Ancestors of Rev. Charles Nedham Lack and Edna Sara Bavin

Rev. Charles Nedham Lack and Edna Sara Bavin

Husband Rev. Charles Nedham Lack

           Born: 19 Dec 1872 - Kroombit, Nr. Gladstone, Queensland
           Died: 31 Jul 1938
 Cause of Death: Stroke
         Buried:  - Rookwood, Strathfield, Sydney

         Father: Edward Nelson Lack (1833-1892)
         Mother: Emily Hansard (1847-1923)

       Marriage: 23 Oct 1900 - Yokohama, Japan

   Other Spouse: Beatrice Dutton (1896-1986) - 7 Jun 1924 - Hankow, China

Events in his life were:
Occupation, Missionary in China


Wife Edna Sara Bavin

           Born: 27 Dec 1871 - New Zealand
           Died: 27 Jul 1923 - Che-Foo, China
 Cause of Death: Amoebic Dysentery, wrongly treated

         Father: Rev. Rainsford Bavin (1845-1905)
         Mother: Emma Buddle (1845-1931)

Events in her life were:
to Tonga to take charge of children, to Tonga to take charge of children, 23 Jul 1888 - Auckland, New Zealand

1 M Rainsford Lack

           Born: 1901
           Died: 1901

2 F Geraldine Olive Lack

           Born: 3 Apr 1903 - Cheo Kia Keo, China
           Died: 9 May 1997 - Sydney, Australia

3 M Nedham Edward Lack

           Born: 1 Nov 1904 - Yenchung, Honan, China
         Spouse: Edith Sarah Hannah Taubman (1900-      )
           Marr: 28 Mar 1936 - Killara, Sydney

4 M Sidney Lack

           Born: 1906 - China
           Died: 14 May 1908 - Petersham, Sydney

5 M Professor Charles Hansard Lack

           Born: 27 Jun 1909 - Chi Kong Shan, China
           Died: 25 Nov 1991 - Coombe Bissett, Wiltshire
 Cause of Death: Heart failure
         Spouse: Janet Doreen "Jenny" Steele (1909-2003)
           Marr: 23 Oct 1939 - Muswell Hill, London

6 F Edna Winifred Lack

           Born: 6 Nov 1913 - Hankow, China
           Died: 9 Jun 1975 - Perth, Australia
         Spouse: Noel Humphries (1908-1977)
           Marr: Mar 1945

General Notes (Husband)

From: Martyred Missionaries of the China Inland Mission
M. Broomhall 1901



(Si-hua is an outstation of Chau-kia-k'eo)

By Mr. C. N. LACK

On Saturday evening, July 7, not feeling well, I lay down for a rest and fell into a deep sleep. From this I was rudely awakened by the goat-herd shouting in my ear, "They have come, they have come." At first I thought I was dreaming, but the shouts, yells, and smashing of glass, etc., soon disillusioned me.

I ran out, and with our cook escaped through a back-door and reached the Yamn. It was about 8.30 P.M., and darkness favoured our escape. After failing to see the mandarin, though I waited some time, I left to return to the Mission premises. When they saw I was really going, the official sent thirty soldiers to escort me. Together we passed through the crowded streets, where I could see our boxes, tables, and other furniture which had been plundered from our premises. Reaching the place, the soldiers rushed in with a yell, and what a sight! The floors and yard smothered with torn books and tracts and smashed articles. The only reason the house was not burned was because it was rented. As the people dispersed the native evangelist and I slipped out and were enabled to get outside the city. Away we went as fast as we could for Chau-kia-k'eo.

It was moonlight, but we met few travellers. Near a village about four miles away we passed three men who called out, "Where are you going?" We kept on walking and managed to reach the door of an inn, when these men overtook us. They were armed to the teeth with swords and guns. We stepped quickly into the inn and they followed. When they recognised me as a foreigner their satisfaction was apparent.

When the evangelist said to me that it was useless to think of proceeding farther that night, I went and lay down on a mat in the courtyard among the carters and others. The evangelist, who had stopped to find out all he could about the intentions of these men, shortly came and lay down beside me and whispered that he feared the worst, as they purposed killing us. We prayed, and thought of many plans for escaping, but none seemed possible.

At length about 3.30 A.M. we spoke to the inn-keeper, who was a man of some authority in the village, and promised him a reward should he be able to aid us to escape. Though so early, he slipped out and we anxiously awaited his return. Morning arrived but he had not come back, and the armed men still sat guarding the door. Some of the villagers then arrived upon the scene, and after much talking they agreed to let us go if we paid them a reward. This we did, and they sent their assistant to Chau-kia-k'eo to bring back the money. Most thankful we were to be once more upon the road, and safely reached Chau-kia-k'eo on Sunday morning, July 8.

Only two days after Mr. Lack's arrival at Chau-kia-k'eo that place was rioted also. The following are the names of those who were present:-

Mr. and Mrs. Shearer and two children Miss Bavin
Mr. Powell Miss Taylor.
Mr. and Mrs. Biggs. Miss Kidman
Mr. Lack. Miss E. L. Randall.

As the story of ~the Chau-kia-k'eo riot is told below by Mr. Shearer, we have not printed that part of Mr. Lack's letter which covers the same ground.



"Persecuted but not Forsaken"

For weeks before the riot occurred (July 10) there were persistent rumours of trouble, which became more and more alarming as that date approached. The long-continued drought had made the people restless, and the rumours of trouble in the North no doubt added to this restlessness; but we had been so long peaceably settled in the place that we hoped till nearly the last, that the trouble would be averted.

On the Friday (July 6) before the riot, Mr. Powell went to Ch'en- to see both the Fu and Hsien mandarins, and find out what they were prepared to do for us in case of trouble, but his inter with them were far from satisfactory. The Hsien promised to put out a proclamation, but afterwards delayed doing so. As things were getting much worse at Chau-kia-k'eo, we foreigners consulted as to what we should do. Some thought it would be better to leave, but, of course, we were loth to leave the Christians, especially as rumour said that they would be killed first, and the foreigners afterwards. The date which had been fixed for this was the 28th of the native month (July 24), but the riot of Si-hwa on Saturday, the 7th of July, evidently precipitated matters at Chau-kia-k'eo. Mr. Powell went to see the San Fu, the local mandarin at Chau-kia-k'eo, on Monday evening, the 9th, but that official would not even give him an audience. He sent his subordinates to speak to Mr. Powell in an outer court, where the outside people gathered round and heard all that was said. These men advised us to get off at once, as the mandarin could not protect us in Chau-kia-k'eo.

July 10-The Riot

No doubt the report of our treatment at the San Fu's spread in the town, and was the signal to our enemies to begin rioting the very next morning, Tuesday, the 10th of July. We were all at breakfast that morning when we heard the shouting, and knew that the rioters had come. They came almost simultaneously to each of the three doors, so we could not get out without passing through the midst of them. We all escaped over the wall into a neighbour's house, taking nothing but a few small bundles in our hands.

The neighbour was very unwilling to have us in his house, as he was afraid of evil consequences afterwards for himself; but there happened to be a gentleman of influence in his place at the time, who took our part, and exhorted the landlord to do his best for us. Very reluctantly he allowed us to be there for a time, and we hid in a room at the back of his premises. While there we heard the rioters smashing the new chapel in our courtyard, with constant shouts and cries, which were very trying, especially to the ladies of our party. We were nine foreigners in all: Mr. Lack, Mr. Powell, Miss Bavin, Miss Kidman, Miss Taylor, my wife, two children, and myself. Two native women-servants and two girls were also with us.

We were there for some hours, but the landlord frequently came to exhort us to leave his house. While there we heard that Yen ta-lao, head of the police, had come with a few men, but could not do anything to quell the riot. Then the San Fu came with some soldiers, but he did not try to do anything. We heard that he just told the people that they could take the things, but must not hurt the foreigners, and then went away.

Escape to the Yamn

After some hours the landlord of the house where we were came to us again, and told us that the people on the street had discovered where we were, and that we must go out. He was, no doubt, afraid that his premises also might be pulled down. We saw that there was no help for it, and after a few words of prayer, commending ourselves to the Lord, we went out through the front door on to the street, where the crowds were carrying away our goods, and made for Yen ta-lao's Yamn, which was only two or three streets off. The crowds thronged the streets, and some, no doubt, would have laid hands on us, but they saw that we had nothing with us, and some among them were evidently friendly, and prevented the others from injuring us. Just as we got near Yen ta-lao's Yamn the crowd rushed upon the friends who were in front, but the lictors drove them back and made a way for us to get in. Yen ta-lao received us very kindly, and gave us the use of his best room all the time we were there. We found that Mr. and Mrs. Biggs and Miss Effie Randall had reached there before us, as they had been living at the Bible Society's house, just next door to the Yamn.
All that day the people were plundering and pulling down our houses. They destroyed them entirely, even digging out the founda and carried off the material to sell. They were so reckless in their work that several men were killed. We had got into the Police Yamn, and Yen ta-lao was no doubt willing to do all he could for us, but he told us plainly that he could not protect us there for any length of time, so we at once tried to arrange some means of getting away from Chau-kia-k'eo towards the coast. That night we engaged a boat to take us down to Cheng-yang-kwan, but afterwards the boatmen were afraid to go, and we could not get away.

In Suspense

It was an anxious night, as we heard that there were many enemies on the street, principally Mohammedans, who might possibly attack the Yamn, and Yen ta-lao had only a few men at his disposal. Next day Yen ta-lao advised our waiting for a time to see whether the Hsien mandarins would come from Ch'en-chau and Shang-shui when they got news of the riot. The Shang-shui mandarin did come, and spoke to us very kindly, but said that we were out of his jurisdiction, the part of Chau-kia-k'eo in which we lived belonging to the Hsien of Ch'en-chau; he would wait, however, till the other mandarin came, and see what could be done for us.

Meantime we had heard of the Gracies and Mr. Macfarlane being mobbed on the northern outskirts of the town, so we tried to make arrangements for us all to get away together. They could not come to us, and we could not go to them, but we had much prayer for them. Yen ta-lao did everything he possibly could for us, going out to see one and another to try to get help for us, but more than once when he returned he was so much cast down that he actually wept. He is a Hu-nan man, and has been in Chau-kia-k'eo for some years; he has always been very friendly to us. He is very much liked by the people, because he has done so much for them in time of famine, etc., and no doubt this feeling of the people towards him made his Yamn a much safer place for us than it otherwise could have been under the circumstances. He was very much disappointed at the Hsien mandarin from Ch'en-chau not coming on, and we again tried to arrange some means of escape. This time we thought of going over to T'ai-ho; and on the Thursday night we had engaged soldiers to escort us out of Chau-kia-k'eo next morning, the carts having been already engaged.

July 13-Prayer Answered

On Friday morning we rose very early and expected to get off, but part of the escort had not arrived. We waited an hour or two till these men came, and then with a good deal of trepidation, not knowing what might be awaiting us outside, we prepared to start and were actually in the courtyard, going towards the door, when we heard that part of our escort had taken fright and run off. No doubt the reports about hundreds of men waiting outside to attack us had terrified them. Then there seemed to be no hope for us, and Yen ta-lao himself said, "If God does not help you now we can do nothing." We went back to our room with heavy hearts to have some prayer together. Just while we were praying I heard a shout outside that a messenger had arrived from Ch'en-chau with a party of soldiers to relieve us. God had thus brought us to an end of all our own plans before effectually delivering us.

We found that these men, who had been sent on through the night, were only a part of the relieving force. The Hsien mandarin himself was to arrive later in the day with more soldiers. Up to that time he had shown himself anything but friendly, and would do nothing for the sisters at Ch'en-chau, but Yen ta-lao told me that new instructions- supposed to be from Li-hung-chang-had come just the night before, ordering him to take care of the foreigners. Never could help have come at a more opportune moment! When the Hsien came, he first arranged that we should be sent with an escort of soldiers, by way of Siang-ch'eng, to T'ai-ho; but next morning, Saturday, he had changed his plans, presumably because of the danger of that route, and decided to take us back to Ch'en-chau and send us on from there.

July 14-Flight to T'ai-ho

We got off on Saturday morning with an escort of a good deal over a hundred soldiers. The streets were crowded with people to see us go, but no one dared to hurt us, as the mandarin had given orders that if any one attempted to do so he would be killed. We got to Ch'en- that afternoon, and were lodged in an inn with a small guard of soldiers for the night. Before daylight next morning we were off again for Shen-k'iu, a distance of forty-three miles. We got there the same night, and were very kindly received by Huang ta-lao, the mandarin there, who prepared a very nice supper for us, and would not allow us to pay anything for our expenses while we were in his Yamn. Next morning he provided an escort to take us on to T'ai-lio. When we reached there we found that our friends had all left, Mr. Malcolm having gone down to Ying-chau. We stayed in the Hall and the servants there were very kind. The local mandarin sent for me, to ask about the trouble at Chau-kia-k'eo, and assured me that we were quite safe for the time at T'ai-ho, and that he would find boats for us to start next day; he also sent us some food.

A Kind Friend

We also met with great kindness from an unexpected quarter. A Roman Catholic priest, evidently an Italian, who could write English very well, sent us a very kind letter, telling us how sorry he was for the trouble we had gone through, and offering, as he understood that the friends were away from our Hall, to let us have any money we required for our journey. Mr. Ewing had nursed one of their people through a dangerous fever just a year before, and they evidently had not forgotten his kindness. We thanked him for his kind offer, but did not know then whether we would require to avail ourselves of it, as we had sent some silver down by a native overland, and were hoping that he would arrive in time. We remained there all the next day getting ready for our further journey, but as our man had not turned up we had, after all, to avail ourselves of our Roman Catholic friend's kindness. He was very sorry that he could not let us have more silver, but he gave us as much cash as we wished. He gave us also his last tins of milk and butter for the children. Mr. Malcolm and Mr. Edgar returned late that night, intending to stay on at T'ai-ho hsien in the meantime. Mr. Malcolm was able to let us have what more silver we required, as well as other things which he had and very kindly gave to us.

July 18-T'ai-ho to Chin-kiang

We started next morning for Cheng-yang-kwan by boat, changing at Ying-chau. There again Mr. Barnett was kindness itself, doing everything he could to help us on our way. When we reached Cheng- things looked very bad. Mr. Powell and Mr. Biggs went up to the Hall and could hardly get out again, such a crowd gathered on the streets. News had reached there of the trouble at Chau-kia-k'eo, and it had excited the people very much. Things became so bad later on the day, that Mr. Domay and Mr. Beutel decided to leave that night for the coast. We had some difficulty in changing boats there, but at last by paying a good price we were able to get one large boat to take us down to Chin-kiang, and went on board late the same night, and started at daylight the next morning.

The rest of our journey was a comparatively peaceful one, till we reached the Grand Canal, after crossing the lake. Our boat people took us to an opening in the canal which their boat could not get through, and the wind being contrary, they refused to turn back until they could get a favourable wind. Our boy then suggested going down by the steam launch from the neighbouring town, and it was arranged that we should get into a much smaller boat, and be towed down by the launch that same evening. There was some delay, however, in securing a suitable boat, and. by the time it came for us the steam launch had arrived. Our boat people took advantage of these circumstances and refused to let the things be taken off the boat unless we gave them a large sum for "wine money." We did not know what to do, as the launch people were impatient to be off; and when we at last managed to get most of our things on board the small boat, and to get rid of our boatman, we found that the launch had gone. The steamboat office people advised us to get away as soon as possible, as. there were enemies who were threatening to kill us. We accordingly arranged with the men belonging to the small boat to take us down overnight to Kao-yiu; and we arrived there early next morning. We kept quiet all day, and meantime our boy was able to arrange for a launch to take us down. We started about ten o'clock that night, and got down to Chin-kiang next forenoon.

Obituary 3 Aug 1938

The Rev Charles Needham Lack who died on Sunday after a brief illness was for many years a missionary in China. Born at Dulwich Hill 66 years ago, he was educated at the Sydney Grammar School. In 1898 he offered for missionary service with the China Inland mission, and was sent to the province of Honan. In the Boxer rising of 1900 he had many exciting experiences. While on one of his furloughs, he was ordained to the ministry of the Church of England. In 1929 he returned to Australia as assistant home director of the China Inland Mission and in March 1937 was appointed director of the mission in New Zealand. A break-down in health forced him to return to Sydney this year and he settled at Beecroft. He leaves a widow, four sons and three daughters. Before the interment at Rookwood a service conducted by Archbishop Mowll and Archdeacon Begbie was held at St. Andrew's, Summer Hill.

Converted in his youth during a mission held in Sydney by the Rev George Grubb, who on that occasion preached on salvation through the blood of Christ, the sermon and subject left a lifelong impression. Being truly born again, he quickly took the bold stand for the master, whom he now served with ardour. Though still young, he became a popular preacher, not only in Anglican church circles, but in the open air, where he had an excellent training in assisting Mr Field, a well known and clever barrister. He delighted to recall the experiences of those days, when many notable conversions were recorded.

In his early twenties he heard the call of God for foreign service and joyfully responded. That China was definitely the place of God's appointment for him he never had a doubt. It was often a puzzle to him why others did not respond as he had done. Here was an unusually capable young man with business instincts, who could have carved out for himself a prosperous career, but these prospects were placed on one side as he deliberately chose rather to serve the Lord in a far off land among a people who at that time heartily despised the foreigner. At the farewell meeting, held in the latter half of 1898, he expressed himself in these words:

"Ever since my conversion. I have thought of foreign mission work, and I never missed a C.I.M. farewell meeting, for I always received blessing there. I said to myself again and again, why should I go? The work is for others, but not for me. But at one such meeting some missionaries were speaking of obeying Christ's last command, and the statement was made that if 30 persons gave so much a month, they could support a missionary. I started a meeting in our own home, and we soon got the thirty to meet monthly, and we prayed that the Lord would send forth some of our own number. I was appointed secretary, and later the words of my Master, "go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature" rang in my ears. I seemed to see that Saviour of mine, looking down with tender eyes of love and pity on a perishing world. That night, I faced the matter, and had it out with the Lord. My final decision was that, having good health and strength, and a knowledge of the gospel, I should go."

With his forceful character, he was the natural leader of the party of a number of young men who went out that year. After the usual time of training in the Anking home, he was designated to the province of Honan, and in that province, he found his great life work. While there he had the privilege for a time of being associated with Mr D.E. Hoste and often spoke of what that had meant to him. This first period of service was short, for in the following year, with other missionaries, it was necessary to flee to the coast from the dreaded Boxers. Many workers were martyred, but, while in hiding and journeying to Honan with others, his life was mercifully preserved. A little later, after the storm had passed, he was sent to open a new mission station at Yencheng, which, now the railway was opened, it was seen would become one of the most important centres in Honan. A beginning was made in the old city in a small Chinese home, which he pointed out to the writer when visiting China. Said he, "My wife and I spent one of the hottest summers I remember in that little closed in place, with all its many discomforts, but the Lord blessed us, and our time there is one of the happiest memories of life."

Later, the move was made to the new city, which was springing up nearer the railway station. Opportunity was now afforded for the development of those marked gifts which God had conferred upon him with his strong vigorous constitution and abounding vitality. He threw himself heartily into the campaign and the city became widely known for its gospel witness and its Bible study classes hundreds were converted and a strong church was built up with a large and increasing attendance. Many out stations to were open up. "Lack of Yencheng" became widely known and requests for him to hold missions in many places were made. It was realised that with his unusually good acquisition of the Chinese language, and his powerful and penetrating voice which could reach great audiences, combined with unusual Biblical knowledge, and a special gift of evangelism, qualified him for such service. He could hold crowds of Chinese who hung upon his words as he preached to them the gospel message. His theme was repentance and salvation through the atoning sacrifice of Christ. Possibly, his outstanding gift was that of the Evangelist. One interesting contact he made was with a Chinese military officer, who was much impressed by his visit to the mission station at Yencheng, and afterwards became widely known as the Christian General Feng

Realising the wisdom of foreign workers having some relief in the excessive heat of summer, when but little can be accomplished, Mr Lack was struck by the possibilities of a sanatorium being started on a mountain top many miles away, but near which he had passed. Purchasing some land there, a beginning was made, and now Kikongshan is a well-known place for missionaries to resort to in midsummer for bodily and spiritual refreshment.

For a number of years there had been a felt a need in Australia for a returned missionary to take the oversight of the work and visit the different states and New Zealand in the interests of the mission, and in the year 1929. Mr Lack was appointed Assistant Home Director. He became well-known, not only in Victoria, but through the Commonwealth. Not only was he used of God in telling of the needs and claims of China, but through his evangelistic messages. Many were led into newness of life and the experience of the new birth. At conventions for the deepening of the spiritual life he was heartily welcomed, and became a frequent speaker at Upwey, Katoomba, Kingston, and elsewhere. He also possessed a ready gift in personal work. Many and many and one was led to Christ through casually meeting him, and the conversation that ensued regarding the things that matter. He, too, realising that prayer is the Christian's vital breath, ever delighted to wait upon the Lord.

When the General Director visited Australia in 1937, he considered the time had come to certain changes to be made and Mr Lack was appointed Home Director for New Zealand. His health was far from satisfactory, but he was never one to shirk responsibility, so bravely set out, with his wife and family, for the dominion. The work, however, was more than he was equal to, and a led to a breakdown in health (He had a stroke whilst preaching in Auckland - JAL), which necessitated retirement from active service. Returning to Sydney, his native city, he had the joy of seeing all his family reunited. He hoped for a recovery, but this was not permitted, and on the 31st of July, after a few days illness, he slept in Jesus.

General Notes (Wife)

Note from Autobiography of George Brown
23 July 1888
"Miss Bavin, daughter of Rev. Rainsford Bavin of Onehunga, accompanied us on our voyage. She went to Tonga to take charge of the foreign residents children there. We were very fortunate indeed in being able to secure one who was in every respect so well qualified for the position"

The San


27 July 1923
My own darling Geraldine and dear Grannie,

How am I to write this letter to you. My heart is broken with sorrow. Your poor dear Mother's home going came as a bolt from the blue.

Only yesterday morning at 9.15 a.m. she was sitting on the verandah of the San chatting away. She had been poorly with Dysenteric diarrhoea for about a week & was being treated by Dr. Hogg. She was poorly in the morning, but in the afternoon was able to get about & went to the Boy's School, Girls & Prep "Break ups" this week - Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Yesterday as the diarrhoea still continued I again went to see the doctor who said she should have an enema of a pint of Nitrate of Silver solution.

I brought it over and at 10 o'clock one of the nurses gave it to her, almost immediately she said "I feel as if I were being chloroformed" and she lost consciousness. We sent for the doctor who came at once, but could not account for the strange symptoms. Later on I looked at the 16 ox bottle that contained the solutionand to my surprise found it had a smell of spirits of wine. On referring the matter to the doctor, he was horrified to find that instead of mixing Mother's solution with water he had used spirits of wine. So about 15 oz of spirits of wine were injected up the bowel and of course at once was absorbed. She was taken to the hospital and two nurses, the doctor and myself never left her all night. We called in two other doctors, but she never regained consciousness and at 10 am today breathed her last.

She was one amongst a thousand and was beloved of you all. Hansard and Winifred have just been over with me to look once again at her sweet face. A smile of peace played on it, and though our hearts are broken with grief we know she is at peace and with the Lord she loved so well and served so faithfully.

The doctor is of course terribly upset at his mistake which was owing to a Chinese assistant putting spirits of wine in the bottle that should have had distilled water. The fact that her death came largely through the mistake of another makes it still harder to bear.

Dear Grannie, will you please let this letter be for you too I cannot go over the details again, my heart aches for one who has been one amongst a thousand to me for 23 years. She and I were one in heart in everything. She was greatly loved by the Chinese who will mourn her loss as the loss of a mother.

Dear Grannie and all her brothers and sisters, what more can I say; you yourselves knew her worth. May God in his Mercy grant us Grace to follow in her footsteps.

I cannot write more now, with deepest sympathys and true affection.

Yours lovingly C N Lack

28 July 1923
The funeral was held at 5 p.m. We started from the hospital at that time. Dr. Malcolm, Messrs. Elgar, Gardiner, Weller, Harding, Dr. Judd were pall bearers, Mr. Coulthard conducted the service and Mr. Joyce gave a very beautiful tribute to dear Mother.

Notes (Marriage)

Memoirs by Edna Bavin's son Charles Hansard Lack

Edna Sarah Lack was the daughter of a leading Methodist minister in Sydney. She was the eldest of nine children and when her parents went away, which they did quite frequently because her father went on missions, she was in charge of the whole household. At the age of 17, she went to Tonga for two yearsto keep house for her uncle (her mother's brother in law), the Rev George Brown. Brown introduced Methodism, not only to Tonga, but many other Polynesian Islands, including Bougainville. I was told that when he died, the natives of Bougainville so admired him that his bones were buried on a little island off the coast, which was regarded as sacred.

On her return from Tonga my mother became interested in China. At that time, about 1900, there was a great deal of unrest in China because of the antics of the Empress Dowager - who was covertly encouraging the Boxer rebels. The Boxers were a society dedicated to hatred of all foreigners, and were secretly backed by the Empress Dowager. She decided to become a missionary. So after attending lessons in Chinese, she went out under the aegis of the China Inland Mission, and was sent to southern China, at about the age of 19. She was there for four years and then because of the various illnesses she suffered, which were common in the hot, humid climate, she was sent home.

During this furlough, she was asked to lecture about China, and one day she was giving a lecture at the town hall in Sydney when my father heard her and greatly admired her, and followed her when she was sent back to China. This time she was sent to a walled town in central China called Si-hua, where she established a dispensary. My father took a course in Chinese in Nanking and then went to Hankow up the Yangtze, and became very alarmed because at that time the Boxer riots had started and he feared for my mother's safety.

In Hankow he bought a donkey. This was before there was any railway and he rode the donkey almost as far as Si-hua when it became lame. So he led his donkey into Si-hua disguised in Chinese clothes with a pigtail and black moustaches. He arrived just in time to see the Boxers setting fire to my mother's lodgings. He moved in with the crowd into her house and as soon as possible disclosed his identity to her, and gave her money and told her to get away as soon as possible with her Chinese servant. So she left for Giodi Ko which was the nearest town with missionaries, and he stayed behind to try to salvage some of her goods. However, he was recognised because of his nose. The Chinese waved a broadsword in front of him and said that they would behead him at sunrise. They broke into the dispensary and drank almost everything on the shelves. They had at that time an unusual faith in western medicine, so that the laudanum, castor oil and the quinine and every thing like that was quickly consumed. By the time they had done this, they were in no fit state to behead him, and he got away and joined my mother at Giodi Ko. The Boxers caught up with them there and set fire to the house they were in; my father helped my mother escape through a back window, which opened onto a big pigsty. My father jumped first into the pig mire, followed by my mother, who then led him into the courtyard. She spoke fluent Mandarin and when the owner of the house came out, she said to him in Mandarin "You see, who we are. We are your guests, and you must do what you think right" The building was on fire, so the owner told them to climb a ladder into a hayloft, which they did, and hid under the hay for two days; on the second day, a man came up the ladder, who have been a patient of my mother's at Si-hua. Since he believed that she had saved his life, he had found out where she had gone, and had hired a cart to take them to the river, where he had hired a sampan to take them to Shanghai. He must have used up a lot of his savings to do this. They then travelled on the sampan down river hiding under the floorboards by day, and only coming out at night. It took them seven weeks to travel down the river from Giodi Ko, which flowed into the Grand Canal, and so into the yellow River, the Yangtze, which took them almost to Shanghai.

When they arrived at Shanghai, my mother had agreed to marry my father. So they went to Yokohama, where they got married. They decided to open a mission station in Giodi Ko, but at that time there were still a great deal of hatred of foreigners fomented by the boxers: all sorts of stories were propagated by them; for instance they had seen missionaries giving dolls to their children, and they told the Chinese that the eyes of these dolls were really the eyes of Chinese babies. The only place they could get to live in was a hut next to a Tanners Yard, where the flies were so bad that it was not surprising that their first baby died of gastroenteritis within a few weeks of birth. My father made a coffin, but they couldn't get permission to bury the baby anywhere. So they are hired a sampan, and went up the river, stopping at various places and asking if they could bury the baby; it was a long time before they could do so. They continued up the river looking for a place to continue their mission, until they came to Yen Chung which had no foreigners, and they established a mission there and they were there for 30 years.

The only house my father was able to buy was supposedly haunted. It was brick built, and they settled in there. My father was very innovative; for example he introduced the telephone, the strawberry and the potato. The Chinese don't drink milk - the Chinese race is allergic to milk, so he established a herd of goats from which he got milk, and in many respects he greatly improved the lifestyle of the Chinese who got to know him. He had a workshop where he made all sorts of things, and in the course of time, he established a boys school at the front of his house and a girls school at the back of his house. These were both partly boarding schools. Within our private compound, he built a tennis court and a lovely garden, where he grew a lot of his own vegetables.

He had four more children there, and I was the second youngest. When I was leaving China. I asked him if he had any regrets or any misgivings about the time he had spent there. He said only once, when he and his wife were in that sampan with the baby's body, and he couldn't find anywhere to bury it. And that's when he doubted whether he was really in the right place. When he left enormous crowds went to see him off. He had built a church with accommodation for about 600 people.

My father was a jolly man, he always played with his children. Every Thursday night was games night, when we had Charades, and he would dress up as Dickens characters. He was full of fun. My mother was the kindest person I have ever known. She was very gentle, and throughout my childhood I only remember one occasion when my mother spoke crossly to me, and this is when she took heard me speaking roughly to a servant. She was an accomplished musician, as were all her brothers and sisters.


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