Finding Number (Click this to view full catalogue structure)CMS/ACC1021
TitleAccession 1021: Papers relating to Ida and Ernest Hamilton
Extent1 file
DescriptionPapers compiled and written by Rosemary Taylor and Joy Davies, granddaughters of Ida and Ernest Hamilton, CMS missionaries to West China. Comprising copies of family papers relating to the family's life in West China dating from 1894-mid 20th century (including early letters which Ida wrote during her missionary training in England), together with an account of genealogical research based on family papers and additional records from the CMS archive dated 1894-c 1962 written by Rosemary Taylor and Joy Davies in 2016.

The letters in the family papers, written privately to loved ones, show missionary life from a different perspective to that recorded through the correspondence between Ernest, Ida and their employers in the official CMS archive. They illustrate the emotional demands of balancing a missionary calling with family life as well as providing personal accounts of day to day life in the mission in the late 19th and early 20th century.
ArrangementArranged as a single series of Family Papers.
Access ConditionsAccess to all registered researchers
Finding AidsA catalogue of this collection (forming part of the wider CMS/ACC unofficial papers catalogue) is available on the online archive catalogue. Click on the Finding Number to display the summary contents list of the catalogue and to view the full catalogue. A paper copy of this catalogue is also available for consultation at Special Collections.
Access StatusOpen
Administrative HistoryIda Susan Davey (also 'Davy') Hamilton, nee Mitchell, Anglican missionary, was born in Devon in 1873. She emigrated to Ohio, USA, with her family in the 1890s. Her mother's decision to move the family overseas is believed to have been motivated by the desire to remove Ida from missionary influence. Although CMS records indicate that Ida was a dressmaker for a while, the move did not have the desired result - Ida returned to England to study at the first missionary training college for women in the UK - the 'YWCA Testing and Training Home', Chelsea (now Redcliffe College, Surrey). She went on to enroll at the CMS training home, 'Highbury', in 1895 and was accepted 'in full connexion' 18 May 1897. She sailed for the CMS West China Mission, Ngan-Hsien (later 'Anhsien') station, 8 October 1897. Ida's missionary service was supported by Smithill's Chapel, Bolton-le-Moors, England and later by 'a friend'.

Ernest Adolphus (also 'Adolph') Hamilton, Anglican clergyman and missionary, was born at St Helier's, Jersey in 1872. Prior to applying to the CMS, he served with the army in Mhow, Central India (7th Dragoon Guards and 7th Hussars). He enrolled for training at the CMS Preparatory Institution in 1897 before being accepted 'in full connexion' 5 April 1898 on the understanding that he 'be allowed a further period of training under a clergyman' (Minutes of the Committee of Correspondence, CMS/G/C1/62 p 424). He departed for the CMS West China Mission (Ngan-Hsien station) 20 October 1898. Ernest's missionary service was supported by St Peter's, Mowbray, S. Africa until 1902 and thereafter by three Sowers' Bands in Cape Colony.

Ida and Ernest married in China 12 March 1903. They had four daughters: Mary L. N. Hamilton born 16 April 1904, Eleanor F. Hamilton born 2 April 1906, Irene Theodora Hamilton born 3 January 1909 and Beatrice Courtney (also 'Courtenay' in the records) Hamilton born 8 November 1910 in Sintu, Western China. In 1912, Ida and the children returned to live in England and the older girls enrolled at the Church Missionaries' Children's Home; Ernest continued as the only European working in the Sintu district of China until he retired to England in 1925.

After returning to England, Ernest's clerical work included Chaplain to the Seaman's Hospital, Greenwich (c 1927) and Rector of Hopton Church, Suffolk (c 1937) and of Belton Church, Suffolk (1940-1947). Ida died at Belton Rectory, Yarmouth, 1 March 1947. Ernest died 9 September 1951.

Stations of the CMS West China Mission where Ida and Ernest worked before and after their marriage:

Ida's mission stations in West China
1897/1898 Mien-Cheo
1898/1899 An-Hsien
1899/1900 An-Hsien
1900 Shanghai
1900/1901-1902 to England and the United States (on furlough)

Ernest's mission stations in West China
1898 30 November arrived Shanghai (unassigned)
1899/1900 An-Hsien
1900 Shanghai
1900/1901 An-Hsien (Chung-king)
1901/1902 Sin-tu (Chung-king)

Ida and Ernest's mission stations in West China (Ida in England from 1912)
1903 Teh-yang
1903/1904 Teh-yang
1903/1904 Ngan-hsien
1905 Spring Teh-yang
1906 April to England (on furlough)
1907 Teh-yang
1908-1924 Sin-tu (Chen-tu)

Sources: the records; 'Register of missionaries (clerical, lay & female) and native clergy from 1804 to 1904', Church Missionary Society, 1905 (annotated version); 'Proceedings of the Church Missionary Society for Africa and the East'; BBC website, online magazine, 3 December 2003 available at (accessed 24/08/16).
Custodial HistoryThe genealogical account added to the collection in 2017 was written by the donors in 2016 and copied onto USB flash drive for limited circulation and for donation to Cadbury Research Library. At the request of the donors, one item of correspondence comprising papers numbered 30-33 in the 1924 folder of file 3 'China 1897-1925' was deleted by Cadbury Research Library 6 March 2017; the contents of the flash drive were subsequently copied on to non-rewriteable DVD prior to the collection being made available for consultation in Cadbury Research Library.
AcquisitionThe donors, Rosemary Taylor and Joy Davies, photocopied selected family correspondence for their own use in 2016; during a visit to Cadbury Research Library in July 2016 they permitted the Library to copy the photocopies for inclusion in the sequence of CMS Unofficial Papers and subsequently presented copies of family photographs and papers to be held with the correspondence. Copies of two further photographs were donated in September 2016 (CMS/ACC1021 F1/4/6-7); a further donation of the donors' account of their genealogical research was received in 2017.
Archival NoteCatalogued by I. Frlan. Cataloguing undertaken August 2016-March 2017. Prepared in accordance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000 and Church Missionary Society cataloguing guidelines. The collection was originally held under the title 'Personal papers of Ida, Ernest and Irene Hamilton'; the title was revised on receipt of the additional papers from the donors in 2017.
OriginalsThe originals of family papers and family photocopies have been retained by the donor.
Related MaterialFurther records relating to the Hamiltons, to CMS missionary training and missions in West China can be found in the CMS archive (GB 0150 CMS). An online exhibition featuring digital copies of photographs of mission work in West China can be seen through Cadbury Research Library Flickr pages under the title 'Turn of the century China: an exhibition of late 19th, and early 20th, century photographs' (


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