Papers of James Hudson Taylor

Scope and Content

Papers, c1849-1937, of James Hudson Taylor, comprising large amounts of correspondence both personal and official; journals kept by Taylor for himself and for the Chinese Evangelization Society; Taylor's engagement diaries; reminiscences of missionaries; excerpts from contemporary newspapers; sundry administrative papers; notes on the development of candidate selection; and some papers brought in by M Geraldine and Frederick Howard Taylor to add to material for their books.

Administrative / Biographical History

James Hudson Taylor was born in Barnsley, Yorkshire, on 21 May 1832. His family were enthusiastic Methodists, but Taylor became sceptical at an early age. However, at the age of 17 he was converted again to evangelical Christianity and decided to give his life to missionary work in China. Medical missionaries were urgently needed at that time and he underwent a form of medical apprenticeship in Hull and London under the guidance of the Chinese Evangelization Society, before leaving for south-east China as their representative in 1853, where he remained initially until 1860.

Taylor was based initially at Shanghai. On his move to Ningpo around 1857, he met Maria and Burella Dyer, daughters of the late Samuel Dyer (missionary with the London Missionary Society, 1827-1843). Both girls were teaching at the girl's school in Ningpo, conducted by Mary Ann Aldersey (1797-1868), the first woman missionary in China). Maria Jane Dyer (1837-1870) and Taylor were married in 1858, despite Aldersey's opposition. Maria became an invaluable assistant to Taylor. When young women recruits arrived with the Mission she was able to train them in the Chinese vernacular language, Chinese culture and missionary work. The couple had eight children - Grace Dyer (1859-1867); Hubert Hudson (b 1861); Frederick Howard (b 1862, who with his wife Geraldine became the first Mission historians); Samuel Dyer (1864-1870); Jane Dyer (born and died 1865); Maria (b 1867); Charles Edward (Tien pao, b 1868) and Noel (born and died 1870). Maria died shortly after giving birth to their last child in 1870. The four surviving children all became missionaries with the China Inland Mission.

In 1860, Taylor left the Chinese Evangelization Society and returned to England. He had an increasing concern for Chinese living in provinces untouched by missionary work. He expressed his growing vision in China's Spiritual Need and Claims, 1865. That same year, with limited financial resources, he founded the China Inland Mission, together with William Thomas Berger. The first party of missionaries left for China on the Lammermuir in 1866. Taylor became General Director of the Mission, based in the mission field. He also spent a great deal of time travelling to other countries to make China's needs known and to recruit new missionaries.

In 1871, he married Jane Elizabeth "Jennie" Faulding Taylor (1843-1904), one of the original (and junior member) of the China Inland Mission party aboard the Lammermuir in 1866. She wholly supported Taylor in his work. In 1878, when he was obliged for administrative reasons to remain in England, she returned to China alone to lead other women in relief work in the severe Shanxi famine of 1877-1878. She was the first woman to travel deep into the interior, and her success strengthened Taylor's case for appointing women in pioneering roles. They had two surviving children, Ernest (b 1875) and Amy (b 1876). She continued to travel with her husband into their old age. She died of cancer in Switzerland, a year before Taylor's own death.

Taylor was made a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society in 1864. He played a prominent part at the General Missionary Conferences in Shanghai in 1877 and 1890. He retired from administration of the China Inland Mission in 1901, officially resigning in favour of D E Hoste in 1903. He died in Changsha, Hunan, in 1905 and was buried in Chen-chiang, Kiangsu.

Further reading: H Taylor & M G Taylor, Hudson Taylor in Early Years (1912), and Hudson Taylor and the China Inland Mission: The growth of a Work of God (1919); M Broomhall, Hudson Taylor: The Man Who Believed in God (1929); J Pollock, Hudson Taylor and Maria (1962); A J Broomhall, Hudson Taylor and China's Open Century (7 volumes, 1981-1989).


Some of the journals and letters are kept in bound volumes. The remaining material has been arranged into chronological sections as follows: before 1853; 1854-1856; 1857-1865; 1866-1870; 1871-1882; 1883-1886; 1887-1890; 1891-1898; 1899-1905. General papers form a separate section.

Access Information


Acquisition Information

Donated with the China Inland Mission papers in 1991-1994.

Other Finding Aids

Part 1 of the unpublished handlist of the records of the China Inland Mission includes James Hudson Taylor's papers.

Archivist's Note

Revised by Rachel Kemsley as part of the RSLP AIM25 project. 15 May 2000, revised Mar 2002


Conditions Governing Use

Copyright held by Overseas Missionary Fellowship.

Custodial History

James Hudson Taylor bequeathed his personal papers to Frederick and Geraldine Taylor as material for the history of the China Inland Mission to be written by Geraldine, and she has made one or two deletions in some documents.

Related Material

The School of Oriental and African Studies holds the records of the China Inland Mission (Ref: CIM), the other sub-collections including papers of the Chefoo Schools, founded by Taylor, and Chefoo Schools Association.