1838: Wesleyan Methodist Missionary James Calvert arrives in Fiji

James Calvert  1813-1892 , missionary married to Mary Calvert 1814-1882,. nee Fowler was born in Pickering, Yorkshire, England, 1813; a printer, bookbinder, and bookseller; while ill, a mystical experience drew him to missionary work. In 1831 he completed his studies at the Wesleyan Theological Institution, Hoxton, 1837; married Mary Fowler (1814-1882) and, with his wife and his friend John Hunt, sailed to Fiji for the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society.

1838-1856 worked at Rewa and Lakeba; He then returned to England to oversee publication of the Fijian Bible, 1856; returned to Fiji, 1857; returned to England, 1866; served as a missionary in South Africa, 1872-1880; minister at City Road, London, 1881; Croydon, 1882; went to Fiji for the mission jubilee, 1885; toured Australia and America on behalf of the mission; retired to England; minister at Finsbury Park, 1887; continued to revise the Fijian Bible; died at Hastings, 1892.

Publications: Copy of a Letter addressed to the Rev Dr Hannah … on the death of the Rev John Hunt [1849]; ‘Mission History’, in Thomas Williams, Wesleyan Missionary: Fiji and the Fijians, vol 2, ed George Stringer Rowe (1858); edited: John Hunt’s Entire Sanctification (1853); John Hunt’s translation of the New Testament into Fijian, Ai Vola ni Veiyalayalati Vou ni noda turaga kei na nodai vakabula ko Jisu Kraisiti (1853); David Hazlewood’s A Feejeean and English dictionary (2nd edition [1872]).

Custodial history: The papers were deposited with the Methodist Missionary Society and form part of the special series of biographical papers of individual missionaries.
Immediate source of acquisition: Deposited on permanent loan with the records of the Methodist Missionary Society from 1978.

Scope and content/abstract: Papers, 1837-1910s, of James Calvert and his wife Mary, including James Calvert’s journals, 1838-1886 (some gaps), including his experiences in Fiji and South Africa; Mary Calvert’s journal, 1863-1866; certificates, 1838, including those for ordination and marriage; personal and family papers, 1839-1887, including baptismal certificates, 1839-1846, photographs of children, and poems; correspondence of James and Mary Calvert, 1837-1892, the correspondents including John Hunt and other ministers, and members of the Calvert and Fowler families; memoranda books on missionary conferences in Adelaide, 1866, Grahamstown, 1873, 1880, and Bloemfontein, 1874; printed proceedings of conferences at Pietermaritzburg, 1877, and Natal, 1878; manuscript notes and addresses, 1830s-1890s, including autobiographical notes, sermons, and anecdotes of mission life; c30 bills, 1870-1890; press cuttings and articles by or about Calvert, 1840s-1910s.

Conditions governing access: Unrestricted, but only to be viewed on microfiche. Originals to be consulted only with written agreement from the Methodist Church.

Conditions governing reproduction: No publication without written permission. Apply to archivist in the first instance.

Related material: The School of Oriental and African Studies holds the records of the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society (Ref: MMS/WMMS), including letters from James Calvert (Ref: MMS/WMMS Australasia Correspondence Fiji).

Copies: Published on microfiche by IDC Publishers (SOAS ref: Fiche Box Number Special Series 33-5). Microfilm in the Mitchell Library, Sydney, Australia.
Archivist’s note: Compiled by Rachel Kemsley as part of the RSLP AIM25 project. Sources: Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, ed Gerald H Anderson (1998); Alphabetical Arrangement of Wesleyan Methodist Ministers (1888); Wesleyan Methodist Church Minutes of Conference (1892), pp 30-2; British Library OPAC.
Reference code(s): GB 0102 MMS Boxes 645-648  Held at: School of Oriental and African Studies Library
Date(s) of descriptions: Mar 2002

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