William George Lawes England Australia Niue Papua New Guinea

Biography of William George Lawes

William George Lawes
William George Lawes

George William Lawes was conferred an honorary DD by the University of Glasgow in 1895.

Having joined the London Missionary Society in 1858, Lawes set out for the Savage Island, modern day Niue in 1860, arriving the following year. Ater 12 years in Niue, Lawes and his family relocated to Port Moresby (New Guinea) in November 1874.They were the first permanent European residents of Papua.

Lawes, whose knowledge was the people and Motuan language was extensive, acted as an interpreter and adviser to the civil administrations in turn. As well as having opened eleven new missions, he also published the first Papuan-language book, and undertook lecture tours in the UK and Australia. In 1885, he published Grammar and vocabulary of language spoken by Motu tribe (New Guinea).

In 1894 was awarded a DD by the University of Glasgow on the recommendation of colonial governor William MacGregor.

Lawes retired in 1906 and moved to Sydney where he died on 6 August 1907.


Other Online Resources

Archival Materials

  • Addison, W. Innes, A Roll of the Graduates of the University of Glasgow from 31st December, 1727 to 31st Decmeber, 1897, with short biographical notes, Glasgow : J. MacLehose & Sons


William George Lawes
Born 1 July 1839.
Died 6 August 1907.
GU Degree: DD, 1895;
University Link: Graduate, Honorary Graduate
Occupation categories: clergy; linguists; missionaries
English snippet: Honorary graduate of the University of Glasgow in 1895, European missionary and expert on Papua New Guinea
Record last updated: 25th Mar 2022

Country Associations

England England, Berkshire, Aldermaston
Place of Birth

Australia Australia, Sydney
Place of Death

Niue Niue, No Region

Papua New Guinea Papua New Guinea, Port Moresby

University Connections

University Roles