William Mariner was an Englishman who lived in the Tonga Islands from 29 November 1806 to (probably) 8 November 1810. He wrote an account of his experiences, Tonga Islands, that is now one of the major sources of information on pre-Christian Tonga.
Mariner's sojourn in Tonga
William Mariner was a teenage ship's clerk aboard the British privateer Port Au Prince
. The ship anchored off the Tongan island of Lifuka
, in the Ha'apai
island group, and was seized by the Ha'apai
chief and future king of Tonga Fīnau Ulukālala
on 1 December 1806
. Most of the crew were killed in the takeover of the ship, but Fīnau spared Mariner and several colleagues. Fīnau assumed responsibility for Mariner, taking him under his protection. Mariner lived in Tonga for four years, predominantly in the northern island group of Vavau
On his return to England he dictated a detailed account of his time in the Tonga Islands, a description of Tongan society and culture at the time, and a grammar and dictionary of the Tongan language. The resulting publication remains one of the most valuable historical documents of pre-Christian life in the Pacific Islands.
He also gave a lively description of his lord and protector Fīnau Fangupō (Ulukālala II). One quote from Mariner, giving Fīnau's opinion of the Western innovation of money, can be found in paanga.
There are three major versions of Mariner's account. The original version was first published in 1817, with the help of Dr. John Martin, who assumed authorship. Later editions appeared in England in 1818 and 1827 and in Germany in 1819 and the United States in 1820. The Vava'u Press of Tonga issued a new edition in 1981 that includes a biographical essay about Mariner, written by Denis Joyroal McCulloch, one of Mariner's great-great grandsons, but leaves out the grammar and dictionary. Two modern editions with modern Tongan spelling and other additions have been published, the first by Boyle Townshend Somerville in 1936 and the second by Paul W. Dale in 1996.
- Tonga Islands: William Mariner's account : an account of the natives of the Tonga Islands in the South Pacific Ocean, with an original grammar and vocabulary of their language. Vava'u Press; 4th ed., 1981. ASIN B0006EB4WI.
- Will Mariner: A True Record of Adventure by Boyle Townshend Somerville. London: Faber and Faber, 1936.
- The Tonga Book by Paul W Dale. London: Minerva Press, 1996. ISBN 1-85863-797-X.
Other books relating to Mariner
- Toki: A Tongan trilogy : a historical novel based on the Polynesian life of Will Mariner and Finau Ulukalala of Tonga, by Louise Lose Finau. Simmons Pub. Co., 1996. ISBN 0-9667463-0-9.
- Michener, James A.: Rascals in Paradise.