Of scanty means, Fryer was baptized into the Anglican Church when he was in secondary school. He completed his schooling in Humbury, London, in 1860. He reached Hong Kong in 1861 to tutor at St. Paul’s College. In 1863, invited by the Church Missionary Society (CMS), he went to serve in a Chinese government school. In 1865, he left the CMS to set up the Anglo-Chinese College in Shanghai. In 1868, he was concurrently and editor and translator in the Jiangnan Manufacturing Bureau in Shanghai, translating many scientific books. Although he preferred to do mission work in inland China rather than secular work, Fryer was mainly engaged in educational work. He compiled a six-volume collection of Chinese scientific books in 1875 and set up the Chinese Scientific Book Depot in 1885. He helped establish the Institution for the Chinese Blind, and his son George became headmaster of the Fryer School for the Deaf and Dumb.
Fryer was commended twice by the Qing dynasty for his contributions to China. He was appointed a professor of Eastern literature at the University of California in 1896 and continued as an honorary professor after his retirement in 1915. Among his works are The Educational Dictionary for China and Admission of Chinese Students to American Colleges.
This article is reproduced, with permission, from A Dictionary of Asian Christianity, copyright © 2001 by Scott W. Sunquist, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved.
- Palmer, Spencer J., Korea and Christianity: The Problem of Identification with Tradition (1967). John Fryer Collection, Archives of the University of California, Berkeley.