Kucheng Massacre

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Major victims of Kucheng Massacre

The Kucheng Massacre (Chinese: 古田教案; Pinyin: Gǔtián Jiào'àn; Foochow Romanized: Kŭ-chèng Gáu-áng) was a massacre of Western Christians that took place at Gutian, Fujian, China on August 1, 1895. At dawn of that day, a Buddhist group, the Zhaijiao attacked British missionaries who were then taking summer holidays at Gutian Huashan, killing eleven people and destroying two houses. The Kucheng Massacre is considered one of the worst attacks against foreigners in China prior to the Boxer Movement in 1899-1901, the only comparable event in China's missonary history being the Tianjin Massacre in 1871.[1]

Background[edit]

Location of Gutian as centered in the map of northern Fujian
Hwasang Mountain Village, where the massacre occurred

In 1892, a Buddhist movement called Zhaijiao ("vegetarian school", so called because their followers took vows of vegetarianism) began assuming the functions of government due to the decrepit condition of Qing dynasty government in the Gutian region. They resolved disputes between villagers, banned opium, and ended the local practice of selling wives to multiple husbands. Gutian police decided not to intervene in this displacement of the functions of government. Christian missionaries were unhappy with these circumstances and asked the provincial officials to send in their own troops. In response, Zhaijiao leaders decided to defend their rebellion with violence.[2] The last letter from the murdered English missionary Robert Warren Stewart, dated April 8, describes the critical situation of affairs at Gutian:[3]

Events[edit]

On August 1, 1895, at the time of the initial outbreak, the family of Robert W. Stewart and the other ladies were still asleep in their hill village at Gutian Huashan (华山). The Vegetarian mob then broke in, speared the victims to death, and burnt down the houses. Only five persons survived the attack, two of whom were Mr. Stewart's children: one had one knee broken, and the other, a baby, had an eye gouged out. Those murdered at Huashan were:[4]

Robert Warren Stewart Ireland Church Missionary Society
Louisa Kathleen Stewart Ireland Church Missionary Society
Herbert Stewart Ireland (five years old)
Hilda Sylvia Stewart Ireland (baby)
Helena Yellop Ireland (children's nurse)
Marry Ann Christina Gordon Australia Church of England Zenana Missionary Society
Elsie Marshall England Church of England Zenana Missionary Society
Hessie Newcombe Ireland Church of England Zenana Missionary Society
Elizabeth Maud Saunders Australia Church Missionary Society
Harriette Elinor Sounders Australia Church Missionary Society
Flora Lucy Stewart England Church of England Zenana Missionary Society

Aftermath[edit]

Commission of Enquiry in session following Kucheng Massacre
The mission cemetery of Fuzhou where the martyrs of Kucheng Massacre were buried

The Qing government had suppressed the news for three days before an official telegraph was sent out from Shanghai on August 4. Western countries strongly condemned China for its connivance with the brutality and indignantly urged the guilty be punished. Under the pressure of foreign military force, the Qing government appointed a Commission of Enquiry consisting of both Chinese officials and British diplomats. All principals were soon executed, and other accessories were either banished or sentenced to life imprisonment. The supervisor of Gutian county Wang Rulin (王汝霖) was also dismissed from office.

Stephen Livingston Baldwin, Secretary of the Methodist Episcopal Missionary Society in China, commented on the massacre in an interview from New York Times:[5]

The newspapers also recommended that "Great Britain and the United States ... combine to teach the Chinese a lesson that will cause foreigners to be respected forever".[5]

The bodies of the victims were buried at the mission cemetery of Fuzhou.

See also[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 26°37′24″N 118°51′29″E / 26.62333°N 118.85806°E / 26.62333; 118.85806