The Taiwanese 台灣人 Tâi-Oân Lâng

Welcome to the Taiwanese Site! This is a collection of the stories of the past Taiwanese who had contributed to Taiwan in various aspects. We encourage readers' comments. Contact point, email contact at or ** Last Update April 26, 2012 **

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Rev. Dr. Thomas Barclay 巴克禮 博士

Sixty Years of Dedication

- Rev. Dr. Thomas Barclay
- Mrs. Barclay (Elisabeth A. Turner)
- First Taiwanese Newspaper: Taiwan Hu-Sia Church News, July 1885

Looking into the church history of Taiwan in the 19th century, one would wonder what else was there if there were no missionaries from Scotland. The majority of British missionaries, if not all, were from Scotland. Even the beloved Rev. George Leslie Mackay was born to the Scottish parents in Canada.

Rev. Dr. Thomas Barclay was not just another missionary from Scotland. He could easily hold the title of the longest serviced missionary (1875-1935) in Taiwan. In the span of those sixty years, Barclay’s dedication to Taiwan was really above and beyond. Even though Barclay was born in Glasgow, Scotland, he seemed to be born for Taiwan.

At the age 15, Barclay was already a freshman at the University of Glasgow. He had everything going right in the fields of science and math. Even his story was later included in the Britannica Encyclopedia. On his 16th birthday, Thomas Barclay had decided to offer himself to God’s services. Upon graduation from Glasgow, he entered the Free Church Divinity College, then did his post graduate study at the University of Leipzig, Germany, for one year.

He arrived at Amoy in 1874 to learn Taiwanese dialect (Holo) and then onto Formosa (Taiwan) a year later. For the next 60 years, his life was more Taiwanese than many Taiwanese.

While settled in Tainan, Barclay worked closely with Rev Hugh Ritchie and Dr James Maxwell to set up a training institution for the local ministers. It was called the Tainan College (府城大學.) It is now Tainan Theological College/Seminary. It was the very first college ever in Taiwan then, it is now one of the finest theological institutions in Southeast Asia. In 1885 he started another very first: the first newspaper in Taiwan with the first printer, called The Taiwan Hu-Sia Church News (臺灣府城教會報.) It is now The Taiwan Church Press (臺灣教會公報.)

In 1895, Taiwan was ceded to Japan. The Tainan city officials and citizens asked Barclay for help. On October 20, he accompanied by Rev. Duncan Ferguson (宋忠堅牧師) walked more than two miles at night to pay a visit to general No-Gi (乃木希典將軍,) and successfully arranged the peaceful entry of the Japanese soldiers to the city the next morning.

During his second vacation back in England, Barclay made a wonderful decision. He married Elisabeth A. Turner, a registered nurse, in 1892. Mrs. Barclay turned out to be an important source for the family members and friends of the missionaries. She took care of them physically and spiritually. They met regularly for Bible study and prayer meetings near the College campus beginning 1903. It became part of the congregation of the Maxwell’s Memorial Church in 1906.

In 1921 the congregation became an independent church called East Gate Presbyterian Church (台南東門教會,) one of the most dynamic churches in Taiwan. Two former presidents of the Tainan Theological College/Seminary were from that Church: Dr. Shoki Coe (whose father was the first pastor of the church) and Dr. C S Song (whose father and brother were the elders of the church.) East Gate Church later adopted the name as Dr. Barclay’s Memorial Church.

Besides the first college, the first printer, and the first newspaper in Taiwan, Dr. Barclay’s major contributions to Taiwan including the completed revision of the Romanized/Taiwanese Bible and a dictionary.

There are three dictionaries still referenced among the businessmen and missionaries in Southeast Asia wherever Amoy dialect is spoken. All were made possible by British missionaries:

  • “Chinese English Dictionary of the Vernacular or Spoken Language of Amoy” (廈門音漢英大辭典,) by Rev. Carstairs Douglas (杜嘉德,) published in 1873 by Trubner & Co., London.
  • “Supplement to Dictionary of the Vernacular or Spoken Language of Amoy” (增補廈門音漢英大辭典,) by Rev. Thomas Barclay with the assistance of Rev. Iu Su-Iong (楊士養.)
  • “New Dictionary of the Vernacular or Spoken Language of Amoy” (廈門音新字典, also known as 甘字典)by Rev. William Campbell (甘為霖) - another University of Glasgow and the Free Church Divinity College graduate - who also pioneered the ministries to the blind people in Taiwan.

Barclay was believed to be closely living and working with the Taiwanese. He had many Taiwanese friends and he picked up the street talks wisely. That was also why his linguistic usage of the Taiwanese Bible (白話字聖經) was so popular because they were so close to the lives and the hearts of the locals.

During his sermons, he seldom, if ever, talked about his personal experiences. It was understandable that the discovery of his life and ministries upon his death became a moving chapter in Taiwan church history.

  • Barclay had a pajama for some time. The obvious worn out areas were near his knees. He was the man of prayer, and he always knelt down while praying.
  • Barclay also left a statement of Dedication when he decided to offer himself as a missionary at the age of 16. He affixed his signature at the end of the statement on his birthday every year (first:1865-11-21; last:1934-11-21.) During his married life, he also asked his wife to do the same with him.

Here are the last few lines of Thomas Barclay’s Dedication:

And if any surviving friend should, when I am in the dust, meet with this memorial of my solemn transactions with Thee, may he make the engagement his own: and do Thou graciously admit him to partake in all the blessings of Thy covenant through Jesus the great Mediator of it; to Whom with Thee, O Father, and Thy Holy Spirit, be everlasting praises ascribed, by all the millions who are thus saved by Thee, by all those other celestial spirits in whose work and blessedness Thou shalt call them to share. Amen.

當我睏在土粉的時,若有我在世的朋友,有人讀著這個我與你所立嚴肅的約,願他也能將這個成做他自己與你所立的契約。願你讓他有份於通過大中保耶穌基督所立聖約,各樣的福份。大中保耶穌,就是親愛的天父,你與你的聖神是堪得你所拯救的全人類,以及受召天頂一切有份於你的工作與祝福的,這些靈的讚美的。阿們! (台語)

Barclay was named the President Emeritus of the Bible Society of England in December 1918. He was also awarded the Doctor of Divinity degree by the University of Glasgow in June 1919. He died in Tainan, 1935, two years after his complete work of the Taiwanese Bible. In the midst of the thousands mourning friends, Thomas Barclay (1849-1935) was laid to rest – a distinguished gentleman, and another deeply loved “sticky-nosed” British/Taiwanese.

Acknowledgements: This article has been written with the references from various websites, and from "Formosa For Love" by Rev. S C Pan, published by Jin Kong/Taiwan Church Press.

Related Websites: 台南神學院

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Dr. James Laidlaw Maxwell 馬雅各 醫師

Dr. James L Maxwell, 1836-1921

(from left)
Dr. John Maxwell, Dr. James Maxwell, Mrs. Maxwell and
Dr. James Maxwell, Jr.

A Pioneer Medical Missionary

Christianity was first brought to Taiwan by Dutch Protestants (1624 in south) and Spanish Roman Catholics (1626 in north.) More than 200 years later, Christianity reemerged with the Dominicans' return to southern Taiwan in 1859. In Kaohsiung, Rev. Fernando Sainz established Taiwan's first Catholic Church, the Holy Rosary Cathedral (Minor Basilica). Christianity started to take root in Taiwan and gradually expanded toward the north.

However, the major impact of the Christianity in Taiwan was found after Dr. James Laidlaw Maxwell (Má Ngá-kok 馬雅各醫師) arrived in 1865. Maxwell and his co-workers had been much closer with the locals than the previous missionaries, and that made a significant difference. Maxwell’s introduction of the modern western medical practice had then created a path for Taiwanese toward modernization in many aspects.

A graduate of the University of Edinburgh medical school, Maxwell further studied in Paris and Berlin. While being a respected elder of the church, he decided to be a missionary for the Presbyterian Church of England. He began by spending about a year learning Ho-Lo dialect (Taiwanese) at Amoy in early 1864. He then accompanied by his 3 assistants, Chen, Huang and Wu (陳子路,黃嘉智,吳水文) arriving Taiwan on May 28, 1865. With the city of Tainan (台南/府城) as their base, the Christian mission thus began on June 16, 1865 when Dr. Maxwell’s clinic opened.

While providing a free medical practice with free medicine, Maxwell soon suffered the rumors that “this foreigner must be stealing the organs from his patients – even from the dead bodies – to come up with the free medicine.” He and his clinic stoned, vandalized and nearly destroyed. Due to the increasing objections of some citizens, Dr. Maxwell could only use his clinic at Kan-Si Street (看西街), just outside the Tainan city limit, under the British officials’ protection. Still, Maxwell failed to convince his patients and believers during his first month attempt. He then retreated to Ki-Au (旗後) near Kaohsiung harbor on July 12, 1865. As time went by, the locals began to view Maxwell with a different perspective. There was no organ stolen from anybody. His clinic had increased patients and so did the worshippers in his Sunday services. Thus Ki-Au Church virtually shared with Tai-Peng-Keng Church (太平境教會) also known as Maxwell Memorial Church, as the very first established Protestant church in Taiwan.

In 1867 Pi-Thau church (埤頭/鳳山教會) was founded and soon Rev. Hugh Ritchie (李庥牧師) became the very first full time pastor. Both Maxwell and Ritchie continued to train the locals to become a team in ministry between Tainan, Pi-Thau and Kaohsiung, at the same time Maxwell worked on the Romanized Taiwanese Bible (羅馬字/白話字) mostly during his vacation at home.

Maxwell was strongly convinced that the spread of the Christianity needed an easy-learned local language in Taiwan where only a few could read and write the rather complicated Chinese language then. He spent years working with Biblical scholars and linguists to complete the New Testament (Lán ê Kiù-chú Iâ-so· Ki-tok ê Sin-iok) in 1873 and then the Old Testament in 1884. For a medical doctor and a missionary, these were remarkable achievements. Rev. Dr. Thomas Barclay, Maxwell’s fellow missionary, completed the revision of the Taiwanese Bible in 1933. This revised version of the Taiwanese Bible has been used by the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan ever since.

Maxwell’s clinic was expanded in 1868 with new location and more local staff. It is now a beautiful hospital with 500+ patient beds, still called Sin-Lau Hospital (新樓醫院) - the very first Western clinic in Taiwan. Dr. Maxwell married Mary Anne Goodall of Handsworth on 7 April 1868 in Hong Kong.

Even in his early days Maxwell seemed to have kept his sense of faith and humor. After receiving a bucket of human wastes one day, he spoke to that person in Taiwanese, “If you pour this onto the field, it would help the vegetables or fruits to grow. Too bad that there’s nothing ever grew on my body.”

Well, before the end of his life time, something significant did grow through Dr. Maxwell, his fellow missionaries and the locals:

  • The first Taiwanese Bible: the original 1884
  • More than 120 churches in southern Taiwan alone
  • Two middle schools and a theological college
  • The first Taiwanese weekly newspaper (Rev. Dr. Thomas Barclay, 1885)
  • Two Hospitals: SinLau and ChangHua (Dr. David Landsborough, 1896)

Dr. Maxwell passed away in March 1921, three years after Mrs. Maxwell's death. His memorial service was officiated by Rev. Dr. Thomas Barclay in England.

Maxwell was a man of deeds. His integrity displayed in his medical and religious fields as well as in his family. He had two sons, John Maxwell and James Maxwell Jr. They turned out to be physicians and missionaries as well. Instead of enjoying their lives worldly, they followed their father's steps.

Sent by Foreign Mission Board, after working as a medical missionary, Dr. John Preston Maxwell, an OB/GYN, went on to teach at Peking Union Medical College/Hospitals (北京協和醫學院/醫院,) while Dr. James Maxwell Jr. came back to continue working at Sin-Lau Hospital in 1901. People welcomed him like a warm home coming party, shouting "Young Dr. Maxwell! Young Dr. Maxwell!" Twenty three years later, the junior moved on to work in Shanghai, then served as the general director of China Red Cross in 1937. Dr. Maxwell Jr. returned to his homeland in 1940. In 1949 he went to work at the Hang-Chou Leprosy Hospital (杭州痲瘋醫院.). Two years later, Dr. James Maxwell Jr. died in Hang-Chou. In 1961, John passed away in England, 21 years after his retirement.

Dr. and Mrs. Maxwell would have been very proud of them both. Maxwell, a family totally dedicated to Taiwan and China.

A side story: In 1866, Maxwell introduced another fellow countryman Dr. Patrick Manson to help him in Kaohsiung area. Dr. Manson moved on to Amoy six years later, and then to Hong Kong to assist the founding of the Hong Kong Medical College (香港西醫書院) where Dr. Sun Yet-Sen (the founder of the Republic of China) was among the first year graduates. In October 1896 Dr. Sun was ‘kidnapped’ during the so called London Incident. Dr. Manson and his colleague Dr. James Contile (康德黎醫師) worked with the British government for the release of Dr. Sun - the history was really in the making.

Related Websites: (Chinese)

Monday, April 03, 2006

Dr. Lim Bo-Seng 林茂生 博士

Dr. Lim Bo-Seng 林茂生博士, 1929

...and his calligraphy *

The Dignity of a Taiwanese in Full

His look was Taiwanese. His deeds were Taiwanese. His life goal was education - Taiwanese style. Even in his mysterious “departure,” he showed the dignity of Taiwanese in full.

Let’s begin with Lim’s father, Rev. Lim Ian-Sin (林宴臣牧師 1859-1944 also known as 林燕臣.) Ian-Sin was a scholar-gentry with a degree of “hsiu-tsai” (秀才) and was invited to teach missionaries the Taiwanese language in the context of Chinese literature**. While working with Rev. Dr. Thomas Barclay (巴克禮牧師) and company, his constant contact with Christians and Christianity led to his baptism under Barclay. Ian-Sin then studied theology and was ordained as a minister and worked in local churches before accepting a teaching position at the Tainan Theological College which was founded by Barclay.

Lim Bo-Seng was the eldest son of Rev. Lim Ian-Sin. He began his study at the age of 3 and was soon recognized as a child prodigy at the age of 4. Eventually Bo-Seng became one of the most outstanding alumni of Chang-Jung high school (長榮中學.) He went on to study at the Tokyo Imperial University majoring in Oriental Philosophy/Chinese Literature. He became the first Taiwanese ever to graduate from TIU.

After more than 10 years of teaching in southern Taiwan (including Chang-Jung high school and Tainan College of Commerce 台南商業專門學校,) he received a Japanese government scholarship and went abroad. Within two and half years he received his Master’s and Ph. D. degrees from Columbia University, the very first Taiwanese to hold a Ph.D. Some of Lim’s academic advisors were world renowned scholars such as John Dewey and Paul Monroe. Lim’s dissertation: Public Education in Formosa Under the Japanese Administration: Historical and Analytical Study of the Development and the Cultural Problems (日本統治下台灣的學校教育:其發展及有關文化之歷史分析與探討) showed how he believed a way to help his fellow Taiwanese through education. Little wonder that all of Bo-Seng’s children were highly educated with outstanding professional achievements (e.g., dental scientist, psychiatrist, bank executive, professors, and writer.) Looking at their given names, one can easily see how Bo-Seng was so much in the world of literature and humanism. The only daughter was named “praising the plums blossom” [詠梅] while his nine sons were named in the order of “Just; Righteous; Human; Way; Literature; Peace; Serenity; Prosperity; Brilliant - 正; 義; 人; 道; 文; 和; 平; 昌; 光” while sharing the same middle name Tsung (.)

Upon returning to Taiwan, Lim put his education theory and convictions to practice. He taught with passions at schools such as Taipei College of Commerce (台北高商) and Tainan Institute of Technology (台南高工 - later became Cheng Kong University 成功大學.) He was involved in virtually all major educational programs in Taiwan. He was later named Dean of the College of Arts and Letters at the National Taiwan University, one of the top universities in the Far East. Dr. Lim also became the publisher of the most widely circulated Taiwanese newspaper Ming-Pao [民報] – a tool he believed would best serve the Taiwanese – an avenue of public education and opinions gathering.

While the majority of his life was spent under the Japanese rule, Lim showed no objections to Chinese, Japanese or Western cultures. Through education, Lim strongly believed that everyone had the right to live a dignified life and at the same time contributed to the society fully.

Nevertheless, Dr. Lim fought Japanese colonialism in Taiwan. He joined the Taiwan Culture Association (台灣文化協會) with like-minded Taiwanese intellectuals to enlighten the Taiwanese populous and to trumpet the modern ideas of equality, freedom and democracy. In his lectures and speeches, he strove to instill in his beloved compatriots a sense of Taiwanese identity and consciousness by speaking in Taiwanese--a practice banned by the Japanese authorities.

After the WWII, Dr. Lim welcomed the Chinese rulers to Taiwan only to find that some rulers were worse than the others. Even before the 2-28-incident, Lim was warned by his foreign colleagues at the university that he had to be careful because his talents might be taken as a possible threat to some. Lim did not seem to pay much attention. Perhaps he did not have time to worry, or he never thought of himself as a threat to anybody. Dr. Lim was simply a scholar and an educator with no political ambition whatsoever.

And then came February 28th 1947. The day that few Taiwanese could forget, yet for their own safety, many chose to keep quiet then. Senseless and violent deaths occurred within weeks of the incident. The real terror, however, lasted for decades. Missing people mostly went unreported and therefore were unknown to public except the victims’ family members. On March 11th 1947, in the midst of more warnings from his friends and colleagues, Lim was arrested, without any court order or formal charges. He dressed up, and walked into the hands of the secret policemen. His whereabouts were a total mystery. His life suddenly ended. To many Taiwanese besides Lim’s family, the hope also ended suddenly in 1947. Lim’s body was never found.

In a society where scholars are respected and even adored dearly, among the estimated tens of thousands of Taiwanese victims since the 2-28-incident, Dr. Lim was virtually at the top of the list. Nevertheless, his life should be viewed more in the light of the literature, culture and education over the political/ideological arguments. It is a common understanding that the 2-28-incident and its aftermath should have not happened if the rulers were with a little heart and common sense. It is also a common belief that this kind of incident/massacre, like the Holocaust, should never happen again. All in all, Dr. Lim (1887-1947) will always be remembered as a scholar, who dedicated his life for the Taiwanese people, as if all were his brothers and sisters.

Many wondered where exactly God was when a tragedy stroke. People would wonder the same thing long after the 2-28-incident especially the majority of victims were as peaceful and loving as Lim Bo-Seng. This little story may present part of the answer.

While studying at the Columbia University, Lim regularly attended the services at the nearby Riverside Church, one of the most famous Protestant churches in the US. Once he was asked to demonstrate his calligraphy. In Chinese characters, he wrote down “God is Love” (上帝是愛) which was joined by other languages also expressed the same way on a stained glass window at the chapel. Looking at Lim’s life, his family, his poems and articles, in that few words God is Love, Lim not only wrote down the summary of his life, but stood as a witness of God’s love in spite of all the tragedies. He wrote beautifully with his brush, yet more so with his life as part of the answer to that aged old question: “Where was God?”

God was with those who suffered there and then, here and now.

* The author of the poem “The Utopia” (桃花源仙境) was Wang Yang-Ming (王陽明,) Dr. Lim's favorite writer. Wang was a Chinese philosopher and poet from Ming dynasty.

** One of Rev. Lim Ian-Sin's students was Dr. David Landsborough (蘭大衛醫師) who founded the Changhoa Christian Hospital (彰化基督教醫院.)

Acknowledgements: The pictures used here were taken from the book "A Lin Odyssey" by Marnie Copland. And some detailed information was obtained after consulting with Prof. Tsung-Kuang Lin (林宗光,) the youngest son of Dr. Lim Bo-Seng.

Some Related Websites: