North China

Administrative / Biographical History

The LMS mission to North China began in 1861, with a brief period of work at Chefoo [Yantai] in Shantung province under Hugh Cowie. Mission work was soon centered in Tientsin [later Tianjin] and Peking [Beijing].

A mission at Tientsin was established in 1861 by Joseph Edkins. As a seaport, Tientsin became the centre of operations. William Lockhart quickly joined the mission, while Edkins moved to Peking in 1863. A medical mission was established, and quickly flourished under the guidance of John MacKenzie (appointed 1879) when a hospital was opened. In 1888, work of the Tientsin mission was extended when Chi Chou was made a mission centre and a new station was opened at Hsiao Chang [Siaochang, Xiaozhang]] under William Hopkyn Rees and Dr Sewell MacFarlane. The work of the Tientsin mission was supported by many missionaries, including Thomas Bryson, Arthur Cousins and David Murray.

In 1895 Samuel Lavington Hart transferred to Tientsin. A Chinese Medical College was opened in 1893. The mission was supported by the successful appointments of Chinese itinerant evangelists, whose role was to undertake preaching work in outlying rural areas. In 1902, the Tientsin Anglo-Chinese College was opened. Later staff at the College included Charles Longman, Robert Peill and Eric Liddell.

The Peking [Beijing] mission was established in 1861 when William Lockhart travelled to the city and opened a mission hospital. The First Protestant Church in China was opened in Peking in 1862. Joseph Edkins joined the mission a year later, having transferred from Tientsin. Early missionaries included Robert Jermaine Thomas (who left the LMS to attempt an unsuccessful mission to Korea), James Gilmour (appointed 1870, with a view to reopening the Mongolian mission) and Samuel Evans Meech. To the dismay of the Directors of the LMS, mission work in Peking was mainly medical rather than evangelical. The Peking Union Medical College was established in 1906, under the guidance of Thomas Cochrane. Educational work was also carried out, including teaching at the Peking Union Theological College (the precursor to the co-operative Yenching School of Religion). A girls' boarding school flourished at Peking from the 1880s under the guidance of Georgina Smith (Georgina Biggin from 1903).

The North China missions were particularly affected by the Boxer uprisings of 1900. All the LMS property in Peking was destroyed, and Tientsin was badly damaged. Property was also destroyed in Tsangchow [Canzhou], Siaochang, Tung-an [Tungan] and Chaoyang. LMS Missionaries were affected by the siege of Peking, and one missionary Joseph Stonehouse, was killed by 'bandits' in the aftermath of the conflict, in Mar 1901. A great many Chinese Christians in North China were killed, including over 230 people in Tsangchow and 150 in Peking.

In 1911, unlike 1900, there was only minor disruption to work in Peking and Tientsin, and no mission property was damaged. Mission work after the Revolution certainly continued, and in some ways expanded. Significant medical work was carried out by Arnold Bryson, and evangelical work by William Dawson. However, during the early 1920s the success of the mission was significantly affected by famine and floods, and much work focused on local relief. In the mid-1920s work was affected by the civil war, and by 1935 the missionaries in Peking and Tientsin were working in an 'autonomous' region, influenced by Japan. By 1941 missionaries were being evacuated from North China, but many missionaries were interned by the Japanese.


Materials are arranged into the following series: North China Incoming correspondence (1860-1927); North China Incoming/outgoing correspondence (1928-1939); North China Journals (1863-1864); North China Reports (1866-1939).

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