Foreign Missions Committee

Scope and Content

Correspondence, minutes and papers of the Foreign Missions Committee of the Presbyterian Church of England. A large part of the correspondence and papers concerns the activities of English Presbyterian male missionaries in the various mission fields: South Fukien[Fujian], Swatow [Shantou], and Hakka in mainland China and Formosa [Taiwan], Malaya and in Rajshai, now in Bangladesh. Each of the mission councils stationed in these fields sent back to headquarters in London minutes of their councils. There is also a series of files containing more personal correspondence with or about individual missionaries. Home Division files comprise correspondence, minutes, reports as well as financial papers. There is some correspondence relating to women missionaries though most is to be found in the WMA's files. However, since the late 1920s women missionaries came to play more of a role on local mission councils. Eventually these became united reporting to both the FMC and the WMA.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Foreign Missions Committee of the English Presbyterian Church was founded shortly after the founding of the Church itself in 1844. The Committee resolved in that same year to commence missionary work in China but was only able to find a suitable agent in 1847 when William Chalmer Burns was appointed the first EP missionary. The most important officer on the Committee in the early years of the mission was the Convenor. The first Convenor, the Rev James Hamilton, served from 1847 unitl his death in 1867 while the second, Hugh M. Matheson, chair of the Rio Tinto Company served for over thiry years until 1896. At his resignation he recommended the appointment of a full-time Secretary.

The first full-time Secretary of the FM Committee was the Rev William Dale, appointed in 1904. He was succeeded in 1915 by the Rev PJ Maclagan who served as Secretary until 1935. Rev TW Douglas James then became Secretary until February 1945 when he was killed in the rocket attack on the Presbyterian offices in London, along with seven others. He was succeeded by the Rev W Short.

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