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Section I: East Asia Missions

Part 1: Japan, 1869-1934 (including Loochoo Naval Mission, 1843-1861)

"The CMS Archive provides a rich repository of source materials on South Asian history and culture. Missionaries and their Indian subordinates were active among most classes in the population, especially the lites and lower castes and classes. They therefore provide evidence and comment on a wide range of issues, including matters outside the purview and experience of Government officers and either overlooked or ignored in official correspondence.

It is impossible to write a satisfactory history of indigo planting in Bengal, an account of slavery in nineteenth century Kerala, or the history of dalit (untouchable) movements in the same region without reference to these materials.

The CMS missionaries had much to say about landlord/tenant relations and social issues such as caste and Hindu forms of marriage, not to mention intellectual, religious and political movements which took place during the colonial period. Furthermore, when used critically and in the same way as other collections of source material, these holdings provide insights into many other issues of importance in contemporary scholarly debate. Not the least of these are questions relating to the Hindu/Christian encounter, the phenomenon and nature of religious conversion movements, aspects of famine, pestilence and disease, developments in health care and medicine, women's issues (including the rise of the women's missionary movement from Britain), European knowledge and representation of India, and the role of missionaries in the construction of 'Hinduism'.

Scholars with integrity, who believe that all of the evidence should be taken into account, can hardly afford to ignore missionary sources such as these. The material when used in the usual critical fashion not only tells us a great deal about the history and culture of the different countries and peoples involved, but is also a mirror of the missionaries themselves - men and women who had considerable influence in moulding European attitudes towards 'the other' ".
Dr Geoffrey Oddie
Department of History, University of Sydney

Adam Matthew Publications is proud to publish the Archive of the Church Missionary Society bringing together in this microfilm publication papers held at the CMS Headquarters in London and the University of Birmingham Library.

The Church Missionary Society (CMS), born out of the Evangelical Revival and founded in 1799 as an independent voluntary society within the Church of England, was to grow into one of the largest and most influential missionary societies in the world. At the turn of the century it had a staff of 1,300 missionaries, 375 local clergy, 1,000 local agents and teachers and an annual income of the equivalent of £20 million. It produced over half a million periodicals annually, many books and thousands of pamphlets and leaflets.

Initially named the Society for Missions to Africa and the East (renamed the Church Missionary Society in 1812 and now called the Church Mission Society) it followed simple missionary principles; to follow God in the same way as the missionaries of the early Church, to begin humbly and on a small scale, to put money after prayer and study and to depend on the Holy Spirit.

The Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge and the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts were well established in their missionary work in the East Indies and North America. The CMS widened the horizons of missionary activity declaring:
"The whole continent of Africa, and that of Asia also, with the exception of a few places, were still open to the Missionary labours of the Church of England. To these quarters of the globe, therefore, the promoters of the present design turned their chief attention...."

The CMS at first could not decide which mission field was the most suitable and it was very difficult to find English missionaries. It was finally decided to begin in West Africa. At Freetown there had been a colony for freed slaves established in 1786, under the charge of the Sierra Leone Company (of which some CMS founders were directors). Many candidates were interviewed for the posts of missionaries but it was not until 1804 that two German Lutheran clergy Melchior Renner and Peter Hartwig, trained at a seminary in Berlin, left for Freetown to work among the Susu tribe.

After the abolition of the slave trade in 1807 many opportunities were opened up for missionary work in Sierra Leone. However the death toll among missionaries was very heavy owing to the tropical diseases they contracted and it was decided to set up a training institute for Africans at Fourah Bay. This was to become the University of Fourah Bay where the CMS Bishop Samuel Crowther was trained.

CMS work expanded quickly in Africa over the next few decades and mission stations were set up in Nigeria and Kenya in 1844, Uganda in 1876 and Tanganyika in 1878.

CMS missionaries spread the Gospel not only through evangelistic work but also through education and medical care, by providing schools for children, colleges for adults, training in industry for men, and in crafts and household skills for women and medical training for those who worked in the hospitals and dispensaries.

Missionary work had begun in New Zealand in 1809. Many converts were made among the Maoris and by 1837 there were about 30,000 Maoris attending Christian worship. There were also some CMS missionaries working in Australia among the aborigines around 1830. They were withdrawn within a few years but more were sent in 1892 to New South Wales and Victoria.

Work in the West Indies began in 1813 among the slaves on the plantations and increased to such an extent that by 1838 the Society had 13 missionaries, 23 lay agents and seventy schools, with a congregation numbering about 8,000.

When CMS began work in India the British East India Company would not allow missionaries in the areas which it administered. However the passing of the Charter Bill in 1813 provided for the establishment of bishoprics in India and work in North India in particular developed rapidly. Work also continued in South India, the first two missionaries being German Lutheran clergymen, J C Schnarre and C J Rhenius. The mission in West India, centred around Bombay, was the smallest in India but still managed to provide schools, an orphanage and teacher-training classes and training in agriculture.

Missionaries arrived in Ceylon in 1818 and although work was at first slow, by 1876 trained catechists were working among the Tamil coolies in the coffee and tea plantations.

Other missions begun in these decades were Canada (1822) where much work was done among the Indians in the Hudson Bay area, Egypt (1826), Palestine and the Middle East (1851), Persia (1875) and Mauritius (1856).

Although the papers for China begin in 1834 the area was only fully opened up to the CMS at the end of the Opium Wars in 1844. By 1847 they had established missions at Ningpo and Shanghai. Although work was beset initially by many difficulties more missions were gradually opened and by 1897 the missions had been divided into three separate areas.

Although there were missionaries of the Loochoo Naval Mission working in the Loochoo islands from 1843 to 1861 (when the Mission's funds were given to the CMS for future work in Japan) the first CMS missionaries did not commence work in Japan until 1869 when the mission in Nagasaki was opened. From 1873 onwards missions were opened in other areas of the country, the Japan bishopric was established in 1883 and in 1884 a theological school set up in Osaka.

Women had worked in the missions from the very early years but usually alongside their husbands. In 1887 a call was put out by the CMS for unmarried ladies to become missionaries and this had an overwhelming response. A new training school was set up for women and there were 326 unmarried women working abroad by 1901.

Two Missionary Societies were amalgamated with the CMS over the years: the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society (CEZMS) in 1957 and the Society for Promoting Female Education in China, India and the East (usually known as the Female Education Society) (FES) in 1899. The CEZMS specialised in sending missionaries to India, China, Japan and Ceylon to work among the women in the Zenanas (harems). The FES established schools for women in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, India, South Africa, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon and Mauritius.

The CMS Archive is held partly at CMS Headquarters in London but mainly at the University of Birmingham Library. To date the material relating up to 1949 only is held in Birmingham. The later years which are held in London will follow in stages as the material becomes available for research.

Birmingham holds the papers of the General Secretary’s Department, which includes the main committee minutes of the Society concerned with its policy and overseas missions, together with the papers of the Candidates, Finance and Medical Departments and the Home Division. It also holds the Accessions series (collections of papers relating to the Society and its missionaries, which have largely been donated to CMS and do not form part of its official headquarters archives). Birmingham also holds the archives of the Female Educational Society (FES) and the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society (CEZMS) which were amalgamated with CMS. The CMS Gleaner is held in London. Copies of the Gleaner’s Pictorial Album, the Missionary Atlas, the Annual Letters, The History of the Church Missionary Society and the Register of CMS Missionaries can be found both in Birmingham and London. However there is only one annotated copy of the Register and this is held in London.

The CMS is administered by a series of committees, the Secretaries of each of the main committees being the heads of department at headquarters. The Work has two main divisions, Home and Overseas. Up to 1880 the Overseas work of the CMS was administered by the Committee of Correspondence but from 1881 to 1934 the mission areas were divided into three regions each with its own sub-committee, Regional Secretary and series of correspondence. The areas were: East Asia (Group 1), West Asia (Group 2) and Africa (Group 3). East Asia covers Canada, China and Japan; West Asia covers Ceylon, India, Mauritius and Madagascar, Persia and Turkish Arabia. Africa covers West Africa (Sierra Leone and Nigeria), South Africa, East Africa, ( Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania), Egypt and Sudan, the Mediterranean area (Palestine, Turkey, Greece and Malta), West Indies and New Zealand.

The papers for each of the missions under the Committee of Correspondence up to 1880 consist of Letter Books - copies of outgoing correspondence from the Secretary to the mission secretary and missionaries; Original Papers - all incoming papers sent to headquarters by the mission secretary; Mission Books - all the Original Papers were copied into books so that a legible copy would be available for the use of the Committee. It should be noted however that for the Japan mission there is no separate series of Mission Books as the incoming papers were copied into the China Mission Books which from 1875 contain separate sections for Japan.

From 1881 to 1934 the papers consist of Letter Books - as described above; Individual Letter Books - personal and confidential letters to the missionaries from the Secretary; Original Papers - as described above and Precis Books - a printed precis of the incoming papers was prepared for the meetings of the Group Committee. It gave the date, writer, date received, summary of contents, proposals for committee action and/or the Secretary's remarks. A file copy of the precis was pasted in the book on the left-hand side and on the right-hand side the committee clerk entered the relevant Committee and Secretarial action.

The Overseas Archive from 1935 onwards is divided into two groups, one relating to specific mission areas and one for files covering the whole or part of Africa or Asia (with the Middle East). The files for a specific mission area are arranged in the following order: Correspondence with the mission secretary, Dioceses, Education, General and Medical. The files dealing with the whole or a part of Africa or Asia are divided into General, East and West Africa or Asia and are then further subdivided into various sections such as Administration, Finance, Medical etc.

We are commencing the microfilm publication of the CMS Archive with Section I - East Asia Missions. This is made available in 20 parts and consists of documents on the Loochoo Naval Mission 1843-1861, the Papers for Japan (1869-1949), the Papers for China (1834-1949) and the Archive of the CEZMS (1880-1957).

Section I Part 1 provides six reels of material on the Loochoo Naval Mission 1843-1861 and a further 15 reels covering Original Papers for Japan, 1868-1886, Letter Books for Japan, 1874-1934 and finally Precis Books, 1881-1934.


The Loochoo Naval Mission was begun in February 1843 by a small group of naval officers, who wished to send a missionary to the Loochoo Islands (Ryukyu Islands), aiming thereby to reach Japan. When their application to CMS was refused the officers set up an independent fund and sent out Dr Bernard Jean Bettelheim, who was succeeded by Rev G H Moreton. When Moreton’s health failed the mission came to an end. In 1861 the balance of the funds was given to CMS as a basis of support for evangelistic work in Japan, when that should be possible. CMS began work in Japan in 1869.

The very small archive comprises the secretaries’ papers and correspondence as well as the lengthy journals of Bettelheim and Moreton. The archive is enlivened by the naval connection, not only by the briskness of some of the comments from the secretaries, but by the inclusion of such odd items as the 1842 designs and plans for "gangway annular scupper mouths" for use in frigates and the description of riots at Dingle, Co Kerry, Ireland c1850.

JAPAN MISSION, c1869-1934

At the end of the eighteenth century Japan was closed to outside influence. No foreign Christian had been allowed to enter the country for some 200 years and Christianity was a proscribed religion, largely because of antipathy to the influence of Jesuit missionaries who had reached Japan in the sixteenth century. In the 1850s, however, the United States of America, needing additional ports for its steamer run to Hong Kong demanded and enforced a treaty, and Great Britain followed suit.

So it was that in 1859 American missionaries were able to enter Japan, though their work was still restricted and extremely difficult. It was not until 1869 that the Rev G Ensor, the first English missionary, landed at Nagasaki; and he was sent by CMS thanks to an anonymous gift of £4000 received two years earlier for the founding of a Japan mission.

Ensor could only receive enquiries privately, but even so, some converts were made. By 1873, however, the government was pursuing a more liberal policy and CMS was able to place missionaries in five of the treaty ports. Osaka (occupied 1873), Tokyo (1874) and Hakodate (1874) remained the centres of CMS work until the end of the century; while from 1879 the work of Rev John Batchelor amongst the Ainu on the island of Yezu was outstanding.

Mission work spread through education and translation work as well as by the direct evangelism of the preaching chapels. The main educational centre was Osaka, where the most famous of the CMS girls’ schools, later called Bishop Poole Memorial School, was opened in 1879 though its real development began with the arrival of Miss Katherine Tristram in 1888, who was to be its principal until 1925. The comparable school for boys, Momoyama Middle School, was not founded until 1890.

In 1883 the Japan bishopric was established with Rev A W Poole, a CMS man, as first bishop, and the following year a divinity college for the training of Japanese clergy was set up in Osaka. In 1887 again in Osaka delegates of the Japanese Christians met and formed themselves into the Japan Holy Catholic Church, the Nippon Sei Ko Kai. At the time there were only about 1300 Christians but Edward Bickersteth, then bishop of Japan, was passionately concerned that the small Anglican congregations should be effectively cared for. Before his death in 1897 he and the bishop of the American Episcopal Church saw six dioceses formed.

From then on the missionaries were gradually integrated into the structure of the NSKK, which itself became a province of the Anglican Communion in 1930. Missionary institutions, such as the schools, remained independent, except for the Central Theological College at Tokyo, begun in 1910 and officially opened in 1914. CMS London was already in 1921 suggesting withdrawal from Japan and transfer of its mission property to the NSKK and although this did not immediately take place the very proposal stimulated the movement to a self-supporting church. The number of European missionaries was significantly reduced, partly because some found the new conditions difficult to adjust to. There were many single women missionaries, however, as they had greater freedom than clergy to find new patterns of evangelism, because they were outside any Japanese official or social pattern.

There had been specialised work among soldiers from 1894 onwards and also among the Chinese students in Japan, though this came to an end in 1928 as a result of the wars in China. There was a lack of progress in rural evangelism in the 1930s, but newspaper evangelism proved effective under the leadership of Rev Murray Walton and Rev M S Murao until radio replaced newspapers after the Second World War.

The brief extracts below will give just a flavour of the wide ranging type of material to be found in the CMS Archive.The following ones are taken from the Original Papers for the Japan Mission which include letters, journals and papers of individual missionaries. The first tells of the arrival in Nagasaki of the Reverend Walter Andrews in 1879:

"We had a hearty welcome when we reached Nagasaki.....The block of Mission buildings at Deshima looks very well as one enters the harbour....the little Mission School however looks very insignificant by the side of the neat little school which is just completed".
C/J/O4 Nagasaki, 1879 - please see Reel 7

The second describes a visit to Japan by the Reverend John Shaw, Bishop of Hong Kong in 1878:

"I took a short trip to one of Japan's many beauty spots called Nikko...distant from Tokio about 90 miles....Turning from the land and its natural beauties to the people of Japan, we find among them much to interest....The people as a whole seem quite kindly disposed towards foreigners and the Government would throw the whole country open to us tomorrow if we could place ourselves under Japanese law. This is a sore point with the Japanese in the matter of their foreign relations but it must ultimately work for good. By our refusal to submit to their laws the Japanese are learning the difference between Christian and Heathen laws....Then the great desire to learn English and acquire Western Knowledge and the establishment of schools for this purpose all over the country all helps to favour a kindly intercourse between the people and foreigners".
C/J/O7 1878 - please see Reel 7

The third is an extract from an Annual Letter home from the Niigata Mission Station dated 31 December 1879:

"There have been few applicants for baptism...One special hindrance....has been the visitation of cholera. There were large numbers of deaths in this town....But as is so often the case, numbers of the public looked upon Christianity as the cause of the plague and the most absurd calumnies were credited....I made an attempt after the cholera had disappeared to resume the latter work but the people at the stations we formerly used to visit have declined to receive us any more at present. On the whole I cannot see any signs at present of an open door being set before us in this neighbourhood".
C/J/O12 31 December, 1879 -please see Reel 8

Missionary Archives are recognised as a vitally important area of research and the CMS Archive is a particularly rich source, facilitating study in a wide range of disciplines. It offers opportunities for in-depth research into Area Studies, Imperial History, Religious Studies, Education, Medicine, Slavery Studies, Women's Studies, World History, Social History and Sociology.

"I am tremendously excited about the publication of the CMS Archive. Scholars interested in the religious, social and women's history of Great Britain as well as its colonies will find it invaluable".
Dr Susan Thorne, Department of History, Duke University

"This collection will be invaluable to scholars interested in the ideological and material culture of Western mission movements in the modern period".
Dr Antoinette Burton, The Women's Studies Program,
Johns Hopkins University

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