Barclay was born in Glasgow and died in Tainan following 60 years of service. He studied at the University of Glasgow, took ministerial training at the Free Church Divinity School and Leipzig, and in 1874 was ordained to missionary service under the Presbyterian Church of England. He reached Taiwan in 1875. He founded the Tainan Theological College and continued as its principal for most of his life.
In 1895 his successful mediation between the invading Japanese army and Tainan saved the city from assault. Apart from his work as a theological educator; through which he influenced generations of Taiwanese ministers, his major contribution was the promotion of the romanized Taiwanese Bible to achieve a Bible-reading church. In 1916 he completed a thorough revision of the Amoy/Taiwanese New Testament, and in 1932 the Old Testament was finally published; both are renowned for their accuracy and style. In 1923 he also published a valuable Supplement to Carstairs Douglas’ Dictionary of the Amoy Vernacular. In 1918 the British and Foreign Bible Society made Barclay an honorary life governor; in 1919 he received an honorary D.D. from the University of Glasgow, and in 1921 he was elected moderator of the first General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of England.
This article is reprinted from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, Macmillan Reference USA, copyright (c) 1998 Gerald H. Anderson, by permission of The Gale Group; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved.
- Edward Band, Barclay of Formosa (1936) and Working His Purpose Out (1947).