Europe

Administrative / Biographical History

London Missionary Society activities within Europe involved extensive correspondence and discussion with representatives of European Missionary Societies, as well as direct mission activity. For example there is correspondence with Johanes Vanderkemp before he went to South Africa. The collection includes correspondence from missionaries and societies in Holland, Germany, Scandinavia, Switzerland and France.

The mission to the Greek Islands and Malta was one of the earliest proposed projects but no action was taken until 1808. John Wiesinger went to Malta in 1808 to learn Greek and Italian, with a view of founding the mission, but he left the Society in 1810. He was succeeded briefly by Bezaleel Blomfield and then in 1816 by Isaac Lowndes, who worked on Malta until 1819 before moving to Zante. Lowndes did not try to convert the Greek Orthodox community, but attempted to revive dormant religious principals, becoming involved in organising schools. In 1822 he moved to Corfu. Samuel Wilson worked in Valetta, and was instrumental in publishing books - including working with the Bible Society on their New Testament in modern Greek. Due to financial pressures and the growth of cheap publishing, the Malta mission was closed in 1834.

Work in Russia started in 1818 with a mission to the Buddhist Buriats (or Buryats) of Irkutsk in Siberia on the border with China. Two stations with three missionaries were set up to carry out medical and missionary work, including the mission at Selenginsk. LMS missionaries were also stationed in St Petersburg. In 1841 the Emperor of Russia decreed that the mission to the Buriats should end. A later mission to the Mongols was carried out by James Gilmour from 1870 to 1894 as part of the China mission.

Some work was also carried out with French prisoners of War in c.1803, and the LMS welcomed European candidates to join their missions - its missionaries were not exclusively British. Dutch, German and Swedish missionaries joined the London Missionary Society.

Although the LMS concentrated almost exclusively on missions overseas, a limited amount of missionary work took place in London, England, where a 'mission to the Jews' was established' Papers survive for 1801-09.

Arrangement

Material is arranged into the following series: Incoming correspondence: Europe (1797-1849), which includes Holland (1797-1845), Germany, Scandinavia, Switzerland (1798-1843) and France (1801-1849); Incoming correspondence: Greek Mission (1808-1846), includes Malta (1808-1835), Zante (1819-1831) and Greek mission (1832-1846); Incoming correspondence: Russia (1804-1848); Journals: Greek mission (1812-1833); Journals: Russia (1818-1827); papers of the mission to the Jews in London (1801-1809)

Conditions Governing Access

Open

Archivist's Note

Catalogued

Related Material

For Outgoing correspondence: Africa, Europe & Madagascar (1832-1867) and Outgoing correspondence: Russia (1822-1843) see London Missionary Society/Home materials.