Crewes, John
1847-1925; e.m. 1869

BC missionary in New Zealand, born at Grampound, Cornwall on 15 July 1847, the son of a carpenter. From his early years he was associated with the BC Church, especially in temperance and prison gate work, and became a local preacher and then a minister. Arriving in New Zealand in 1879, he spent four years in Christchurch, laying the foundation stone of the first BC church in the country. Hard work and responsibility for rural congregations led to a breakdown in his health and he was forced to give up the ministry for five years. In 1884 and again in 1887 he unsuccessfully stood for Parliament. Returning to the ministry in 1888 at Addington (Christchurch), he continued his work with prisoners and began a life-long association with the Salvation Army. He became well known as a journalist and public speaker and delivered a notable sermon on sweated labour. In advocating temperance he stressed its social and political implications.

From 1890 to 1892 he pioneered the BC work in Wellington, but when the work was given up he ceased his active ministry. He settled in Wellington, retaining his clerical title and continuing to preach and lecture. He edited the Liberal Herald in support of social legislation and was secretary of several successful co-operative building societies. He was made a JP, gave evidence before the Police Commission in 1898, served as chairman of the Wellington Board of Conciliation (an arbitration body) and failed once more to become an MP.

His later years were devoted to conservation. He had founded and was the first President of the Zoological Society in 1910, was a prime mover in the establishment of Wellington Zoo, and edited the Zoo Standard from 1916. He died in Wellington on 29 December 1925.

  • Dictionary of New Zealand Biography (1993), 1 pp.103-4

Entry written by: DJP
Category: Person
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