|Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary|
At a Glance
This collection is arranged in one series in chronological order.
Scope and Contents
This collection contains 128 pages of correspondence retyped from the nineteenth-century originals. The majority of the collection is made up of correspondence, though there are parts of Leigh's journal entries scattered throughout, whether as individual documents or as quoted in his letters. In his letters, Leigh discusses religious life and the missionary progress being made in New South Wales, including Sydney and Windsor, and also expounds on the civilization of the natives such as their customs, traits, appearance, manners, and opinions. The difficulties and hardships that he and his colleagues had to endure are also enumerated. Leigh reflects upon his experience in New Zealand, especially with the natives and his first encounters on the Island, and his return to Australia due to ill health.
Burke Library record group:
Missionary Research Library Archives: MRL11, Australia and OceaniaOCEANIA
Using the Collection
Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is open for research.
Conditions Governing Use
Some material in this collection may be protected by copyright and other rights. Information concerning copyright, fair use, and reproduction requests can be consulted at Columbia's Copyright Advisory Office.
Item description, MRL 11: Samuel Leigh Papers, 1818-1824, box #, and folder #, The Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary, Columbia University in the City of New York.
The life of the Rev. Samuel Leigh, missionary to the settlers and savages of Australia and New Zealand; with a history of the origin and progress of the missions in those colonies (1870), by Alexander Strachan, is available online via the Internet Archive at: http://archive.org/details/lifeofrevsamuell00straiala.
The original manuscript letters and diaries by Samuel Leigh were not located.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Formerly part of the independent Missionary Research Library (MRL), these records were accessioned by the Burke Library at the time of the MRL's closure in 1976.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary
Material was cataloged by Lynn A. Grove on 1988-08-02. Materials were placed in new acid-free folders and boxes. The finding aid was created by Rebecca Weintraub in 2012 with the support of the Henry Luce Foundation, and edited by Leah Edelman in 2020.
2020-07-22 PDF converted to EAD and description updated by Leah Edelman.
History / Biographical Note
Biographical / Historical
Samuel Leigh, a Wesleyan Missionary, was born on September 1, 1785 in Milton, Staffordshire, England. At first a lay helper with the Independent Church at Hanley, Leigh thereafter attended a Congregational seminary in Hampshire, but withdrew because he disagreed with its Calvinist teachings. Instead, Leigh answered the call to be a missionary. In 1814 Leigh was appointed as a missionary in North America by the Methodist Conference. Soon after this appointment, Leigh received notice in a letter from Montreal stating that no missionary be sent to North America due to the general unrest of the area. It was fortuitous that Leigh did not make the trip, as the ship on which he was meant to sail sunk with all but four on board perishing. Now without an appointment, the Methodist Conference arranged to send Leigh to New South Wales.
Leigh left from Portsmouth on February 28, 1815 onboard the Hebe and arrived in Sydney on August 10, 1815. There he founded the Sydney Asylum for the Poor and took a lead role in the formation of the Auxiliary Bible Society and the Australian Religious Tract Society. Leigh first began his preaching in the area of Sydney known as "The Rocks," but soon expanded to the country going to Castlereagh, Parramatta, Windsor, Liverpool, and even setting the cornerstone to a small chapel in Windsor in 1818. At this point, Leigh had created a circuit of Methodist missionary work which included fifteen preaching places and involved 150 miles of travel over the course of ten days. Since he was only able to go to each preaching place once during this time period, Leigh (as evidenced in his letters) was always in need of more missionaries to assist him in his work. Leigh's strenuous work put a grave toll on his health. After a short trip to New Zealand and a longer one to England (where he married his first wife, Catherine, in 1821), both for his health, Leigh arrived back in the area and established the first Wesleyan mission in Whangaroa, New Zealand in June of 1823. Leigh and his wife did not stay long, returning to Sydney that September. After Leigh's wife died in Parramatta in 1831, Leigh left Australia for England where he married Elizabeth Kaye in 1842. Leigh continued to do some mission work until his retirement in 1845. He died in 1852.