Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Johns, David

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JOHNS, DAVID (1794–1843), missionary to Madagascar, born in 1794, was the son of J. Johns of Llain, Llanarth, Monmouthshire. He became church member at Penrhiwgaled, and, first at Neuaddlwyd, and afterwards at Newtown and Gosport, studied to qualify himself as a missionary to Madagascar. He was ordained at Penrhiwgaled 14 Feb. 1826. He married Mary, daughter of W. Thomas, independent minister at Bala, and set sail for Madagascar 11 May 1826. On their arrival they were welcomed by David Jones (d. 1841) [q. v.] and David Griffiths [q. v.], with whom Johns regularly co-operated till 1836. Persecution then compelled Johns and his companions to retire to the Mauritius, which he left for England in May 1839. He returned thither in January 1841, and paid several visits to Madagascar. On one of these he was taken ill, and died at Nossi Bé, a small island off the north-west coast of Madagascar, on 6 Aug. 1843, aged 49. With the help of J. Rainison, superintendent of schools, Johns translated Bunyan's ‘Pilgrim's Progress’ into the Malagasy vernacular, and prepared school-books and other small works. In 1840 he published a work in Welsh, giving a history of the persecution of the Christians at Madagascar. He also published a ‘Dictionary of the Malagasy Language,’ 1835, 8vo.

[Eglwysi Annybynol, i. 408, iv. 141; Enwogion Ceredigion; Enwogion Sir Aberteifi; Jones's Geiriadur Bywgraffyddol.]

R. J. J.