Biographical entry: Fox, Charles Elliot (1878 - 1977)

Born
1 October 1878
Died
October 1977

Details

Born on 1 October 1878 in Dorset, England, Anglican Diocese of Melanesia (q.v.) Melanesia Mission (q.v.) priest and author Charles Elliot Fox ('Takibaina', see below) holds the record as the longest-serving expatriate member of any church in the Solomon Islands. Son of Canon John Elliot Fox and Emma L.F. (née Phillips), Charles was educated at Napier Boy's High School and the College of St. John the Evangelist in Auckland. At the University of New Zealand (Auckland College) he earned a B.A. with First Class Honours in Theology and a M.A. degree (1899-1901). As a child he was so frail that he had to be educated at home. He was first inspired by Melanesia when he met a cricket team of Melanesian boys in 1895, and decided that he wanted to work amongst them. After a short period teaching science in New Zealand, he became a member of the Melanesian Mission on Norfolk Island in 1902, and was ordained in 1903. For a short time he was an assistant school teacher at St. Barnabas' School on Norfolk Island, where there were 240 boys, 160 of them from the Solomon Islands. He then went to Mota Island in the New Hebrides for a few months before he began his Solomon years as a missionary at Pamua on Makira. In 1905, he was back teaching on Norfolk Island, before returning to Makira in 1908, where he remained for the next ten years. In 1911, he opened the first boarding school in the Solomon Islands, St. Michael's at Pauma (q.v.), for boys from Makira, Ulawa and Malaita. In its early years, the school had to post guards to prevent attacks from marauding bushmen. Fox told stories of seeing warriors behead a woman at the school in the early days and of attempts on his own life. In 1922, he gained a Doctorate in Literature from the University of New Zealand for what later became Threshold of the Pacific (1924), an ethnographic study of the Arosi area of Makira. Also in 1922 the Melanesian Mission's main school on Norfolk was moved to Pawa on Ugi Island and between 1924 and 1932 Fox became Principal of All Hallows' School, Pawa (q.v.), which, until King George VI School (q.v.) was established, was the finest school in the Protectorate. In 1932, he declined the Melanesian bishopric, and became a member of the Melanesian Brotherhood (q.v.) on Guadalcanal (1933-1944), and at Fiu, Malaita (1944-1950). During his time as priest on Makira, he was adopted into the Arosi tribe and exchanged names with one of the young chiefs. He lived as a member of the chief's household and developed a unique knowledge of the Arosi customs, history and language. His exchange name was 'Takibaina'. Because of his short stature he was nicknamed 'Kakamora' (q.v.).

During the war, Fox spent time as a coastwatcher (q.v.) on Malaita before moving to Nggela as a guest of the American Seebee Construction Corps. When Maasina Rule (q.v.) emerged after the war Fox, unlike his Bishop, visited Maasina Rule villages to celebrate the sacraments and extended pastoral care. In 1950, he became Principal of the catechists school, and in 1952 Chaplain at diocesan headquarters, before spending two years (1952-1954) as Chaplain of the Melanesian Brotherhood (q.v.) at the headquarter school at Tabalia. In 1956, Fox was made Canon of Melanesia, and finally (1968-1970) was based at Taroaniara as Chaplain. During his time there he edited the Anglican Church periodical Melanesian Messenger. He retired to New Zealand in February 1973.

Fox authored a dozen books on the Solomon Islands, his major publications being Introduction to the Study of Oceanic Languages (1910), Threshold of the Pacific (1924), Lord of the Solomon Islands (1958), his memoirs Kakamora (1962), and dictionaries of the Nggela, Lau and Arosi languages. He received an M.B.E. in 1952 and a C.B.E. in 1974. Later in life he was affectionately known as 'The old man of Melanesia'. After having again taken vows as a Melanesian Brother in the last years of his life, he died on October 1977, one year short of a hundred. His body was flown back to Honiara for a funeral service at St. Barnabas' Cathedral (q.v.) and burial at the Melanesian Brothers headquarters at Tabalia. (Blain BDACP; PIM May 1952; July 1956; NS Mar. 1962, 15 Mar. 1973; Fox 1919, 1924, 1958, 231, 1962, 1967, 1978; SND 4 Nov. 1977; Terry Brown, personal communication, 22 Nov. 2011)

Related Concepts

Published resources

Books

  • Fox, Charles E., The Threshold of the Pacific, Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner and Co. Ltd.; Alfred A. Knopf, London; New York, 1924. Details
  • Fox, Charles E., Lord of the Southern Isles: Being the Story of the Anglican Mission in Melanesia, 1849-1949, Mowbray, London, 1958. Details
  • Fox, Charles E., Kakamora, Hodder and Stoughton, London, 1962. Details
  • Fox, Charles E., The Story of the Solomons, Pacific Publications, Sydney, 1967. Details
  • Fox, Charles E., Arosi Dictionary, Pacific Linguistics, Series C, No. 57, Department of Linguistics, Research School of Pacific Studies, Australian National University, Canberra, 1978. Details

Journals

  • Pacific Islands Monthly. Details
  • Solomons News Drum, 1974-1982. Details
  • British Solomon Islands Protectorate (ed.), British Solomon Islands Protectorate News Sheet (NS), 1955-1975. Details

Journal Articles

  • Fox, Charles E., 'Social Organization in San Cristoval, Solomon Islands', Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, vol. 49, 1919, pp. 94-179. Details

Web Pages

  • Blain, Michael, The Blain Biographical Directory of Anglican Clergy in the South Pacific, Project Canterbury http://anglicanhistory.org/nz/blain_directory/, 2012. Details

Images

Title
Rev. Charles Fox in old age
Type
Image
Date
1997
Source
DOM

Details

Title
Rev. Charles Fox, long-serving Anglican missionary
Type
Image
Date
1960s
Source
DOM

Details