William Fitzjames Oldham

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William Fitzjames Oldham and his wife Marie Augusta Mulligan

William Fitzjames Oldham (15 December 1854 - 27 March 1937) was an Indian-born British-American Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church and Missionary Bishop for Southern Asia. He distinguished himself as a missionary, an author and a church official. He was the founder of Anglo Chinese School in Singapore in 1886.

Birth, family and ancestry[edit]

William was born in Bangalore, India, the son of James and Mary Elizabeth Oldham. James was a British officer commanding Sepoy troops in India. William's ancestry was primarily Irish-English, with some Indian blood, it was said, on his mother's side. William married Marie Augusta Mulligan on 13 September 1877.

Education and conversion[edit]

Oldham earned a B.A. degree from Boston University and an M.A. from Allegheny College. He became a government surveyor. He was converted to the Christian faith under the preaching of the Rev. D.O. Fox, who assisted at the time of the well-known Taylor evangelistic meeting in 1873.

Ordained and missionary ministry[edit]

Oldham entered the Michigan Annual Conference of the M.E. Church in 1883. He also served for a time under the auspices of the Ohio Conference. He was the founder of a mission.

The Anglo-Chinese School or ACS in Singapore was founded on March 1, 1886, by Oldham, as an extension of the Methodist Church. Its first location was a shophouse at 70 Amoy Street with a total of 13 pupils. The name of the school came from the fact that it conducted lessons at night in English and in the afternoons in Chinese. By the following year, enrollment had increased to 104, and the school moved to Coleman Street.

He also served as an Assistant (Corresponding) Secretary of Missions for his denomination, beginning in 1912.

Oldham was a member of M.E. General Conferences in 1880, 1900, 1904, 1908 and 1912. He was a delegate to the Second and Fourth Ecumenical Conferences in 1891 and 1911, as well as the Edinburgh Convention in 1910.

Episcopal ministry[edit]

Oldham was elected Missionary Bishop for Southern Asia in 1904. He was later elected a bishop of the M.E. Church in 1916, serving until his death. His office was at 150 Fifth Ave., New York City and his residence was in Leonia, New Jersey. He was also a trustee of the Union Missionary Institute in Brooklyn, New York.

Death and burial[edit]

Oldham died on 27 March 1937 in Glendale, California. He was buried in Forest Lawn cemetery.

Selected writings[edit]

  • Translated from Malaysia, Charles A. Gray, pamphlet, 1889.
  • Sketch of Thoburn, The Picket Line of Missions, 1897.
  • The Study of Missions in Colleges, Student Missionary Appeal, 1898.
  • Presenting the Gospel to Non-Christian Peoples, Ecumentical Missionary Conference, 1900.
  • Addresses: What the Missionary Secretary Can Do and The Deaconess as a Missionary Worker, First General Missionary Convention, Cleveland, 1903.
  • Malaysia, Nature's Wonderland, 1907.
  • Address: To Advance in Foreign Missions, Militant Methodism, Downey et al., Eds., 1913.
  • Address: The Crucial Hour of Missions in Non-Christian Lands, The Second General Missionary Conference, 1913.
  • India, Malaysia, the Philippines, 1914.
  • Graves Missionary Lectures, 1914.
  • The World Task and Opportunity, New England Methodism's Convention, Ed. E.C.E. Dorion, 1915.
  • Address in Challenge of Today, 1915.
  • Introduction, Bishop Frank Warne's Story of His Conversion, 1915. (33 pages)
  • Address: Book of Devotions, 1916.
  • Thoburn - Called of God, 1918.