From life in the old Hebrides to the New Hebrides (Vanuatu)

The Baton arrives at Vanuatu this Christmas eve 2013 – a mere 4,ooo miles from the Christmas Islands, and the Baton’s last stop in a South Pacific Ocean island.

Our last tale from the South Pacific is about a visitor to the New Hebrides in the 1850s; from the old Hebrides to the New Hebrides

the old Hebrides

the old Hebrides

the New Hebrides

the New Hebrides

Arts and Divinity student John Inglis, who enrolled at the University in 1838 and went on to study at the Theological Hall of the Reformed Presbyterian Church at Paisley in 1840, is the University’s earliest connection with Vanuatu.

He arrived with his wife, Jessie, at Wellington in January 1845 as a missionary to the Maoris, joining  the Reverend James Duncan in Manawatu. Inglis’ mission was short lived for various reasons as he found himself preaching to European settlers.  He moved to Aname, on the north of Aneityum, the southern most island of the New Hebrides, in 1852 where he remained as a missionary for the next 24 years.

John Inglis, courtesty of Presbyterian Church Archives of Aotearoa New Zealand

John Inglis, courtesy of Presbyterian Church Archives of Aotearoa New Zealand

Inglis did much to contribute to the formation of an Aneityumese ‘state’. He learned the Aneityumese language, working with other on the Aneityumese translations of the Old and New Testaments; petitioned for a school for island boys at Auckland; and was an ardent opponent of what he called the ‘slave trade’ in Melanesia (the migration of Melanesian labourers to Fiji and Queensland). Even upon his retirement, Inglis wrote and published a number of books including: A Dictionary of the Aneityumese Language (1882); In the New Hebrides: reminiscences of missionary life and work (1887) and Bible Illustrations from the New Hebrides (1890).

He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity by the University of Glasgow in 1883.


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Filed under Commonwealth of Nations, Oceania

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