John Smith Martyr-Teacher to the Slaves of Demerara

David Chamberlin [1870-1944], Smith of Demerara (Martyr-Teacher of the Slaves)John Smith [1790-1824] served with the London Missionary Society in Guyana (then British Guyana).

In August 1823 a slave revolt broke out, and Smith, whose sympathies with the slaves were well known, was accused of aiding and assisting the rebellion. He was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death. His sentence was remitted, but he died in prison before word reached the colony. Smith was the only missionary who could be said to have been martyred by the West Indian Plantocracy. [Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, p.627.]

My thanks to Redcliffe College for providing a copy of this book for digitisation. This title is in the public domain.

David Chamberlin [1870-1944], Smith of Demerara (Martyr-Teacher of the Slaves). London: Colonial Missionary Society, 1923. Pbk. pp.112. [Click to download the complete book in PDF]


  • Preface
  • Introduction
  1. John Smith
  2. Life on the Plantations
  3. The Perseverance of “The Saints”
  4. The Rising
  5. The Rising Suppressed
  6. The Court Martial
  7. From the Court to the Grave
  8. In the House of Commons
  • Appendix – British Guyana
  • Chronology


The Slaver, the Gold-seeker and the Pirate have stamped the brand of infamy upon the story of the Spanish Main. But, in the very days when the Atlantic was being reddened by the worst atrocities of the traffic in human beings, a brief drama. of another kind was wrought out in Demerara. A plain and humble man, with dogged integrity, was making a great fight for the right to give instruction to the plantation slaves. His battle ended in seeming failure, but he won the war, – and Time, the great teacher of perspective, has placed the name of John Smith on the world’s Roll of Honour. [Continue reading]

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