Medhurst was born in London and trained as a printer. After a brief enrollment at Hackney College, London, he joined the London Missionary Society with the intention of working among the Chinese. Embarking for Malacca in 1816, he met, courted, and married Elizabeth Braun when his ship put in at Madras, and he disembarked at Malacca in 1817 a married man. Located variously at Malacca, Penang, and Batavia, he early demonstrated enviable facility in both Malay and Chinese, and in addition to his work among orphans, engaged in energetic and effective preaching and publishing ministry. With the opening of five treaty ports following the first Opium War, he settled in Shanghai in 1843, continuing there until ill health forced his return to England in 1856. The author of numerous pamphlets and several substantial reference works, including a Chinese-English Dictionary, Medhurst is perhaps best known for his key role in producing the groundbreaking Chinese Delegates Translation Bible, published in 1853.
This article is reprinted from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, Macmillan Reference USA, copyright (c) 1998 Gerald H. Anderson, by permission of The Gale Group; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved.
- Walter Henry Medhurst, China: Its State and Its Prospects… (1838). Richard Lovett, The History of the London Missionary Society, 1795-1895 (1899).