Robert Henry Codrington

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Robert Henry Codrington
Born(1830-09-15)15 September 1830
Died11 September 1922(1922-09-11) (aged 91)
ReligionChurch of England

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]

He popularized the use of the word "mana" in the West, and described mana "as a generalized power that is perceived in objects appearing in any sense out of the ordinary, or that is acquired by persons who possess them."[3]

Bibliography of works by Codrington[edit]


  1. ^ a b c 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.
  3. ^ World Religions: Eastern Traditions. Edited by Willard Gurdon Oxtoby (2nd ed.). Don Mills, Ontario: Oxford University Press. 2002. pp. 324, 326. ISBN 0-19-541521-3. OCLC 46661540.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)

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