Edith Nettleton


Edith Nettleton was a missionary.

She was born Halifax, the second daughter in a family of 7 girls and 3 boys.

She went to St Augustine's School, and St Augustine's Church.

In 1890, she started work at Dean Clough Mills.

In September 1905, she went to the Church Missionary Society in London to train for work abroad.

On 3rd November 1908, she went to Kien Yang, in the Fujian province of south-eastern China. She soon became fluent in Mandarin and the local Fujianese dialect.

In 1910, she and her colleague Miss Eleanor June Harrison [1867-1930], went to work amongst women and girls in Chungan, a remote town in Fujian province. Miss Harrison originally went to China in 1896. Edith was involved with social work, and Eleanor organised medical and educational matters.

In 1919, she became ill and returned to England.

When she returned to China in 1923, there was a growing Communist feeling against Christianity, and the 2 missionaries were frequently called back to Kien Yang for their own safety.

In 1930, as they travelled down the river from Chungan to Fuzhou, the 2 women were kidnapped by Chinese bandits, under rebel leader Luh Sing Pang, and held to ransom for the sum of $500,000. The Church Missionary Society authorised a representative to pay $10,000 in gold for the women's release.

During their captivity, the women were subjected to horrific brutalities and mental torture. In August 1930, when the ransom had not been paid, Miss Nettleton's severed finger was sent to Peking with threats that the women would be murdered if the ransom was not forthcoming.

On 4th October 1930, the women were beheaded by the bandits. Their bodies were buried in the forest.

In 1936, their remains were buried at Fuzhou cemetery.

In July 1931, a memorial to her was unveiled in St Augustine's Church, Halifax.

Later reports suggested that the murders were a consequence of a misunderstanding: the bandits had agreed to the ransom offered to them, and had received the money, but, when provincial troops attacked the bandits headquarters, the outlaws, believing that they had been betrayed, panicked and beheaded the 2 missionaries

© Malcolm Bull 2021
Revised 15:13 / 15th May 2021 / 3984

Page Ref: MMN53

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