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Port of Liverpool
1814 – 1880
Biographies

William Henry Giles Kingston (1814-1880)

William Henry Giles Kingson, who published as W.H.G. Kingston, was a successful writer of novels and adventure stories for boys promoting Christian hardiness. He was the main motivating force behind the creation of the first national church mission to seamen, the Anglican Missions to Seamen, now the Mission to Seafarers. 

Source: Mary L. Walrond. Launching out into the Deep  (London, 1904).

William Henry Giles Kingson, who published as W.H.G. Kingston, was a successful writer of novels and adventure stories for boys promoting Christian hardiness and colonization. He was the main motivating force behind the creation of the first national church mission to seamen, the Anglican Missions to Seamen, now the Mission to Seafarers.

Kverndal is careful to arrange his words, and suggests that whereas Ashley was the 'originator' of a particular style of mission that was adopted by the Mission to Seafarers, Kingston should be regarded as 'the man who mastermineded the organisation' (Kverndal 1986: 389).

A number of influences seem to have combined to inspire Kingston’s interest in the merchant seaman’s cause. His family had colonial business interests, including the wine trade in Oporto and as a child he was fascinated by the sailors he observed there.

Like other marine mission campaigners, the Kingston family combined economic entanglement in slavery, with advocacy for philanthropic and colonial causes. John Kingston MP (1736-1820), the grandfather of John Kingston the writer, was a strong supporter of the anti-slavery cause and a director of the Sierra Leone Company, the colony founded by evangelicals as an alternative to slavery in Africa. The will of John Kingston MP reveals that he had plantations (sic) called Clairmont on the Essequibo River in Guyana, which became a British colony in 1814. There were claims and counter claims, and more than one estate, but Clairmont alone included 149 enslaved valued at £7632 8s 3d.

Kingston actively promoted colonization and the benefits of emigration though his magazine editing, including 'The Colonist' and 'The Colonial Magazine and East india Review', and a manual for colonists, published in 1850. From the latter date he began his popular series of books for boys, of which the best known was Peter the Whaler (1851), along with more than a hundred others.

Kingston was instrumental in promoting the cause of a national mission for seamen, serving on the committee and advocating the cause of the merchant seaman. He was particularly important in instigating the independent Mersey Missions to Seamen, travelling there to promote and advocate the cause in Britain’s busiest western port.

References

‘The Late W.H.G. Kingston’ 1880., Boy's Own Paper, 11 Sept. pp 796-797. 

Hamilton, J.A. 2004. ‘Kingston, William Henry Giles (1814–1880)’, rev. Diana Dixon, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press).

John Kingston MP (1736-1820), Legacies of Slavery Database https://www.ucl.ac.uk/lbs/person/view/2146633315 

Kverndal. Roald. 1986. Seamen's Mission Their Origin and Early Growth (Pasadena, California: William Carey)

Thorne, R.G. , 'Kingston, John of Grosvenor Street and Oak Hill', History of Parliament online 

Citation for this article

Hilary Carey, 'William Henry Giles Kingston (1814-1880)' Mariners: Race, Religion and Empire in British Ports 1801-1914, https://mar.ine.rs/stories/william-henry-giles-kingston-1814-1880/
Retrieved 22 February 2024