Waterhouse, John
1789-1842; e.m. 1809

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WM minister, born near Leeds. After 30 years in the home work he was appointed 'General Superintendent of the Wesleyan Missions in Australia and Polynesia' in 1838. He and his family, including three sons, arrived at Hobarth on 1 February 1839. His superintendency involved oversight of nine Districts from New South Wales to Fiji. From his base in Hobart, his extensive tours provided opportunity to advise and encourage, but proved too strenuous both physically and mentally for one man. His health gave way and he died in Hobart on 30 March 1842, having deeply influenced both colleagues and local people alike with his wise yet practical counsels.

Three sons entered the WM ministry:

Jabez Bunting Waterhouse (1821-1891; e.m. 1845) was born in London on 19 April 1821. He was educated at Kingswood School and apprenticed to a printer. He returned to England for ministerial training at Richmond College and after two years in the Windsor circuit returned to Australia, where his business acumen was of value to the church. He defended Methodism in The Secession and the Persecution in Tonga (1886) against the criticisms of Shirley W. Baker. He died at Randwick on 18 January 1891. The second of his seven sons, John Waterhouse , was headmaster of Sydney High School.

Joseph Waterhouse (1828-1881; e.m. 1849) was born in Halifax in February 1828. He was educated at Kingswood School and St. Andrew's Presbyterian School, Hobart. He served in Fiji 1850-1864 and again in 1874-1878, when relations with his colleague Frederick Langham (d. 1903) were strained. He encountered cannibalism on the island of Bau off Viti Levu and faced a threat to his life at Davuilevu. His persistent attempts to convert chief Thakombau (Cakobau) were eventually successful. He wrote The King and People of Fiji (1866). Ill health forced him to leave Fiji for Tasmania in 1864, but in 1874 he returned to take charge of the Navuloa training institution, where he furthered the policy of training indigenous teachers. He was drowned at sea on 29 April 1881, while returning to Australia after a visit to New Zealand.

Samuel Waterhouse (1830-1918) was educated in Hobart. In 1850 he went as a 'bush missionary' to the Melbourne Circuit and from 1851 to 1857 served as a missionary in Fiji, returning because of ill health. He retired in 1865, moving to Hobart a year later. From 1870 till his death on 19 November 1918 he was confined in the mental hospital at New Norfolk.

  • G.G. Findlay and W.W. Holdsworth, The History of the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society (1921-1924), vol. 3 passim
  • G.J. Waterhouse, et.al., A Brief Account of the Life and Activities of Rev. John Waterhouse: more particularly from the time of his arrival in Van Dieman's Land until his death (Sydney, 1937)
  • A.H. Wood, Overseas Missions of the Australian Methodist Church (Melbourne, 1975, 1978)
  • Australian Dictionary of Biography