Jemima’s father, Jonathan Poppy, died a few days before she turned twenty. She served as a schoolmistress in Maidenhead, England, for a while, during which she applied to the Society for Promoting Female Education in the East (SPFEE). After her acceptance, she served for a year’s probationary period at a British and Foreign School Society institution in London.
The SPFEE had received a letter of invitation from a Swiss woman named Emma Cecilia Combe, who was married to an American missionary, the Rev Frederick B Thomson. They had been required by the Dutch government to relocate from Jakarta to a village in the jungles of Kalimantan. Without receiving any training in cross-cultural living, Jemima was sent out in 1843 on a journey that took almost a year before she arrived at the remote location.
The missionaries had cleared ground in the middle of the dense jungle, built houses for themselves, and planted gardens and fruit trees. They dwelt amidst the head-hunting Dayaks, who had no interest in learning to read. They did enjoy a good story, however, and listened eagerly to the missionaries telling them about the Creation and the Flood. The Dayaks lived in longhouses and practiced animistic beliefs. Seven months after her arrival Jemima wrote:
Our prospects are very dark at this time. The people at the nearest kampong (longhouse) avoid coming near us, unless it is to steal or to beg, or in hope of some sordid gain: they seem entirely to refuse instruction, and try to perplex us in every way they can, yet, we hope not from a spirit of malice or hatred, but because they like to show their importance, or to show how far they dare go in deeds of darkness. They seem to feel a savage pleasure in thinking themselves able to perplex a white man (Pointon “Jemima and the Hudson Taylors”).
Her hopes of living and dying among the Dayaks came to a sudden end when one missionary couple moved to a healthier location and the wife of the leader of the group, Mr. Thornton, died. Their position was socially and culturally untenable, so they had to move. Jemima expressed her feelings in a letter to the SPFEE:
Oh what a brittle thread do all our earthly hopes hang! Blessed indeed shall we be if we learn, by all the Lord’s dealings with us, to hold our souls in readiness for whatever He may send, so that, whether he fulfils our desires, or blight our hopes, we may bow with perfect submission, and, with his servant [Job] of old, say, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust him” (Pointon “Jemima”).
Penang, Maria Dyer, and Johann George Bausum
In Penang in 1845, Jemima had the opportunity to learn from Maria Dyer, who had founded the Chinese Girls’ School in Singapore in 1842, which later became St Margaret’s Primary and Secondary Schools, now the oldest girls’ school in Singapore and the Far East. When Maria’s husband Samuel died, she remained in Penang to continue serving. She sent their son Samuel back to England, but kept their two daughters, Burella and Maria, with her. Then she met a German missionary named Johann Georg(e) Bausum. She was older than he, but she gladly accepted his proposal to become his wife because she thought that they could serve God more effectively together.
They had been married less than two years, however, when Maria died. The stricken Bausum sent his two girls home to England. Like most missionary widowers, he soon sought another wife to share the burden of service. He wanted a woman who was just as dedicated to missionary work as he was, and Jemima was such a person. After their wedding in 1848, they administered a boys’ and a girls’ school; George also engaged in itinerant evangelism and pastoral care of converts.
In Penang, their family grew rapidly: Mary Elizabeth was born in October 1849; George Frederick in November 1850; William Henry in January 1852; Samuel Gottlieb in July 1853; and Louisa May in March 1855.
They faced daunting financial troubles, however. George was an independent missionary, and funds coming in were not enough to support the schools and the church. He tried to earn money through farming, but that did not provide enough income, either. Tragically, little Samuel Gottlieb died of small pox in March 1854. Louisa Jane followed him the next year only six days after being born. “Then, on August 1, 1855, Jemima wrote: ‘My dear Husband departed this life after but one night’s fevering having sat up all the previous night with a dying member of his church.’ He had collapsed on her shoulder. Shortly afterwards lawyer Jonas D Vaughan wrote to the LMS (London Missionary Society) that John George suffered excruciating pain at the end and an autopsy had revealed that one of the principle arteries of his heart had ruptured” (Pointon “Jemima”).
Jemima now found herself in a “financial nightmare.” Though she desperately desired to stay on and continue their work, she not only had no money but also contracted such a severe case of tonsilitis that she could not talk for more than two months. She was concerned for her children, who needed her as a homeschooling teacher, but she had no ability to teach them. In the end, she accepted an invitation from Miss Mary Ann Aldersey to go to Ningbo and help with the school she had started there.
Jemima, James Hudson Taylor, and his Maria
By the time that Jemima reached Ningbo Miss Aldersey was a very influential member of the missionary community. Even the Chinese were in awe of her. Dr W A P Martin, an American Presbyterian who was in Ningbo from 1850 to 1860, wrote: “The most remarkable figure in the foreign community was Miss Aldersey, an English missionary. Born with beauty and fortune, she never married, not for want of opportunity, for she was known to refuse at least one offer. The (Chinese) firmly believed that as England was ruled by a woman, so Miss Aldersey had been delegated to be the ruler of our foreign community! The British consul, they said, always obeyed her commands” (Pointon “Jemima”).
Miss Aldersey had arrived Ningbo in 1843 and, with the assistance of three teenage girls, set up what was probably the first girls’ school in China. Now she wanted to retire from the school in order to spend all her time doing missionary work. She asked Jemima to run the school for her, with the two Dyer girls, Burella and Maria, serving as teachers also.
Jemima’s first husband J.G. Bausum was close to Samuel Dyer, father of Burella and Maria, who were sent to England after the death of their mother in Penang in 1846.
Arriving in October 1856, she was immediately introduced to the local missionary community by Maria Dyer, who with her sister Burella was teaching at the school and were considered, incorrectly, by Miss Aldersey as her wards. She and Maria became close friends. “She was motherly, and wise” (Broomhall 3.42). When Joseph Edkins proposed to Maria and was summarily rejected, she rebuked Maria, writing, “A lady ought not to expose a gentleman to ridicule because he loved her and wanted to be loved in return” (Broomhall 3.42).
Miss Aldersey handed her school over to the American Presbyterians to administer in late 1856, with Bausum and the Dyer girls continuing as before. In January 1857, she also turned Maria over to Jemima’s care. Aldersey stayed in Ningbo, and adamantly opposed the growing friendship of Maria and Hudson Taylor, even forbidding Maria to have any contact with Taylor. During the long, complicated and melodramatic affair, Jemima showed herself a true friend to Maria while acting with great integrity towards Miss Aldersey.
When Taylor went to the all-female house where the Dyer girls and Jemima lived, he was shown into the living quarters while the two sisters left. “Mrs Bausum stayed to entertain Hudson Taylor. She invited him to the living quarters upstairs and he found an ally. Mrs Bausum was an unusually fine woman. Uncowed by Miss Aldersey, she steered a careful course through the next six months of tension, quietly supporting Maria and Hudson Taylor under stress” (Broomhall 3.83-84). At Maria’s request, she was present when Maria and Taylor finally had a chance to speak to each other in person.
Miss Aldersey then accused Taylor of acting disgracefully and of being a man of inferior character, with aberrant beliefs. “Mrs Bausum also found herself in a difficult position, unable to act for or against either side until better informed. So she called on Hudson Taylor and sked him to explain his beliefs, opinions, and actions. He did so to her satisfaction” (Broomhall 3.91). She then went to see the Reverend F. F. Gough, a highly respected missionary, “and obtained a most satisfactory account of Mr Taylor’s Christian life and principles” from him” (Broomhall 3.91).
In the face of further slander and opposition by Miss Aldersey, on two occasions Jemima joined in prayer with Gough and Maria about the problems they shared with her. She also wrote to Maria’s legal guardians in England, supporting Maria and Hudson Taylor against Miss Aldersey. She continued to defend the two lovers in the face of false accusations from Miss Aldersey. In these events, we see Jemima’s prudence, integrity, and compassion.
Later correspondence with the girls’ real legal guardians, the Tarns, revealed that they considered Miss Aldersey’s turning the sisters over to Mrs. Bausum without consulting them to have been wrong. In this letter to Maria, Mrs. Tarn said that they still had a high opinion of Mrs. Bausum and that “as a wife and a mother Mrs Bausum ‘was far better qualified to protect and watch over you, and … it was to be expected that you would transfer your confidence to her’” (Broomhall 3.125).
Another action demonstrates that she was also exceedingly generous. “A legacy of favour of Maria’s mother [Maria Dyer] had been judged by the lawyers to belong to Mrs Bausum. But Mrs Bausum, although a widow with children unprovided for, had given instructions that it should go to Samuel [brother of Maria and Burella], Burella, and Maria.” Maria’s guardians wrote asking her, “would it not be right to acknowledge such nobility of character by directing the executor to divide the legacy into four, the fourth part going to Mrs Bausum’s own children?” (Broomhall 3.119).
At the end of the Taylors’ honeymoon, Maria fell dangerously ill with typhoid. While she was recovering, Hudson also fell sick also. Four months later, after the danger had passed, “they were both well enough to convalesce at Mrs Bausum’s. Her peaceful home and rose garden were what they needed” (Broomhall 3.131).
In the spring of 1858, the Taylors learned that “cruelly soon after Mrs Bausum’s move with Miss Aldersey’s school to the Presbyterian premises, she had been dismissed and left without support, in part the price of loyalty to Maria and Hudson Taylor. With her children dependent on her she had no alternative but to return to England. ‘She is a true missionary,’ [Taylor] wrote … Mrs Bausum was warmly received when she reached home,” and in July 1860 returned to Ningbo, supported by Miss Stacey’s Ladies’ Association at Tottenham. (Broomhall 3.137). For at least part of their time in England, she and her children stayed with Maria’s aunt and uncle, the William Tarns.
While she was away, her absence was keenly felt by Maria and Hudson Taylor. He wrote to his parents that “she is almost my mother-in-law… She has taken my part in the difficulties I have had… You know how kind she was to me, and that too when others were afraid to aid me, however much they felt with me” (Broomhall 3.154).
By early 1860 Jemima had 11 girls mainly under 10-years of age in her school. She told the SPFEE: “They had been sadly neglected, never comfortably clothed or fed, and looked much such a picture of starvation and misery as we are familiar with in our ragged schools at home. One poor child was brought to the house, and the message left that the teacher might do what she liked with her. Then three are afflicted – one with total and two with partial blindness, while a fourth was a cripple. But they are not wanting in intelligence, and a few months after their admission, five out of the eleven had learnt to read Chinese as it is spoken in Ningbo. Their time was very pleasantly spent – very different to their former days of wretchedness. They learned to be useful children, to cook their own rice, make their clothes, and clean their rooms” (Pointon “Jemima”).
In December 1861, Jemima married E.C. Lord, whose first wife had died, leaving him a widower with two children. She demonstrated remarkable calmness and courage during the terrible days when the Taiping revels threatened to take Ningbo, declaring, “I do not indulge in fear” (Pointon “Jemima”). In 1863, the Lords decided that Jemima should take her husband’s five children (Lucy Lyon, William Dean, Franklin Lyon, Fannie Adaline, and Mary Freelove) to his sister in New York State, and her two to England, for their education.
While in England, “Jemima spent time with her daughter, Mary, who was very much part of the Hudson Taylor family. She did manage to raise some support for her work in Ningbo while there particularly through George Muller (founder of the orphanages at Ashley Down in Bristol) but fundraising in the States proved to be very difficult because of the Civil War. Nor did it help that, when she was in Brooklyn preparing to return to Ningbo, she caught diphtheria. Jemima didn’t get back to her husband until July 1864 having spent most of the last 14 months at sea” (Pointon “Jemima”).
She did manage to open a new institution, however, and Hudson Taylor later often sought suitable brides for his Chinese co-workers from among its students.
Hudson Taylor had a high regard for Jemima as a missionary in her own right. Both single and married, as a school teacher and administrator and as a church worker with her husbands, she had seen Chinese from all walks of life come to Christ, especially during the period of openness in 1864-1865. Her letters home testified to God’s work among the Chinese and stirred others to prayer and action. As the wife of E.C. Lord, when his duties as consul “took up his time, Mrs Lord (Jemima Bausum) made up for that ten times over” (Broomhall 4.213). Her effectiveness with the Chinese, along with that of other women he had seen, helped convince Hudson Taylor of the great value of women missionaries in China.
Jemima died on 15 January 1869. “A doctor reported that her health had been declining during the past year but she had continued to do her work till the last week or two of her life. His diagnosis was that she had pleurisy ‘which ended in effusion of water on the chest’. This was summarised by her daughter and son-in-law as probably being heart disease and bronchitis. They wrote: ‘Her sufferings during her final illness were great, not being able to lie down nor get rest. But her faith remained unshaken, and her mind seemed to be quite calm’” (Pointon “Jemima”).
As the wife of three missionaries, she provided essential support for them. Her Christian influence extended far and wide through the hundreds of orphans and students whom she nurtured and taught. In the light of the immense impact made upon Christianity in China by Hudson Taylor and Maria, her kindness and care towards them must be factored into any assessment of her role in 19th century Christian missions in China.
Jemima Bausum Lord’s legacy includes her daughter, Mary Bausum, who joined the China Inland Mission as part of the first Lammermuir party and was a valued early member of the pioneer mission. Mary married Stephen Barchet, a German who had joined the China Inland Mission. They continued running the orphanage for a while until going to the United States, where he completed training as a medical doctor. After returning to Ningbo, they remained for the rest of their lives.
Jemima Bausum Lord serves as an example of the dedicated, courageous, loving, sacrificial, and fruitful service of thousands of women missionaries in China.
G. Wright Doyle
Broomhall, A.J. Hudson Taylor and China’s Open Century. Hodder and Stoughton and Overseas Missionary Fellowship. Seven Volumes. (Later published in two volumes with the title The Shaping of Modern China: Hudson Taylor’s Life and Legacy. Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2205.)
Book Three: If I Had a Thousand Lives,1982.
Book Four: Survivors’ Pact, 1984.
Book Five: Refiner’s Fire, 1985.
Doyle, G. Wright, “E.C. Lord.” In the Biographical Dictionary of Chinese Christianity. www.bdcconline.net.
Pip Pointon. “Jemima and the Hudson Taylors.” Jemima and the Hudson Taylors | Pip’s Patch (pipspatch.com)