Photo: public domain image of Emily Blatchley; reprinted in Wikipedia here.
When the CIM was founded in 1865, its leaders approached many things differently than the existing agencies did. While some of us might consider the CIM’s policies and practices enlightened and ahead of their time, others were less impressed.
“None [of Hudson Taylor’s] policies was more radical than his decision to send single women as well as men to go to
as equal members of the mission. He scandalized Victorian Britain, just as Florence Nightingale had done ten years earlier when she took nurses to the Crimean War. In China , unmarried women lived with their families and never set up house on their own. However… [ England ] knew that without the help of Christian women, the women of Taylor were inaccessible. China
“The call went out for single women to be equal members of the mission with men, and before they sailed, he realized that since he expected the married women to work alongside their husbands, they too should be recognized as full members. Later he would spell it out even more clearly to recruits.
“‘It is most important that married missionaries should be double missionaries… unless you intend your wife to be a true missionary, not merely a wife, homemaker, and friend, do not join us…’
"Taylor was indeed breaking new ground." (Griffiths, p. 56)
Among those who served alongside these the
were two young women whose parents had entrusted them to the couple’s care. Jennie Faulding and Emily Blatchley were barely out of their teens. Taylors
Emily became the governess for the
’ four children, running the household when Maria was on bed rest or coughing up blood (!) from a lung disease. (Maria’s health was always a problem). Jennie helped with correspondence. The four of them and more than a dozen more (the Lammermuir party) left for Taylors in 1866. China
Yes, some disapproved; when rumors flew, the Taylors had to put much energy into proving that there was no impropriety in the situations concerning the single women. [And Hudson, the dear man, had to stop giving the two 'girls' goodnight kisses (!)]
When they got to China Emily continued to care for the care for the children and also stepped into Maria’s shoes as
’s secretary. Together she and Maria weathered the difficult summer when all the children had the measles, two of them apparently at death’s door. Maria was pregnant again and nursing a very sick baby when the house was attacked by an angry anti-foreign mob. The crowd set fire to the house. The missionaries staying there threw mattresses down and made a rope ladder out of sheet which they used to lower several of the women and children down before the crowd set the mattresses and rope on fire. Maria and Emily had to jump from the roof and both were injured. Taylor
By 1870 it became apparent that the two older
children ought to return to Taylor for schooling, and the younger two had health problems which suggested they would do better in England as well. One, in fact, died before they could be sent away. Reluctantly Hudson and Maria decided to send their other children home, keeping only the baby with them. Who did they send home with the kids? Emily. Emily was like a second mother to the children. Maria sent her with a letter encouraging the grandparents to consider her one of the family. England
Emily was heartbroken at leaving
but it seemed necessary. Emily’s health was also suffering: She had tuberculosis, and it was spreading. Moreover, the home office of the CIM needed someone with her skills and insight: though only 25 years old, she knew much more of China than those on the council back in China . London
The men who formed the London Council were not very responsible, and did not appreciate what it really took to keep the mission running. They were happy to leave as much responsibility as possible to “competent, reliable Emily” without actually giving her much authority. Meanwhile, her strength was ebbing away. Imagine what it would be like, especially without today's advances and conveniences, to practically be a single mom to three kids and run a ministry (while appearing not to) at the same time. Oh yeah, and to be slowly dying of TB.
But if being a single missionary woman (on the field or on the home front) was challenging, being a married missionary woman (in either place) was more so. With so much illness and high maternal mortality rates, getting pregnant could almost be a death sentence. Back in
, Maria had not lived long after saying goodbye to her older children, but died, at age 33, shortly after giving birth to her sixth. China
Within the year his mother wrote to him suggesting he marry again. He needed a wife; his children needed a mother. Naturally, she suggested Emily. Her son, though, recognized that Emily was probably too ill and frail to step into the gap. (Not that his health was that good, but at least his body was never going to have to pay the cost of childbearing!)
But remember Emily's good friend Jennie Faulding, the other adopted member of the family? Though much stronger, she was also exhausted by her five years in
and a battle with malaria. She had to go back to England for a rest, and she and Taylor ended up on the same ship China .
He liked her. She liked him. By all accounts she was very congenial. By the time they reached
they were engaged. London
’s hardest tasks was to break the news to Emily Blatchely by letter before they reached home.” (Griffiths, p. 38) Taylor
How hard it must have been on Emily! Was she in love with the man? I don't know. But it's clear she expected to be the next "Mrs." And she wasn't. He married her friend. Emily continued to raise the kids and run the home office while Hudson and Jennie got well and got to go back to China. If Taylor chose Jennie over Emily because he did not think Emily was strong enough, we was proven right: she was not to live long.
Jennie, of course, has a story of her own. I’ll save it for another day.