Hiram Bingham

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Reverend Hiram Bingham I
Other names Hiram Bingham
Reverend Hiram Bingham I.jpg
Born 1789
Bennington, Vermont
Died 1869
New England
Occupation Missionary
Title Reverend
Predecessor Deacon Calvin Bingham
Successor Reverend Hiram Bingham II
Religion Christian

Reverend Hiram Bingham I (1789 - 1869), born in Bennington, Vermont, was in the first group of Protestant missionaries to introduce Christianity to the Hawaiian islands. He is largely credited with translating the first Hawaiian bible.

Early life

Hiram Bingham I was born in Bennington, Vermont in 1789 to Deacon Calvin Bingham (1750- 1831) and Lydia Denton (1757- 1831). Bingham worked on his father’s farm until he left to attend Middlebury College and graduated at the age of twenty six. He spent three years more at Andover Theological Seminary before being accepted for the first American mission to Hawaii under the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions centered in Boston. Since the men of the First Company had to be married, he proposed to Sybil Moseley, who happened to attend his ordination, and they were married a month later. Sybil (1792-1848) had been born in Westfield, Massachusetts, and orphaned at the age of nineteen.


Bingham and his wife arrived first on the Island of Hawaii in 1820 aboard the brig Thaddeus, and then sailed on to Honolulu. The first thing Bingham and his fellow missionaries did was begin work on learning the Hawaiian language, and creating an alphabet for the language. Once this had been accomplished, they began the much harder task of translating the bible to Hawaiian. This task took from 1822 to 1839, a full nineteen years. In 1823, Queen Ka'ahumanu and six high chiefs requested baptism. After Lucy Thurston was sexually accosted by a drunk priest, the Hawaiian Government banned prostitution and drunkenness. Binghams severe upholding of the laws of Jehovah put him in the bad graces of whaling Captains and other foreigners. He was attacked when sailors from the U.S.S. Dolphin, under John Percival, broke into the house of Kalanimoku on February 26, 1826. Bingham designed the Kawaiahaʻo Church, on the Hawaiian Island of O'ahu. The church was constructed between 1836 and 1842 in the New England style of the Hawaiian missionaries and is one of the oldest standing Christian places of worship in Hawai'i.

Bingham had seven children, including Reverend Hiram Bingham II, born on August 16th, 1831 in Honolulu; Elizabeth Kaahumanu, born 1829; an Lydia Bingham, born 1834.


In the 1840's the Board of Commissioners grew concerned that Bingham was interfering with Hawaiian politics to often. The Binghams returned to New England in the 1840s for what was intended to be a sabbatical due to Sybil's poor health, but the board refused to reappoint him as a missionary even after Sybil's death in 1848. He published a memoir, A Residence of Twenty-One Years in the Sandwich Islands in 1847. He remained in New England as the pastor of an African American church. He remarried to Naomi Morse in 1851. Bingham died in 1869, at the age of 80, and is buried at Grove Street Cemetery, in New Haven, Connecticut.