Continent of America Incoming Correspondence

Archive Unit

Scope and Content

Incoming correspondence from missionaries to the London Missionary Society headquarters, for the LMS region described as the 'Continent of America'. Letters cover the following areas: Newfoundland 1799-1818, South America 1806-1815, Bermuda 1814-1820, Cape Breton 1819, Bahamas 1836, Nova Scotia 1804-5, 1815, 1816, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island 1805-1823, and Canada 1799-1836 [N.B. the 'Canada' folders cover what was then ‘Lower Canada’ (Quebec) and ‘Upper Canada’ (Ontario)].

Incoming letters from the Provinces which now constitute Canada are arranged in area series that follow the chronological development of LMS missions. The basic purpose for which missionaries were sent (evangelization of non-European peoples) was in many instances deflected and they became ministers to congregations formed of European settlers. Thus John Hillyard, appointed to Newfoundland 1799, became minister at Yarmouth, Nova Scotia in 1807; William Hyde, appointed 1813 served as minister in St Johns, Newfoundland for a few years. Some correspondence comes from or via Poole, Dorset, which was the principal port for trade with Newfoundland at the time.

A series of letters from Nova Scotia including Cape Breton Island, contain pleas for missionaries but the LMS only sent grants for work among First Peoples (Canadian Indians). Edward Pidgeon was appointed missionary in 1804 and worked where Quebec and New Brunswick Provinces meet (Chaleur Bay) until removing in 1810 from New Carlisle to Prince Edward Island from where letters came until 1823.

Early in the Canada series (1801/2) appear letters from John Mitchell and from the congregation at New Carlisle. William Smart (1811-1820) and John Cox (1812-1815) both settled in close proximity near modern Brockville on the upper St Lawrence and became ministers to congregations of settlers. William McKillican ministered to Gaelic-speaking Scots close to what was to become the centre of modern Ottawa. Further appeals to support missions to Canadian Indians appear in the final correspondence from Canada which ended in 1836.

In 1806 the LMS send David Creighton to Buenos Aires in the Argentine, but following its capture by Spain he diverted to Uruguay and taught English for a short while. J Wreyford distributed tracts in Spanish and English. The South America series ceases in 1816. Correspondence from Bermuda (1814 to 1820) failed to elicit a missionary from the LMS.

Conditions Governing Access


Other Finding Aids

A detailed list for Continent of America Incoming Correspondence, 1799-1836, (list C1) is available for consultation in the Special Collections Reading Room, SOAS Library.

Archivist's Note