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Newell, James Edward

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0102 CWM/LMS South Seas Special Personal Boxes 1-16
Held at: School of Oriental and African Studies
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Full title: Newell, James Edward
Date(s): 1850s-1947
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 16 boxes
Name of creator(s): Newell | James Edward | 1852-1910 | missionary


Administrative/Biographical history:

Born in Bradford, Yorkshire, England, 1852; trained at Lancashire Congregational College; appointed London Missionary Society (LMS) missionary to Savai'i, Samoa, was ordained in Farnworth, married Elizabeth Emma Sidlow (d 1882), and sailed for the South Pacific, 1880; arrived and began his service at Matautu, Samoa, 1881; sailed to Sydney, 1883; married Honor Jane Gill (1857-1922; daughter of the LMS missionary in the Cook Islands, W W Gill) in Sydney, 1884; sailed frequently on the mission ship the John Williams III to place and visit students in Tokelau, Niue, Tuvalu, Kiribati, and Papua; visited the mission outstations, 1885; served at the Malau seminary on Upolu, which trained pastors and teachers for Samoa and for missionary service within Oceania, from 1887; visited England, 1891-1893; visited the outstations, 1894, 1896; mediated between Samoans and contending colonial powers, 1898-1899; an expert on Samoan law and custom; edited the Christian magazine Sulu (Torch) and guided formation of the council of elders (Au Toeaina) - the Samoan presbytery, nucleus of the future self-government of the Samoan church; when Western Samoa became a German colony (1900), his knowledge qualified him as LMS adviser and negotiator with the governor Wilhelm Solf; visited England, 1901-1902; improved his German and visited missionary societies in Germany to recruit German-speaking staff for Samoa, 1902; persuaded the Samoan orator-chief and deacon of the church, Lauaki Mamoe of Savai'i, of the inadvisability of a revolt against Germany, 1908; with August Hanke, a leader in the Rhenish (Barmen) mission, planned to send Samoan LMS missionaries to the Madang field of German New Guinea, and following the World Missionary Conference in Edinburgh went to Barmen to make arrangements, but died of pneumonia at GŁtersloh, Germany, 1910.


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers, 1850s-1947, of and relating to James Edward Newell, comprising diaries, 1870-1887, 1891-1892, 1898-1908, describing his life and activities, including life in Samoa; correspondence, c1880-1910, including letters received and letterbooks containing copies of outgoing letters; notes by Newell, 1870s-1900s, including various notebooks and commonplace books, and his recollections of Robert Louis Stevenson; sermon notes; typescript and manuscript mission reports, 1880s-1900s; printed and manuscript papers, 1880s-1900s, including talks and articles by Newell and others, relating to Samoan life, culture and anthropology, and missionary work, also including various printed proclamations and the Samoan constitution; press cuttings, 1850s-1900s, on Samoa, including colonial politics, on missionary affairs, and on Newell himself; copies of the newspaper Samoanische Zeitung, 1907; papers relating to Newell, 1910-1947, including manuscript notes, reminiscences, press cuttings, and a photograph of his grave in GŁtersloh.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:
English, Samoan and German

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.

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.

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 letters from individual missionaries, among them Newell (Ref: CWM/LMS South Seas Incoming Correspondence); his candidate's papers (Ref: CWM/LMS Candidates' Papers Box 12 No 33); his LMS journals, describing his visits to the outstations of the Samoan mission, 1885, 1894, 1896 (Ref: CWM/LMS South Seas Journals Box 12 Files 188, 194, 196); his reports from Samoa, 1886-1909 (Ref: CWM/LMS South Seas Reports Boxes 2-6 passim); a letter from Newell to Talbot Wilson, 1900 (Ref: CWM/LMS South Seas Personal Box 5/2); photographic portraits of Newell, one with his wife Elizabeth (Ref: CWM/LMS General Portraits Box 4); photographs of Newell and his mission work in Samoa (Ref: CWM/LMS South Seas Photographs Box 1).

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:
Mar 2002

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