Williams, John, 1796–1839, English missionary, called the Apostle of Polynesia. Under the London Missionary Society he went (1817) to the Society Islands. He discovered Rarotonga in 1823 and founded missions there. He later translated parts of the Bible and other books into Rarotongan. After a visit to England (1834–38), he returned to the South Seas in a newly outfitted missionary ship. In a region of the New Hebrides where he was not known and where he was planning to start a mission, he was killed by cannibals. His Narrative of Missionary Enterprise in the South Sea Islands (1837) threw valuable light on Polynesia.
See biographies by E. Prater (1947) and C. Northcott (1965).
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