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John Gibson Paton

1824-1907. Pioneer Presbyterian missionary in the New Hebrides. He was born in Kirkmahoe, near Dumfries in Scotland. He was educated at the University of Glasgow and studied theology at the divinity hall of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Scotland. During 1847-57 he was a city missionary in Glasgow. At the end of this period he was ordained by his church as a missionary to the New Hebrides. He and his wife left Glasgow in 1858 for the island of Aneityum in the New Hebrides and subsequently became the pioneer missionaries on the island of Tanna. His wife died in childbirth in 1859. Paton was in almost daily danger of his life and was forced to leave the island in 1862. He became a traveling ambassador for the New Hebrides mission. In Scotland in 1864 he secured more recruits and remarried. In 1866 he moved to the island of Aniwa and saw the conversion of most of the islanders. After many years of hard labor on the islands, in the 1880s he made Melbourne in Australia his headquarters for work to support the mission. Until his death he traveled the world for the mission. At the Ecumenical Missionary Conference in 1900 at New York he was hailed as a great missionary leader. His autobiography (1889) published by his brother was an effective way of gaining support for the mission.