Thirty Years With South Sea Cannibals – John G. Paton

James Paton [1824-1907], ed., The Story of Dr. John G. Paton's Thirty Years with South Sea Cannibals, revised by A.L. LangridgeJohn G. Paton’s story of work among the cannibals of the New Hebrides was a remarkable one and one which deserves to be shared widely. I am therefore am grateful to Redcliffe College for giving me access to their extensive collection of books on the subject which will enable me to do so. This title is in the Public Domain.

James Paton [1824-1907], ed., The Story of Dr. John G. Paton’s Thirty Years with South Sea Cannibals, revised by A.L. Langridge. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1927. Hbk. pp.256. [Click to download complete book in PDF]


  1. Our Homes and Our Forbears
  2. Parents and School Days
  3. Leaving Home and Early Struggles
  4. In the Glasgow Slums
  5. Missionary to the Cannibals
  6. First Impressions of Heathendom
  7. Settlement and Sorrow of Tanna
  8. Superstitions and Cruelties
  9. The Visit of H.M.S. “Cordelia”
  10. Under Axe and Musket
  11. Cannibals at Work
  12. The Plague of Measles
  13. Deepening Shadows
  14. The Var Chiefs in Council
  15. The Beginning of the End
  16. A Race for Life
  17. The Last Dread Night – But Saved!
  18. To Australia For a Mission Ship
  19. In Swamp and Saddle
  20. To Scotland and Back
  21. To the Islands and Fresh Difficulties
  22. Starting of Aniwa
  23. Revenge, Heathen Practices, and Hopeful Signs
  24. Nelwand’s Elopement, and Incidents
  25. The Sinking of the Well
  26. First Book, New Eyes, and a New Church
  27. Chief Youwili Converted and the First Communion
  28. The Finger-Posts of God
  29. Death of Namakei and Other Chiefs
  30. Litsi Sore, Mungaw, Nasi and Lamu
  31. Round the World Again for a Ship
  32. Back to Australia and the Islands
  33. The Autobiography and a World Tour
  34. A New “Dayspring.” Death of Kanaka Traffic
  35. Rev Frank Paton – Missionary to Tanna
  36. Wreck of the “Dayspring”
  37. Round the World Again – at 76
  38. Back to the Islands Again, and Yet Again
  39. The Passing of Mrs Paton
  40. The Home Call


Chapter 1: Our Home and Our Forbears

My early days were all spent in the beautiful county of Dumfries, which Scotch folks call the Queen of the South. There, in a small cottage, on the farm of Braehead, in the parish of Kirkmahoe, I was born on the 24th May, 1824. My father, James Paton, was a stocking manufacturer in a small way 1 and he and his young wife, Janet Jardine Rogerson, lived on terms of warm personal friendship with the “gentleman farmer,” so they gave me his son’s name, John Gibson; and the curly-haired child of the cottage was soon able to toddle across to the mansion, and became a great pet of the lady there.

While yet a child, five years or so of age, my parents took me to a new home in the ancient village of Torthorwald, about four and a quarter miles from Dumfries, on the road to Lockerbie. At the time, Torthorwald was a busy and thriving village, and comparatively populous, with its cottars and crofters, large farmers and small farmers, weavers and shoemakers, cloggers and coopers, blacksmiths and tailors.

There, amid the wholesome and breezy village life, our parents found their home for the long period of forty years. There too were born to them eight additional children, making in all a family of five sons and six daughters. Theirs was the first of the thatched cottages on the left, past the “miller’s house,” going up the “village gate,” with a small garden in front of it, and a large garden across the road; and it is one of the few still lingering to show to a new generation what the homes of their fathers were. [Continue reading]

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