Orton, Joseph Rennard
1795-1842; e.m. 1826

WM missionary to Jamaica and Australia, born in Hull on 10 October 1795. He embarked for Jamaica in 1826 and was stationed at Montego Bay. He visited the Maroons of Accompong, but encountered hostility towards the WM preachers and was imprisoned. Though he left by 1829 in poor health, he had made sufficient impression to be appointed to Australia as Chairman of the New South Wales District in 1831, where he gave much-needed leadership. As Chairman of the Tasmania District he pioneered Methodist work in the newly-colonized mainland state of Victoria, where he helped establish the Buntingdale Wesleyan Mission among the aborigines. He published Aborigines of Australia (1836) and pleaded with new settlers to protect the native population. His judgment that a General Superintendent was necessary to oversee the Australasian and Pacific work led to the appointment of John Waterhouse. His health suffered under the pressures of this work and he died at sea on 30 April 1842, while returning home.

  • G.G. Findlay and W.W. Holdsworth, The History of the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society (1921-1924), vols. 2 and 3
  • Alex Tyrrell, A Sphere of Benevolence: the life of Joseph Orton... (Melbourne, 1993)
  • Dictionary of Australian Biography