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Lammermuir Party

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The Lammermuir Party. Standing, from left to right: Jane MacLean, Susan Barnes, James Williamson, Emily Blatchley, George Duncan, Louise Desgraz, John Robert Sell, Mary Elizabeth Bausam. Sitting, from left to right: Elizabeth Rose, William David Rudland, Lewis Nichol, Eliza Nichol, Jane Elizabeth Faulding, James Hudson Taylor, Maria Jane Taylor, the four Taylor children (Grace Dyer kneeling, Herbert Hudson, Frederick Howard, and Samuel Dyer), Mary Bell, Mary Bowyer, Josiah Alexander Jackson.

The Lammermuir Party of 1866 was a British Protestant Christian group of missionaries to China with the China Inland Mission led by James Hudson Taylor, who were identified with the tea clipper Lammermuir which brought them to China. Mission historians have indicated that this event was a turning point in the history of missionary work in China in the 1800s[1]. This was the largest party of Protestant missionaries to date to arrive at one time on Chinese shores. It was also noteworthy that none of the members of the mission were ordained ministers, and only two had any previous overseas experience. In addition to this there were among them nine unmarried women traveling to a place where single European women were rare for many reasons.

A fast clipper


The tea clipper Lammermuir built in 1864.

On the morning of 26 May 1866 the 34 sailors and 18 missionaries with 4 children boarded the Lammermuir which lay tied up to the East India Docks of London. It was only a 2 year old clipper ship with 3 masts and square-rigged sails. Her frame was built of iron and by the standard of the day she was a first class sailing vessel. A voyage halfway around the world would only take 4 months–a fast trip–compared to the 6 month duration of some of the older ships of the decade previous.

Henry Grattan Guinness wrote a hymn in honor of their departure that echoed Hudson Taylor’s 1865 book "China's Spiritual Need and Claims":

Over the dark blue sea, over the trackless flood,

A little band is gone in the service of their God;
The lonely waste of waters they traverse to proclaim
In the distant land of Sinim, Immanuel’s saving Name.
They have heard from the far-off East the voice of their brothers’ blood:
A million a month in China are dying without God.

Two typhoons

The Lammermuir was nearly wrecked by 2 typhoons before limping into the Shanghai harbor in late September.

Hudson Taylor, the missionary recalled the most perilous time in the voyage:

“The appearance of things was now truly terrific. Rolling fearfully, the masts and yards hanging down were tearing our only sail... and battering like a ram against the main yard. The deck from forecastle to poop was one scarcely broken sea. The roar of the water, the clanging of chains, the beating of the dangling masts and yards, the sharp smack of the torn sails made it almost impossible to hear any orders that might be given.”

Taylor wrote after twelve days of this experience: :

And for three days after that the danger only increased, as the ship was making water fast. Fires were all out and cooking was impossible. For a time no drinking water was obtainable, and the women as well as the men worked at the pumps. But through it all prayer was so wonderfully answered that no lives were lost or serious injuries sustained.

The badly damaged ship caused a local stir in Shanghai. Emily Blatchley noted,

Our broken and dismantled condition made us an object of general curiosity; but we, in our hearts, thanked GOD for the great deliverance He had wrought for us in sparing the lives of all on board in such unusual peril-peril arising not only from the oversweeping waters themselves, but from the frequent falling of splintered yards, etc. But although Mr. Taylor had plenty of surgical practice with severe bruises and such-like hurts, not one life was lost, nor were any limbs broken. It is needless to say there were many narrow escapes. A vessel came in soon after we did, which had passed through the same typhoon, but only six lives remained out of twenty-two; sixteen had been drowned! It was well that we got in on the day we did, for they had some terribly stiff gales outside, which in our disabled condition we could scarcely have weathered.[2]
Even more so, the intent of the passengers to wear native Chinese clothes and embark into the interior of China with single women among them caused a greater consternation among the “Westerners” in port settlement. This led to the agency being referred to by some Westerners as "The Pigtail Mission".

List of missionaries and children

File:Maria & Hudson Taylor.jpg

Chronology of voyage



  1. Tucker (1983), page needed
  2. Guinness (1893), page needed

External links

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