Scottish missionary’s 200-year-old coconut is up for sale


A 19th-CENTURY coconut used as a collection tin for one of Scotland’s most famous missionaries is set to fetch £700 when it goes under the hammer.

The coconut, which dates back almost two centuries, belonged to John Paton, a missionary from Dumfries, Dumfries and Galloway.

Paton collected the coconut from a beach on the island of Aniwa, Vanuatu in the South Pacific Ocean, while serving as a missionary.

He took it halfway around the world to Scotland where it was rattled at Church services and on the streets of Glasgow for 70 years.

Auctioneers Lyon and Turnbull said the “simple” coconut missionary box tells an amazing story.

Specialist Alex Tweedy said: “I would say he is Scotland’s most famous missionary with the exception of Dr Livingstone of course. His story is very interesting and has all the things people enjoy reading about. The item we are offering is a simple coconut, picked up on the beach by Paton and taken back to Scotland to act as a collecting tin.

“Humble object but with an amazing story.”

Paton, one of nine children, was born in a small thatched cottage on Braehead Farm, Dumfries, in 1824.

After working in the slums of Glasgow, Paton was ordained in 1858 and just three weeks later he set sail to the South Pacific with his wife, Mary.

At this time Vanuatu, formerly the New Hebrides, had a fearsome reputation for cannibalism, inter-tribal warfare and violence towards outsiders.

Paton first settled on the volcanic island of Tanna and was cautiously welcomed by the inhabitants around the south coast.