Guide to the Papers of Reverend John Walcot Blencowe (as filmed by the AJCP)



National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record

Created: 2018

Collection Summary

Blencowe, John Walcot, Reverend
Papers of Reverend John Walcot Blencowe (as filmed by the AJCP)
Date Range
1908 - 1932
Collection Number
48 items
Language of Materials
Australian Joint Copying Project
The Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP) online portal was created with the assistance of the Australian Public Service Modernisation Fund, 2017-2020. The National Library of Australia gratefully acknowledges the contribution of the other foundation AJCP partners, the State Library of New South Wales and The National Archives of the UK, and all other organisations which supported the work of the AJCP, the world's most extensive collaborative copying project, operating from 1948 to 1997.


Scope and Contents

Includes: correspondence comprising 24 letters 1909-11 from Blencowe to his parents five letters 1908-13 to Blencowe and his father, 16 letters 1910-15 in the Melanesian language; Two notebooks containing brief entries May-October 1910 arranged by village and a Mota-English vocabulary arranged alphabetically; miscellaneous documents including a list of the voyages made by Blencowe 1909-18, a printed list of Melanesian Mission personnel 1911, a report headed 'Conversations with J.W. Blencowe 26 June 1932', six drafts for speeches and letters, printed map of the Santa Cruz group of islands and newspaper cuttings about HMS Torch and HMS Mongolia; printed material comprising: Thoughts We All Share by the Rev. John Walcot Blencowe (99 p.); Home Letters by Guy F. Bury, addendum by J.W. Blencowe; My Last Voyage by Bishop Cecil Wilson, describing a journey in 1911 around the islands of Melanesia; photographs, mainly by J.W. Beattie of Hobart, of Melanesian Mission personnel, islanders and their dwellings, boats, churches, in the New Hebrides, Solomon, Torres and Banks Islands, San Cristobal, Santa Cruz and Norfolk Island.

Conditions Governing Access

Available for access.

Conditions Governing Use

Many of the records digitised as part of the AJCP are still in copyright. Readers wishing to publish or reproduce documents should seek permission, in the first instance, from the owner of the original material.

Preferred Citation

Acknowledgement of use of this material should refer to the location of the original material and to the Australian Joint Copying Project.

Items from this collection should include references to the location of the original material and to the AJCP nla.obj number, which serves as the online identifier for the digital copy.

Example: M Series: Journal of Capt. James Cook, 18 February-23 September 1770, British Library Add. MS 27885 (AJCP ref:

Archival History

Filmed at the private residence of Mrs Monica Blencowe, Sussex, as part of the Australian Joint Copying Project, 1971. (AJCP reel M824). Original microfilm digitised as part of the NLA AJCP Online Delivery Project, 2017-2020.

Existence and Location of Originals

The private residence of Mrs Monica Blencowe, Sussex, England.

Existence and Location of Copies

The original AJCP microfilm of the records filmed from this collection is available at the National Library of Australia [] as well as other institutions holding AJCP microfilm.

Finding Aid Note

This finding aid is a revised online version of the original finding aid prepared by the Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP), published by the National Library of Australia in 2018. The original AJCP finding aids were unpublished typescripts or photocopies available from libraries that held copies of the original microfilm.

Dates used in this finding aid refer to the date range of the records selected for filming rather than to the date range of the Series or Files.

Advisory Statement

Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that this Finding Aid contains material and descriptive information which may be considered culturally sensitive and may cause distress, including names and images of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people now deceased. This Finding Aid contains terms that reflect authors' views or those of the historical period, but which may not be considered appropriate today. While the information may not reflect current understanding, it is provided in an historical context.


Australia: visits to; Melanesian Mission; New Zealand; Norfolk Island; SS Moldavia; SS Mongolia; Santa Cruz; Solomon Islands; SS Southern Cross


Originally cited in Australian Joint Copying Project Handbook. Part 8: Miscellaneous (M) Series. Third Edition, published 1998. Entry number 41, page 14.

Biographical / Historical

(1886-1964) Missionary and schoolteacher, attached to the Melanesian Mission 1909-12. Ordained in 1913 and was an army chaplain during World War I. Guy F. Bury went to Norfolk Island in 1911 to work as a missionary, but died shortly after his arrival.

Item Descriptions

Series. Published works

3 items

J.W. Blencowe. Thoughts we all share. Guildford, Seven Corners Press (98pp), n.d. (File)

Guy F. Bury. Home letters, with addendum by J.W. Blencowe (23pp), n.d. (File)

Bishop Cecil Wilson. My last voyage, London, Melanesian Mission (25pp), n.d. (File)

Series. Manuscripts, May 1910 - October 1910

2 items

Notebook kept by Blencowe with brief entries arranged by village. (160pp), May 1910 - October 1910 (File)

Notebook of Blencowe comprising a Mota-English vocabulary (24pp) (File)

Series. Correspondence, 1908 - 1915

30 items

Blencowe (SS Moldavia) to his mother Sophia Blencowe, 19 Jan. [1909] (File)

Voyage from England; visit to Gibraltar.

Blencowe (Fremantle) to Sophia Blencowe, 15 Feb. [1909] (File)

Voyage; visit to Colombo; lack of news about England.

Blencowe (Adelaide) to Sophia Blencowe, [Feb. 1909] (File)

Visit to Perth; voyage across Great Australian Bight.

Blencowe (Sydney) to Sophia Blencowe, 28 Feb. [1909] (File)

Visit to Melbourne and Sydney; Sydney Harbour; 'Australian children are hideous and very forward'; fondness of Australians for spitting; imminent departure for Norfolk Island.

Blencowe (Norfolk Island) to Sophia Blencowe, 4 April [1909] (File)

Little spare time; learning the language; work with Melanesians on a farm; the heat; fleas; news from England.

Blencowe (Norfolk Island) to his father Canon A.E. Blencowe, [11 April 1909] (File)

Hopes of working at Santa Cruz; lack of translations; hopes of translating Mota Bible; no white men at Santa Cruz; harsh treatment of Islanders by traders; infrequency of posts.

Blencowe (Norfolk Island) to Sophia Blencowe, 30 April [1909] (File)

Departure of Bishop and six others; progress in learning language; his work on Norfolk Island; Bishop J.C. Patteson's old house; a recent crime.

Blencowe (Marseilles) to Canon A.E. Blencowe, 3 February 1910 (File)

Waiting for embarkation on SS Mongolia.

Blencowe (SS Mongolia, Red Sea) to Canon A.E. Blencowe, 13 February 1910 (File)

Heavy seas; friends to visit on his way through Australia.

Blencowe (SS Mongolia) to Sophia Blencowe, 27 Feb. [1910] (File)

Approaching Fremantle; weather; suicide of an Indian prince.

Blencowe (Auckland) to Canon A.E. Blencowe, 22 March 1910 (File)

Proposed posting to Santa Cruz; Bishop Cecil Wilson; resignation of Archdeacon T.C. Cullwick of Norfolk Island.

Blencowe (SS Southern Cross) to Sophia Blencowe, [25 March 1910] (File)

Voyage to Vila and Raga.

J.W. Blencowe (Auckland) to Canon A.E. Blencowe, 7 April [1910] (File)

About to leave for Norfolk Island and then Santa Cruz for six months; H. Drummond to accompany him; financial matters.

Blencowe (Pileni) to Sophia Blencowe, 16 May - 1 June [1910] (File)

Life on Pileni; daily routine; sermon in Mota; most of inhabitants come to Church; only one white man on twenty islands; tour of all Reef Islands. (incomplete)

Blencowe (Santa Cruz) to Canon A.E. Blencowe, 19 June [1910] (File)

Late arrival of Southern Cross; his pessimism concerning large number of islanders who have been trained to teach but who do not practise it after they leave Norfolk Island; limited power of chiefs; cases of immorality by Norfolk Island boys; diocese may be split in two and mission at Norfolk Island closed; hard work; monotonous meals.

Blencowe (Namu, Santa Cruz) to Sophia Blencowe, Sept. [1910] (File)

Illness of C. Turner; progress with schools; killings in Santa Cruz villages; his first attack of malaria; life on the island; scenery; shark fishing.

Blencowe (Namu, Santa Cruz) to Canon A.E. Blencowe, Oct. [1910] (File)

In charge of mission; trouble in the villages; power of evil spirits; optimism of Bishop Wilson; settlement of disputes among islanders.

Blencowe (Norfolk Island) to Sophia Blencowe, 10 Dec. [1910] (File)

Replacement of a drunken doctor; news of Alan Blencowe; attacks of fever; may take Berry [Rev. Guy Bury] to Santa Cruz but Bishop's promise of additional staff will probably not be kept; island mails.

Blencowe (Norfolk Island) to Canon A.E. Blencowe, 2-12 Feb. [1911] (File)

Berry [Bury] on his way to help him; C. Turner will leave; imminent resignation of Bishop Wilson

Blencowe (Norfolk Island) to Sophia Blencowe, 27 Feb. - 13 March [1911] (File)

Improved health; new fellow worker Guy Bury; doctor for new hospital in the Solomon Islands; an attack of fever; thanks for books; R. Freeth called back to England and Drummond staying on.

Blencowe (SS Southern Cross, near Vila) to Canon A.E. Blencowe, 15 April [1911] (File)

Selection of a new bishop.

Blencowe (Nibi, Santa Cruz) to Canon A.E. Blencowe, May 1911 (File)

New schools; situation in his area generally good but his party involved in fighting with Otivi people

Blencowe (Pileni) to Canon A.E. Blencowe, 5 June 1911 - 16 June 1911 (File)

News of his mission; plans to visit Vanikolo; fighting among the islanders in which he had had to fire his gun.

Blencowe (Matema) to Canon A.E. Blencowe, 26 July [1911] (File)

Warship requested to help confront the Otivi did not arrive; new school to be built; assistance of Guy Bury; progress of the mission; hopes to visit England in a year's time.

Bishop Cecil Wilson (Cambridge) to Blencowe, 12 November 1908 (File)

Inquires if Blencowe's father approves of his departure in January 1909.

Bishop Cecil Wilson (Bromley) to Canon A.E. Blencowe, 26 November 1908 (File)

Appointment of John Blencowe to Melanesia; need for university men; passage on Moldavia; arrangements for meeting.

William Sinker (Auckland) to Blencowe, 9 August 1912 (File)

Sinker's illness; his departure for England; Burgess will take command of Southern Cross; visit of Bishop Cecil Wood; memorial for Guy Bury; boat for Santa Cruz.

W.J. Durred (Banks Islands) to Blencowe, 5 October 1912 (File)

News of Santa Cruz and Reef Islands boys; Bishop Cecil Wood; marriage of R. Freeth.

H.V. Adams (Bournemouth) to Blencowe, 16 September 1913 (File)

Thanks for letter; congratulations on passing Bishop's exam; Lucy of Motalva.

Letters to Blencowe in Melanesian languages, (16 letters), 1910 - 1915 (File)

Series. Miscellaneous Documents, 1909 - 1932

12 items

Inina 1911. List of Melanesian Mission personnel (In Mota, 4pp) (File)

Map of Santa Cruz group of islands. (printed) (File)

Typescript list of voyages made by Blencowe, (1p), 1909 - 1918 (File)

Drafts of speeches and letters (9pp) (File)

Report headed 'Conversations with J.W. Blencowe June 16 1932: experiences in Melanesia' (File)

Deed of conveyance of land at Santa Cruz from Nevlau, a Melanesian, to Blencowe and C. Turner for the Melanesian Mission, 21 September 1910 (File)

Photograph of four chiefs who sold land to the Bishop (File)

Invoice of Lever's Pacific Plantations Ltd for food sold to Blencowe, 4 November 1911 (File)

Newspaper cutting on HMS Torch, n.d. (File)

Newspaper cutting on RMS Mongolia, [March 1910] (File)

Page from a letter referring to supplies of food; departure of Drew for Auckland, and the Bishop (File)

Four sheets of paper written in a Melanesian language (File)

Series. Photographs

A collection of photographs from various Melanesian Islands.

A large proportion of the photographs were produced by J.W. Beattie of Hobart. They depict islanders, European houses, churches, canoes, the mission ship Southern Cross, beaches and landscapes. They are not dated.

The photos include Bishops John C. Patteson, John Steward and Edward Wilton, Banks Islands, New Hebrides, including Torres Islands, Norfolk Island, San Cristoval (San Cristobal), Solomon Islands, Santa Cruz and Reef Islands, Mala, Solomon Islands.