William Campbell (missionary)

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The Rev. Dr. William Campbell
Missionary and Linguist
Born 1841
Died 9 September 1921
Residence Scotland
Nationality Scottish
Alma mater University of Glasgow
Title LL.D.
Signature Wmcampbell-signature.png

William Campbell (Chinese: 甘為霖; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Kam Ûi-lîm) (1841–1921) was a Scottish Presbyterian missionary to Taiwan. He wrote extensively on topics related to Taiwan and was also responsible for founding the island's first school for the blind.[1] Interested in the early history of the island (particularly the Dutch era), his knowledge of the time was such that he was called "without doubt the greatest authority on this subject living".[2] He was likely the first European to see Sun-Moon Lake,[3] which he named Lake Candidius after the seventeenth century Dutch missionary George Candidius.

Mission to Taiwan[edit]

Campbell arrived in Taiwan in 1871 to begin his mission in southern Taiwan, being stationed in Tainan (then known as Taiwan-fu) and serving both Han Chinese and Taiwanese aborigines in the area.[4] He was a contemporary of Thomas Barclay, James Laidlaw Maxwell and George Leslie Mackay, who were all engaged in missionary work in Taiwan.

A strong supporter of "native ministers" (i.e. Han and aborigine clergy), Campbell wrote concerning one particular incident that

...our worthy Chinese colleague received a most hearty welcome from the brethren. He seemed to have great power in speaking to them at our forenoon service. [...] Whilst listening to him, one could not but feel the importance of having an educated native ministry in every part of China. Men like Pastor Iap are able to adapt themselves in a way the missionary can never do, and to overcome difficulties which must always hamper any mere sojourner in the country.[5]

Campbell's mission lasted for forty-six years, until he left Taiwan for the last time in 1917 to return to his native Scotland, where he died in 1921.

Published works[edit]

  • The Gospel of St. Matthew in Formosan (Sinkang Dialect) with corresponding versions in Dutch and English. London: Trübner & Co. 1888. 
  • Missionary Success in Formosa. London: Trübner & Co. 1889. 
  • Past and Future of Formosa: With a New Map of the Island. 1896. 
  • Notes on a visit to the Taichu prefecture of Formosa. 1902. 
  • Formosa under the Dutch: Described from Contemporary Records. 1903. 
  • Memorandum on Printing Missionary Books in the So-called South Formosa Dialect. 1906. 
  • Handbook of the English Presbyterian mission in south Formosa. 1910. 
  • Sketches from Formosa. London: Marshall Brothers. 1913. 
  • A Dictionary of the Amoy Vernacular (in Southern Min). Tainan: Taiwan Church Press. 1913. 


  1. ^ Chang
  2. ^ Otness 26, quoting James M. Davidson.
  3. ^ Otness 25.
  4. ^ Covell 119.
  5. ^ Campbell 24.