# 21669

ORTON, Joseph Rennard (1795-1842); HENRY, Samuel

Autograph letter signed by Joseph Orton to the secretaries of the Wesleyan Missionary Society concerning a plan proposed by the merchant Samuel Henry to improve contact between missionary stations in the South Seas, 1832.

Bifolium, manuscript ink on paper, [2] pages, signed by Samuel Henry, addressed to Joseph Orton, dated 15 August 1832; following an autograph letter, [1 1/2] pages, signed by Joseph Orton, addressed to the secretaries of the Wesleyan Missionary Society, dated 7 September 1832; verso of second leaf of bifolium with penned address panel, postal stamps and red wax seal; a few small marginal tears, some minor foxing, old folds; otherwise in good condition.

Written from Sydney on 7 September 1832, the letter by Wesleyan missionary Joseph Orton (1795-1842) advises the Wesleyan Missionary Society in London on a plan proposed by the Tahiti-based merchant Samuel Henry for a system to improve communications and contact between the missionary stations in the South Seas. On the same bifolium, penned before Orton’s own autograph letter, is an additional letter in Henry’s hand outlining his proposal to arrange for a vessel to visit all the missionary stations in the South Seas each year, for a term of five years. The proposed route was to start from Sydney and thence continue to New Zealand, the Friendly Islands, the Society ‘and adjacent islands’. In his letter, Orton offers his enthusiastic support for Henry’s proposal, commenting on the difficulties surrounding the communication and contact between the South Sea missionary stations: ‘you are no doubt aware … that considerable inconvenience has been and continues to be endured on account of the infrequent opportunities offering to convey supplies and other communications to and fro…’

Born in Tahiti, Samuel Henry, son of the Irish missionary William Henry, is known to have been an adventurous and pioneering trader, having organised the first sandalwood expedition to Erromanga in the Vanuatu peninsula in 1829. He may have been the first European to set foot on the Isle of Pines in New Caledonia.

Joseph Rennard Orton, born in Hull, entered the Wesleyan ministry in 1826 and was first posted to Jamaica before being posted to Australia in 1831. He was responsible for overseeing the spread of Methodism in Australia and is remembered in particular for his attempts to protect the native Aboriginal population, writing a pamphlet entitled Aborigines of Australia (1836). (For a more detailed sketch of Orton’s activities in Australia, see the ADB online).