- Maclay, Robert Samuel
- (182 4-1907)pioneer Methodist missionary in China, Japan, and KoreaRobert Maclay was born in Concord, Pennsylvania, on February 7, 1824. He attended Dickinson College and after graduating in 1845 was ordained as an ELDER in the Methodist Episcopal Church. The first Methodist missionaries arrived in China in 1847; Maclay was part of the second group (that included Henry Hickok) sent out later that same year, arriving in China in 1848. The small group made Fuchow the center of their work. Maclay proved the natural leader and was appointed superintendent and treasurer, posts he held until 1872.Through the 1860s, Maclay directed expansion up the Yangtze River, but then became interested in North China and in 1869 directed the opening of work in Beijing. In 1871, he co-authored a dictionary of the Fuchow dialect.In 1871, church leaders in the United States responded positively to a letter he had written earlier suggesting that work be initiated in Japan. They chose him to lead it. Thus, he gave up his responsibilities in Fuchow and in 1873 moved to Tokyo. Maclay and his wife were one of five couples representing the Methodists in Japan. He was appointed superintendent of the mission and president of Ei Wa Gakko, a college that included the Philander Smith Biblical Institute and the Anglo-Chinese Academy.In 1884, Maclay visited the king of Korea and obtained permission for Methodist missionaries to enter the country. Presbyterian medical missionary Horace Newton Allen had opened the way with his medical work. Maclay did not return to Korea, but from Japan directed the work of Henry G. and Ella Appenzeller, the first of a team of missionaries who launched work in Seoul in 1885.In 1888, Maclay returned to the United States and became dean of the Maclay College of Theology (now the Claremont School of Theology) (originally endowed by a relative, Charles Maclay). He retired five years later and died in 1907.Further reading:■ Wade Crawford Barclay, History of Methodist Missions, 6 vols. (New York: Missions & Church Extension of The Methodist Church, 1950)■ Everett N. Hunt Jr., Protestant Pioneers in Korea (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1980)■ Robert S. Maclay, Life among the Chinese (New York: Carlton & Porter, 1861)■ Charles D. Stokes, History of Methodist Missions in Korea, 1885-1930 (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University, Ph.D. diss., 1947).
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.