, 1861-1881. Miscellaneous material includes sermons, a catechism, description of Tongan traditions and autobiographical note re his early religious experiences (undated).
Folder of photocopies of letters written between members of the Adams family, including Thomas, written in England, 1854-1885. With preachers' plan for the Camelford circuit in Cornwall, 1847/1848 and handwritten sketch of Adams family tree (undated).
Access StatusTemporarily Closed
Conditions Governing AccessOnly to be viewed on microfiche
Conditions Governing ReproductionFor permission to publish, please contact Archives & Special Collections, SOAS Library in the first instance
Language(s) of MaterialEnglish
Other Finding AidsHandlist available
Related MaterialAlso within the records of the (Wesleyan) Methodist Missionary Society is the official correspondence for Thomas Adams (MMS/Australasia/Correspondence/Tonga/FBN 14). Furthermore, the synod minutes will detail his work, and that of his colleagues, in both the districts he served (MMS/Australasia/Synod Minutes/Fiji & Tonga/FBN 2 & MMS/Australasia/Synod Minutes/Australia/FBN 1).

The papers of the Adams family of Laneast (Ref: AM) are held by Cornwall Record Office.
Access Points - Person, Corporate & Family Names
Name CodePerson, Corporate or Family NameType of Entity
GB/SOASNAF/P950Adams; Thomas (1821-1885); ordained missionary, linguistPerson
Access Points - Places
Place CodePlace Name
6269131England
6255151Oceania
2155400New South Wales
2077456Australia
4032283Tonga
7839763Parramatta
4032231Vava`u
4032279Tongatapu
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