South China

Administrative / Biographical History

LMS missions were established in South China after the end of the First Opium War and included Canton [Guangzhou], Hong Kong and the province of Fukien [Fujian]. Material in the South China division relates not only to the period after the establishment of the China missions but includes correspondence and journals from the early part of the 19th century, which pre-dates the establishment of the field in the 1840s.

Although Canton became a free port in 1843, and despite pioneer medical work by Dr Benjamin Hobson, a permanent mission was not established until 1859. Progress in the city was slow but steady, and was evangelical in nature rather than educational or medical. The mission district of Poklo was established in the early 1860s, and was administered from Canton; Sarah Rowe did much to expand the work of the station in the 1880s and 1890s. Other districts administered from Canton were Fatshan and Tsung Fa.

Work in Hong Kong became firmly established by 1850, with LMS missionaries undertaking medical work, and with a mission press having been established. Extensive work was carried out in Hong Kong under Dr James Legge, particularly educational work and work on translation. John Chalmers was appointed to the mission in 1852. Medical work was a particular focus in Hong Kong, and missionaries ran a number of mission hospitals such as the Nethersole Hospital and the Alice Memorial Hospital - which were maintained and often staffed by the local community. Educational work was also successful in Hong Kong, with the establishment of institutions such as the Ying-Wa College (1913), which was the successor school to the Anglo-Chinese College. The Ying-Wa Girl's School was established as a boarding school by the educationalist Helen Davies and was seen by many as an exemplary example of its kind. Translation work was continued in Hong Kong by Thomas Pearce.

The mission to Amoy and surrounding areas was begun in 1844 by John Stronach and Alexander Stronach. Rapid progress was made in Fukien [Fujian] Province, and a mission to Changchow (Chiang Chiu) [Zhangzhou] was established in 1861. Later stations in Fukien included Tingchow [Changting] and Hweian [Hui'an]. James Sadler was appointed to Amoy in 1867; he carried out extensive translation work and was important in developing leadership and responsibility for the Church in Fukien amongst Chinese Christians. Certainly Fukien province was the scene of the LMS' most rapid progress in China, and was also the scene of co-operation with other missionary societies in areas such as theological training and teaching. Frank Joseland was significant in Fukien for his co-operative work with other missionary societies including teaching at the union theological school and Anglo-Chinese College. Female educationalists included Adela Miller in Amoy, Alice Horne in Hweian, Alice Duncan, Nora Wheeler and Emily Carling. Male educationalists included Ernest Hughes (Tingchow) and Noel Slater (Changchow). LMS work in Fukien was carried out in close co-operation with the English Presbyterian Mission [Presbyterian Church of England Foreign Missions Committee, now the United Reformed Church] and the Reformed Church of America. In terms of medical work, the Fukien mission started in 1887 when Ahmed Fahmy was sent to Changchow. Mission hospitals were established at Tingchow and Changchow, and again the LMS co-operated with the other missionary societies.

The South China field was not affected as directly as North or Central by the Boxer uprisings of 1900 or the Revolution of 1911. However the region was certainly affected by the insecurities of the time such as military movements and the rapid changes in government. The civil war had its direct effects, with Poklo, Canton and Fukien province suffering fighting and looting by the various armed forces during 1923. In 1927, increased agitation led to the withdrawal of some missionaries, and mission property at Tingchow was destroyed - the station was not reoccupied until after 1932, the year in which work at Changchow and Hweian was also disrupted.

In terms of Church development, the South China field had strong independent churches at Hong Kong and Amoy, and the most marked progress in Church development had been seen in Fukien.

The withdrawal of LMS missionaries from China did not mean a withdrawal from Hong Kong, for example Ying-wa College was closed during the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong, but re-opened in 1945. Missionaries continued to carry out work during the 1950s and 1960s. The South China district committee in effect became the Hong Kong missionary committee. Medical work continued at the Nethersole Hospital and the United Christian Hospital. The LMS developed a Hong Kong Council, that worked alongside and in conjunction with the Hong Kong Council of the Church of Christ in China.


The South China materials are arranged into the following classes: Incoming correspondence: South China (1803?-1927); Incoming/outgoing correspondence: South China (1928-1936); Incoming correspondence: Fukien (1854-1927); Incoming/outgoing correspondence: Fukien (1928-1939); South China journals (1807-1842); South China reports (1866-1939); Fukien reports (1866-1939). Materials relating to Hong Kong after 1940 can be found in the China Division.

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