Letter from A[lice] Swallow, Da-laen-sean [China] to Miss [H Marjorie] Whyatt [Grimsby, Lincolnshire]

Scope and Content

Read letter she enclosed from Miss Nerua Gilliatt and scholars at S[unday] School. Please read her reply to those young girls interested in mission work. Currently on holiday on Bulleibly Hill aka 'the Mountains of the Mist'. Describes women and children picking tea, Christian services at foot of hill at village of Feng Shii Cicy, foot binding and making shoes, literacy, local area & bird life. Returning to Ningpo [Ningbo] on Friday where husband, Dr [Robert] Swallow, has been very busy with patients during some 'extremely hot days'. Reading 'The Prophet Daniel' by A C Gabbelein. Adds in postscript that the day before she arrived home the War Office sent cable stating her son, Luther, was 'Wounded & Missing'.

Administrative / Biographical History

In March 1875 Dr Robert D Swallow (1845-1919) formally requested the permission of the Foreign Committee of the United Methodist Free Churches to marry Alice Johnson. In June of that year they consented and provided her with £30 for necessary articles for her journey to Ningpo [Ningbo] in China to marry her fiancé. By the end of the year they were married and Alice Swallow begun life as a missionary wife assisting her husband with both his medical and evangelical duties. Much of her time was spent specifically with women and children. By 1904 they had returned to England with her husband being initially appointed to Blyth [Northumberland] and then in 1908 to Manchester [Lancashire].

In 1911 the couple set sail for China with Mrs Swallow again actively involving herself with her husband's work. However, staff shortages lead to her role becoming more formal and by 1913 she was working 'with the sanction of the Foreign Missionary Committee and Conference' amongst the women and girls of the mission in the Ningpo circuits (principally in the city itself). She was appointed co-superintendent of the Girls' Day School (comprising about 40 pupils) where the students had the 'usual curriculum of an elementary school' including reading and writing (both Chinese and English), sewing, knitting, etc. The teaching of the Gospel and a 'Christian life' to women and children (primarily through Bible women) also fell under her direction. By 1914 she is solely in charge of the Girl's School, which is also taking a small number of boarders now, and assisting with the pastoral care of patients in the hospital where her husband works. Throughout this period she also organised summer schools and other evangelical events.

In 1916, expecting to soon return to England, she resigned her position from the Day School but her departure was deferred until 1917. Her husband obtained passage to England in 1918 (partly to tend to the sick) but his wife was unable to obtain permission to leave China. Whilst her enforced wait continued she resumed much of her previous work to the extent that the UMMS paid her the salary of a 'single lady missionary' until her return to England in the spring of 1919 to join her husband, now a supernumerary in Walthamstow [Essex]. Unfortunately their time together was short lived as her husband died on 17 July 1919. Of their four children - Norman, Robert William, Luther James and Alice Mary - Luther James died before both of his parents being killed in action in the summer of 1917.

H Marjorie Wyatt (later Mrs Henry Gill) was born in Eccles, Lancashire, in 1891 and died in 1987.

Conditions Governing Access


Acquisition Information

Donated by John M Gill of Ponteland, Northumberland, on 23 April 2013

Conditions Governing Use

For permission to publish, please contact Archives & Special Collections, SOAS Library in the first instance

Copyright held by SOAS, University of London

Related Material

The minutes of the Foreign Mission Committee of the United Methodist Free Churches and the United Methodist Missionary Society are available (MMS/HomeMinutes/FBN 6). Brief artciles on and by Alice Swallow can be found amongst the pages of the 'Missionary Echo' and the annual reports of the missionary society.

Geographical Names