MARIA JANE DYER
[Death : 23 - 07 - 1870]
Maria Jane Dyer (January 16, 1837 July 23, 1870) was a British Protestant Christian missionary to China, and "Mother" of the China Inland Mission with her husband, founder James Hudson Taylor. She was a pioneer missionary and educator there for 12 years (from 18521860 and 18661870). In 1858, she married Taylor and was an invaluable assistant and influence to him. In her time with the CIM she was instrumental in training single women to be missionaries in China, when opportunities for women to serve had been previously dependent on having a missionary husband.
British and Malaysian rootsMaria was the youngest daughter of the Rev. Samuel Dyer and his wife Maria Tarn of the London Missionary Society, who had been pioneer missionaries to the Chinese in Penang, Malaysia and Malacca, where she was born. Both of her parents died before she was ten. Maria was the second surviving daughter. Born in Malacca, she did not see England until she was two years old. Even then the stay was brief and she called China her home. Her father died while away at Macau in 1843 when Maria was only six years old. Her mother married again but she also died in the mission field at Penang in 1846. Maria and her brother and sister lived in England after the death of their parents. All three children were raised in England by their mother's brother and they all eventually dedicated their adult lives to missionary work in China.
Life in NingboIn 1853, aged 16, Maria traveled to China with her sister, Burella, and they lived and worked at a school for girls in Ningbo which was run by one of the first female missionaries to the Chinese, Mary Ann Aldersey, an old friend of their mother. It was there that she met and in 1858, married Hudson Taylor, despite Aldersey's complete opposition. Maria Taylor was better educated than her husband and from a different social background. Having spoken the Ningbo dialect fluently for several years, she was immediately able to start a small primary school. As a married couple the Taylors also took care of an adopted boy named Tianxi in Ningbo in addition to five Chinese boys that Taylor was helping. They had a baby of their own that died late in 1858. Their first surviving child, Grace Dyer Taylor, was born in 1859. Shortly after she was born, the Taylors took over all of the operations at the hospital in Ningbo that had been run by Dr. William Parker. In addition to this they cared for a young Chinese girl named Ensing and five other Chinese boys. In 1860 the Taylors went to England so that Hudson could regain his health. But for Maria, China was still her home. Their second child, a son, Herbert Hudson Taylor, was born in London in 1861. More children were born to the Taylors: Frederick Howard Taylor, 1862; Samuel Dyer Taylor, 1864; and Jane Dyer Taylor, 1865 (died at birth). In London, Maria helped Hudson to write China's Spiritual Need and Claims, which had an enormous impact on Christian missions in the 19th Century.
Return to ChinaOn May 26, 1866, after over five years of working in England, Maria & Hudson Taylor and their four children set sail for China with their new team of missionaries, the Lammermuir Party, aboard the Lammermuir (clipper). A four-month voyage was considered speedy at the time. While in the South China Sea and also the Pacific Ocean the ship was nearly sunk but survived 2 typhoons. They arrived safely in Shanghai on September 30, 1866. The arrival of the largest party of missionaries ever sent to China - as well as their intent to be dressed in native clothing - gave the foreign settlement in Shanghai much to talk about and some criticism began for the young China Inland Mission. The party donned Chinese clothing, notwithstanding - even the women missionaries (Maria for the first time) - which was deemed semi-scandalous by some Europeans. They traveled down the Grand Canal to make the first settlement in the war-torn city of Hangzhou. Another daughter was born to them in China (Maria Hudson Taylor). Their eldest daughter, Grace, died during their first year in China. Maria felt the loss deeply, and poured out her emotions in poetry, as she had done earlier in life after the death of her parents. Amid the struggle of the first year back in China, she wrote: As to the harsh judgings of the world, or the more painful misunderstandings of Christian brethren, I generally feel that the best plan is to go on with our work and leave God to vindicate our cause. When young women CIM missionary recruits arrived to join the work in China, Maria was able to train them in understanding Chinese, adaptation to Chinese culture, and missionary work. 1868 brought another child (Charles Edward Taylor) into the Taylor family, and in 1870, Hudson and Maria made the difficult decision to send their older three surviving children (Bertie, Freddie, and Maria - Samuel died earlier that year) home to England. That same year, Noel was born, though he died of malnutrition and deprivation two weeks later due to Maria's inability to nurse him. Maria died several days later at their home in Zhenjiang, with the official cause of death being cholera. The small Protestant cemetery where she was buried in Zhenjiang was where Hudson wanted to be laid to rest as well. He followed her there in 1905. The cemetery itself was destroyed during the Chinese Cultural Revolution by Red Guards in China as part of the Destruction of the Four Olds campaign. Today there are industrial buildings over the site. Maria's death shook Hudson Taylor deeply, and in 1871 with his own health deteriorating, he returned to England to recuperate and take care of business items involved with the mission work. Of Maria's and Hudson's nine children, three died at birth and two in childhood. The four who reached adulthood all later became missionaries with the China Inland Mission. In 1897 Hudson's & Maria's only surviving daughter, Maria Hudson Taylor, the wife of John Joseph Coulthard, died in Wenzhou, leaving four little children and her husband in sorrow. She had been instrumental in leading many Chinese women to Christianity during her short life. Descendants of Hudson & Maria Taylor continued their full-time ministry in Chinese communities in Hong Kong and Taiwan including The late Rev. James Hudson Taylor III (19292009) and his son Rev. James Hudson Taylor IV.