Robert Neuman was born in Germany in 1823. At age 27, he was selected from the graduating class of the Seminary of the Berlin Missionary Society to join Karl Gutzlaff as his intern, and later his leutenant, in Hong Kong and Guangdong Province. The corresponding womens’ mission society chose a young woman named Hermina (or Hermandine) Shultze to accompany Robert and they were married before they departed in 1849, arriving in Hong Kong in 1850 (or 1851). Their voyage was funded by Richard Ball’s English mission organization.
Throughout the Chinese Christian Union scandal, Neumann continued to have faith in Gutzlaff and the organization. He wrote of Gutzlaff, “His heart was truly in the work, he went out daily, in wind and rain, frequently at the peril of his life, on the mountains, and in the vallies (sic), visiting the fishing boats on the sea, and even the pirate ships, to carry the light of the gospel to those children of darkness” (Broomhall). He sometimes traveled with Gutzlaff on these excursions and “invariably returned deeply humbled” (Broomhall) by his love, patience, and humility. After Gutzlaff’s death in 1851, less than a year after Neumann arrived in Hong Kong, he took up leadership of the Chinese Christian Union, with the help of seven other members.
The same year, Hermina established a home for abandoned girls. Robert gradually became disenchanted with the Chinese Union and he was eventually forced to return home sick in 1854. August Hanspach continued the work in his place.
Neumann moved to the United States in 1857 and pastored Trinity German Evangelical Lutheran Church and St. Paul’s German Evangelical Lutheran Church in Pennsylvania. He was also a missionary of the Castle Garden Mission, where he ministered to the German Lutheran immigrants entering the US through Castle Garden, New York City.
Hermina and Robert had ten children, eight of which died young, with only Hannah and Henrietta survivng to adulthood. Neumann died in 1890.
- A.J. Broomhall, Hudson Taylor and China’s Open Century: Barbarians at the Gates, 337, 346-8, 404.
- A.J. Broomhall, Hudson Taylor and China’s Open Century: Over the Treaty Wall, 164.
- Jessie Gregory Lutz, Opening China: Karl F.A. Gutzlaff and Sino-Western Relations, 1827-1852, 201-2, 235, 246, 296-7.
- For more details and bibliogoraphic information, see the article on Robert Neumann in the Ricci Roundtable.