Society Islands (now in French Polynesia)
Volcanic islands in southern Pacific Ocean, east of Friendly Islands (now Tonga). Polynesian settlement, ca. 800 AD. Discovered by Portuguese navigator Pedro Fernandez de Quiros, 1606. Claimed by Captain Samuel Wallis of Britain, 1767, and by Captain Louis de Bougainville of France, 1768. Named by Captain James Cook, 1769. Became French protectorate, 1843. Christian missionaries traveled to islands, ca. late 1700s–early 1800s. Population of Otaheite (now Tahiti) in 1830 and 1848 about 8,600. JS appointed four missionaries to serve mission to Sandwich Islands, 11 May 1843. Missionaries instead sailed for Society Islands; arrived 30 Apr. 1844.