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Life of Rev. Arthur Evans Moule [1836-1918]
Missionary & Archdeacon of Mid China

Compiled by Michael Russell OPC for Fordington ©2007

Arthur Evans Moule was born at Fordington vicarage on 10th April 1836, the sixth of eight sons of Henry Moule [1801-1880] and his wife Mary Mullett Evans. He was baptised by his father in St George’s church  on 26 May 1836.

As with his brothers he was educated at home by his father, along with other paying pupils that he tutored for entry to University. But unlike his brothers he was not sent to Cambridge, he went instead to a college in Malta, where he gained valuable experience. He then went onto the Church Missionary Society (CMS) college based in Islington where his appetite for Missionary work, which had been inspired by his elder brother, deepened.


Whilst at the College he met other missionaries and their families and on 21st March 1861 at Erith in Kent he married  to Eliza Agnes Bernau who was the daughter of a German CMS Missionery, John Henry Bernau and his wife (who had the impressive name of Maria Von Der Ohe Pasche). Eliza was known as Agnes and she was born at Bartica by the Essequibo river in British Guiana, about 1842. Her father, ordained in St Pauls as deacon in 1833 and priest the following year, had taken charge of the mission in 1836. He had laboured zealously for 18 years and raised his family there. In 1847 he published a book on his studies of the “manners, customs and superstitious rites of the aboriginies” who were the local indian tribes that inhabited the region. He returned to England in 1855 when the mission closed. On the 8th April when the 1861 Census was taken in England they were living at the Parsonage of All Saints church Belvedere of which her father was by then vicar. He had married them 18 days earlier.

China and the Taiping Rebellion

His elder brother George Evans Moule had already gone out to Ningpo in China as a Missionary in 1857 and in 1861 he decided to join him.  He and his new wife arrived at the Chekiang Mission in August in the midst of the Taiping Rebellion.



The City of Ningpo fell into the hands of the Taipings on December 8th and a few days later they all had to leave.  In 1862 the Taipings were driven back by the Imperialists assisted by a Captain Roderick Dew commanding a small British flotilla. Arthur later published an account of his experiences during this time entitled “Personal Recollections of the Taiping Rebellion 1861 - 1863” which was published in Shanghai in 1884. After things settled down he and his wife had 9 children; born in Ningpo:- Arthur John Henry 1863; Walter Stephen 1865; Agnes Maria 1867; William Augustus Handley; Charlotte Augusta 1873; Horace Frederick 1875; born in Hangchow:-  George Herbert 1877 and Ernest Charles Hugh 1879; born Belvedere Kent:- Mary Evans 1880.

He served continuously as a Missionary between 1861 and 1896 and was concerned with the three great cities of Ningpo 1861/1869 and 1871/1876; Hangchow 1876/1879, and Shanghai 1882/1894. He participated in the General Missioary Conference in Shanghai in 1877 delivering a paper  “ The Relation of Christian Missions to Foreign Residents”. As a part of his ministry in Shanghai he he introduced expatriates to the work of the Chinese Missions and showed them how it contributed towards “Christianising, civilising and education in western Knowledge”

Return to England

Arthur made three trips back to England that I know of. The first was in 1869 when he visited Fordington and the family picture was taken on the Vicarage Lawn on the 5th August. He almost certainly stayed on well into 1870. Ten years later his brother was made Bishop of Mid China in St Pauls Catherdral, and Arthur seems to have come to England the following year, as he was awarded the Lambeth Bachelor of Divinity Degree by Archbishop Tait and and made Archdeacon in 1881. On his return to China he was to reside in Shanghai and act as secretary to the Mid China Mission there.

On the 4th April 1881, he, his wife and 6 children were all staying with his father-in-law at the parsonage in Belveder where he was still Vicar. They brought with them a 56 year old nurse to help look after the children, called Su Lois who had been born in Ningpo so that must have been quite an adventure for her.

The third occasion he travelled back to England was in 1891 when they stayed at 38 George Lane in Lewisham.

Ill Health

In 1896 ill health forced him to resign and he returned to England leaving behind a congregation of 180 members with 5 schools and seven Chinese teachers. He became Vicar of Redisham and then Compton Valence in Dorset which is only about 8 miles from Fordington. It was however a great joy to him when he could get back to his beloved China to work which he did in 1902. He came home on furlough in 1908 and was then persuaded to accept the rectory at Burwarton, in Shropshire. He consented with reluctance but only on condition that he might pay one more visit to China before taking charge of the Parish. This visit he paid in the autumn of 1909 returning to England at the end of 1910 with the expressed determination to go back to China if required at any time up to the age of 90

During his long stay in China he was intimately connected with every branch of missionary work, evangelistic, pastoral, educational and church organisation. His pen was never inactive and he wrote both in English and Chinese. He was a frequent contributor of poems to the North China News and the magazines and periodicals at home. Chinese hymnology owes much to him. He was one of the earliest champions of the anti-opium movement and gained a prize in the very early days from the Anti-Opium Society for an essay he wrote upon the subject. Above all however he delighted in preaching, whether this was in the chapel, along the roadside, on a boat or steamer or by systematically visiting village by village.

On 21st March 1911 Arthur and Agnes celebrated their Golden Wedding anniversary, placing a short entry to that effect in the Times Newspaper. The following year he became Rector of Burweston with Cleobury and the Archbishop of Canterbury awarded him the higher distinction of Doctor of Divinity in recognition of his distinguished work as a scholar and missionary. Arthur died at Damerham Vicarage near Fordingbridge on 26th August 1918 followed by his wife in 1925.



Arthur Moule’s Golden Wedding Anniversary

In Chinese he published tracts, sermons, a commentary on the Thirty-nine Articles, "A Letter to the Scholars of China," etc., and in English:

  • Four Hundred Millions Chapters on China and the Chinese(London 1871)
  • The Opium Question - A review of the opium policy of great Britain (London 1877)
  • The use of opium and its bearing on the spread of Christianity (Shanghai 1877)
  • Chinese Stories (1880)
  • Personal Recollections of the Taiping Rebellion 1861 - 1863(Shanghai 1877)
  • The Glorious Land (1891)
  • The story of the Cheh-kiang Mission of the CMC(1891)
  • New China and Old; Personal recollections (London 1891; third edition, 1902)
  • Young China (1908)
  • Half a Century in China (1911)
  • The Chinese People: A Handbook on China (London 1914)


Three of his sons engaged in Missionary work in China and one in Japan, one of his sons succeeding him as Archdeacon in Mid China.

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