Tonga Church Records

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The usage of "Mormon" and "LDS" on this page is approved according to current policy.

For information about records for non-Christian religions in Tonga, go to the Religious Records page.

Online Resources and Websites[edit | edit source],, and can be searched free of charge at your local family history center or the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

According to the 2011 census, 36% of the population are members of the Free Wesleyan Church, including the king and the majority of the royal family. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the next largest group (18%), followed by the Roman Catholic Church (15%), and three further Methodist denominations, the Free Church of Tonga (12%), the Church of Tonga (7%), and the Tokaikolo Christian Church (2.5%). Tonga also has members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Anglicans. [1]

Information Recorded in the Records[edit | edit source]

Different denominations, different time periods, and practices of different record keepers will effect how much information can be found in the records. This outline will show the types of details which might be found (best case scenario):

Baptisms[edit | edit source]

In Catholic and Anglican records, children were usually baptized a few days after birth, and therefore, the baptism record proves date of birth. Other religions, such as Baptists, baptized at other points in the member's life. Baptism registers might give:

  • baptism date
  • the infant's name
  • parents' names
  • father's occupation
  • status of legitimacy
  • occasionally, names of grandparents
  • names of witnesses or godparents, who may be relatives
  • birth date and place
  • the family's place of residence
  • death information, as an added note or signified by a cross

Marriages[edit | edit source]

Marriage registers can give:

  • the marriage date
  • the names of the bride and groom
  • indicate whether the bride and groom were single or widowed
  • their ages
  • birth dates and places for the bride and groom
  • their residences
  • their occupations
  • birthplaces of the bride and groom
  • parents' names (after 1800)
  • the names of previous spouses and their death dates
  • names of witnesses, who might be relatives.

Burials[edit | edit source]

Burial registers may give:

  • the name of the deceased
  • the date and place of death or burial
  • the deceased's age
  • place of residence
  • cause of death
  • the names of survivors, especially a widow or widower
  • deceased's birth date and place
  • parents' names, or at least the father's name

How to Find Records[edit | edit source]

Digital Copies of Church Records in the FamilySearch Catalog[edit | edit source]

Watch for digitized copies of church records to be added to the collection of the FamilySearch Library. Some records might have viewing restrictions, and can only be viewed at a Family History Center near you, and/or by members of supporting organizations. To find records:

a. Click on the records of Tonga.
b. Click on Places within Tonga and a list of towns will appear.
c. Click on your town if it appears, or the location which you believe was the parish which served your town or village.
d. Click on the "Church records" topic. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
e. Some combination of these icons will appear at the far right of the listing for the record. FHL icons.png. The magnifying glass indicates that the record is indexed. Clicking on the magnifying glass will take you to the index. Clicking on the camera will take you to an online digital copy of the records.

Writing for Records[edit | edit source]

You will probably need to write to or email the national archives, the diocese, or local parish priests to find records. See Letter Writing Guide for Genealogy for help with composing letters.

Catholic Church Records[edit | edit source]

Writing to a Local Parish[edit | edit source]

Earlier records can be held at the diocese, with more recent records still kept in the local parish. To locate the mailing address or e-mail address for a diocese or local parish, consult:

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

The Catholic Church in Tonga is part of the worldwide Catholic Church under the leadership of its local bishop in communion with the Pope of Rome. It is estimated that approximately 16% of the population of the Pacific island Kingdom are Catholic, being 15,767 in 2004.

Responsibility for Oceania was given by the Catholic Church to the Society of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary in 1825; but the territory was judged to be too large, and the western portion was formed into a vicariate Apostolic and given to the Society of Mary in 1836. In 1842, the vicariate Apostolic of Central Oceania was created comprising New Caledonia, Tonga, Samoa, and Fiji. A later subdivision, reduced the vicariate to include only Tonga, the Wallis Islands, Futuna, and Niué. In 1937 the Vicariate Apostolic of Tonga Islands was created and in 1957 it became the Vicariate Apostolic of Tonga Islands and Niue and in 1966 the region became the Diocese of Tonga.[2][3]

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Records[edit | edit source]

Online Records[edit | edit source]

Online information is available to current members, for deceased members and immediate family members who are still living. Sign in to FamilySearch and then select Family Tree in the drop-down menu.

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has had an official presence in Tonga for well over a century. In 1891, King Siaosi (George) Tupou was visited by the first Latter-day Saint missionaries to arrive on the shores of Tonga and gave them permission to preach. Property was purchased, a mission home and school were built and a boat was secured for travel between islands. Through the years the Church in Tonga slowly began to grow.

During World War II many Latter-day Saint servicemen were stationed near Tonga and attended the local worship services. After the war the Church experienced dramatic growth as many local members were called as missionaries.

The progress of the Church on the islands has been assisted through the establishment of schools. A school in Nieafu was opened by the Church in 1907, and another, the Makeke School, was opened in 1924. A new educational complex, the Liahona High School, was established in 1952; it has become one of the largest and most successful educational institutions in Tonga.

Tonga has the largest number of Latter-day Saints per capita of any nation in the world. The Nuku’alofa Tonga Temple will serve approximately 41,000 Church members throughout Tonga and the Line Islands of the Pacific Ocean. Total Church Membership: 66,631. Congregations: 173.[4]

Methodist Church Records[edit | edit source]

Writing for Records[edit | edit source]

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

The first Methodist missionaries arrived in Tonga in 1822. After a difficult start the work progressed, and by the middle of the 19th century the whole population was Christianized. There was a split in the church in 1885 which was partially resolved in 1924. Tonga was a conference within the Methodist Church of Australasia until 1977 when the Uniting Church in Australia was formed, and the Free Wesleyan Church gained its autonomy. The word "Free" in the name of the church indicates that the Tonga Conference is completely independent, and the word "Wesleyan" expresses the gratitude of the Tongan people to the missionaries and ministers of the Wesleyan church who evangelized the island. The relation between the king and the Free Wesleyan Church has been strong since the foundation of modern Tonga under Taufa'ahau Tupou I in 1845.

Seventh-day Adventist Church Records[edit | edit source]

Writing for Records[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Wikipedia contributors, "Religion in Tonga", in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,, accessed 10 April 2020.
  2. Wikipedia contributors, "Religion in Tonga", in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,, accessed 10 April 2020.
  3. Wikipedia contributors, "Catholic Church in Tonga", in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,, accessed 10 April 2020.
  4. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, "Facts and Statistics: Tonga,, accessed 6 April 2020.
  5. "Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga (Methodist Church in Tonga)", at World Council of Churches,, accessed 10 April 2020.