Did Dr. John Scudder Know He Had Two Scudder Missionary Cousins Aboard the Indus, 1819?

by Margery Boyden, Scudder Association Foundation Historian.
Dr. John Scudder, M.D. image

Dr. John Scudder, M.D.

To begin their amazing multi-generational saga of providing more than 40 Scudder missionaries to Ceylon and India, Dr. John Scudder and his wife Harriet (Waterbury) Scudder had to go through the formal goodbyes with their families in America. Though wholeheartedly determined, Dr. John Scudder felt the sting of his father’s extreme displeasure at his choice to leave his successful medical practice in New York, but John had the loving support of his mother and siblings. When it was Harriet’s turn to say goodbye to her dear family at New York City, Harriet was described as “bathed in tears, but yet rejoicing.”[1]

Harriet (Waterbury) Scudder image

Harriet (Waterbury) Scudder[2]

This was no ordinary goodbye. Harriet’s husband Dr. John Scudder, M.D. had accepted an assignment as the first medical missionary from America to a foreign land.[3] He was to commence his work in Ceylon off the coast of India and their plan was that they would spend the rest of their lives in what is now Sri Lanka and India. She and John willingly followed the words of Jesus by “putting their hands to the plow and not looking back.”[4] An observer of this tender scene, James B. Taylor, records:

[W]e can with difficulty imagine their feelings when, just about to leave home, and country, and all the blessings of Christian society, they heard one and another say, ‘my friend, my sister, farewell, for ever!’…I shall never forget Dr. Scudder’s looks, or his words. As he spoke, his eye kindled, and his cheek glowed with the ardor of Christian benevolence….’Only give me your prayers, and that is all I ask.’[5]

In company with Harriet and Dr. John Scudder was their 16-month-old daughter Maria Catherine, named for the doctor’s mother Maria and Harriet’s sister Catherine. The three were en route to Boston to join with six other missionaries to sail on the Indus, bound for Calcutta.[6]

The other missionaries in their party would include “Messrs. Winslow, Spaulding, Woodward and their wives.”[7] These couples were Miron and Harriet Winslow, Levi and Mary Spaulding and Henry and Lydia Woodward.[8] These six missionaries would become Harriet Scudder’s “family away from home ” in Ceylon and India, but even more literally than she could have imagined. The two Harriets would be dearest of friends for the next 14 years.

A ship similar to the brig Indus[9]

Curiosity to learn more about these fellow missionaries who traveled with Dr. John and Harriet Scudder to Calcutta uncovered surprising, but rewarding results. It is not generally noticed that of the four couples sent by the American Board of Foreign Missions in 1819 to Ceylon, three of these eight missionaries were Scudder cousins, blood relatives, connected by their common Scudder English ancestor, HenryA Scudder[i], yeoman, of Horton Kirby, Kent.  Read HenryA‘s story  Dr. John Scudder must have known one of them was his second cousin, but did he know about his Scudder relationship to the other one?

If we use the same approach we have with Dr. John Scudder’s wife, Harriet (Waterbury) Scudder, to consider her a member of the Scudder family by virtue of her marriage to Dr. John, then we should also include the spouses of the other 2 Scudder cousins onboard. By this measure, 6 of the 8 missionaries sailing to Ceylon were “Scudders” or members of the Scudder extended family. This means, of course, that their children born in India also had Scudder blood. These six were unified in purpose to share “the good news of the gospel” as well as by ancestry and by the strong Scudder heritage of service to others. These other “Scudder” missionaries are well worth knowing.

“Cousins” Henry and Lydia (Middleton) Woodward

Dr. John must have known that Mrs. Lydia (Middleton) Woodward was his second cousin. She was a granddaughter of Lucretia5 Scudder. Lucretia was a sister to Dr. Nathaniel5 Scudder, Dr. John7’s grandfather. Dr. John7 Scudder and Mrs. Lydia Woodward shared the same great-grandfather, Jacob4 Scudder (Benjamin3, Thomas2, Thomas1 (T)), Puritan immigrant to Salem, Massachusetts. Lydia was definitely endowed with as much Scudder blood as Dr. John, although her maiden name had not been Scudder.

map of New Hampshire

New Hampshire

In this year of 2019, it is the bicentennial anniversary of the Woodwards’ missionary service who also deserve to have their story told. Like Dr. John Scudder, Mrs. Lydia Woodward was from New Jersey. She was born Lydia Middleton on 3 August 1795 to Abel Middletown and Abiah Coward at Crosswick, Burlington near Trenton.[10] Her husband Henry Woodward was from New Hampshire, a considerable distance from New Jersey.

Rev. Henry Woodward was the youngest son of Bezaliel Woodard and his wife Mary Wheelock, born 3 February 1797 at Hanover, Grafton, New Hampshire. Both of Woodward’s parents descended from strong Puritan stock that had come with the Puritan migration, 1630–1641. For generations, Henry’s family was well entrenched in the life of New England and New Hampshire. In fact, his grandfather Rev. Eleazar Wheelock was the founder of Dartmouth College. William P. Armstrong continues Henry Woodward’s biography:

“[Henry] came from a race of prophetic souls, giant laborers in the kingdom of God of the earlier New England day, men of depth and insight and remarkable initiative. The death of his father in 1804, when the boy was only seven, followed in three years by the decease of his widowed mother, left him in a forlorn condition even though surrounded by relatives.”[11]

Later in life, Henry wrote about the turning point in his life. It was at age 18 during a vacation from Dartmouth College. Henry attended a revival meeting at Haverill, New Hampshire where the speaker “called out young Woodward’s name in the midst of the service and pled with him before all the congregation to yield his life to God.”[12] This dramatically changed his outlook and his course in life. Henry writes:

At my request I was released from my school…that I might go and publish among my friends the great things the Lord had done for my soul. I cannot express the joy I felt as I again entered Hanover, the place of my nativity. On every tree, every stone, indeed on everything I saw, there seemed to be the inscription ‘Holiness unto the Lord.’ Soon after my arrival a glorious revival commenced in Hanover and I had the happiness of seeing many turning unto the Lord; among others was the Rev’d Mr. Spaulding, who was my classmate, and now my fellow-laborer (Ceylon).[13]

By 1816, the orphaned, but zealous Henry Woodward had become a student at the newly opened Princeton Theological Seminary at Princeton, New Jersey, committing himself to the ministry.

Princeton Theological Seminary main hall image

Princeton Theological Seminary[14]

At the Seminary, Henry joined “The Society of Inquiry Respecting Missions and the General State of Religion.” However, his biographer states, it was not that organization that accounts for Henry’s “inspiration to devote his life to the foreign work.”  Woodward credits this decision to a man by the name of Scudder.

[Henry] says distinctly, in speaking of his associates at the home of Mr. Elias Scudder, which could easily have been made up of others than Seminary students and of the Society of Inquiry,—‘It was at this time my thoughts were first turned to the subject of missions.’[15]

The well-to-do Elias Scudder and his wife Jane Van Arsdale had no children of their own so must have found great pleasure in inviting students to their home. While some might consider it coincidental that Mr. Woodward’s course in life should be determined by his association with Elias6 Scudder, it is only one of many “coincidences” in a web of Scudder connections to be found among the missionaries aboard the Indus. Elias6 Scudder was the son of Lemuel5 (Jacob4, Benjamin3, Thomas2, Thomas1 (T), HenryA)[16] and lived at Princeton. Elias6 was a first cousin of missionary Lydia Woodward’s mother and of Dr. John7 Scudder’s father Joseph6 from Freehold.

Henry Woodward was no ordinary Seminary student. Not content to merely study, he engaged in proselytizing work. Henry was a deeply spiritual man, prone to ramble through the countryside to renew his spirit. He loved to minister to humble people along the way. He spent his vacation times distributing tracts on foot or in June of 1818 “holding services and visiting 200 homes for prayer and religious conversation” in the suburbs of Philadelphia. Armstrong states, “Everywhere he went revivals seem to have sprung up. No one can estimate the lasting effects of these devoted labors far and wide in this whole Princeton region. He found and made friends everywhere.”[17]

Liberty Bell at Philadelphia image

Liberty Bell at Philadelphia[18]

Henry and Lydia Woodward met during his summer job in Philadelphia. After he was back at school, it is not surprising that his manner of courtship through letters was spiritually focused. The couple was seeking divine guidance about marriage and service. He writes:

“We mutually agreed to set apart one evening in each week to prayer and to enquire of the Lord if it was his will that we should be connected. The subject of missions also occupied our attention and we made this likewise the subject of conversation, correspondence and prayer.”[19]

Apparently they received their answer, for in September of 1818, Woodward “formally offered his services to the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions at Boston.” Soon thereafter, Woodwards were married on 16 November 1818 at Crosswick, N.J., twelve days after he was ordained at Salem, Massachusetts with Winslow and Spaulding for their foreign assignments. Henry Woodward is honored as Princeton Seminary’s first foreign missionary.[20]

The Spauldings were married 10 December 1818 and the Winslows on 11 January 1819. All but Scudders were newlyweds of six months or less when they would leave Boston for the Jaffna Mission in Ceylon for a life that they knew would be no honeymoon.

Three weeks after their marriage, the Woodwards left New Jersey to spend time with his family in New Hampshire prior to departure in June. By the time the four missionary couples boarded ship and sailed from Boston on 8 June 1819, Lydia Woodward was six months pregnant. Henry writes: “my dear wife was very ill, but by the mercy of God she was so far restored as to be able to embark with Mr. & Mrs. Spaulding, Mr. & Mrs. Scudder, Mr. & Mrs. Winslow and myself on the Brig ‘Indus’…for Ceylon.”[21]

After 130 days at sea, the Indus made port at Calcutta on October 20, 1819. By the time the party reached Calcutta, Lydia Woodward was gravely ill, her firstborn son George Henry Woodward having been born at sea on September 4th. Dr. John and Harriet Scudder cared for Lydia at their stopover in Calcutta. While these two couples were at Calcutta, the Scudder’s precious Maria Catherine, aged 21 months, contracted dysentery and died October, 25, 1819, only five months after Harriet Scudder had said her tearful goodbyes to her other loved ones in New York. Less than 2 weeks later, Lydia Woodward likewise buried her babe on November 3, 1819. Fortunately she recovered.[22]

As the realities of their missionary service were plainly manifesting, hearts of these missionary couples had every reason to become bound together more tightly. Scudders were the first to go to Ceylon, arriving at Tillipally, Ceylon on December 17, 1819.  The Woodwards arrived in Ceylon in January of 1820. Harriet Winslow’s diary shows the Winslows were there also by January 1820. The Spauldings made their way from Calcutta to Ceylon in February. Within months Scudders were established at Panditeripo,[23] the Woodwards at Tillipally and Winslows and Spauldings at Oodooville.[24]

After having two more sons 1820–1822 and a daughter Lydia Middleton Woodward born in February 1825, Lydia Woodward died at Ceylon November 24, 1825,[25] almost seven years after her marriage. In 1826, The Missionary Herald at Home and Abroad noted several sad events. Harriet (Lathrop) Winslow had to be taken to Madras for treatment of a life threatening liver disease which respite did restore her health:

Meanwhile, however, a case of mortality had occurred among her companions in the mission. On the 24th of November, three days before the arrival of Mr. and Mrs. Winslow at Calcutta, Mrs. Woodward died at Tillipally….The cause of her death seems to have been consumption, and her departure was gentle and serene.

Three days after Mrs. Woodward’s decease, and the very day that Mr. and Mrs. Winslow landed at Calcutta, two cases of death occurred among the children of the missionaries, which were sudden and unlooked for. One was that of Harriet Maria, the eldest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Winslow; the other, of Sarah Jane, the eldest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Spaulding; both of whom died of the cholera on the same day.[26]

Armstrong in The Princeton Theological Review reports:

Mrs. Woodward’s health had been declining for some time and two months later an illness came the effects of which she never threw off. We have a graphic picture of happy family outings by the seashore, by those wide-stretching waters reaching to the homeland which would never be crossed by those lonely hearts. On November 24 the end came and one more grave raised its silent mound above those coral strands at Ceylon.[27]

Armstrong notes that the mission, as well as Woodward and his family, were “overwhelmed with sympathy and grief.” Dr. and Mrs. Scudder took the Woodward children into their home while Rev. Woodward soldiered on alone for seven months. He was then impressed that a similar sorrow had visited the home of Rev. Edmund Frost in Bombay where he had died in October 1825, after brief service. Frost’s widow, Clarissa (Emerson) Frost, also a native of New Hampshire, was in danger of being forced to leave her valuable service as a missionary to be sent home due to India’s strict rules regarding widows. Her friends contacted the mission at Jaffna, Ceylon to suggest Mr. Woodward assess Clarissa’s willingness to consider marriage. Despite the shipwreck en route, Woodward’s visit to Bombay was successful. Feeling they had God’s approval, they married October 24, 1826.[28] Armstrong continues:

It is a regret to state that the last seven years of the life of Henry Woodward, in spite of his happy home life were filled with records of illness, approaching chronic invalidism….The two shipwrecks on the trip to Bombay and return greatly weakened his physical powers, leading to pulmonary difficulties.[29]

Scenic view of Nilgiri Hills Tamil Nadu

Nilgiri Hills Tamil Nadu[30]

For five years, Clarissa served with Henry in Ceylon and India where they had four children, 1827-1833. Henry Woodward was the key figure in opening missionary work in India to the Americans when he had to be sent to Nilgiri Hills for health reasons.       

Previously the government had refused to give access to the American missionaries to the Madras region of southern India, but, while recuperating, Woodward befriended the governor of the Madras Presidency. The two men were so like minded about how the governor felt missionary work should be conducted, that Woodward on the spot asked permission and it was soon granted. “The success of this effort with the authorities and the excitement attending it seem to have been too much for the enfeebled constitution of Mr. Woodward. He started for his Mission with his devoted wife, but was stricken down on the way at Coimbatoor, where he breathed his last.”[31] Henry Woodward died in India in 1834 at age 37. Desolate and alone, Clarissa had now lost two husbands in missionary service in India.

Clarissa then married in December 1836 in India to William Todd, a fellow missionary who had continued his service as a widower after his wife Lucy (Brownell) Todd died in India in 1835. Clarissa died in India a mere six months after she married Todd, adding another grave to the mission toll. Armstrong closes his praise for Woodward with: “Little could Henry Woodward have seen that, radiating out from his tomb at Coimbatoor, within two generations there should come so marked and divine approval of his humble efforts.”[32]


Who was the other “Scudder” cousin on board the IndusRead the story

“The Extraordinary Story of Harriet Wadsworth (Lathrop) Winslow, the Third “Scudder” Cousin on the Indus

[i] The letter “A” is not an initial but a generational designation.This will assist in clearing up some confusion in print about the relationships among the immigrants. HenryA’s sons Rev. Henry1, Thomas1 and John1 will share the same generational number “1” to show their proper relationships. Therefore, their children will be generation “2”. There has been confusion about the relationships between Thomas1 (T), John2 (J) and Elizabeth2 (E) because of their immigrant ancestor status designating them as “American Scudder generation 1” to each of their descendant lines but they were not the same generation in the family structure.
[1] John Holt Rice, Benjamin Holt Rice, Memoir of James Brainerd Taylor, 2d ed., (New York: American Tract Society, 1933), 17. Observing this tender scene, James B. Taylor, was so moved to tears and action that he recorded his impressions in his personal diary under date of May 24, 1819, along with his newfound decision to commit his own life to the ministry also.
[2] Courtesy of Cy Sherman, former secretary for the Scudder Association.
[3] Belle M. Brain, “Dr. John Scudder, First American Medical Missionary,” The Missionary Review of the World, volume 32, no. 6, (June 1909) 430.
[4] Luke 9:62.
[5] Rice, 17.
[6] For details about their prior lives and decision to go into foreign missionary service see “In Appreciation for a Unique Life of Service: Strength of Character Motivated Dr. John Scudder to Labor in India,” Scudder Biographical and Genealogical Journal, Scudder Association Foundation, volume 1, no. 1, (April 2019), scudder.org.
[7] Brain, “Dr. John Scudder, First American Medical Missionary,” 433.
[8] Miron Winslow and Harriet Wadsworth (Lathrop) Winslow, Levi Spaulding and Mary (Christie) Spaulding, Henry Woodward and Lydia (Middleton) Woodward.
[9] Plate Nr. 89 as shown in “The Sailing Ships of New England 1607–1907” caption: Brigantine “Experiment,” of Newburyport, 114 Tons, Built at Amesbury in 1803. From a water-color painted in 1807 by Nicolay Carmillieri, (1807). John Robinson, George Francis Dow, The Sailing Ships of New England 1607–1907. Public Domain.
[10] “Statistical View of the Board and its Missions, Missionary Herald, v. 36,  (Jan 1840), p. 24.
[11] Henry Woodward Hulbert, “Princeton Seminary’s First Foreign Missionary—Henry Woodward,” Princeton Theological Review, v. XVII, (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1919), 98–117.  Dr. Hulbert was the grandson of Henry Woodward.
[12] Hulbert, “Princeton Seminary’s First Foreign Missionary—Henry Woodward,” 101.
[13] Ibid.
[14] “Princeton Seminary in the 1800s,” John Frelinghuysen Hageman, History of Princeton and its institutions, (J. B. Lippincott & Co., 1879), 324.
[15] Hulbert, “Princeton Seminary’s First Foreign Missionary—Henry Woodward,” 103–104.
[16] Eli F. Cooley, Genealogy of Early Settlers in Trenton and Ewing, (Old Hunterdon County), New Jersey, p. 251. Somerset County Historical Quarterly, v. 8, p. 106, disagrees with an undocumented offhanded statement that Elias was “probably son of William of Kingston, Somerset Co.). Cooley’s meticulous gathering of Scudder family data seems the preferable source. His work states Elias Scudder had no children.
[17] Hulbert, “Princeton Seminary’s First Foreign Missionary—Henry Woodward,” 105.
[18] Image, courtesy of The Graphics Fairy, free vintage clip art–Liberty Bell, https://thegraphicsfairy.com/free-vintage-clip-art-liberty-bell/.
[19] Hulbert, “Princeton Seminary’s First Foreign Missionary—Henry Woodward,” 106.
[20] Hulbert, “Princeton Seminary’s First Foreign Missionary—Henry Woodward,” 108.
[21] Hulbert, “Princeton Seminary’s First Foreign Missionary—Henry Woodward,” 108.
[22] Birth and death dates for George Henry Woodward are given in Hulbert, “Princeton Seminary’s First Foreign Missionary—Henry Woodward,” 109. Also see Scudder Ancestors in America, Genealogy Database at scudderancestorsinamerica.com.
[23] The missionaries called the location Panditeripo. The locals use the name Pandatherippu.
[24] John Overton Choules, Thomas Smith, The Origin and History of Missions; containing faithful accounts of the voyages, travels, labors and Success of the various missionaries…, v. 2, (Boston: S. Walker, and Lincoln & Edmands, 1834), 260.
[25] “Statistical View of the Board and its Missions,” Missionary Herald, (January 1840), 24.
[26] “American Board of Missions. Cases of sickness and of death in the mission families of Ceylon,” The Missionary Herald, volume XXII, no. 6, (June 1826), 197.
[27] Hulbert, “Princeton Seminary’s First Foreign Missionary—Henry Woodward,” 112.
[28] Hulbert, “Princeton Seminary’s First Foreign Missionary—Henry Woodward,” 113.
[29] Hulbert, “Princeton Seminary’s First Foreign Missionary—Henry Woodward,” 113–114.
[30] “Nigiri Hills in Tamil Nadu,” By: Enchant me [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4f/Nilgiri_Hills_Tamil_Nadu.jpg.
[31] Hulbert, “Princeton Seminary’s First Foreign Missionary—Henry Woodward,” 115–117.
[32] Hulbert, “Princeton Seminary’s First Foreign Missionary—Henry Woodward,” 117.

©Scudder Association Foundation, June, 2019 All rights reserved

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