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Medhurst, Walter Henry

MEDHURST, WALTER HENRY (1796-1857), English Congregationalist missionary to China, was born in London and educated at St Paul's school. He learned the business of a printer, and having become interested in Christian missions he sailed in 1816 for the London Missionary Society's station at Malacca, which was intended to be a great printing-centre. He became proficient in Malay, in a knowledge of the written characters of Chinese, and in the colloquial use of more than one of its dialects. He was ordained at Malacca in 1819, and engaged in missionary labours, first at Penang, then at Batavia, and finally, when peace was concluded with China in 1842, at Shanghai. There he continued till 1856, laying the foundations of a successful mission. His principal labour for several years, as one of a committee of delegates, was in the revision of existing Chinese versions of the Bible. The result was a version (in High Wen-li) marvellously correct and faithful to the original. With John Stronach he also translated the New Testament into the Mandarin dialect of Nanking. His Chinese-English and EnglishChinese dictionaries (each in 2 vols.) are still valuable, and to him the British public owed its understanding of the teaching of Hung-Sew-Tseuen, the leader of the Tai-ping rising (1851-64).

The university of New York conferred upon him in 1843 the degree of D.D. Medhurst left Shanghai in 1856 in failing health, and died two days after reaching London, on the 24th of January 1857. His son, Sir Walter Henry Medhurst (1822- 1885), was British consul at Hankow and afterwards at Shanghai.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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