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James Gilmour: Missionary

James GilmourJames Gilmour: Scotch Congregationalist and missionary; born at Cathkin (5 miles south of Glasgow) June 12, 1843; died in Tientsin (70 miles south southeast of Peking), China, May 21,1891. After studying at the University of Glasgow (B.A., 1867; M.A., 1868) and at Cheshunt Congregational Theological College (14 miles north of London; 1867-69), he was accepted by the London Missionary Society as missionary to reopen the long-suspended mission in Mongolia. Consequently he studied a year in the society's missionary seminary at Highgate (a London suburb 4 1/2 miles north northwest of St. Paul's), and Chinese in the city.

In 1870 he left for Peking, and after a few weeks there pressed forward into Mongolia. Until 1882 he spent his summers with the nomadic Mongols, acquired their language, adopted their dress, lived in their tents and upon their food, and as far as possible made himself one with them. He increased his hold upon them by practicing medicine. In the winters he lived in Peking, ministering to such Mongols as he found in need of aid. In 1874 he married and his wife shared his experiences and dangers. In 1882 he made a visit home and was induced to write his well-known book, Among the Mongols (London and New York, 1883), which tells so much and so graphically about those nomads. In 1883 he returned to his exposed life. His wife could not stand the strain and died in 1885, leaving two boys. Solitary and sad, he took up work with the agricultural Mongols of Eastern Mongolia and carried it on till his own death, which was hastened by his trials and dangers.

He was a missionary hero, lived for the strange people he loved so much, and will go down in the annals of missionary history as "Gilmour of Mongolia."

Bibliography: R. Lovett, James Gilmour of Mongolia, London and New York, 1892.

From The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge... New York: Funk and Wagnalls Company, 1909.

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