Letters of Edward Petter

Edward Petter [1832-1910]
Edward Petter [1832-1910] missionary salesman
Over the last few years as part of my “day job” I have been transcribing around 500 handwritten letters written by a Mr Edward Petter of Barnstaple to his beloved wife, Angee, dating between 1885 and 1901. Mr Petter was a sales representative for the Peek Freans biscuit company and in that capacity undertook no less that fourteen overseas tours, many of which took him around the globe. As a result he was one of the most travelled men in an age when travelling was still a very hazardous occupation. He was also a committed member of the Exclusive Brethren and used every opportunity to preach the Gospel to his fellow passengers on board ship, train or stage-coach. Although there were many of these brethren “Missionary Salesmen” at that time as far as I know this only set of letters written by one of them to survive and it gives a fascinating incite into his thoughts as well as recording many of the significant events of his day. On his travels he met members of Parliament, members of the British Royal family, Diplomats, Naval spies and missionaries of various denominations, including several encounters with Hudson Taylor and other CIM missionaries.

I hope that others enjoy reading these letters as much as I have enjoyed working on them. Click here to visit the website.

Missionary Heroines of the Cross On-line

Missionary Heroines of the Cross by Canon E C DawsonCanon E.C. Dawson’s biographical study of Missionary Heroines of the 19th Century is now available for free download in PDF. The book, which is abridged from a longer work by the same author contains short accounts of the following:

Mrs. Anne Duff – wife of Alexander Duff, missionary to India.

Mrs. Robert Clark – missionary to Pakistan/Afghanistan

Charlotte Tucker, missionary to India

Fanny Jane Butler [1850-1889], the first lady doctor in India.

Mary Reed [1854-1943], Irene Petrie and Alice Marval,, all missionaries to India.

Mrs. Hudson Taylor and Mrs. Polhill

Mrs. Loiusa Stewart, wife of Robert Stewart, missionaries to China.

Mrs. McDougall, missionary to Sarawak.

Mrs. Elizabeth Maria Bowen Thompson [1794-1869], missionary to Syria,

Fidelia Fiske [1816-1864], missionary to Turkey.

Mrs. Rosine Krapf, German missionary to Kenya.

Anna Hinderer [1827-1870], missionary to Nigeria.

Madame Coillard and many more.

Click here to download the complete volume, including illustrations.

The Battahs of Sumatra

A Battah Warrior
A Battah Warrior

The following five rare articles are based on some very early accounts of missionary work among the cannibalistic Battahs of Sumatra  in Western Indonesia.

John T. Beighton, “The Battahs of Sumatra. A New Chapter in Missionary Annals, I,” Sunday at Home No. 1836 (July 6th 1889): 427-429. Click here to download.

John T. Beighton, “The Battahs of Sumatra. A New Chapter in Missionary Annals, II,” Sunday at Home No. 1838 (July 20th 1889): 456-458. Click here to download.

John T. Beighton, “The Battahs of Sumatra. A New Chapter in Missionary Annals, III,” Sunday at Home No. 1840 (August 3rd 1889): 488-489. 490-494. Click here to download.

John T. Beighton, “The Battahs of Sumatra. A New Chapter in Missionary Annals: IV. – Signal Progress,” Sunday at Home No. 1845 (September 7th 1889): 570-573. Click here to download.

John T. Beighton, “The Battahs of Sumatra. A New Chapter in Missionary Annals: V,” Sunday at Home No. 1847 (September 21st 1889): 602-604. Click here to download.

The Battahs of Sumatra. A New Chapter in Missionary Annals

Part I

John T. Beighton

One brilliant morning, some sixty years ago, two little boys were playing on a beach of sand, near Deli, on the eastern coast of the island of Sumatra. Their home was not on the coast, but amongst mountains in the interior whence they had come with their friends who had brought produce for sale. These boys were Battahs. While they were playing, a Malay prahu (boat), which had not been observed by them, was paddled up to where they were, and two men jumped out, seized them, and dragged them to the boat and carried them off. The boys were sold as slaves to a European at Singapore. Soon after they accompanied their master on a voyage to Penang, and there, as he treated them unkindly, they fled from him. Eventually they found a home in my father’s service, and were named Tim and Tom. Tim ran away again, but the other, though older than myself, became my companion and friend, and in the year 1839 he was publicly baptised. It is therefore but natural that I should be interested in the Battahs. The Encylopaedia Britannica (vol. xxii. p. 640) may well speak of them “as one of the most interesting of all the savage or semi-savage peoples” in the world.

A considerable portion of the Battah race is now under the rule of the Dutch government. Differing as the various communities do in their physical and social characteristics, even in their natural condition, it is necessary to a true knowledge of the race that we should travel beyond those dwelling under this rule, and in the outer fringes of the Battah country, to the independent communities found in the original and central home of the race. The people appear to have naturally an inordinate dislike to occupying the districts contiguous to the sea, and at one time shrank from even the sight of the sea, believing it to be peopled with demoniacal spirits. To know therefore the real Battah, we must leave those of the tribe who have become familiar with it, and are settled near the boundary lines of their fatherland, and penetrate into the recesses of the regions which surround the great inland lake of Tobah.

Click here to continue reading.

Past and Present in Samoa

The following four articles describing the progress of the Gospel in Samoa are now available on-line in PDF.

A Coastal Scene in Samoa
A Coastal Scene in Samoa

George Cousins, “The Past and Present in Samoa,” Sunday at Home 36 No. 1832 (June 8th 1889): 360-364. [Click here to download]

George Cousins, “The Past and Present in Samoa. II – Samoa Casting Off Idolotry,” Sunday at Home 35 No. 1833 (June 15th 1889): 373-376. [Click here to download]

George Cousins, “The Past and Present in Samoa. III – Samoa Under Missionary Pupilage,” Sunday at Home 36 No. 1834 (June 22nd 1889): 393-397. [Click here to download]

George Cousins, “The Past and Present in Samoa. IV – Samoa in Touch With the Great Outside World,” Sunday at Home 36 No. 1835 (June 29th 1889): 407-411. [Click here to download]

The Past and Present in Samoa

George Cousins

Fifty years ago missions to the South Seas were in their glory. Islands previously unknown were emerging into the light of day. John Williams and his noble compeers were sailing from island to island, from group to group, stationing missionaries or native teachers as they went. And marvellous to relate, where-ever they did this, the idolatry that had hitherto held undisputed sway, succumbed almost without a struggle. The gospel triumphed, and the natives placed themselves under Christian instruction forthwith.

Surprised and delighted as our fathers and grandfathers were at the changes thus wrought, it was after all not so much to be surprised at. The mere presence of white men in their midst filled the childish savages with awe. Coming from a world they knew nothing of, borne across the sea in strange vessels so unlike their own canoes, the missionaries were looked up to as gods rather than men, and their influence was supreme. Added to which, the paltry fetichism and superstitions of the Polynesians lacked all force and vitality. They fell like a house of cards before a gust of wind. The islanders were in gross moral and spiritual darkness. Light came streaming in upon them; the darkness fled; and for the time their eyes were completely dazzled with the brightness. No sooner had their foreign visitors mastered the grammatical construction of the dialect and acquired a sufficient knowledge of their vocabulary than at once they proceeded to give them a translation of the Word of God. Without a written language or any knowledge of letters hitherto, they were initiated into the mysteries of reading in order that they might at once become acquainted with the best of all books: from the lowest depths of mental destitution they passed at a step into the possession of rich stores of wealth. No wonder that their joy was intense; no wonder that the story of the work carried on among them reads like a romance.

Click here to continue reading part 1.

China Past and Present

My wife Michelle and I have decided to digitise a number of Sunday magazines from the Victorian Era, starting with the Sunday at Home. This was published by the Religious Tract Society in London from the 1850s to the 1920s and contains a wealth of interesting material. Amongst the most interesting are the various missions reports from around the world.

This series of four articles document missions work in China up to 1889.

Rev. John Ross, “China Past and Present,” Sunday at Home 36 No. 1815 (Feb. 9th 1889): 86-88. [Click here to download in PDF]

Rev. John Ross, “China: Past and Present, Part II,” Sunday at Home 36 No. 1816 (Feb. 16th 1889): 108-109. [Click here to download in PDF]

John Ross, “China: Past and Present. Education,” Sunday at Home 36 No. 1824 (April 13th 1889): 236-237. [Click here to download in PDF]

John Ross, “China: Past and Present. Religion,” Sunday at Home 36 No. 1831 (June 1st 1889): 346-348. [Click here to download in PDF]

 China Past and Present

If the changes introduced into the polity, education and manners of the Chinese are less startling and revolutionary than we have seen in the neighbouring kingdom of Japan, they are none the less real or potent, nor will their issues in the future be less far-reaching. The cautious conservatism which forms so large an element in the national character of the Chinese makes it impossible for them to adopt important changes into their political and social life with the facility so characteristic of their light-hearted neighbours. In studying their ancient books, reading the story of the inter¬course of Europeans during the past few centuries and observing the Chinese of the present day, one is particularly struck with the little difference observable in the people, mentally, socially or physically. Even the great upheaval consequent

on the introduction and spread of Buddhism, like their changes of dynasty, was but the sudden rising of a great wave subsiding quickly, leaving everything at its formal level, rather than an earthquake shock pushing up rocks into permanent heights.

From what part of the west the original Chinese migrated, and how they established themselves on the banks of the Yellow River, where the foundations were laid of the present empire with its customs and manners, must ever remain a mystery. But that they attained to a high degree of civilisation at a period when every other existing nationality was still in the grossest barbarism is matter of history. From the earliest recorded times they were surrounded by people and nations who were their mental and social inferiors. How far their settled agricultural life will account for their superiority over houseless nomads is a subject of interest, though hot now demanding investigation. The fact remains that up to and long after the time of Confucius, the Chinese came, whether in peace or war, into contact with peoples from whom they were never able to learn anything valuable, and to whom they always taught whatever amount of civilisation these were capable of adopting. The Chinese did not in those very ancient times know anything of Europe, but had they been brought into familiar contact with European peoples they would have encountered, beyond the borders of little Greece, only savages like their own neighbours.

Click here to continue reading.

Changing Lives and Communities for Christ – Victorian Style.

From: “Far and Near: Notes of the Month,” Sunday At Home 1902-1903, pages 137-138

Casting Out Devils In Birmingham

[p.137] ST. LAURENCE PARISH, Birmingham, is not an attractive spot; a death-rate of forty per thousand, and a reputation for ruffianism and rowdyism, have given it a character unenviable. It is here that policemen go two and two on their beats, that the vans from the fever hospitals and the workhouse infirmary are constantly flitting to and fro. Deaths from starvation, back to back houses without thorough ventilation. Courts congested and over-crowded are features of the area, and yet it was to this place that the Rev. T. J. Bass felt he had a call, from the delightful suburban vicarage of Penn Fields, near Wolverhampton.
He lives in the midst of his parish in a disused coffee house, the surroundings of which are of the most unsavoury kind. The light of heaven is blackened by the smoke which curls aloft in thick clouds; the air is vitiated with the odours of a gas works and a mephetic canal, whilst breathing is difficult at times because of the throttling vapours of an acid works.
The people earn their living by precarious methods. Some of the people have been described as “hawkers, labourers, rag and bone collectors, wood choppers, pigeon flyers, dog racers, prize fighters and gamblers, convicts and loafers.” There are, however, not a few respectable people who have come down in the world and are in extreme poverty. Waste paper sorters, meat tin collectors, button stitchers, card-box makers, hawkers of fish and salt, orange sellers, paper fire ornament makers, sand-stone sellers, and persons of other occupations.
Women who live by button sewing find their own cotton, and sew twenty gross, 2,880 buttons, on a card, do eight hours’ work, and get from 8d. [8 pence] to 1s. [12 pence]
The rate of payment for those who stitch hooks and eyes on cards is 9d. a pack: one pack consists of twenty-four gross; a reel of cotton is provided, but l 1/4d. deducted for the same; the cards have to go three times through the workers’ hands-first, stitch on hooks, second, link hooks to eyes, third, stitch on eyes. Clever workers can earn 2s. 6d. per week.
Salt Sellers.- Rate of payment, 2d. a lump off a canal barge. Each lump cuts into four pieces, and is sold at 1d. per piece. Very many are engaged in this occupation, and if three lumps are sold in a day, a man thinks he has done well.
Box Making.- The people have to find their own glue, make 144 boxes, and glue 144 labels on the box; rate of remuneration, 4d. to 1s. 6d., according to size.
Waste Paper Sorters.- Rate of payment,  2s. per cwt. for good white paper clean, 4d. per cwt. for brown or dirty paper. Many miles have to be tramped to get one cwt. of mixed paper; then it has to be taken home and sorted, and after paying for the hire of a barrow, 1s. a day can be earned.
Refuse Meat Tin Collectors.- Some are collected from dust heaps or from private houses, or bought from grocers at 5s. for a large load. The tins are melted down, cleaned, and sold to small tin toymakers. Three men can turn the load referred to into about 15s. a week; it may be noted that 1d. saucepans are often made out of this tin.
Wood Chopping.- Old orange and bacon boxes are bought, which cost 4d. and will make 6d. worth of wood. Our readers can imagine the time it takes to chop a box and sell the wood.
The Children.- The neighbourhood teems with children, a large proportion of whom are only halfclad. It is a common thing in the day schools to be obliged to clothe the naked. The faces of the children are frequently pinched and worn; they have gone to bed supperless the night before and have come to school without breakfast. It is a marvel that any results are obtained by day school teachers. There is a very large percentage of lads and young girls, many of whom are allowed to drift, and they go to make up the criminal class. A melancholy interest attaches itself to the fact that one third of ALL THE CRIME of Birmingham comes from the police division of which this parish is a part; a great number of the offenders are under twenty-one years of age.
The vicar has set about reforming the parish. Six public houses have been closed, one horse-slaughtering place purified; there has been increased lighting, the sewers have been overhauled, fifteen acres of the parish have been condemned and are being dealt with by the sanitary authorities. The police force has been increased. By the action of the Local Government Board, Corporation Street is to be extended and a number of the slums swept away. The death-rate is gradually declining. Mr. Bass has encountered enormous opposition, and the slum property owners are trying to starve him out. He is ably assisted by two nurses, and in the last epidemic of typhoid fever their services were invaluable. The church has been restored. On the parish funds there is a debt of about 400 l. [£], and it is earnestly hoped that those who believe in alleviating the condition of the poorest will sustain Mr. Bass in his heroic effort to lead what some would have thought to have been a forlorn hope.

Dr John Apeh’s book on Social Structure and Church Planting on-line

Dr. John Apeh recently contacted me and asked if I would be willing to digitise the 1st edition of his book on Social Structure and Church Planting. Naturally I was happy to do so and it is now available here:

John E. Apeh, Social Structure & Church Planting. Shippensburg, PA: Companion Press, 1989. Pbk. ISBN: 0914903853. pp.139.

Dr Apeh is currently working on the 2nd edition.

Mission and Meaning: Essays in Honour of Peter Cotterell now Online

The following book is now online in PDF:

Antony Billington, Tony Lane & Max Turner, editors. Mission and Meaning. Essays Presented to Peter Cotterell. Carlisle: Paternoster Press, 1995. Pbk. ISBN: 0853646767.


Main Publications of Peter Cotterell



I. Biblical Perspectives
1. The Meaning of Mis David F. Paynesion in Isaiah 40-55

2. Nebuchadnezzar’s Theology and Ours Deryck C.T. Sheriffs

3. The Prophethood of all Believers Mary J. Evans

4. The Concept of Jubilee and Luke 4:18-30 Robert Willoughby

5. Mission and Misunderstanding:Paul and Barnabas in Lystra (Acts 14:8-20) Conrad Gempf

6. Jesus and the Marginalised in the Fourth Gospel Stephen Motyer

7. The Parac1ete and Mission in the Fourth Gospel Antony Billington

8. Paul’s Apostolic Self-Awarenessand the Occasion and Purpose of Romans Daniel J.-S. Chae

9. Mission and Meaning in Terms of ‘Unity’ in Ephesians Max Turner

II. Historical and Theological Perspective
10. A Model Missionary to Muslims:Thomas Valpy French (1825-1891) Michael Griffiths

11. Ten Theses on Justification and Sanctification Tony Lane

12. Edward Irving and Uniqueness of Christ Graham W.P. McFarlane

13. Soundly Converted? Meic Pearse

III. Philosophical and Contextual Perspectives
14. All One Body? A Missiological Appreciationof the Struggles of an Ethnic Church in Indonesia Ailish F. Eves

15. Sickness and Syncretism in the African Context Keith Ferdinando

16. Capital Gains or Christians are not Working Mark Greene

17. Meaning, Mission and Truth Peter Hicks

18. Postmodernity and Rationality:the Final Credits or just a Commercial Break? Nick Mercer

19. The Concept of ‘Living By Faith’ Harold H. Rowdon

20. The Scandal of the Church in the Mission of God’s People Derek Tidball

My thanks to Anthony Billington and Paternoster Press for their assistance in allowing these essays to be republished. Note that until the main missiology site goes live next year this will be the only means of accessing these articles.