1850  — 1888

John Kenneth Mackenzie

British medical missionary in China.

Born in Yarmouth, England, Mackenzie made a commitment to Christ in 1868 through a YMCA Bible class and under the influence of the D. L. Moody evangelistic campaigns. After studying medicine in Bristol and Edinburgh, he was appointed by the London Missionary Society (LMS) and sailed for China in 1875. His first appointment was to Hankow (Hankou), where he studied Chinese, worked in the LMS hospital, and engaged in evangelism, most often as a colleague of Griffith John.

John Kenneth Mackenzie’s LMS Hospital at Tianjin, Shandong, 1879.

His work was varied and included general medicine, surgery, and working to cure opium addiction. In 1878 he transferred to Tientsin (Tianjin), where, with the patronage of wealthy Chinese and Li Hongzhang, viceroy of the Metropolitan Province, he was able to build a hospital. His effort to establish a medical school in 1881 failed because the Chinese army and navy did not want to use foreign-trained doctors. Mackenzie emphasized evangelism as the principal rationale for medical work. With this emphasis and his widely acclaimed medical skills, he established unusual rapport with the Tientsin community. In 1886 he helped to organize the Medical Missionary Association of China. He died from smallpox contracted from a patient.


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.


  • Mary Isabella Bryson, John Kenneth Mackenzie: Medical Missionary to China (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1891).

About the Author

Ralph R. Covell

Formerly Professor of World Christianity and Academic Dean, Denver Seminary, Denver, Colorado, USA