Gardiner, Allen Francis (DNB00)

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GARDINER, ALLEN FRANCIS (1794–1851), missionary to Patagonia, fifth son of Samuel Gardiner of Coombe Lodge, Oxfordshire, by Mary, daughter of Charles Boddam of Capel House, Bull's Cross, Enfield, Middlesex, was born on 28 Jan. 1794 in the parsonage house at Basildon, Berkshire, where his parents were temporarily residing. He was religiously educated, and in May 1808 entered the Royal Naval College, Portsmouth. On 20 June 1810 he went to sea as a volunteer on board H.M.S. Fortune, and after a time removing to the Phœbe, he served in that ship as midshipman until August 1814, when, having distinguished himself in the capture of the American frigate Essex, he was sent to England as acting lieutenant of that prize. Being confirmed as lieutenant 13 Dec. he afterwards served in the Ganymede, the Leander, and the Dauntless in various parts of the world, and returned invalided to Portsmouth 31 Oct. 1822. On 1 July in the following year he married Julia Susanna, second daughter of John Reade of Ipsden House, Oxfordshire; she died in the Isle of Wight on 23 May 1834. As second lieutenant of the Jupiter he was at Newfoundland in 1824, and in 1825 came back to England in charge of the Clinker, when he obtained his promotion as commander 13 Sept. 1826, after which period, although he often applied for employment, he never succeeded in obtaining any other appointment. Long before this his attention had been much directed to the unreclaimed state of the heathen nations, and he now resolved that he would devote his life to the work of a missionary pioneer. With this view he went to Africa in 1834, and, exploring the Zulu country, started the first missionary station at Port Natal. From 1834 to 1838 he was engaged in earnest endeavours to establish christian churches in Zululand, but political events and native wars combined to prevent any permanent success. From 1838 to 1843 he laboured among the Indians of Chili, and went from island to island in the Indian Archipelago, but his efforts were foiled by the opposition of the various governments.

His first visit to Tierra del Fuego took place 22 March 1842, when, coming from the Falkland Islands in the schooner Montgomery, he landed in Oazy harbour. The Church Missionary Society was now pressed to send out missionaries to Patagonia, but declined on the ground of want of funds. Similar proposals were unsuccessfully made to the Wesleyan and London Missionary Societies. At length in 1844 a special society was formed for South America, which took the name of the Patagonian Missionary Society, and Robert Hunt, a schoolmaster, was sent out as the first missionary, being accompanied by Gardiner. This attempt to establish a mission, however, failed, and they returned to England in June 1845. Gardiner, not discouraged, left England again 23 Sept. 1845, and, in company with Federico Gonzales, a Spanish protestant, from whom he learnt Spanish, went to Bolivia, where he distributed bibles to the Indian population, but not without much opposition from the Roman catholics. Having established Gonzales as a missionary at Potosi, he himself came back to England, landing at Southampton 8 Feb. 1847. He spent 1848 in making a survey of Tierra del Fuego with a view to a mission, and suffered great hardships. He then endeavoured to interest the Moravian Brethren and the Foreign Missions of the Church of Scotland in this enterprise, but neither of them was in a position to render any aid. At last, a lady at Cheltenham having given 700l., the mission was determined on. Accompanied by Richard Williams, surgeon, Joseph Erwin, ship-carpenter, John Maidment, catechist, and three Cornish fishermen, Pearce, Badcock, and Bryant, he sailed from Liverpool 7 Sept. 1850 in the Ocean Queen, and was landed at Picton Island 5 Dec. He had with him two launches, each twenty-six feet long, in which had been stowed provisions to last for six months. The Fuegians were hostile and great thieves; the climate was severe and the country barren. Six months elapsed without the arrival of further supplies, which were detained at the Falkland Islands for want of a vessel. The unfortunate men gradually died of starvation, Gardiner, himself the last survivor, expiring, as it is believed, 6 Sept. 1851. On 21 Oct. the John Davison, sent for their succour, arrived, and on 6 Jan. 1852 H.M.S. Dido visited the place, but all they could do was to bury the bodies and bring away Gardiner's journal. Two years later, in 1854, the Allen Gardiner was sent out to Patagonia as a missionary ship, and in 1856 Captain Gardiner's only son, Allen W. Gardiner, went to that country as a missionary. Gardiner married secondly, 7 Oct. 1836, Elizabeth Lydia, eldest daughter of the Rev. Edward Garrard Marsh, vicar of Aylesford, Kent. He wrote and published: 1. ‘Outlines of a Plan for Exploring the Interior of Australia,’ 1833. 2. ‘Narrative of a Journey to the Zoolu Country in South Africa, undertaken in 1835, 1836.’ 3. ‘A Visit to the Indians on the Frontiers of Chili,’ 1840. 4. ‘A Voice from South America,’ 1847.

[Gent. Mag. July 1852, pp. 92–4; Annual Register, 1852, pp. 473–8; The Martyrs of the South (1852); Marsh's Memoir of A. F. Gardiner (1857), with portrait; Marsh and Stirling's Story of Commander A. Gardiner (1867), with portrait; Marsh's First Fruits of South American Mission (1873); Garratt's Missionaries' Grave (1852); Bullock's Corn of Wheat dying (1870); W. J. B. Moore's They have done what they could (1866); O'Byrne's Naval Biog. Dict. p. 387; Illustrated London News, 1 May 1852, p. 331, and 8 May, pp. 380–1, with three views on Picton Island.]

G. C. B.