Missionary Map of the World Distinguishing the Nations of All Protestant Missionary Societies.
JOHN B. NETHERCHIT
Published 1839, London
Size: Mounted on linen. 31.5" X 62"
A rare map published by the Church Missionary Society that was sold by Hatchers, Piccadilly, Nisbet & Co. of Fleet Street, London. The Church Missionary Society was founded in 1799 by Anglican evangelicals that included, amongst others, William Wilberforce, a leader of the abolitionist movement.
Nehterchit’s double hemispheric world map listing the locations of the protestant mission including the Republic of Texas, was published at an interesting time for religious adherents. In fact, Netherchit’s map was published at the beginning of what came to be know as the Victorian Era which began in 1837, when Queen Victoria acceded to the British Throne. As such, 19th Century Britain witnessed an overall religious revival of sorts when many new parishes were built to accommodate new devotees and which witnessed an increase in the broad appeal of missionary work, especially as it pertains to colonial outposts of the British Empire such as in India, Africa and China. This revival resulted, to a certain extant, because of the changes in society following the geo-political upheavals associated with the Napoleonic Wars. The revival was also a reaction to and a result of the Catholic emancipation bill of 1829 that, similar to the Catholic Relief Act of 1778, but without the social unrest, put, amongst other issues, an end to the arrest and imprisonment of Catholic priests and allowed Catholics to own land and permitted their full emancipation into civil society. This emancipation bill was in large part due to the efforts of the future Prime Minister, Robert Peel, who calculated that the time had come for these religious debates between Protestants and Catholics to cease if society was to develop and lead on a larger world stage.
In that vein, the effects of the geo-political upheavals at the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 changed the balance of power in Europe and led to Britain becoming the uncontested hegemonic world power. The sense of “manifest destiny” which gave a perception to the right to rule over other nations was interlinked with the missionary work undertaken to proselytize to the unconverted. That being said, missionary work did have some practical effects on the British political establishment in that their lobbying efforts led to the abolishment of the slave trade in British colonies in 1834. Thus it has been argued that “while the colonial governments traded, the missionaries evangelized and trained and educated leaders for government service.” As such, the era between 1792 to 1820 is often known as the Second Evangelical Awakening in Great Britain with missionaries, who with their preaching, teaching and development projects, often preceded eventual colonial control.
Netherchit’s map is thus important in that the intended use was not only for education but to portray the scope of the operations of the Church Missionary Society. Furthermore, it was sold during a time when religion and missionary work had real political implications.
(Sources: Bullon, D., The Missionary Movement of the Nineteenth Century. Fraser, A., The King and the Catholics)