The Adventure begins
In 1856, at the age of 14, his new family embarked on a trip to the remote South Atlantic islands. Despard was setting up an Anglican mission in the Falkland Islands. There, Thomas' playmates and adventure companions were Yámana children. He easily learned their language, a factor that, unknowingly, would be decisive for the success of the mission. During all his life, Thomas felt a great passion for this complex language, which later led him to write a Yámana-English dictionary with more than 30 thousand words.
Three years went by until the missionaries believed it was be the right time to settle on the West coast of Navarino Island. During the first religious ceremony held on land, they were attacked by natives and all were killed, except for the cook, who had remained on board the ship.
Upon learning about what had happened, Despard felt so discouraged and responsible for the deaths that he decided to leave the mission and return to England with his family. That's when Thomas, who was only 18, decided to stay behind and take over the mission.