In 1844 The Missionary barque John Williams “with missionary stores (and) Passengers for Sydney—Mrs Allen, Mr Want and Mr Udny. For the Society Islands—Miss Barff, and Miss Credland. For Harvey’s Islands—Mr George Gill and Mrs Gill. For the Samoan Islands—Rev Thomas Heath, Rev J P Sunderland, Mrs Sunderland, Rev T Powell, Mrs Powell, Mrs Gibson and child, a native of the Samoan Islands and one of Harvey Islands.
It will be remembered by most of our readers, that the expense of building this fine vessel was raised by subscription by children attending Sunday schools in England. Reports it had reached Sydney of her being a superior vessel, and upon inspection she exceeds what was anticipated. She was launched at Harwich on 20th March 1844 in the presence of a vast concourse of people, notwithstanding the morning was very wet and cold. The children and teachers of the Sabbath school in connexion with the Wesleyan congregation of the town were also present.
From Harwich the John Williams was taken to London to be fitted out, where the young ladies of Wycliffe Chapel presented Captain Morgan with a handsome flag, bearing the name of the ship, and the dove bearing an olive branch, as an emblem of peace. The dimensions of the vessel are 103 feet over all, 24 feet 8 inches in breadth and 16 feet depth of hold, the measurement of her being 296 tons. Her saloon is lofty and spacious, and she has also ten large State-rooms, which are commodiously fitted up. She is a very fast sailer, and her rigging, spars, sails, boats of the very best description. This is the third ship which the Missionary Society has had.
The first was the Duff – Captain James Wilson, which sailed from England for the South Sea Islands in August 1796. On board her were twenty-nine Missionaries, some of whom were married, and had large families; they arrived in Tahiti in the following March, where eighteen were landed, and the remainder were taken on to Tongataboo. The Duff returned to England by the way of Canton in 1798 and left again with about the same number of Missionaries in December of that year, when she was captured by a French privatee called the Buonaparte, in February 1799 off South America. After the capture of this vessel the Society had none of their own until 1838; the schooner Messenger of Peace, built at Raratonga in 1827, having belonged to Mr Williams; and when the news of her loss reached England, the directors of the Missionary Society resolved on purchasing a ship entirely for the use of their missions in the South Seas. A subscription was raised for this purpose to the amount of £4000, with which the brig Camden was bought, and fitted out in 1838, at an expense of £250 extra. After being actively engaged for five years in these seas, she returned to England, and being considered too small for the purposes required, was sold. It was then resolved to obtain a larger one, and for that purpose, an appeal was made to the juvenile friends of the Society, by whom £6237 were paid to the Treasurer. With that sum the John Williams has been bought and fitted out”. United Service Gazette.