1840  — 1922

William Gauld

Medical missionary in Shantou.

William Gauld, the son of Edgar Gauld, a builder and stonemason, was born at Lumsden in the parish of Auchindoir and Kearn in Aberdeenshire in Scotland on 13th June, 1840. He was a student at the Old Grammar School in Aberdeen and then studied medicine at Marischal College at Aberdeen University graduating with an MA in 1860.

In September, 1863, Dr Gauld went to Swatow in south eastern China (modern day Shantou in Guangdong Province) with the support of Aberdeen friends of the Scottish Auxiliary of the English Presbyterian Mission. There he joined the Rev. George Smith and the Rev. Hur L Mackenzie. Initially a house was rented in Shantou as a dispensary, and then in November 1864 the dispensary moved and an adjoining house was rented for in-patients.

In 1867 Dr. Gauld successfully treated the prefecture governor in Chaozhou for dysentery. The support of the governor enabled the Mission obtained a good plot of land on the then waterfront in Shantou for a new hospital in 1878.

Dr. Gauld served in Shantou until 1881, when ill-health forced him to return to Britain. Subsequently he was Medical Superintendent of the Mildmay Mission Hospital, Bethnal Green, London, until shortly before the First World War. He took up the post again during the war, retiring again in 1920.

He died in Barnet in June 1922, survived by his wife Annie (b. 1843 Aberdeen, d. 1924 Barnet, London) and three sons and three daughters.

He was the author of an address to the 1877 Shanghai Conference on “Medical Missions” and, together with Rev J Campbell Gibson, a paper called “The Chinese Highlanders and the Gospel”, Edinburgh Religious Tract and Book Society, 1882. His unfinished MA thesis “History of the Swatow Mission” was in the United Reformed Church Archive, Overseas Addenda, Box 103A, London, now probably at SOAS, London.

Even in 2013 his name is remembered in Shantou; and both in the UK and Hong Kong, and no doubt elsewhere, there are Chinese people whose own Christian faith finds its beginnings in their ancestors’ attendance and treatment at the Gospel Hospital in Shantou. The good plot of land the Mission obtained in 1878 is still partly occupied by the Three Self Church in Shantou, and some parts of it have been exchanged, enabling churches to be built elsewhere in the city.


  • Johnston, Colonel William, Roll of the Graduates of the University of Aberdeen 1860-1900, Aberdeen, 1906.
  • English Records of births, deaths and marriages.
  • English Census records.
  • Band, Edward, Working His Purpose Out: The History of the English Presbyterian Mission, 1847-1947, Presbyterian Church of England Publishing Office, London,1948.
  • Maclagan P. J. “The Literary Productions of English Presbyterian Missionaries”, Annual Lecture for 19487 of the Presbyterian Historical Society of England.
  • “Scottish Letter”, The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884-1942), 3 August 1922, Page 10.

About the Author

James Richards

James Richards is a Church of England minister in parish ministry in the North West of England. He has family connections with a number of missionaries who worked in Shantou/Swatow from the 1860s until the 1950s, and is a great great grandson of William Gauld.