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Lengthy autograph signed letter regarding the Wesleyan mission to Tonga and internal dissent in the Church at Sydney
Parramatta: 26 January, 1824. Bifolium sheet, four pages measuring 330 x 203 mm., laid paper watermarked 1815; folded to letter size, addressed and postmarked, very good condition. First Wesleyan missionary to Tonga. Intriguing personal letter from convict chaplain and South Seas missionary Walter Lawry written and signed at Parramatta in 1824. Although clearly written as an official request, this letter to the Wesleyan general committee in London is unsually candid, as Lawry pleads his case to leave New South Wales and return to England. Walter Lawry (1793-1859) is a significant figure in the early history of Pacific missionary activity. He was appointed chaplain to the convict transport {i Lady Castlereagh }which arrived in May 1818. Lawry was soon stationed in Parramatta where he married and constructed the first church in the region. In 1822 he was appointed missionary to the Friendly Islands (Tonga group) and purchased a vessel named the {i St. Michael }for this purpose. After a short stay in New Zealand the {i St. Michael }sailed to Tonga, but here the mission met with little success due to the enduring memory of disreputable Europeans (including an escaped convict from Botany Bay) that prejudiced the islanders against Lawry's evangelism (ADB). Given his travails, the present letter is most interesting because in it Lawry openly discusses his dissatisfaction with New South Wales, writing 'I am unhappy and greatly troubled'. He gives several reasons for returning to England, mostly relating to acrimony between himself and the Wesleyan general committee. These ongoing disputes soured Lawry's experiences in the colony, lamenting 'My reputation in the eyes of my revered brethren has been blasted by the breath of distraction and misrepresentation, their confidence in me is withdrawn, and my remonstrance's are without weight.' It appears that years of service in the South Seas and Australia financially ruined Lawry, who constructed the church at Parramatta at his personal expense for the considerable cost of £300. On a brighter note, Lawry draws upon his considerable experience in the Pacific to offer guidance on 'those places in the South Seas where you have thought proper to establish missions, and I hope I might be able to furnish the society with such information on the missions to the colony, to the Aborigines of New Zealand… as would be considered of no small importance'. On a more personal note, Lawry insists that he must return to visit his ageing parents, calling upon a promise he made them to return within six years. However, the committee denied Lawry's impassioned request and appointed him to service in Van Diemen's Land. He disregarded this order and sailed for England in 1825. Surprisingly, Lawry mended relations with the Church and after many years of ministry in England was appointed superintendent of the New Zealand missions in 1843. Lawry spent his final years in Parramatta, where he died in 1859.
      [Bookseller: Hordern House Rare Books]
Last Found On: 2014-10-10           Check availability:      Biblio    


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