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John Coleridge Patteson was an English Anglican bishop and martyr. He is commemorated in the Church of England on 20 September. On 25 September 1853 he was made deacon and curate of Alphington, Devon, and on 24 September 1854 was ordained priest at Exeter Cathedral.On a visit in the summer of 1854, George Augustus Selwyn, the first Bishop of New Zealand, persuaded Patteson to become a missionary to the South Seas. In March 1855 Patteson sailed in the Duke of Portland and arrived at Auckland in July. For five years he toured the islands on the ship Southern Cross,and ran the Melanesian Mission's summer school at Kohimarama, Auckland. He also founded a college for boys on Norfolk Island. On 24 February 1861 at Auckland he was consecrated first Bishop of Melanesia. It was not an easy calling: the islands were scattered over 1,800 miles of ocean, and he was not always welcomed. Usually his gentle, quiet manner reassured them, but not always. Once when he and his assistants were about to leave Santa Cruz, they were attacked and both assistants, despite Coley’s best attempts to nurse them, died from the wounds they received from the poisoned arrowsPatteson left England with the bishop in March 1855, and landed at Auckland in May.A brilliant linguist, he later spoke twenty-three of the many Melanesian languages: he printed grammars and vocabularies and translated some gospels into the Mota dialect.Patteson's aim was to take boys from local communities, educate them in western Christian culture and return them to their communities. Persuading local people to allow their young men to depart – sometimes for years – was his principal problem. Patteson never tried to make the Melanesians British. His most brilliant scholar Edward Wogala wrote of him: "He did not live apart, he was always friends with us and did not despise in the least a single one of us." And so he won all their hearts and his name is still handed down from father to son and scores of young Melanesians are still given it at Baptism. On 20 September 1871 he was murdered on the island of Nukapu in the Solomon Islands, where he had landed alone. The explanation of his death at the time was that natives killed him as revenge for the abduction of some natives by illegal labour recruiters months earlier. These recruiters, known as "blackbirders", were considered to be virtually slave traders by members of the mission, as they enticed or abducted youths to work on plantations.
Lecture on the Melanesian Mission, by the Reverend R.H. Codrington, M.A. together with the Report and accounts of the mission / Report by Bishop John Coleridge Patteson, 1863
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