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Robert Henry Codrington

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Robert Henry Codrington (15 September 1830, Wroughton, Wiltshire – 11 September 1922)[1] was an Anglican priest and anthropologist who made the first study of Melanesian society and culture. His work is still held as a classic of ethnography.

Codrington wrote, "One of the first duties of a missionary is to try to understand the people among whom he works,"[2] and he himself reflected a deep commitment to this value. Codrington worked as headmaster of the Melanesian Mission school on Norfolk Island from 1867 to 1887.[1] Over his many years with the Melanesian people, he gained a deep knowledge of their society, languages, and customs through a close association with them. He also intensively studied Melanesian languages, including the Mota language.[1]

Bibliography of works by Codrington

  • The Melanesian Languages. (1885). Oxford: Clarendon Press. (full text from the Internet Archive).
  • The Melanesians: Studies in their Anthropology and Folk-Lore. (1891). Oxford: Clarendon Press. (full text from the Internet Archive).
  • A Dictionary of the Language of Mota, Sugarloaf Island, Banks' Islands: With a short grammar and index. London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.
  • "Melanesians." Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics. Ed. James Hastings. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 8:529–38.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Davidson, Allan K. "The Legacy of Robert Henry Codrington." International Bulletin of Missionary Research. Oct 2003, Vol. 27 Issue 4, p. 171-176. full text.
  2. The Melanesians. Robert Codrington.

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