Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Le Brun, John

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LE BRUN, JOHN (d. 1865), independent missionary in Mauritius, born in Switzerland, was brought up in England, and was educated under the care of Dr. Bogue at Gosport. He received ordination for the congregationalist ministry in Jersey on 25 Nov. 1813, and was at the same time appointed to Mauritius, which had been captured from the French in 1810. He sailed on 1 Jan. 1814, being furnished by the directors of the London Missionary Society with letters of recommendation to Governor R. Farquhar. 'An important object of this mission was,' the directors stated, ' to prepare the way to the great island of Madagascar, and it may be hoped to Bourbon also.' LeBrun arrived at Port Louis on 18 May 1814, and commenced his work, of which the governor of the island spoke with satisfaction in the following year (see History of Madagascar, by W. Ellis, ii. 205). But the climate injured his health, while 'he and his congregation,' writes Mr. Backhouse, 'were for many years, during the full operation of the slave system.' which he strongly opposed, 'placed under the ban of the police.' and his relations with the coloured people were seriously hampered (Narrative of a Visit to the Mauritius and South Africa, p. 50). After staving at Cape Town from October 1832 until 4 March 1833, he arrived in London 22 May. In August 1833 the London Missionary Society, discouraged by the fovernment officials, abandoned its efforts in lauritius, but when in 1834 the act for the abolition of slavery in all the British dominions was published, Le Brun returned to Mauritius on his own account, and continued his labours among the emancipated slaves, who were mostly of Madagascar origin, Hovas, and Malagasy. He built a commodious chapel in Port Louis, and established schools under the auspices of the Mico charity throughout the island. He was indefatigable in assisting the Malagasy refugees who escaped from the dominion of Queen Ranavalo, and despatched his son Peter to Tamatave to help the exiles to leave Madagascar in 1838. About ten thousand natives of Madagascar lived at this time in Mauritius, most of them being originally imported either as slaves or as 'prize negroes' (cf. Narrative of the Persecution of the Christians in Madagascar, by Freeman and Johns, p. 276), and at Port Louis or at Mokar Le Brun and his son made every effort to supply them with religious instruction (cf. A Tour in S. Africa, by J. J. Freeman, 1851, p. 388). Le Brun was reappointed an agent of the London Missionary Society on 27 Dec. 1841. In 1851 his son Peter again visited Madagascar, and after the death of Ranavalona arranged at the court of the second Radama for the entry of the London missionaries into the country under the protection of the government. Le Brun died 21 Feb. 1865 at Port Louis. He married at Port Louis, in August 1818, Miss Mabille. She died 9 July 1856, leaving two sons, who joined in the work of their father's ministry.

[Besides works above quoted see Widowed Missionary's Journal, by Keturah Jeffreys, 1827; Official Register of the London Missionary Society, Mission House, Blomfield Street; Sub-Tropical Rambles, by Nicholas Pike, p. 444; Three Visits to Madagascar, by W. Ellis, 1858; The Martyr Church of Madagascar, by W. Ellis, 1870.]

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