Maria Tarn Dyer was born in England in 1827, the daughter of Joseph Tarn, a director of the London Missionary Society and secretary of the Bible Society. She attended a class taught by Robert Morrison for women missionaries at his home in Hackney, England, and married Morrison’s close friend, Samuel Dyer.
Maria and Samuel arrived in Penang in 1827, serving with the Ultra-Ganges Mission of the London Missionary Society. She and Samuel moved to Malacca in 1829 and to Singapore in 1835. Though her first baby died, she gave birth to Samuel Jr. in 1833, Burella in 1835, and Maria Jane in 1837, who would later marry Hudson Taylor. She was close friends with Miss Aldersey and Miss Buckland. When she became ill after Maria Jane’s birth, the family moved back to England in 1841 for her to recover. They returned to Singapore in 1843.
Maria helped her husband in the establishment and running of schools for girls, a work which they both highly valued, despite its difficulty. After setbacks and defeats, they finally succeeded in forming schools for local females.
After Samuel’s tragic death in 1843, their friends Sir William and Lady Norris cared for Maria’s 10-year-old son for over two years, and then took him back to England. Not long after her husband’s death, Maria’s baby boy died after being dropped by his nurse. Maria, however, remained strong, and she determined to carry on Samuel’s work in China through her own resources. All that Samuel had was given to the mission.
Two years later, Maria married another missionary, Johann Georg Bausum, in Penang in 1845. Shortly thereafter, Maria died in Penang in 1846 and her children were sent back to London, where they were cared for by Maria’s family, but it would not be long before they would return to China to serve as missionaries themselves.
- A.J. Broomhall, Hudson Taylor and China’s Open Century: Barbarians at the Gates, 164-6, 226-7, 280, 395.
- A.J. Broomhall, Hudson Taylor and China’s Open Century: Over the Treaty Wall, 96.
- A.J. Broomhall, Hudson Taylor and China’s Open Century: If I Had A Thousand Lives, 38.
- Evan Davies, Memoir of the Rev. Samuel Dyer.
- For more details and bibliographic information, see the article on Maria Dyer in the Ricci Roundtable.