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This webpage reproduces an article in
The British Museum Quarterly
Vol. 9, No. 1 (September 1934), pp16‑17.

Robin Flower died in 1946: the text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!

 p16  19. The Tristan da Cunha Bible.

The remote island of Tristan da Cunha in the South Atlantic, discovered in 1506, was annexed to Great Britain as a dependency of Cape Colony on 14 August 1816. In the following year William Glass, a corporal in the Royal Artillery, was left there with his wife, their children, and two masons. This was the origin of the present settlement. An interesting relic of the early days of this tiny colony has been presented to the Museum through the generosity of the Tristan da Cunha Fund, assisted by the Friends of the National Libraries and a few private scribers, the owner,  p17 Mrs. Annie Glass Lake, a descendant of William Glass, forgoing part of the agreed purchase price as her contribution to the gift. This is the Family Bible of William Glass, a copy of the bible published by Langdon Coffin, Boston, 1831. In this edition certain pages between the Apocrypha and the New Testament were prepared for a family record with columns set out to receive entries of marriages, births, and deaths. Under the first of these heads there is entered, in different hands, the record of Glass's marriage in July 1814 to Maria Magdalena Leenders, born 1 January 1802 (he himself was born 2 May 1787). There follow over the page the births of a goodly number of children, the first being William Glass, born at the Cape of Good Hope, 24 June 1815, and the second Mary Anne Glass, 'born on the Island of Tristan De Acunha the 22 April 1817'. A shorter list of deaths follows, ending with 'Isbella Glass died August 28 1885'. At the foot of the columns which record the successive births of the population of this lonely island a later hand has made in pencil the inevitable quotation from Gray's Elegy:

Full many a gem of purest ray serene

The dark unfathomed caves of ocean bear.

Full many a flower is born to bloom unseen

And waste its sweetness on the desert air.

R. Flower.


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Page updated: 20 Oct 16