McKenny, John
1790-1847; e.m. 1813

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Irish missionary in Africa, Ceylon and Australia, born in Coleraine. In 1814 he went to Cape Colony,South Africa as the first WM missionary there, served in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) 1816-1835, and from 1836 as Chairman of the New South Wales Mission. He was wise, far-seeing and industrious, his sharp eye for opportunities led to the strategically important Kollupitiya site in Colombo being acquired. He stressed the importance of a native ministry in Ceylon, yet pressed the claims of 'white' colonial missions at a formative stage in their development. At the New South Wales Mission he strengthened its discipline and persuaded the government to give it legal status. He led several remarkable campaigns, resulting in WM advances in many places in the colony. His fears of the growth of Roman Catholicism in the colony were revealed in his correspondence with the missionary secretaries in London and his persistent pleas for additional staff. He died in Sydney on 31 October 1847.

  • N.W. Taggart, The Irish in World Methodism (1986) pp.128-45
  • T.M.O'Connor, Victoria's Debt to the Irish Church (Melbourne, 1995)
  • Dictionary of Australian Biography