Finding Number (Click this to view full catalogue structure)CMS/ACC1027
TitleAccession 1027: Family papers of Dr Lilian Starr ('Stella') Underhill, CMS medical missionary to Pakistan
Extentc 70 boxes (standard, large, outsize and bespoke), 10 outsize items
Thumbnail (Click this image to open a larger image)

CMS ACC1001-1500\CMS ACC1027 Z1_3.jpg

DescriptionPersonal and family papers of Lilian Starr Walter (1925-2019), née Underhill, known for most of her mission service as Dr Stella Underhill. Stella was the third generation member of a missionary family to India and Pakistan. The collection predominantly comprises records of Stella Underhill and five other members of the family relating to their time spent overseas as CMS missionaries [now 'mission partners'], or wives of missionaries, between 1863 and 1963, including records from times spent on furlough in England and holidaying in the country around their mission stations. There are also papers arising from the family's life outside their missionary roles and relating to other family members, including a few items relating to Nigel Hugh Walter, son of Stella Underhill and fourth generation member of the family to work for the CMS in Pakistan (1987-1988), and transcripts and copies of selected family papers created between 2013 and 2020 by Alan James William Walter, Stella Underhill's son from her husband's first marriage. The majority of the papers date from the 1870s to the early 1960s.

The missionary members of the family were all based in the same part of the world whilst serving with the CMS outside of the UK. The collection includes selected papers of: Rev Dr Thomas Russell Wade, CMS missionary chiefly based at Peshawar, Lahore, Kashmir Valley, Amritsar and Batala and surrounding areas, 1863-1907; Alice Mary Wade, née Moore, educator and first wife of T. R. Wade, Peshawar 1871; Anna Elizabeth Wade, née Blake, former missionary with the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society and second wife of T. R. Wade, 1882-1907 (Anna had arrived in Amritsar under CEZMS, in November 1881); Dr Vernon Harold Starr, CMS medical missionary, chiefly based at Peshawar and a little time spent working in Srinagar, Bannu and Shikarpur, 1910-1918; Lilian Agnes Underhill, CMS medical missionary (nurse), chiefly based at Peshawar with some time spent at mission hospitals in Srinagar, Bannu and Shikarpur, 1913-1918 and 1920-1923; Dr Stella Underhill, CMS medical missionary, based at the mission hospital in Bannu (with a little time spent in Multan and Quetta) May 1955-1963 and locum work in Bannu in 1977. The miscellaneous records relating to Nigel Hugh Walter arise from his short term posting in Islamabad, 1987-1988. The names used by the CMS to describe the administrative area under which these family members were overseas changed over time from 'North India Mission' (up to 1878) to 'Punjab and Sind Mission' (1878-1950) to 'West Pakistan Mission' (1950-1959/1960) to work under the Diocese of Lahore (1960/1961-1977). None of the family were based overseas with the CMS in the years 1908-November 1910, 1919- November 1920, 1924-1954, 1964-1976 or 1978-1986.

Like their fellow missionaries, in the years when they did not return to England on furlough, the family holidayed in the local countryside, including trekking in the hill stations of Dalhousie, Thandiani and Gulmarg. They took photographs whilst on leave and mentioned travels in their letters and diaries. One of the highlights of the collection is an illustrated travel diary in which Lilian Agnes Underhill (then Starr) recorded a trip to Ladakh in 1922. Rev Wade records in his diaries the names of people and places he visits when undertaking deputation work on behalf of CMS whilst on furlough in England and Lilian Agnes Underhill (then Starr) writes to her family from England sharing news of CMS friends whilst she prepares to return to mission work after re-offering to CMS in 1919.

The papers arising from other aspects of the family's life, and to other family members, include a diary written in North India by an unnamed member of the family c 1904-1905. In the papers of Lilian Agnes Underhill there are records from the time when she was at school and in training before starting her missionary service, from when she was working in Egypt at 45 Indian General [military] Hospital 1918-1919 and from the early years of her marriage to Lieutenant-Colonel Guilford Edgar Charlton Underhill when the Underhills and their young family were living the life of an Army family in the North-West Frontier Province of India [now part of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan] 1924-January 1929. The latter include a report of a tour of the Punjab in 1924 when Lilian accompanied her new husband who was at the time a Major in the 1st Punjab Regiment, and a diary in which she writes to her young children, Stella and Harold, about their family history and her hopes for them. There are also copies of papers which Lilian Agnes Underhill wrote on topics close to her heart, including welfare of women and girls in India and papers for the Nurses' Missionary League, c 1920s-c 1930s and certificates awarded in recognition of her work for the British Red Cross during the Second World War. The papers of Stella Underhill include a detailed account of her experience of being injured when a bomb hit the Royal Free Hospital where she was studying medicine in February 1945. Amongst the family papers, there are family copies of printed literature written by, and about, friends and fellow CMS missionaries during times when the family were not in India or Pakistan.

The transcripts and digitised copies of family papers were created by Alan Walter as part of his work on the correspondence, diaries and other family papers which are now held within the collection or by the Imperial War Museum.

Types of record in the collection:
/correspondence (letters and postcards);
/certificates, licenses and awards;
/other official family documents;
/copies of written works and talks by members of the family;
/transcripts and digital copies of family papers;
/manuscript notes including notes on medical cases;
/press and magazine cuttings;
/orders of service relating to members of the family and friends;
/manuscript and printed papers and ephemera compiled by different family members including copies of CMS circulars and other printed papers;
/missionary service papers;
/photographic records (photographic prints, lantern slides and negatives).

Issues to be aware of when consulting the collection:
/the photographs include images of hospital patients;
/where the names of family members change over time, the name in the catalogue matches how they appear in the record with cross-references where appropriate to their maiden and other married name; at the request of the family, the collection is held under Dr Underhill's maiden name as this is how she was known for most of her CMS career;
/in terms of mission to India and Pakistan, there are no records in this collection for Anna Wade's service with the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society before her marriage to Rev Wade and little relating to India or Pakistan after the early 1960s;
/for research in to the kidnap of Molly Ellis and Lilian Agnes Underhill (then Starr)'s trek over the border of the North-West Frontier Province into Tirah in April 1923, the digital copies of family papers created by Alan Walter are essential reading as they include scans of correspondence and reports the originals of which are held by the Imperial War Museum rather than in this collection;
/there is some overlap across the series; for example, anyone researching Lilian Agnes Underhill will find that copies of her written works published in CMS papers are held separately from copies of her other published works; this is indicated in the lower levels of this catalogue;
/there is little in the collection about the family's life outside CMS mission; there are no records from Stella's working life after moving to Canada in the 1960s.

Research potential:
The collection has considerable research potential not only for the history of this family and the people and institutions of the CMS missions under which they served, but more broadly: the history of medicine; medical mission; missionary families; the British Empire; the British in India (and what is now Pakistan) under the Raj; Women's history; and the Indian Army. In terms of source materials the collection has exceptional examples of women's travel diaries and photographic records. The photographs include unique family photographs of many subjects including the people and landscape of the North-West Frontier and examples of the work of photographer R. B. Holmes (1888-1973). Beyond the historical significance, the family's history of pioneering medical and mission work, travel, murder, kidnap, war time injury and Frontier life mean that the collection potentially also has much to offer for the Creative Arts.
NotesThe illustration attached to this catalogue entry is a copy of a black and white photograph of a picnic in the mountains. Lilian Agnes Starr, Murphy the dog and Dr Vernon Harold Starr sitting with a picnic blanket on a steep mountain slope; the group are in dappled shade in front of small piles of boulders; evergreen trees in the background (CMS/ACC1027 Z1/3).
ArrangementThe collection forms part of the Church missionary Society Unofficial Papers. It is arranged in three series in line with the CMS classification used for the Unofficial Papers:
F: Family papers;
O: Official papers;
Z: Miscellaneous papers

Within each series the papers are arranged by record type, for example, diaries and thereunder chronologically or where possible according to the member of the family to which they relate (details to added on completion of the revised catalogue).

The papers were first arranged and catalogued between 2017 and 2018. Following extensive additions to the collection between 2018 and 2020, the papers were re-arranged. Where finding numbers have been revised, this is indicated at file level.
Access ConditionsAt least 10 working days notice is required for anyone wishing to consult the correspondence files (CMS/ACC1027 F3). The correspondence is undergoing additional processing further to additions to the collection received at intervals since the original donation.

A number of items in the collection are awaiting conservation before they can be made available for consultation in the Reading Room.

ANYONE WISHING TO MAKE, OR REQUEST COPIES, OF PHOTOGRAPHS MUST FIRST CHECK THE ACCESS CONDITIONS THAT APPLY TO THE IMAGES IN QUESTION. The collection includes photographs of patients. Access restrictions have been applied out of respect for those pictured. Furthermore, where photographs include captions identifying the patient or their condition, and the person may still be alive, the photographs or identifying data are closed under Data Protection regulations. Details are given in the catalogue at file level.

So that we can best help you to locate material of interest, please email explaining your reason for wishing to consult the papers and the type of material that you are hoping to find.
Finding AidsA catalogue of this collection is available online. 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 in Cadbury Research Library.
Access StatusPartially closed
Creator NameThomas Russell Wade, 1839-1914, clergyman and missionary.
Alice Mary Wade , 1850-1871, née Moore, educator.
Anna Elizabeth Wade, 1846-1931, née Blake, missionary.
Lilian Agnes Underhill, 1885-1977, formerly Starr, née Wade, nurse and medical missionary.
Margaret Ellen Wade, 1883.
Vernon Harold Starr, 1882-1918, surgeon and medical missionary.
Lilian Starr Walter, 1925-2019, née Underhill, doctor and medical missionary.
Alan James William Walter, b 1953, chemist.
Nigel Hugh Walter, b 1965, architect and mission partner.
Administrative History1. First Generation

1.1 Thomas Russell Wade (1839-1914), BD, MRAS, grandfather of Stella Underhill

Born 14 October 1839 in Waldron in Sussex, the son of Charles Wade, miller, and Frances Wade, née Colman.

From 1853 Wade attended school in Hanham, Bristol. In 1859 he enrolled at the Church Missionary College, Islington and achieved his Lambeth Bachelor of Divinity. On 26 July 1862 he was ordained a deacon by the Bishop of London; two years later he was ordained a priest by the Bishop of Calcutta.

On 4 January 1863 Wade went out as a missionary for the first time. Over the next 44 years of working overseas, he was occupied in preaching, school, medical mission, itinerating, literary and famine relief work as well as deputation work during periods of furlough back in England. His skills, experience and willingness to work wherever needed meant that he travelled to many different locations under the CMS North India Mission and, from 1878, the Punjab and Sindh Mission. His main bases of work were Peshawar, Lahore, the Kashmir Valley, Amritsar and Batala.

He began his missionary service in Peshawar. After six years overseas, much of 1869-1870 was spent in England on furlough. During his time in England he met and married his first wife, Alice Mary Moore, 6 October 1870. In November the couple left together for the Punjab. Alice died a year later in Peshawar.

In November 1872 Wade moved to assist at Lahore Divinity School.

In 1876, from 28 April to 23 October, he was based in Srinagar in charge of the Kashmir Medical Mission. He arrived as cholera was increasing. He spent 1877 and the first half of 1878 in England engaged in deputation work for the CMS before returning to the Kashmir Valley. He arrived back at Srinagar in June 1878; in an in memoriam article written December 1914, H. U. Weitbrecht comments on Rev Wade’s next three years in Kashmir:

'It was there that he did the most outstanding work of his missionary life. Side by side with Dr. Downes …. He helped to relieve untold suffering. Ably backed by Robert Clark as Secretary of the Mission, Wade collected money, treated the sick, and organised the import and distribution of foodstuffs, while so respecting the sensibilities of the State authorities as to elicit their co-operation.'

From 1881-1903, Wade lived at Amritsar, the centre of the CMS mission to the Punjab. During this time he married his second wife, Anna Elizabeth Blake, 18 April 1882; their two daughters, Margaret Ellen (‘Daisy’) Wade and Lilian Agnes Wade, were born in 1883 and 1885. He served as Acting Secretary of the Amritsar Mission 1891-1892. From 1900 to early 1904 he worked in Batala, including as acting principal of Baring High School for Christian boys 1900-early 1901. During this time, he also started working in connection with CMS Central Punjab District Church Council with centres at Ajnala Tahsil, Bahrwal and Clarkabad. He was on furlough in England for most of 1887 and 1888 and again April 1896-October 1897. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Divinity in 1888.

From 22 February 1904 to 1 March 1905, he served as Acting Secretary at Lahore. Over the subsequent months, his work took him to Batala, Amritsar and Srinagar. In Srinagar his work was split between school and hospital work and taking services at St Luke's, the chapel in the grounds of the hospital.

On what was to be his final departure for England, he left Batala 12 April 1907 arriving back in England 3 May. He was instituted (1908) and inducted (1909) to the Living of Shrewton and Maddington in Wiltshire before his resignation from the CMS was officially accepted 17 May 1910. When they first moved back to England, the Wades lived at Kington Magna in Dorset (from July 1907). They moved to Maddington Vicarage, Wiltshire in 1910. The December 1913 issue of the 'Church Missionary Review' reported his retirement to Eastbourne after 'illness involving a grave operation'. By 1914, the Wades were living at 29, Enys Road, Eastbourne.

Rev Dr Thomas Russell Wade died in Eastbourne, 23 October 1914. His life is remembered in a biography by C. E. Tyndale-Biscoe: 'Thomas Russell Wade: a pioneer in Kashmir', London: CMS, 1921.

Written works (excluding articles):
/translation: 'The book of Common Prayer and administration of the sacraments, and other rites and ceremonies of the church according to the use of the Church of England (in the Cashmírí language) published by the Punjab Christian Knowledge Society', Amritsar: printed at the Safir-i-hind Press by Rev Rajab Ali, 1884;
/'A Grammar of the Kashmiri Language: As Spoken in the Valley of Kashmir' London: 1888; /translation of books of the New Testament into Kashmiri, 1882-1899.

1.2 Alice Mary Wade (1850-1871), née Moore, first wife of Stella Underhill's grandfather

Born in 1850, the daughter of Augusta Sophia Gardner (1824-1903) and Ponsonby Arthur Moore (1816-3 May 1871), Esquire. Alice Mary Moore married Rev T. R. Wade in England, 6 October 1870.

After arriving at Peshawar with her new husband 8 January 1871, she continued to learn Hindustani which she had begun to study in England. She superintended the girls' schools in Peshawar, worked with the Sunday day and night school and undertook district visiting. In the wake of the death of her father, and experiencing bouts of ill health, she left for the cooler air of Thandiani in June 1871 accompanied by her husband. They arrived back in Peshawar in September.

Alice Mary Wade died 8 October 1871, just a year after her wedding. Her life is remembered in a book by Mrs M[ary] Weitbrecht: 'The Women of India and Christian work in the Zenana', London: James Nisbett and Co, 1875.

1.3 Anna Elizabeth Wade (1846-1931), née Blake, grandmother of Stella Underhill

Born in 1846, the daughter of Henry W. Blake.

Anna Elizabeth Blake offered for service with the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society (CEZMS) and, in February 1881, she was accepted to go to the Punjab as an honorary missionary. Appointed to the Amritsar Mission to undertake zenana work, she arrived in November 1881.

On 18 April 1882, she married T. R. Wade. The couple had three daughters: Margaret Ellen born 15 May 1883 and twins, Alice Mary and Lilian Agnes, born 30 June 1885; Alice Mary died when she was very young.

Although on her marriage she ceased to be a missionary under CEZMS, Anna Wade was actively engaged in mission work including giving weekly bible classes in English and in Urdu. She hosted meetings of the Amritsar Branch of the Gleaners’ Union, the first Gleaners' Union in India. She also contributed news and articles for the CMS home periodicals. Whilst in England with Rev Wade on furlough, she undertook deputation work. Between 1887 and 1888, she gave approximately 30 talks in England on behalf of the CEZMS.

Anna Elizabeth Wade died in Farnham, Surrey, 10 March 1931.

2. Second Generation

2.1 Lilian Agnes Underhill (1885-1977), formerly Starr, née Wade, mother of Stella Underhill

Born at Dalhousie, North India, 30 June 1885, younger daughter of Thomas Russell Wade and Anna Elizabeth Wade.

Lilian was educated in England at the Anglo-French School of 'Fontainbleau', Boscombe; Sydenham High School for Girls and at Oak Hill House Boarding School in Hampstead run by Miss Thompson.

After finishing her schooling she returned to her family in Amritsar. She stayed with them as Rev Wade’s work took him to Batala and Lahore before returning to England.

Back in England, Lilian began the training which would see her return to the North-West Frontier as a missionary in her own right in 1913, six years after her parents moved back to England. From 1907- 1910 she trained at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital; she also underwent further training at Clapham Maternity Hospital in London and the Women's Hospital in Birmingham. She joined the Nurses' Missionary League before offering for service with the Church Missionary Society in October 1911. In 1912 she enrolled at 'The Willows', Stoke Newington, which at the time was a Mildmay training institution used by candidates of the CMS and Church of England Zenana Missionary Society.

She was accepted as a missionary 18 March 1913. On 31 October 1913 she left England to start work as charge nurse ['Nursing Sister'] at the Mission Hospital in Peshawar under the CMS Punjab and Sindh Mission. The hospital at Peshawar was her main base of work throughout two periods of overseas service with CMS 1913-1918 and 1919-1923. She also worked at the mission hospitals in Bannu, Srinagar and Shikarpur. For 10 years she held the additional responsibilities of hospital matron.

On 28 October 1915, Lilian Agnes Wade married Dr Vernon Harold Starr, surgeon at the Hospital. They worked together and holidayed in Kashmir trekking in the company of their dog, Murphy.

When her husband was murdered in March 1918, Lilian left the hospital soon afterwards. She spent some time in Kashmir with family friends and fellow CMS missionaries, the Tyndale-Biscoes. In October 1918, she travelled to Egypt to work at number 45 Indian General Hospital (a military hospital) at Abbassia, Cairo. She left Cairo for England in May 1919.

She re-offered to the CMS and was accepted for the second time, 12 November 1919. After a further year in England, by December 1920 Lilian Agnes Starr had begun work back at the Mission Hospital in Peshawar. Whilst on holiday in the summer of 1922, she travelled from Peshawar to Leh, the capital of Ladakh (or 'Lesser Tibet'), travelling much of the way on horseback. She recorded her experiences in a travel diary which formed the basis of part of the book which she wrote in 1923: 'Tales of Tirah and Lesser Tibet'.

Over four days in April 1923, she assisted in the rescue from kidnapping of Molly Ellis, 17 year old daughter of Major and Mrs Ellis. Molly’s mother had been killed at their home in Kohat 14 April and Molly abducted and taken across the border into Tirah by Afridi tribesmen. At the request of Sir John Maffey, the British Commissioner, on 20 April Lilian set off with the rescue party led by Khan Bahadur Risaldar Moghal Baz Khan, a decorated ex-officer of the Indian Army, Corps of Guides, himself an Afridi. She finally met Molly when, after much negotiation by the rescue party, Molly was brought to the Khanki Bazar and released into their care, 22 April. They started off on the return journey the following day and Lilian arrived back at Peshawar 24 April. Lilian spent a further six days with Molly before returning to her work at the hospital although the huge public response to the rescue was such that she spent some months away from Peshawar between June and September. The effects of the publicity surrounding her involvement would stay with the family for many years - even a news release relating to her then adult daughter Stella Underhill would refer back to 'Mrs Starr’s rescue' of Molly Ellis. Although Lilian herself firmly credited success to other members of the rescue party, she was honoured for her involvement and the mission benefitted from financial gifts in the wake of the affair. She wrote an account of this 'trek' in the book, 'Tales of Tirah and Lesser Tibet'; the book was partly intended to counter inaccurate reports that had circulated in the British and American Press.

In November 1923, Lilian Agnes Starr became engaged to Major Guilford Edgar Charlton Underhill. She resigned from CMS 2 January 1924 and she and Guilford were married at Sialkot, 2 February 1924 in a ceremony performed by Reverend Selwyn, a family friend. The wedding took place on the way to a month long working tour of the Punjab that Guilford was due to undertake. After a weekend at Pathankot and Madhapore and a three day honeymoon at Dalhousie, now 'Lilian Agnes Underhill', she accompanied her husband as they marched, camped and travelled on horseback visiting three villages a day, Lilian meeting with the women. Once back in Peshawar they made their home at 1, Gunner Lane.

Though not under CMS, after her marriage she resumed work at the hospital for a while. She also began to give 'Purdah Parties' for the women of the regiment - men outside, 'tea and talk' inside for the women. The welfare of the girls and women of India remained a cause dear to her heart and as well as giving more Purdah Parties, she was to speak and write about a range of issues over the years.

Between 1925 and 1926, Lilian and Guilford had two children. Lilian Starr Underhill known as 'Stella' was born 2 January 1925; Harold Wade Underhill, was born in the Kashmir Nursing Home, Srinagar, 16 September 1926. The nature of Guilford's work meant that some of the family's time living on the North-West Frontier was spent apart and in temporary accommodation. Lilian travelled to England with baby Stella in March 1925; she arrived back at Peshawar just in time to attend the opening of the Khyber Pass railway, 4 October 1925. Lilian and the children spent the winters of 1925 and 1926 in Army Mansions and at the Mission Hospital compound at Dera Ismail Khan whilst Guilford's regiment was stationed at Jamrud (1925) and Manzai in Waziristan (1926). Much of 1927 and some of 1928 was spent in Srinagar and holidaying at Gulmarg. Towards the end of the 1927 the family set up home in Jhelum where Lilian was again actively involved with the women and families of the regiment including working a 'dispensary' out of the military hospital which was in the charge of a 'trained Indian Christian woman'. She and Guilford also found time to entertain and to ride out together.

When Guilford retired at the start of 1929, the family moved back to England, settling in Farnham, Surrey.

Lilian Agnes Underhill died in Farnham, Surrey, 3 January 1977.

/May 1923: the Kaiser-i-Hind Medal of the First Class for Public Service in India;
/June 1923: Bar to the Kaiser-i-Hind medal;
/1923: the gold life saving medal of the Order of St John awarded for gallantry in saving life on land.

Written works (books only):
/'Vernon Harold Starr: 1882-1918 and after', Madras: Christian Literature Society for India, 1919;
/'Frontier Folk of the Afghan Border and Beyond', London: CMS, [1920];
/'Tales of Tirah and Lesser Tibet', London: Hodder and Stoughton, [1923];
/'Indian womanhood to-day', London: Highway Press, 1930;
/'Liberty for India', Farnham, E. W. Langham, 1932;
/'Extremes meet: some facts about India’s women', London: Highway Press, 1934.

2.2 Vernon Harold Starr (1882-1918), MB, BS, first husband of Stella Underhill's mother

Born at Hertford 21 May 1882, V. H. Starr was brought up in Oxford eldest of three brothers. An outstanding student, he was educated at Oxford High School on a scholarship. He left school at the age of 15 and from 1897-1901 was apprenticed to a chemist whilst studying part-time at the City Technical School. It was during this time that, inspired by a talk which her heard 11 October 1899, he set his heart on becoming a medical missionary.

From 1901-1908 he worked to prepare himself for missionary life. He proceeded with great focus of mind and diligence, working long hours with cheerfulness and purpose. He was nicknamed 'Very Hot Stuff' and 'Twinkle Twinkle' for his initials, his beaming smile and for his attitude. Between 1901 and 1903, he worked as a chemist’s assistant in Sidcup, Buxton and Hammersmith so that he would have the means to continue his studies. In 1901 he joined the University Correspondence College. In October 1903 he won a Worsley Scholarship and within days had started his medical training at King's College Hospital. In 1903 he became Associate of the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain. In 1904 he won the Leathes' Prize; he also won other prizes during his college career. In 1908 he was made Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Science (London).

With missionary work in mind, in 1901 he joined the CMS Home Preparation Union. He also taught Sunday classes and joined the Christian Endeavour Society. He was a leading member of King's College Christian Union. Whilst at King's, he and other students also helped with the Children's Special Service Mission (CSSM) which arranged holiday services and picnics for children in Wales. During the summers of 1904-1906 he joined other members of the Student Volunteer Missionary Union (SVMU) on evangelical caravan tours. After graduating from King's, he joined the surgical staff of the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital in 1908. On 21 July in the same year, he was accepted as a CMS missionary but continued to work at the hospital until autumn 1910.

On 16 December 1910, the dream he had worked so hard to achieve came to pass. He set out overseas to start work as a medical missionary appointed to the mission hospital at Peshawar under the CMS Punjab and Sindh Mission. He was never to return to England.

For over seven years he was chiefly based in the hospital at Peshawar. From 1913, he was left in charge of the hospital with a team under him that included Dr Janet Vaughan, Dr Richardson, Dr Lavy and Miss F. M. Clarke. His work at Peshawar included visiting Charsadda and other surrounding areas. He also spent some time working at the mission hospitals in Srinagar, Bannu and Shikarpur. As well as hospital administration, staff supervision, medical and surgical practice, he studied Urdu, taught Sunday school, gave lantern lectures and occasionally preached. He faced a near miss when he developed a symptom of bubonic plague but, catching it in time, his recovery was quick. In 1912, Olive, his fiancee back in England broke off their engagement.

In November 1913, Vernon H. Starr met Lilian Agnes Wade when she joined the staff of Peshawar hospital. He and Lilian married 28 October 1915. With Lilian at his side, he continued work at Peshawar during the First World War with a much reduced staff; in 1917, for the majority of the year he was the only doctor at the hospital.

Dr Vernon Harold Starr died 17 March 1918 after a group of two men and a boy came to the Starr's rooms during the night and stabbed him; an operation failed to save him and he died 12 hours later.

After his death, the widowed Lilian wrote the biography: 'Vernon Harold Starr 1882-1918 and After', 1919.

2.3 Guilford Edgar Charlton Underhill (1882-1965), father of Stella Underhill

Born in Tipton, Staffordshire, 2 February 1882, Guilford was the second child of Thomas Edgar Underhill and Mary Isabel, née Charlton. He was educated at Bromsgrove School and graduated from Staff College, Camberley (military training college).

He served as an officer in the Indian Army, 62nd Punjabis, an infantry regiment which in 1922 became 1st Battalion, 1st Punjab Regiment (Punjab Regiment of the Pakistan Army since 1956). During the First World War he served in the Middle East as a Captain in the 62nd Punjabis alongside Captain Claude Auchinleck [later Field Marshal Sir Claude Auchinleck (1884-1981), Commander-in-chief, Indian Army].

He met Lilian Agnes Starr, née Wade, whilst he was based with the regiment in Peshawar; by this time he had reached the rank of Major. He proposed 3 November 1923. He and Lilian were married 2 February 1924 en route to his starting a working tour of the Punjab beginning at Ferozepore Cantonment 9 February and ending at Jullundur 11 March.

By 1925 he had been promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel and was Commanding Officer of the 1st Punjab Regiment when it moved to Jamrud.

He retired in 1929 and moved back to England with his family. He was succeeded by Claude Auchinleck who had re-joined the regiment as Guilford's second-in-command at the beginning of the year.

Lieutenant-Colonel Underhill died October 1965.

3. Third Generation

3.1 Lilian Starr Walter (1925-2019), MB BS, née Underhill; known as Stella

Born in Peshawar, 2 January 1925, eldest child of Lilian Agnes Underhill and Guilford Edgar Charlton Underhill. She was named Lilian for her mother and 'Aunt Lilian' (Guilford's eldest sister) and Starr for Vernon Harold Starr. Educated at Wadhurst College, a boarding school for girls in Sussex, she went on to qualify as an obstetrician and gynaecologist and prepare for missionary service.

She began her medical training in 1943, seeing the end of the Second World War and the birth of the National Health Service whilst in training in London at the Royal Free Hospital Medical School and taking postgraduate work at Whipps' Cross, the Royal Berkshire and Rochford hospitals. During her time at the Royal Free, she suffered acid burns when a V-2 bomb hit the school in February 1945. She had skin grafts and plastic surgery returning to complete her studies after a year's convalescence.

In 1953, Dr Stella Underhill enrolled as a student at 'Foxbury', the CMS women's training home in Chiselhurst, Kent.

In 1955, she followed in her family's footsteps when she went out to start work at the mission hospital in Bannu under the CMS West Pakistan Mission (successor to the 'Punjab and Sindh Mission'). She sailed out on the Cilicia 16 April and arrived in May 1955. In her first months, she attended the language school and spent some time in Quetta and Multan before taking up her duties as doctor in charge of the women's hospital from January 1956. The men's hospital was in the charge of fellow CMS medical missionary, Dr Arthur Durnford Iliff.

In 1963 she left the Hospital when her marriage to William Walter, a chaplain in the Royal Canadian Navy and friend from her student days, necessitated her move to North Manitoba, Canada. It was recorded in the ‘Church Missionary Historical Record’ that the Hospital suffered a great blow in the way of gynaecological and obstetric care when Stella resigned in 1963. Stella and William married back in Farnham, England in August 1963. They had three children all of whom were born in Canada: Alan James William Walter (b 1953) and David Andrew Walter (b 1954), sons from William's first marriage, and Nigel Hugh Walter (b 1965). Out in Canada, William became chaplain to the forces base in Churchill, Hudson Bay. Stella was medical officer.

In 1977, she returned briefly to Bannu to fill a locum post at the Pennell Memorial Hospital.

Dr Stella Walter died 26 July 2019.

3.2 Harold Wade Underhill (b 1926), brother of Stella Underhill

Born at the Kashmir Nursing Home, Srinagar, 16 September 1926, Harold is the youngest child of Lilian Agnes Underhill and Guilford Edgar Charlton Underhill. Named Wade for his grandfather and Harold for Vernon Harold Starr.

Harold was educated at Hildersham House boarding school for boys, Broadstairs, from autumn 1937. He travelled to Pakistan in the 1990s and visited some of his mother, Lilian Agnes Underhill's, 'old haunts'. Whilst in Bannu, he was presented with a copy of her book 'Vernon Harold Starr 1882-1918 and after'. This copy is now held in the collection with photographs of Lilian and Vernon Harold Starr which Harold also donated for preservation in the Archive in 2019.

4. Fourth Generation

4.1 Alan James William Walter (b 1953), stepson of Stella Underhill

Born in Saskatchewan, Canada 12 February 1953, elder son of William and Pat Walter. Pat Walter died in a road accident in 1962. After being awarded a degree in Chemistry from Surrey University, England, at the time of cataloguing (2018) Alan had been working for 34 years in the NHS Clinical Biochemistry Department in Guildford. Like his Wade family relatives, he has travelled extensively in Pakistan. Alan's work on the Wade family papers forms part of this archive.

4.2 David Andrew Walter (b 1954), stepson of Stella Underhill

Born in Saskatchewan, Canada, 25 May 1954, the younger son of William and Pat Walter. David was awarded a Degree in Social Anthropology (Sussex University) before training in Law at Guildford Law College.

4.3 Nigel Hugh Walter (b 1965), son of Stella Underhill

Born in Canada, 19 April 1965, the son of William Walter and Stella Walter, née Underhill. Returning to England in 1965, he was educated at Marlborough College and Jesus College Cambridge (BA Hons Cantab.). Nigel also worked with CMS. As a short-term mission partner, he went out to Islamabad to serve as project manager on an architectural project for St Thomas Church, Islamabad, 1987-1988, before qualifying as an architect in 1990; he worked with local architect, Mr Naim Pasha. In 1990, he married Louise, née Eskins; Nigel and Louise have three daughters.

Sources: The records; 'Thomas Valpy French', History of Missiology, URL:, accessed 13 July 2018; C. E. Tyndale-Biscoe 'Thomas Russell Wade: a pioneer in Kashmir' London: CMS, 1921; H. U. Weitbrecht 'Reminiscences of the Rev. Thomas Russell Wade' in 'The Church Missionary Review', December 1914, pp 751-752; 'The Women of India and Christian work in the Zenana' by M. Weitbrecht available online through the Internet Archive at page/n234/mode/2up?q=%22Alice+Mary+Wade, accessed 14 August 2020; CMS Register of Missionaries, 1804-1928 and 1905-1918; Records of the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society, Roll of Missionaries, volume 1 (CEZ/C/AM 1/1); 'Church Missionary Gleaner', volume 2, August 1875 and September 1889; 'India’s Women China’s daughters', May-June 1881, November-December 1888 and February 1934; 'Church Missionary Intelligencer and Record', May 1884, and May 1887; 'The Church Missionary Review', June 1927; S. Conceicao, 'Who was Mollie Ellis?', Quora (2018), URL:, accessed 13 July 2018; L. A. Starr 'Vernon Harold Starr 1882-1918 and After', London, 1918; 'Mercy and Truth', July-August 1918 and January-February 1919; 'The Church Missionary Outlook', July 1923, May 1955 and July 1955; 'YES', July-August 1988; Dr Stella Walter, 'Royal Free Hospital: Missionaries', 'All in a Day's Work - Though Happily Not Every Day', nd [20th century]; 'The Bromsgrovian', volume 29, number 1, November 1914 (available online at; accessed 18 August 2020); E. McGilvray 'Field Marshall Claude Auchinleck' [due December 2020]: Google Books preview available online at, accessed 19 August 2020; Website of at, accessed 19 August 2020; Church Missionary Society, Mission Partners' Fellowship Tributes, February 2020: in memoriam tribute to Dr (Lilian) Stella Walter by Nigel Walter. Available online at Personal communication with Alan Walter at the time of donation.
AcquisitionFirst presented October 2017; a series of additions to the collection were donated 2018-2023.
Archival NotePapers originally arranged and described by Ivana Frlan, 2017, in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997, in-house and CMS cataloguing procedures. Catalogue entries enhanced and extended by Ellen Smith (BA History, University of Birmingham), student intern with Cadbury Research Library June-July 2018.
Further to extensive additions to the collection 2018-2020, work to extend and enhance the original catalogue is currently underway. An archived copy of the original catalogue is held with the deposit paperwork. If you have an enquiry about the collection, please email at least 10 days in advance of a visit:
Related MaterialCadbury Research Library holds the Church Missionary Society Archive which includes the official archive of the Church Mission Society (GB 0150 CMS), the deposited archive of the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society (GB 0150 CEZ) and additional privately deposited collections relating to the family.

The official archive includes papers and published works arising from the missionary service of Rev Thomas Russell Wade, Dr Vernon Harold Starr, Lilian Agnes Underhill (under her maiden name of Wade, and married names of Starr (1) and Underhill (2)), and Dr Lilian Starr ('Stella') Walter (predominantly under her maiden name of Underhill).

There are four collections in the CMS Unofficial Papers with papers directly relating to the family:
/Accession 103: Papers of Rev Thomas Russell Wade, father of Mrs Underhill, missionary in Kashmir [18791921] (GB 0150 CMS/ACC103);
/Accession 110: Papers of Thomas Russell Wade 1864-1865 (GB 0150 CMS/ACC110);
/Accession 181: Photograph of the first CMS Hospital in Srinagar, Kashmir [c 1870] (GB 0150 CMS/ ACC181);
/Accession 376: Papers of Dr Harold Gilbee Anderson: papers of Rev Thomas Russell Wade, CMS.

Published works relating to the family in the University of Birmingham book collections:
/'Tales of Tirah and Lesser Tibet' by Lilian Agnes Starr (shelfmark: Orchard Learning and Resources Centre Stack 266.009515 STA).

The Cadbury Research Library holds records of the Nurses' Missionary League in a collection held as 'Records of the Nurses' Christian Movement and its predecessors (Nurses' Missionary Union, 1903-1906, Nurses' Missionary League, 1906-1941)', finding number: GB 0150 DA31.
Associated MaterialsPapers relating to G. E. C. Underhill, and to L. A. Underhill’s role assisting in the release of Molly Ellis from kidnapping, are held in the Imperial War Museums’ collections of private papers.
Publication NoteLilian Agnes Underhill's published works under her first married name (Starr) draw heavily on papers which are now held in the Archive. Most notably, there are extensive extracts from Vernon Harold Starr's diary for 1910-1914 in 'Vernon Harold Starr - 1882-1918, and after Madras' and the text of 'Tales of Tirah and Lesser Tibet' includes an edited version of her 1922 travel diary 'Sunny Memories.. of Lesser Tibet'. Some of the photographic records in the collection can be seen reproduced as illustrations.

A digitised copy of 'Tales of Tirah and Lesser Tibet' is available online through the Internet Archive at
The biography of V. H. Starr is available online to members of subscribing institutions through Adam Matthew Digital: Church Missionary Society Archive: Central records.


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