Taylor, James Hudson (1832-1905)

Founder and director of the China Inland Mission (CIM)

TaylorHBorn at Barnsley, Yorkshire, England, Hudson Taylor sensed by the time he was 17 that God was calling him to China. He prepared himself by reading books on China, analyzing the Chinese Gospel of Luke, and studying medicine. Four years of his first term of service (1853-1860) in southeast China was under a Chinese evangelization society, founded under the inspiration of Karl Gützlaff. In 1858 in Ningpo (Ningbo) he married Maria Dyer, who was a faithful helpmate until her death in 1870.

Although forced to return to England in 1860 because of poor health, Taylor had a continuing concern for the millions of Chinese living in provinces where no missionary had every gone. In 1865 he summed up his growing vision in China’s Spiritual Need and Claims. The same year, with great faith but limited financial resources, he founded the China Inland Mission. Its goal was to present the gospel to all the provinces of China. Beginning in 1866 with a group of twenty-two missionaries, including the Taylors, the mission grew rapidly in numbers and outreach. By the time of Taylor’s death in 1905, the CIM was an international body with 825 missionaries living in all eighteen provinces of China, more than 300 stations of work, more than 500 local Chinese helpers, and 25,000 Christian converts. Taylor stamped his own philosophy of life and work on the CIM: sole dependence on God financially, with no guaranteed salary; close identification with the Chinese in their way of life; administration based in China itself rather than in Great Britain; an evangelical, nondenominational faith; and an emphasis upon diffusing the gospel as widely as possible through all of China. The last led him to encourage single women to live in the interior of China, a step widely criticized by other mission societies.

With heavy administrative responsibilities, Taylor spent as much time out of China as in, traveling to manyTaylorH2_1865 countries to make China’s needs known and to recruit new missionaries. Although often absent from China, Taylor kept in close touch with his many missionaries, and where possible, continued to engage in missionary activity. He played a prominent part at the General Missionary Conferences in Shanghai in 1877 and 1890. He retired from administration 1901, died in Changsha, Hunan, in 1905, and was buried in Chen-chiang (Zhenjiang), Kiangsu (Jiangsu).

Ralph R. Covell, “Taylor, James Hudson,” in Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, ed. Gerald H. Anderson (New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 1998), 657-658.

This article is reprinted from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, Macmillan Reference USA, copyright © 1998 Gerald H. Anderson, by permission of Macmillan Reference USA, New York, NY. All rights reserved.


Digital Texts

Guinness, Mary Geraldine [Mrs. Howard Taylor]. The Story of the China Inland Mission. Vol. 1. London: Morgan & Scott, 1893.

_____. The Story of the China Inland Mission. Vol. 2. London: Morgan & Scott, 1894.

Taylor, J. Hudson. A Ribband of Blue and Other Bible Studies. Toronto: China Inland Mission, 1899.

_____. Separation and Service; Or, Thoughts on Numbers VI, VII. London: Morgan & Scott, 1896.

_____. Union and Communion; Or, Thoughts on the Song of Solomon. 3rd. Edition. London: Morgan & Scott, 1914.

_____. A Retrospect. China Inland Mission, 1896. Twenty chapters available per chapter.


Taylor, J. Hudson and China Inland Mission. Hudson Taylor’s Story of His Early Life and the Forming of the China Inland Mission: As Told in “A Retrospect”. Philadelphia: China Inland Mission, 1900-1980.

_____. China’s Spiritual Need and Claims. 7th ed. London: Morgan & Scott, 1887.

_____. Days of Blessing in Inland China being an Account of Meetings Held in the Province of Shan-Si, &c. : With an Introduction. Variation: ATLA Monograph Preservation Program; ATLA Fiche 1986-0533. 2nd ed. London: Morgan & Scott, 1887.


Broomhall, Alfred. Hudson Taylor and China’s Open Century: Barbarians at the Gates. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1982.

_____. Hudson Taylor and China’s Open Century: Over The Treaty Wall. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1982.

_____. Hudson Taylor and China’s Open Century: If I had A Thousand Lives. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1983.

_____. Hudson Taylor and China’s Open Century: Survivor’s Pact. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1984.

_____. Hudson Taylor and China’s Open Century, Book Five: Refiner’s Fire. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1985.

_____. Hudson Taylor and China’s Open Century: Assault On The Nine. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1986.

_____. Hudson Taylor and China’s Open Century: It Is Not Death To Die. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1989.

Broomhall, Marshall. Hudson Taylor, the Man Who Believed God. Philadelphia: China Inland Mission, 1929.

Pollock, John Charles. Hudson Taylor and Maria; Pioneers in China. 1st ed. ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1962.

Taylor, Howard, and Geraldine Taylor [Dr. and Mrs. Howard Taylor]. A Biography of James Hudson Taylor. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1997.

_____. Hudson Taylor and the China Inland Mission; the Growth of a Work of God. 4th impression ed. London Philadelphia [etc.]: Morgan & Scott, ltd China Inland Mission, 1920.

_____. Hudson Taylor in Early Years : The Growth of a Soul. London: China inland mission, 1911.

_____. The Spiritual Secret of Hudson Taylor. New Kensington, PA: Whitaker House, 2003.


Hudson Taylor” (Missionary EText Archives).

Biographical and bibliographical resources.

Billy Graham Center archives of Wheaton College and Graduate School, Wheaton, IL, USA. “Letters of James Hudson Taylor, 1896-1898“. Description of the scope and content as well as provenance of the documents.