English Teaching vs. Evangelism - A Lesson from 19th Century Bangkok

On August 4, 1851 a unique opportunity opened up for Mrs. Sarah Bradley and a couple of other missionary women in Bangkok. It was a chance that any missionary would have jumped at, but also one that needed to be managed well… which it wasn’t, as will be seen.

Despite the general neglect of women’s education in mid-nineteenth century Thailand, King Mongkut (Rama IV) invited Mrs. Mary Mattoon, Mrs. Sarah Bradley, and Mrs. Sarah Jones to teach English to his wives and other women in the royal palace. The king was a forward-looking and modern-minded monarch who was eager to gain Western knowledge from missionaries and other Westerners. Previously, missionary Jesse Caswell had been a private tutor to the king and as a result King Mongkut became quite adept in English and was eager for others in the royal household to learn English as well.

View of Bangkok during Mongkut's lifetime, Grand Palace shown in center
View of Bangkok during King Mongkut's lifetime (Grand Palace is shown in center)

Map of the Journeys of Daniel McGilvary in Thailand, 1860-1898

While looking through Kenneth E. Wells's book on the "History of Protestant Work in Thailand, 1828-1958" (Bangkok: Church of Christ in Thailand, 1968), I discovered inside the back cover a fold-out map of the journeys of Daniel McGilvary, considered by many to be the father of the church in Northern Thailand.  In McGilvary's autobiography, he recounts many of his evangelistic trips throughout what is now Northern Thailand and Laos, but the reader may have trouble tracking where he is going.  This handy map serves to fill that gap.


Map of the Journeys of Daniel McGilvary, 1860-1898

Jacob Tomlin's Journal of a Nine Months Residence in Siam

Arriving in Bangkok on August 23, 1828, Jacob Tomlin and Karl Gutzlaff were the first two Protestant missionaries to be resident in Thailand and were greatly influential in recruiting other Protestant missionaries to take up work there.  Embedded below is the full-text PDF of Tomlin's journal of their first nine months in Thailand.  Pages 1 to 137 consist of Tomlin's journal entries and starting on page 138 is Tomlin's summary account of their first 6 months for those who may not have the "time or inclination" to read his journal in full.  This PDF is hosted by the Hathi Trust is also available via this link.