James Chalmers

James Chalmers (1841-1901), London Missionary Society (LMS) missionary in British New Guinea from 1877-1901. In 1865 he was ordained a minister of the Congregational Church in his native Scotland. In 1877, after working in Cook Island missions for ten years, Chalmers moved to the Port Moresby station in PNG. Between 1877 and 1886 he traveled extensively on the coast, particularly in the southeast, organizing LMS activities and recording the customs of the people. He explored areas which had not been contacted by Europeans. His experience contributed to the establishment of the British colonial Administration in 1884. In 1887 he began work at the Motumotu station, near the Lakekamu River, west of Port Moresby, and developed LMS activities in the Gulf of Papua region.

Chalmers believed that the mission should provide secular as well as religious instruction and teach the English language. In 1892 he set up headquarters on Saguane Island near the mouth of the Fly River. He established stations along the coast, guided and supported the teachers he introduced, and maintained close contact with the people. In 1900 he was joined by the Rev. Oliver Tomkins. In 1901, against advice from fellow missionaries and Administration officials, he and Tomkins visited Goaribari Island in the Gulf of Papua. When they landed at the village of Dopima on 8 April, they and the ten Papuans who had accompanied them, were killed by the local people. The colonial Administrator, Sir George Le Hunte, led a punitive expedition against the Goaribari in May 1901.

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