worldwide missions
James Chalmers: Chronology of Life
compiled by Dorothy Ross

James Chalmers James Chalmers (1841-1901) was a Scottish missionary-explorer who served in Rarotonga in the Cook Islands for ten years, and in New Guinea from 1877 until his brutal murder by cannibal tribesmen on April 8, 1901, during a missionary trip to Goaribari Island.
1841 Born In Ardrishaig, Argyllshire, Scotland, August 4.
1851 Rescued a schoolmate from drowning.
1856 Hearing a letter read in Sunday-school, resolved to be a missionary.
1859 Converted in a November revival meeting in Inveraray, age eighteen.
1862 Entered Cheshunt College, September.
1864 Entered London Missionary Society college at Highgate.
1865 Married Jane Hercus, October 17.
Ordained two days later, October 19.
1866 Sailed from England for Rarotonga, Cook Islands in South Pacific, January 4.
Arrived in Sydney, Australia, late in year.
1867 Shipwrecked on Savage Islands, January.
Reached Somoa; sailed for Rarotonga on ship of pirate Bully Hayes.
Arrived at Avarua, Rarotonga, more than sixteen months of travel, May 20.
Chalmers named "Tamate" by the natives.
1867-1877 Rarotonga partially Christianized when Chalmers arrived.
Supervised operation of established mission; reorganized training institutution for native missionaries; explored interior of island; regularly visited native churches; began educating native children.
1877 Chalmers left Rarotonga for Port Moresby, New Guinea, May 21.
Selected Suau, Stacey Island, as first mission center.
1878 Explored coast visiting over one hundred villages and made extended journeys inland while Mrs. Chalmers remains at mission station with native teachers continuing the work there despite constant peril from savages.
Mrs. Chalmers sailed for Sydney, Australia, seeking recovery of her health, October.
1879 Death of wife Jane Chalmers at Sydney, Australia, February 20.
Chalmers writes "Let me bury my sorrow in work for Christ..."
1885 Work and Adventure in New Guinea by James Chalmers and W. Wyatt Gill published.
1886-1887 Takes first furlough in twenty years, May, 1886 to September, 1887.
Visited early boyhood home in Inveraray, addressed many large audiences, wrote missionary book.
Engaged to widow Sarah Eliza Harrison.
1887 Pioneering in New Guinea by James Chalmers published.
1888 Married Sarah Eliza Harrison in Cooktown, Australia.
Headquarters moved to Motu-motu.
Facilitated establishment of British rule in northern New Guinea.
1891
Chalmers took trip to Rarotonga (after absence of thirteen years) and Somoa. Became acquainted with Robert Louis Stevenson.
1892 Mrs. Chalmers in poor health sailed for England, March.
Headquarters moved to Saguane, near the mouth of the Fly River.
Explored interior along Fly River, visited new tribes, sought peace between tribes.
1894-1896 Furlough May, 1894, to January 20, 1896 at request of London Missionary Society to be a speaker for centenary celebrations.
Mrs. Chalmers still not well.
Chalmers returned to New Guinea alone.
1895 Pioneer Life and Work in New Guinea, 1877-1894 by James Chalmers published.
1897 Mrs. Chalmers returned to New Guinea.
1900 Death of second wife, Sarah Eliza Chalmers, October 25, Daru, New Guinea.
1901 Chalmers, fellow missionary Oliver Tompkins, and twelve native Christians massacred and eaten by cannibals on Goaribari Island, New Guinea. April 8.

Compiled by Dorothy Ross for WholesomeWords.org. 2010.

James Chalmers Information


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