Ellis, William (1794-1872) and Mary Mercy [Moor] (1793-1835)

London Missionary Society (LMS) missionaries to Polynesia

Born in England, William and Mary Mercy Ellis went to Tahiti in 1817 as part of a new group of highly educated workers sent out by the LMS. They brought with them the first press and set it up in Moorea. They soon moved to Huahine, where William Ellis helped draft the code of laws. In 1822 a visiting LMS deputation took him with them to Hawaii and in 1823 he and Mary moved there. They were both influential in royal circles and helped in organizing the Hawaiian church. Because of Mary’s health they returned to England in 1824, but William continued his service to Polynesia by writing his carefully collected observations, which have continued to be an important source of information. In 1832 he began a decade of service as foreign secretary of the LMS.

When the persecutions in Madagascar were drawing to a close, William Ellis was asked by the LMS to negotiate with the Malagasy court about the return of missionaries and freedom for Christianity. He made three trips to the island in 1853, 1856, and 1862, on the first of which he was rebuffed. On the others he was able to guide the reestablishment of the Malagasy church, and by his writings he stirred the churches of England to a great interest in that island. His wisdom and experience made him one of the most influential missionary statesmen of his time.

Charles W. Forman, “Ellis, William and Mary Mercy (Moor),” in Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, ed. Gerald H. Anderson (New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 1998), 198-9.

This article is reprinted from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, Macmillan Reference USA, copyright © 1998 Gerald H. Anderson, by permission of Macmillan Reference USA, New York, NY. All rights reserved.

Bibliography

Digital Texts


Ellis, William. A Journal of a Tour Around Hawaii, the Largest of the Sandwich Islands. By a Deputation from the Mission on Those Islands. Boston; New York: Crocker & Brewster; John P. Haven, 1825.

_____. Polynesian Researches, During a Residence of Nearly Eight Years in the Society and Sandwich Islands. 4 vols. New York: J. & J. Harper, 1829-1833. Volume 1. Second Edition, Enlarged and Improved. London: Fisher, Son & Jackson, 1831.

Volume 2.

Volume 3. Second Edition, Enlarged and Improved. London: Fisher, Son & Jackson, 1838.

Volume 4.

_____. A Vindication of the South Seas Missions from the Misrepresentations of Otto von Kotzebue, Captain in the Russian Navy. London: Frederick Westley and A. H. Davis, 1831.

_____. Memoir of Mrs. Mary M. Ellis, Wife of the Rev. William Ellis, Missionary to the South Seas and Foreign Secretary of the London Missionary Society. Including Notices of Heathen Society, of the Details of Missionary Life, and the Remarkable Display of Divine Goodness in Severe and Protracted Afflictions. With an Introductory Essay on the Marriage of Missionaries by Rev. R. Anderson. Boston; New York: Crocker & Brewster; Leavitt, Lord & Co., 1835.

_____. History of Madagascar. Comprising Also the Progress of the Christian Mission Established in 1818, and an Authentic Account of the Persecution and Recent Martyrdom of the Native Christians. Comp. Chiefly from Original Documents, by the Rev. William Ellis. London: Fisher, Son, & Co., [1838].

_____. History of the London Missionary Society, Comprising an Account of the Origin of the Society; Biographical Notices of Some of its Founders and Missionaries; With a Record of its Progress at Home and its Operations Abroad. London: John Snow, 1844.

_____. Three Visits to Madagascar During the Years 1853–1854–1856, Including a Journey to the Capital; With Notices of the Natural History of the Country and of the Present Civilization of the People. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1858.

_____. The American Mission in the Sandwich Islands: A Vindication and an Appeal, in Relation to the Proceedings of the Reformed Catholic Mission at Honolulu. Honolulu: H. M. Whitney, 1866.

_____. Madagascar Revisited, Describing the Events of a New Reign and the Revolution Which Followed; Setting Forth Also the Persecutions Endured by the Christians, and Their Heroic Sufferings, With Notices of the Present State and Prospect of the People. London: John Murray, 1867.

_____. The Martyr Church: A Narrative of the Introduction, Progress, and Triumph of Christianity in Madagascar, With Notices of Personal Intercourse and Travel in the Island. London: John Snow and Co., 1869.

_____. Journal of William Ellis. A Narrative of a Tour Through Hawaii, or Owhyhee; With Remarks on the History, Traditions, Manners, Customs, and Languages of the Inhabitants of the Sandwich Islands. Honolulu: Hawaiian Gazette Co., Ltd., 1917. Reprint of 1827 London edition.

Ellis, John Eimeo and Henry Allon. Life of William Ellis, Missionary to the South Seas and to Madagascar. London: John Murray, 1873.

Primary


Ellis, William. A Journal of a Tour Around Hawaii, the Largest of the Sandwich Islands. By a Deputation from the Mission on Those Islands. Boston; New York: Crocker & Brewster; John P. Haven, 1825.

_____. Faithful Unto Death: The Story of the Founding and Preservation of the Martyr Church of Madagascar. London: Snow, 1876.

Secondary


Ellis, John Eimeo and Henry Allon. Life of William Ellis, Missionary to the South Seas and to Madagascar. London: John Murray, 1873.

Portraits


William Ellis.  Entry in Wikipedia.

Mary Mercy Ellis.

Ellis, William. Memoir of Mrs. Mary M. Ellis, Wife of the Rev. William Ellis, Missionary to the South Seas and Foreign Secretary of the London Missionary Society Including Notices of Heathen Society, of the Details of Missionary Life, and the Remarkable Display of Divine Goodness in Severe and Protracted Afflictions. With an Introductory Essay on the Marriage of Missionaries by Rev. R. Anderson. Boston; New York: Crocker & Brewster; Leavitt, Lord & Co., 1835. Opposite title page.