Rev William Richards

Rev William Richards

Plainfield, Hampshire County, Massachusetts, USA
Death 7 Nov 1847 (aged 54)
Lahaina, Maui County, Hawaii, USA
Burial Lahaina, Maui County, Hawaii, USA
Memorial ID 7982584 · View Source
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Missionary. William Richards graduated (with a Phi Beta Kappa) in 1819 from Williams College (Williamstown, Massachusetts) and from Andover Theological Seminary in 1822. He was ordained in New Haven, Connecticut, in September 1822. On October 30, 1822, he married Clarissa Lyman (d. 1861 in New Haven, Connecticut) in Northampton, Massachusetts. Shortly thereafter they sailed for the Sandwich Islands (now Hawaii) as missionaries sent by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. He personally and individually translated fourteen books of the Bible into the Hawaiian language, and translated another six jointly with Lorrin Andrews , a fellow missionary. From time to time, he had to protect himself and his wife from rioting sailors infuriated over the ban of alcohol – and enraged because the young Hawaiian women no longer swam out to the ship to "keep company" with the sailors. A cannonball landed in the Richardses' front yard! In 1838 he left the employ of the mission board to accept an appointment as "Chaplain, Teacher, and Interpreter" for the King of the Sandwich Islands. Richards wrote in a letter of 1 August 1838: "They also expect from me free suggestions on every subject connected with government and on their duties as rulers of the nation, and in all important cases I am to be not only translator, but must act as interpreter for the King." Samuel Williston comments: "He, therefore, severed his connection with the mission, with the approbation of his brethren and the consent of the American Board, and 'under these modest titles his influence on the foreign policy of the chiefs became considerable.'" He served in these capacities until his death. In 1842, he was appointed ambassador to England, France, and the United States, to secure the independence of the Sandwich (Hawaiian) Islands. He was appointed Minister of Public Instruction in 1846, a post he held until his death. "While Mr. Richards was not distinguished for brilliancy of talent [but note that he graduated Phi Beta Kappa], he was plentifully endowed with what is more rare, and what is a most essential quality in a missionary, common sense. A marked characteristic of him was the zeal with which he could work for an object which commended itself to his moral judgment. True and frank in all his dealings, he secured the confidence of those with whom he had to do. Along with single-minded integrity was combined an absolute fearlessness which stood him in good stead in many critical 2 circumstances. His moral strength had its source in the principles of religion and in a piety which was robust and which had been implanted at an early age. Much of his great success as a missionary depended upon his gaining not only the confidence but also the affection of the natives. Dr. Rufus Anderson, his classmate in Andover Seminary, writes on this point: 'He was dearly beloved by the good people of Lahaina, who loaded him with their simple presents when departing for the United States in 1836; presenting them [the gifts] with tears, and often clasping his feet with loud lamentations, lest they should see his face no more. Perhaps no man has ever shared more largely in the affections of the Hawaiian people than did Mr. Richards.' One evidence of the high esteem in which he was held is the fact that the king settled an annuity upon the family of Mr. Richards after his death."

Bio by: Wilma Spice


Sacred to the Memory of the Rev. William Richards, who labored for 19 Years as Missionary of the A.B.C.F.M. at Lahaina; was afterwards a Commissioner of His Hawaiian Majesty to the Courts of the United States of America, Great Britain, and France, for securing the independence of the Hawaiian Nation; and Subsequently His Haw. Maj. Minister of Public Instruction, in which capacity he departed this life at Honolulu, November 7th 1847. Aged 54 Years 2 Mo. and 15 days. Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright; for the end of that man is peace. E noonoo i ke kanaka hemolele, E nana hoi i ka mea, ku pono; No ka mea, o ka hope o na kanaka la he pomaikai no ia.



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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: Mongoose
  • Added: 13 Oct 2003
  • Find a Grave Memorial 7982584
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Rev William Richards (22 Aug 1793–7 Nov 1847), Find a Grave Memorial no. 7982584, citing Waiola Church Cemetery, Lahaina, Maui County, Hawaii, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .