Early Life and Education
Edward Clemens Lord was born on 22 January 1817 in Carlisle, NY. His father was said to have died when the children of the family were young.
Lord graduated from the Hamilton Literary and Theological Institute in Hamilton, NY. Lucy Lyon, also born in Carlisle, had returned to Massachusetts to attend school and later taught at Mt. Holyoke from 1841. On 14 September 1846, she married Edward Lord.
Lord was designated to serve as a missionary in China by the appointment of the Executive Committee of the American Baptist Missionary Union on 30 December 1846 at the Olive Street Baptist Church in New York City. He had been ordained as a minister in Preston Hollow, New York on August 27, 1846.
On 5 January 1847, he and his new bride, along with the Rev. S. Carpenter and the Rev. N. Wardner and their wives, who were Seventh Day Adventist Baptist missionaries, sailed from New York on the ship Houqua bound for Hong Kong.
The Lords settled in Ningbo, China, where they had two children, both of whom died very young. Lucy herself was not well and the couple was forced to return to the U.S. in 1851. They settled temporarily in Pomfret, NY, with her parents. On 3 May 1853, Lucy died and was buried in Forest Hill Cemetery.
On 15 November 1853, Lord married Freelove Lyon, who returned with him to Ningbo. Their daughter, Lucy, was born at Ningbo on 10 August 1854.
The Lords, like most other missionaries, welcomed others into their home in times of need. In 1857, the Charles J. Hall family, members of the Chinese Evangelization Society, first stayed with Dr. William Parker but then moved in with the E.C. Lords, “American Baptists of sterling quality” (Broomhall 3.88). Lord and Charles Hall went out preaching together three days a week. The were close friends with J. Hudson Taylor and his wife Maria and cooperated with them. When the Taylors were in England, their fellow missionary John Jones consulted with Lord on how to deal with “disorderly” members of the church that Taylor had founded.
Lord also performed some work in his study of the Bible. Writing to the Executive Committee of the ABMU in 1860, he noted, “My notes on the Epistles to the Hebrews and Romans have been completed, and considerable other labor of a similar kind has been performed.” The next year he wrote, “My notes on the First Epistle to the Corinthians have been completed and put to press. My notes on Ephesians have been carefully revised, and those on Second Corinthians are in course of preparation” (Baptist Encyclopedia).
Freelove died in childbirth in 1860, “leaving him a widower with five children, the youngest 8 days old” (Broomhall 3.197).
Lord then married Jemima Bausum, the widow of an Anglican missionary from England who had three children. As before, the Lords extended warm hospitality to those in need. In 1862, at the height of the Taiping Rebellion, Ningbo was flooded with terrified people fleeing from cities taken and sacked by the rebels. Mrs. Lord wrote, “Mr. Lord has more than two hundred refugee rebels to take care of, whom he has rescued from the cruel hands of the revengers (the Imperialist troops)” (Broomhall 3.297). For months, everyone in Ningbo was on edge with fear of a rebel attack.
“Uninhibited by all this, Mr and Mrs Lord were going ahead with preparations to build their new orphanage and school, so greatly needed” (Broomhall 3.298). Meanwhile, within the city, cholera raged and took the lives of a number of missionaries as well as many Chinese.
Lord was always occupied with his pastoral work. In 1863 he wrote, “At Ningpo, in my own neighborhood, I have plenty of work, and I am thankful to say there is much encouragement. At the communion season, about three months ago, I baptized five persons, three men and two women, and I have at present several applicants” (Baptist Encyclopedia).
Continuing his pattern of close cooperation with Hudson Taylor and his coworkers, Lord took over as pastor of their Ningbo Bridge Street Church for a while in 1863 while the missionary in charge was away. His position was “delicate,” however, because, as an outsider, he could not enforce church discipline. Furthermore, as a Baptist, he insisted on believer’s baptism by immersion and could not comfortably work together with James and Martha Meadows, who as Methodists, had been sprinkled as children. (Later, he persuaded James and Martha Meadows to accept believer’s baptism by immersion.)
He wrote to Taylor recommending that James Meadows be given charge of the church, which turned out to be just the right solution. Still, he helped out, always careful to defer any decisions by letters to Taylor and Meadows. Meadows described Lord as “a very patient gentle man; he is very careful lest he should hurt their feelings” (Broomhall 3.372).
When Meadows fell sick with chickenpox, Lord visited him every day. He continued to help with Sunday worship services, while urging Taylor to return from furlough. The church numbered thirty-six at this time. Mrs. Lord took their children to their respective home countries (America and England) for their education. While she was away, he “had to keep her orphanage school going, to build the premises and to pastor the church he had brought into being. To give half each Sunday to the Bridge Street congregation taxed his time and strength. He could not spend much time with James Meadows” (Broomhall 3.371). He was greatly relieved when his wife rejoined him in October of 1863.
Still, he was constantly very busy, and he then took on an additional duty. “During the American consul’s absence Mr Lord was serving as vice-consul” (Broomhall 3.374). In July, 1864, he was appointed as US Consul in Ningbo, a position he held throughout the rest of his time in China. Though we do not know why he chose to serve in this government capacity, perhaps he needed more income to support a large family and the school and orphanage. He does not seem to have felt any conflict between his diplomatic and his missionary roles.
He also supervised a new young missionary named Stefan Barchet, who was living alone. Under Lord’s training, Stefan not only became a good missionary but also changed his views to accept believer’s baptism by immersion. For reasons that are not clear, Lord left the American Baptist Missionary Union (ABMU) “to work on his own, calling his independent enterprise the American Baptist Mission” (Broomhall 4.98). He later resumed his formal connection with the ABMU.
When the first party of China Inland Mission workers arrived on the Lammermuir in 1865, Lord made the premises of his school and orphanage available to them, as he had always been a loyal supporter of Hudson Taylor. Safely “hidden” from prying eyes and critical foreigners, the CIM workers were able to go through the process of assuming Chinese dress and hairstyle before they left for their first base in Hangzhou. Jemima’s daughter, Mary Bausum, first went to live with the Taylors. She thus came into closer contact with Stefan Barchet, Lord’s protégé, whom she had known in London, and fell in love with him. (They eventually married. Not long afterward, they returned to the United States, where he became a doctor and practiced medicine.)
At this time, missionaries in Ningbo were seeing a great influx of new believers into their churches. “The people of Ningbo called Christianity the dabudaode daoli, the invincible doctrine, because of the resilience of the Christians under persecution and adversity,” especially during the Taiping Rebellion, which was finally suppressed that year (Broomhall 4.98).
In the same year Lord became so ill that no one expected him to recover, but he did. At that time also, having “nursed” the Ningbo church for five years, he resigned from his pastoral responsibilities at the Bridge Street Church, leaving James Meadows in charge. The Lords welcomed CIM missionaries John and Annie Stevenson into their home and supervised them during their adjustment to China. And Lord’s home was always open for Hudson Taylor when he visited Ningbo, not only for a place to stay but also for a listening and sympathetic ear.
Lord’s loyalty to Hudson Taylor was tested when another missionary circulated rumors that Taylor was behaving improperly with some of the young female members of the CIM. They were all living in very close quarters in Hangzhou. Taylor wrote to Lord explaining the situation. Lord replied that he had not been a party to the criticisms, as some had said. “I knew the fact [of Taylor’s living in the same house with so many unmarried ladies] of course, but I had never thought of it in the light in which it is presented by Mr. Moule” (Broomhall 4.297).
Lord and his wife visited the new missionary band in Hangzhou while on a short vacation. They also put up two of the new CIM lady missionaries when they went to Ningbo to attend a wedding and nursed one of the girls when she became ill. In 1867, they provided the funds for Stefan Barchet, who had suffered frequently “from fever and ague, through sleeping on the ground floor,” to build a “simple frame house with upstairs rooms safely above the miasms of fever at the ground level” (Broomhall 4.420).
As consul, Lord and his British counterpart served as intermediaries between Presbyterian missionaries and local officials when the construction of large, imposing buildings disrupted the feng shui (time-honored principles of wind and water affecting buildings of all sort) of the area. They worked out a solution that satisfied the Chinese mandarins and landowners as well as the missionaries. Perhaps in his capacity as American consul in Ningbo, Lord frequently would also process checks from Hudson Taylor for his workers in China. In 1885, he helped Taylor negotiate a conflict among him, an irascible and rebellious CIM missionary (George Stott), and the CIM directors in London, who were critical of Taylor’s treatment of Stott.
Sometime before 1865, Lord had been awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity (DD) degree, presumably by his alma mater (but the sources do not give the name of the institution).
Jemima died on 15 January 1869, and Lord married at least once more, in 1871, and again after his wife, Angie, died. There is a record of the death of an Angie M. Lord, wife of the Rev. E.C. Lord, in Chefoo, China, in 1881. By the time of the 1880 Census, Edward C. Lord, widower, was living in Fredonia, NY, as head of a household that included his sister, 67; her adopted son Henry, 24; Lord’s two daughters, Fannie, 22, and Mary, 20; plus George Bausum, 4, Lord’s grandson; and boarders Wiliam Zell, 36, a minister; his wife Anna, 23; and daughter Mary, 3 months. Lord returned to China at some point, and he died of cholera there on 17 September 1887. His fourth wife died a few days later, also of cholera.
Writings in Chinese
Over the years, Lord published half a dozen short tracts, a small collection of hymns and prayers, and short commentaries on Galatians, Romans, Hebrews, and First Corinthians.
E.C. Lord provided essential encouragement, counsel, hospitality, and practical help to Hudson Taylor and the CIM for decades. Without him, it is likely that Taylor and his mission would have foundered at critical points. Taylor’s biographer wrote:
Commissioned as US Consul in Ningbo, by Abraham Lincoln himself, Edward Lord had combined consular and missionary service for nineteen years with marked respect by the mandarins. Two of his household staff had been with him for thirty-two years, as well as his cook for nineteen and his “outside man” for seventeen – a tribute to his personality. He had been in Ningbo himself since 1847, a veteran before Hudson Taylor arrived as a youth. The CIM in Zhejiang had always had free access to his home and advice, and the Church at large would miss his strong influence (Broomhall 7.60-61).
From a post-colonial perspective, his dual role as missionary and foreign diplomat is highly problematic. On the other hand, as a Christian missionary who loved the Chinese, he seems to have conducted himself with courtesy and respect toward the mandarins, who reciprocated with high regard for him.
The loss of three wives must have caused him profound sorrow. His career exemplified determined faithfulness and loving service in the face of illness and bereavement, as well as steadfastness in his unrelenting work as a missionary pastor, writer, and diplomat. He also displayed unfailing kindness to his fellow missionaries, especially the CIM. In many ways, he serves as a representative of the best of the Protestant missionaries in China. That he could continue to be considered a desirable marriage partner even at the age of sixty says much about his character and reputation.
G. Wright Doyle
Broomhall, A.J. Hudson Taylor and China’s Open Century. Book Three. If I Had a Thousand Lives, Hodder and Stoughton and The Overseas Missionary Fellowship, 1982. Reprinted as two volumes with the title, The Shaping of Modern China: Hudson Taylor’s Life and Legacy. Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2005.
Cathcart, William, ed. The Baptist Encyclopedia, 1881.
Shepard, Douglas H. (2012) The Rev. Edward C. Lord (1817-1887) The Rev. Lord, Chautauqua Co., NY (chautauquacounty.com)
Wylie, Alexander. Memorials of Protestant Missionaries to the Chinese. Giving a List of Their Publications and Obituary Notices of the Deceased. Shanghai: American Presbyterian Mission Press, 1867. Republished by Andesite Press, an imprint of Creative Media Partners.