Feature February 2016

The Death of Rev John Williams


The Death of Rev John Williams by George Baxter

Collectors are familiar with George Baxter’s print of The Massacre of the Rev John Williams, the Victorian missionary. It is one of a pair produced in 1841, the other depicting his arrival in the South Seas.

Less well known is that Kronheim also portrayed Williams’ unfortunate end. It appears on a Reward card (size 12.5cms x 1Ocms) and is one from a series of 10 cards contained in a folder entitled “Glad Tidings or Sketches of Missionary Enterprise” (Glad Tidings seems a trifle inappropriate in respect of the Williams’ print!)

The Death of John Williams a reward card printed by Kronheim
The Death of John Williams a reward card printed by Kronheim

The set of cards were probably produced in the 1850s and 1860s and were published by The Religious Tract Society priced at 1 shilling.

Like many of Kronheim’s Reward Cards there is a descriptive text on the back, and in the case of the Williams’ card, it provides some geographical and historical background as well as some comment about Williams and the arrival of the missionaries in the South Seas.

George Baxter's print of the massacre probably had quite an impact on those viewing it at the time and it is interesting to note that this print can still have quite an impact today as seen in the Collections Blog of The Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre, an open access library specialising in the study of race, ethnicity and migration. Part of the University of Manchester and based at Manchester Central Library.