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Samuel James Whitmee


"Whitmee was born in England, he studied at Poole and Leeds and became a missionary with the London Missionary Society, he travelled to Samoa in 1863 and remained there until 1877. He contributed many notes to Nature on the natural history of the islands and collected many botanical specimens. He was based at Leone and later at Leulumoega, Upolu. In 1870 he visited Tokelau and the Ellice and Gilbert Islands on the mission vessel the John Williams. In 1871 he returned to the UK. IN 1878 he resigned from the LMS and became paster in Dublin, later moving to Bristol. But in 1891 he went back to Samoa where he became a close friend of Robert Louis Stevenson who had also travelled there. Whitmee returned to the UK for a second time in 1894 where he retired to Barnet. "


"This armour (Korean foot soilders) was one of many objects collected and donated by the reverend Samuel James Whitmee (1838-1925) of the London Missionary Society (LMS). The LMS was a non-denominational missionary society formed in England in 1795 by evangelical Anglicans and Nonconformists, with a largely Congregationalist and anti-slavery stance.

Whitmee served in the Pacific Islands and met Robert Louis Stevenson whilst in Samoa, to whom he taught the local language. Although Stevenson initially opposed Christian missions as having a dire effect on the people, Whitmee and his handful of colleagues obviously had a positive impact on the famous writer who observed in one of his letters: "whether Catholic or Protestant...with all their deficiency...the missionaries are the best and most useful whites in the Pacific."* Whitmee's reputation in the Pacific was such that he was even pictured on the 25c stamp of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands in 1970 (now Kiribati and Tuvalu, respectively)."