James Chalmers Papers

Scope and Content

Papers chiefly concerning James Chalmers (1841-1901), appointed to Rarotonga 1866, and to the New Guinea mission 1877. 1865-1905. Includes Ms. autobiography of James Chalmer's life up to 1878; letters from Jane Chalmers (née Hercus) and Sarah Chalmers (née Harrison), 1869-92; letters from James Chalmers to various people, 1865-1901; notes of speeches made by James Chalmers during his last furlough, 1895; photocopies of letters from Chalmers to James Lampard Green of Tahiti, 1875-1884; memorabilia, comprising letters, photographs and memoirs, c1865-1905; press cuttings and obituaries, 1901; letters and photographs of Ardrishaig, Chalmer's birthplace, n.d.

Administrative / Biographical History

Born 4 Aug 1841 at Ardrishaig, Argyleshire; studied at Cheshunt College and Highgate; appointed to Rarotonga; ordained 19 Oct 1865; married Jane Robertson Hercus, 17 Oct 1865; sailed in the 'John Williams', 29 Jan 1866; arrived at Adelaide, 4 May; sailed from Sydney, 21 Aug; arrived at Aneiteum, 5 Sep; proceeded to Loyalty Islands and thence to Niue, arriving 3 Jan 1867; proceeded to Samoa and arrived 23 Feb; proceeded to Tahiti, and thence to Rarotonga, arriving 20 May 1867; sole charge of mission devolved to James Chalmers on 13 Jul 1867, and he conducted pastoral work in the indigenous churches, at the Theological Institution and schools; in Jun 1876 he visited all islands in the Hervey Islands Mission; 17 Sep 1876 he sailed from rarotonga to visit the Penrhyn Islands, Maniiki, Rakaanga, Tahiti and Huhaine; having been appointed to the New Guinea Mission, he left Rarotonga on 21 May 1877; sailed for Papua 20 Sep, arrived at Somerset, 30 Sep, and Murray Island, 12 Oct; 17 Oct, left Murray Island to visit Port Moresby and Teste Island; settled on Stacey Island at the east end of Papua, 4 Dec 2877; Mrs Chalmers died 20 Feb 1879; married Sarah Eliza Harrison, 6 Oct 1888; in 1889, settled at Motumotu; during Jan and Feb 1890, he visited the Fly River Stations; Jul 1890, left Papua to visit Sydney en route for Samoa and Rarotonga, to obtain teachers, returning to Papua, 27 May 1891; Mrs Chalmers died 25 Oct 1900; James Chalmers was killed by natives of Goarbari Island, 8 Apr 1901.

Access Information


Acquisition Information

Deposited on permanent loan with the records of the London Missionary Society by the Congregational Council for World Mission (later Council for World Mission) in 1973.

Other Finding Aids

Detailed list of James Chalmer's Papers (list A3), available for consultation in the Special Collections Reading Room, SOAS Library.

Archivist's Note


Custodial History

The papers were deposited with the London Missionary Society and form part of the special series of personal papers of individual LMS missionaries and officers.

Related Material

CWM/LMS papers for the South Seas and Papua includes correspondence and other papers by James Chalmers. See also South Seas Personal Box 5.