Administrative / Biographical History

Little is known about early London Missionary Society work in Australia. A mission was established to work amongst aboriginal peoples at Lake Macquarie by LMS missionaries from the South Seas field in 1825, but the mission was soon suspended as a result of conflict between the Society's agent Samuel Marsden and the missionary Lancelot Threlkeld. Evidence of active missionary work in Australia beyond this is unclear, but certainly Australia proved to be a useful base for LMS activities in the South Pacific, and many early missionaries found haven in Sydney and New South Wales during times of conflict in Tahiti. Later, the mission to the Torres Straits Islands and Papua New Guinea were started from Cape York in Northern Queensland.

Australia was often used as a base for South Seas missionaries on furlough, and the apparatus of the Australian Independent Church organisation could be used to support the LMS. Certainly many missionaries settled in Australia and were active in founding Independent churches in Australia and New Zealand. In 1883 the post of Agent was authorised to recommend Australian candidates for missionary service to the Board in Britain. By 1895, eleven LMS missionaries came from Australia, and two from New Zealand, and there were nine established auxiliaries. From 1895 onwards auxiliaries in Australia and New Zealand met for 'inter-colonial conferences'. In 1890 the Society established the full time post of Australasian Agent, and in 1907 the Australian Presidents of Auxiliaries became ex-officio Directors of the Society - so increasing the link with the LMS Board. In 1919 the Australia and New Zealand Committee (ANZC) was set up, which carried out administration work in Papua New Guinea in addition to the work carried out by the Sydney Agency. ANZC had its own full-time LMS Board appointed Secretary, and members held the status of Directors of the LMS.

The role of the LMS and its activities in Australia and New Zealand was supporting and administrative, rather than directly carrying out missionary work.


Material is arranged into the following classes: Incoming correspondence (1798-1927), which includes mention of the missions to Tahiti and the South Seas; Incoming/outgoing correspondence (1928-1940); Correspondence (1941-1968); Journals (1800-1842); Subject files (1919-1963), and Odds (miscellaneous materials). There is also a small amount of photographic material connected to the work of the Colonial Missionary Society [later Commonwealth Missionary Society) in Australia.

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Related Material

See also South Seas and Papua New Guinea materials.