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Kemp, John Theodosius Van Der

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0102 CWM/LMS Africa Personal Box 9
Held at: School of Oriental and African Studies
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Full title: Kemp, John Theodosius Van Der
Date(s): 1573, 1763-1932
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 1 box
Name of creator(s): Kemp | John Theodosius | Van Der | 1747-1811 | Dutch missionary


Administrative/Biographical history:

Born in Rotterdam (Netherlands), 1747; served as an army officer; studied medicine at Leyden and Edinburgh; received his degree, MD, University of Edinburgh, 1782; practised as a physician in Zealand, 1782-1795; his conversion followed the drowning of his wife and only child in a boating accident, 1791; came into contact with the Moravian Brethren at Zeist and heard of the newly-founded London Missionary Society (LMS); appointed LMS missionary to South Africa and ordained in London, 1797; helped to found the Netherlands Missionary Society; embarked for South Africa, 1798; arrived in Cape Town, 1799; ministered among the Xhosa for two years; to Graaff Reinet, 1801; ministered to the Khoikhoi (Hottentots); moved with the first Khoikhoi congregation to Botha's Farm, near Algoa Bay, 1802; founded a mission station at Bethelsdorp, 1803; his marriage to a young Malagasy convert who he had redeemed from slavery, Sara Janse, was considered shocking, 1807; composed a hymn celebrating the abolition of the slave trade, 1807; also wrote a commentary on Romans xiii-xvi and a midwifery textbook for use at Bethelsdorp; an opponent of slavery and advocate of the rights of the indigenous population, Van Der Kemp was unpopular with the majority of Europeans in the Cape Colony; planned to found a mission in Madagascar but died at Cape Town while carrying out the arrangements, 1811; a pioneer of LMS work in South Africa, he was to have become superintendent of its missions there. Publications: Principles of the Word of God for the Hottentot Mission (1804); Memoirs of the Rev J T Vanderkemp MD (1813).


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers, 1573, 1763-1932, of and relating to John Theodosius Van Der Kemp, comprising pages from his diary, 1763-1791; list of patients in a Dutch military hospital, 1793-1794; miscellaneous papers, 1801-1804; correspondence, 1802-1811, the subjects including missionaries, supplies, travel, and colonial policy and administration; various undated manuscripts in his hand, including medical notes and notes for sermons; his Bible (1573), comprising the Old Testament in Hebrew and New Testament in Greek; papers relating to his family, 1816-1817, 1849, including financial affairs; miscellaneous papers on Van Der Kemp and Bethelsdorp, 1826 and undated; a manuscript on the conversion and call of Van Der Kemp to missionary work and his voyage to the Cape [early 19th century]; manuscript copy of his autobiography, apparently translated by F G Hooper, 1820; a manuscript précis and extracts from his autobiography [early 19th century]; correspondence and papers, 1921-1932 and undated, on Van Der Kemp, relating especially to A D Martin's biography Doctor Vanderkemp, and including press cuttings and a photograph of his grave.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:
English, Dutch, Latin, Greek, Hebrew

System of arrangement:

Conditions governing access:


Conditions governing reproduction:

No publication without written permission. Apply to archivist in the first instance.

Finding aids:

Unpublished handlist; detailed typescript list stored with the material.

Archival Information

Archival history:

The papers were deposited with the London Missionary Society and form part of the special series of personal papers of individual LMS missionaries and officers. Some of Van Der Kemp's papers were destroyed by fire before 1855. At that date a selection of the surviving papers passed from his widow to the Rev William Ellis (1794-1872) of the LMS. Others were acquired later.

Immediate source of acquisition:

Deposited on permanent loan with the records of the London Missionary Society by the Congregational Council for World Mission (later Council for World Mission) in 1973.

Allied Materials

Related material:

The School of Oriental and African Studies holds the records of the London Missionary Society (Ref: CWM/LMS), including correspondence of J T Van Der Kemp before he went to South Africa (Ref: CWM/LMS Europe Incoming Correspondence); his journal, 1798-1799, from his voyage on board the convict ship, the Hillsborough (bound for Botany Bay), from Portsmouth to Cape Town via Madeira and the Canary Islands (Ref: CWM/LMS South Africa Journals Box 1 File 1); a print, an engraving, and a photograph of a painting of J T Van Der Kemp (Ref: CWM/LMS General Portraits Box 6).

Publication note:

Description Notes

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); LMS Register of Missionaries, ed James Sibree.

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
Feb 2002

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