Collection MS 1386 - Journal, research notes and correspondence from the New Hebrides.

PMB MS 1386 Finding Aid

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AU PMB MS 1386


Journal, research notes and correspondence from the New Hebrides.


  • 1858-1891 (Creation)

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1 reel; 35mm microfilm

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Rev. Dr. John Gibson Paton (24 May 1824 – 28 Jan 1907), born in Scotland, was a Protestant missionary ot the New Hebrides (Vanuatu). He was the eldest of 11 children of James and Janet Paton.
Paton grew up in Dumfriesshire in Scotland and later studied theology and medical studies in Glasgow. On 23 March 1858 Paton was ordained by the Reformed Presbyterian Church. On 2 April 1858 Paton married Mary Ann Robson and 14 days later, on 16 April, they set sail for the South Pacific.
Rev. John G Paton and Mary Paton landed on Tanna, in the southern part of the New Hebrides on 5 November 1858 and built a small house at Port Resolution. Three months after their arrival, their first son, Peter Robert Robson was born on 12 February 1859. Just 19 days after, Mary Paton died from tropical fever. Young baby Peter died soon after at just 36 days of age.
Paton worked on the island of Tanna and later Aneityum.

From Aneityum, Rev. John G Paton travelled to Australia in 1862 and then Scotland to address meetings and raise funds in aid of the mission. He inspired hundreds of other missionaries to take up the cause of Christianity. Whilst in Scotland, Rev. John G Paton married Margaret (Maggie) Whitecross on 17 June 1864. Rev. John G Paton and Maggie arrived back in the New Hebrides in August 1866 and established a new Mission station on Aniwa Island, near to Tanna. They lived in a small hut whilst they built a house for themselves and two houses for orphan children. Later, a church, printing house and other buildings were erected. Maggie Paton bore 10 children on the island of Aniwa, 4 of whom died in early childhood or infancy. Their fourth son, Frank Hume Lyall Paton, later followed them as a missionary in the New Hebrides. Another son, Rev. Frederick James Paton (1867-1941) was also a Presbyterian missionary on Malekula Island in the New Hebrides. Rev. John G Paton learned the local language and later translated the New Testament into the Aniwan language. Maggie Paton taught women and girls craft, singing and reading. Both Rev. John G Paton and Maggie Paton trained native teachers who were later sent to the villages to preach the gospel, translated, printed and taught the Scriptures, ministered to the sick and dying, taught the practical use of tools and held worship services. In 1899 Rev. G Paton saw his Aniwa New Testament printed and the establishment of missionaries on twenty five of the Southern New Hebrides. Paton continued to tour Australia, New Zealand, Britain and the United States in mission interests, and later in life he became involved in the debate on the future of the New Hebrides.
Maggie Paton died at the age of 64 on 16 May 1905 in Kew, Victoria, Australia. Rev. John G Paton died at the age of 82 on 28 January 1907 in Canterbury, Victoria, Australia.

Research notes.
Notes titled “Last days of Tanna”.

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Ms Isobel Paton, Victoria.

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