Born 14 December 1831 at Swansea. A member of Ebenezer Congregational church, Swansea, 1840, he was educated at the Memorial College, Brecon, and at Bedford. He offered himself to the Madagascar field, but was directed to China. He married Jane, daughter of David Griffiths, Madagascar (1792 - 1863). Ordained at Ebenezer, Swansea, 5 April 1855, he arrived at Shanghai in September. In 1857 he visited Soochow, planted stations in Sung Kiang, and founded a permanent base at Hankow. In 1868 he travelled 3,000 miles in touring the provinces. His wife died whilst returning from England in 1873.
John was chairman of the Central China Tract Society and the author of many popular tracts. In 1885 he published a version of the New Testament in the Wen-li dialect of China. Elected chairman of the Congregational Union of England and Wales, 1888, he declined the honour. In 1889 the University of Edinburgh conferred a D.D. upon him, and in 1911 the University of Wales had resolved to do so but he died before the appointed day.
In 1905 he celebrated his missionary Jubilee at Hankow. Compelled by ill health to leave China for a time, he returned again in 1907. In 1912 he returned to England, died in London, 25 July, at the age of 80, and was buried at Sketty, Swansea.
In 1874 he had married Mrs. Jenkins, a missionary's widow, who predeceased him in 1885. He was the author of A voice from China and other books.
Published date: 1959
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