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The club and canoe bailer were acquired by Rev John Williams (1796-1839) when he visited the South Pacific in the 1820 and ‘30s.

The English missionary and his wife Mary Chawner went to the Society Islands in French Polynesia in 1816 and established their first missionary post on the island of Raiatea. From there, they visited a number of the Polynesian island chains.

Landing on Aitutaki (one of the 15 islands in the Cook Islands) in 1821, they used Tahitian converts to help spread their religious message. Williams was also on board the Endeavour in August 1823 when Captain John Dabs landed on Rarotonga, the largest of the Cook Islands, which was reported to be the first time European people had visited the island.

In 1834 the couple returned to Britain and wrote and printed a translation of the New Testament into the Rarotongan language.

John Williams

A depiction of English missionary Rev John Williams arriving on an island in the South Pacific.

Later that decade they returned to the South Pacific and in November 1839. But while visiting a part of the New Hebrides where Williams was unknown, he and fellow missionary James Harris were killed and eaten by cannibals on the island of Erromango (the fourth-largest island in the Vanuatu archipelago).

Williams was well known for his successful missionary work over a 20-year career. The London Missionary Society operated seven missionary ships in the Pacific named after John Williams following his death.

John Williams

A depiction of the attack on English missionary Rev John Williams in the South Pacific.

According to Wikipedia, his remains were taken to Samoa where a funeral service was held and attended by Samoan royalty, high-ranking chiefs and the LMS missionaries. His remains were interred at the LMS church in Apia and a monument stands in his memory.

A memorial stone was also erected on the island of Rarotonga in 1839.

In December 2009 descendants of John and Mary Williams travelled to Erromango to accept the apologies of the islanders in a ceremony of reconciliation. To mark the occasion, Dillons Bay was renamed Williams Bay.

The club, which sold for £1200, and the Maori canoe bailer, which sold for £7600, at Duke's Coins, Militaria, Sporting and Tribal Art sale on April 12, were consigned by the descendants of the Williams family.