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LE GALLAIS, WELLMEIN WILLIAM, Church of England clergyman and missionary; baptized 21 July 1833 at St Helier, Jersey, son of Richard Le Gallais and Susan Mason; m. 21 June 1859 Fanny Harriet Loftus, née Langrishe, of St John’s, Nfld, and they had four daughters and one son (one daughter married Edward Patrick Morris*); d. 27 Oct. 1869 near Isle aux Morts, Nfld.

Wellmein William Le Gallais went to Newfoundland sometime in the 1840s as a clerk in the firm of Nicolle and Company, Jersey merchants at La Poile. There, under the influence of the Reverend Jacob George Mountain, an able Tractarian recruit to the diocese of Bishop Edward Feild*, Le Gallais offered himself for the ministry.

In 1854 he was admitted to Queen’s College, St John’s, where he completed his theological and pastoral training by 1857, and was made deacon the same year. He was put in charge of the mission at Channel, on the south coast of Newfoundland, and ordained priest two years later. He set a pattern of Tractarian missionary endeavour by saying morning and evening prayer daily and celebrating communion every Sunday. Like other efficient Church of England clergymen in this period, he also founded a Church Provident Society in the early 1860s as an insurance against distress through bereavement, sickness, or unemployment. Members, who had to be regular communicants of the church, made quarterly payments into a fund. Bad behaviour was punished by expulsion. Le Gallais also organized courses of lectures during the winter months when fishing was impossible, and set up a lending library to provide the reading matter always scarce in an isolated community.

Le Gallais’ 12 years of missionary work ended abruptly when, returning in a small boat from a sick call to Isle aux Morts, he was caught in a gale and drowned. Bishop Feild mourned the loss of “perhaps the most active and useful of our Missionaries in Newfoundland.” A successful missionary with concern for the spiritual and material needs of his parishioners, Le Gallais had been a fine product of Feild’s policy of training and using former clerks, schoolmasters, and scripture readers when candidates educated at universities were not available. Like many other missionaries in Newfoundland he lost his life in the church’s service.

Frederick Jones

USPG, D39, Feild to secretary, 31 Oct. 1869. Soc. for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, Report (London), 1864, 36. Mission Field (London), 1 March 1870. Newfoundlander, 23 June 1859. Times and General Commercial Gazette (St John’s), 6, 10 Nov. 1869. [C. F. Pascoe], Classified digest of the records of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, 1701–1892 . . . (5th ed., London, 1895), 858.

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Cite This Article

Frederick Jones, “LE GALLAIS, WELLMEIN WILLIAM,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 9, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed September 21, 2023, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/le_gallais_wellmein_william_9E.html.

The citation above shows the format for footnotes and endnotes according to the Chicago manual of style (16th edition). Information to be used in other citation formats:

Permalink:   http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/le_gallais_wellmein_william_9E.html
Author of Article:   Frederick Jones
Publication Name:   Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 9
Publisher:   University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication:   1976
Year of revision:   1976
Access Date:   September 21, 2023