Stories from the stores: William Raymond Scott and the Sandwich Islands (now Hawaii)

Archivist Allyson Lewis blogs for us about a recent interesting discovery…

While preparing for our Discover Parish Registers workshop at Harlow Archive Access Point on Wednesday 14 May 2014 (see our events page for details), I came across a note that the registers of St Mary Magdalene, Harlow had been closed as they had been taken to the Sandwich Islands (now Hawaii) by mistake and were not returned for two years, by which time new registers had been started.  Intrigued, I investigated further and found that the perpetual curate, Revd William Raymond Scott, had undertaken to accompany the newly-appointed Bishop of Honolulu to the Sandwich Islands, as Hawaii was then called, in 1862.  In addition, he and his wife were to chaperone 70 girls emigrating to Australia.

Extract from D/P 533/1/1

Extract from D/P 533/1/1

They sailed on the steamer the Tynemouth and the voyage was a disaster from start to finish.  The crew mutinied in mid-Atlantic and the ship had to put into the Falkland Islands.  Order was restored and the ship continued to Victoria.  On arrival Scott would not let the girls leave the ship due to the ‘moral dangers’ ashore.

He continued on to the Sandwich Islands and was present when the King and Queen of Hawaii were confirmed and received their first communion.  The service was translated into the Hawaiian language and sung.

He established a church on Maui and a school but left the islands in disgrace and returned to England where he ministered to the poor in the East End of London including Wapping Workhouse during a cholera epidemic.  He died in 1894 in Marlborough, Wiltshire.

To find out more about parish registers and how they could help your research, coming along to one of our Discover: Parish Registers workshops. There are two coming up soon, at Harlow on Wednesday 14 May, and at Walton-on-the-Naze on Wednesday 21 May. Find out more here.