John Coleridge Patteson

1827-1871. First missionary bishop of the Church of England in Melanesia. Educated at Eton and at Balliol College, Oxford, he became a fellow of Merton College and held a curacy in Devon. He was persuaded by G.A. Selwyn,* bishop of New Zealand, to go out to Melanesia as a missionary in 1855. In 1856 he made his first journey to Melansia to encourage boys to return with him to study at the college Selwyn had set up first at Auckland and later on Norfolk Island. The training given by Patteson and his ability to acquire the many languages of the islands provided a strong basis for the mission. In 1861 he was consecrated bishop of Melanesia and traveled constantly, supporting his English and native workers. On the main island of Mota he saw the conversion of most of the population. His work was often made dangerous by the activities of white traders, known as “black birders,” who forcibly took natives to labor in Australia. In September 1871, unaware of a recent outrage by these traders, he landed on the island of Nukapu and was speared to death.