In 1925 a British doctor, Frank Read, took charge at Lusadiya. Anyone who wanted to be admitted had to bring their own bed or sleep on the floor. Only after Dr Read had arrived was the mission able to make good this deficiency, as he had some funds that had been donated by supporters in Carlisle, and he used these to purchase iron beds. The Medical Missionary Association in London had given Read equipment for an operating theatre, which included surgical instruments, an operating table and a microscope. L. B. Butcher decided that Read should be transferred to another, larger medical mission where he could gain experience from the other doctors. In a letter to London of August 1932, Butcher wrote that although the mission would like a doctor from England to replace Read, the need was not urgent given the financial situation at that time.
Paul Johnson and Margaret Johnson, who took charge of the Bhil mission in 1942, came mentally prepared for the transfer of power from the British to an independent Indian government. They were the ones who steered the mission through the period of transition in the late 1940s. Margaret Johnson had trained to become a medical missionary because she had doubted the value of missionary work that focused only on conversion. There was a considerable opposition to the missionaries by nationalists, particularly in the pre-independence period. When Paul Johnson visited Modasa town during the Quit India protest of 1942, he found a strike in progress in this small British-ruled enclave. From 1957 onwards, the medical side of the mission published its own separate annual report, previously its affairs had been included in the general Bhil mission report.
During the 1870s, the Church Missionary Society (CMS) declared its intention to open more missions 'among the non-Aryan hill-people', who it was feared were coming under Hindu influence. The Bishop of Lahore felt that more missions were needed to work amongst the 'aboriginal' Bhils. A new mission to the Gonds of central India had been opened and efforts had been made from time to time to reach the Bhils, particularly in Khandesh, where the society had a base at Malegaon. In the Bhil areas, the thakors established themselves as the patrons of particular Bhil pals, providing support for them when they raided pals that were under the protection of a different thakor. The leader of the Bhil Bhagats, Surmaldas, lived in the village of Lusadiya. This lay within the small estate of the Thakor of Karchha, a Rajput who was a tributary of Idar State.
In November 1880 the Reverend Charles Thompson arrived at Kherwara, Rajasthan, India, to establish the first Anglican mission to the Bhils, a primitive tribe, by going amongst them as a healer. This book sets out the history of the interaction between the missionaries and the Bhils, a history of missionary medicine, and how certain Bhils forged their own relationship with modernity. During the 1870s, the Church Missionary Society declared its intention to open more missions 'among the non-Aryan hill-people', and the Bishop of Lahore wanted more missions to work amongst the 'aboriginal' Bhils. A great famine that began in 1899 brought radical changes in the mission to the Bhils. After the famine, many of the Bhagats, a local sect, became convinced that the sinless deity was the God of Christians, and they decided to convert en masse to Christianity. The missionaries working amongst the Bhils believed that Satan was in their midst, who was constantly enticing their hard-won converts to relinquish their new faith and revert to their 'heathen' ways. It was argued that 'heathen' beliefs and culture could be attacked only if female missionaries were required to work with native women. Mission work had always been hampered by a lack of funds, and at one time, the hospital at Lusadiya had to dissuade many would-be inpatients from coming for treatment due to lack of beds. The book also deals with the work of the mission in the post-colonial India, which laid more stress to healing than evangelism.
Chapter one, which examines the recruitment of the foot-soldiers of the institutional Church, draws attention to the sheer variety of clergy who peopled the Church in the British world in the pre-1860 period. The chapter highlights common dynamics in the development of the colonial clerical profession in the three chosen case studies. We will see that the aims of churchmen from across the Church party spectrum were frustrated by a persistent set of recruitment problems back in Britain—the major problem being that was no centralised or coordinated system for recruiting clergy. The first part of the chapter surveys the range of government organisations, voluntary groups and private individuals that played a part in recruitment; the second half provides a detailed examination of the clergy themselves. A number of questions about the recruitment, training, education and social and ethnic backgrounds of the clergy are considered. The recruitment of clergy shows that power was far from being centralised in the colonial Church: this was an institution that was made up a variety of networks and connections; it was also one that allowed a range of actors to have a hand in finding the men who would staff and run the colonial Church.
Female missionaries, supported by male Indian assistants, sustained much of the clinical work of the Bhil mission. Although Bhil women did not practise purdah or live in zenanas, the missionaries could see that they had a low social status and were frequently oppressed by their menfolk. The missionaries also tried to impress on Bhil men the need to treat the women of their families with greater consideration. In his report of 1875, Thomas Hendley had noted that as a rule female friends aided mothers in labour. They kept them in a warm hut, 'and even in cases of haemorrhage, apply warm cloths, and administer hot-spiced drinks'. Several feminist scholars have asked more profound questions about the rhetoric of a 'sisterhood of women' in a colonial context. Catherine Hall points out that although white women commonly lamented the suffering of their imagined 'sisters', the black slave women were colonisers.
The predominant narrative of both new and old histories of the Khasi mission is the pre-eminence of Ann Jones as founding missionary and bringer of the book. The prime architect of the Christianisation of the hill tribes, the de novo 'father' of Khasi literature in his role as the man who put the Khasi language into written form using Welsh orthography. Many missionary and other published accounts tend to skip over the role of indigenous informants in the process of translation. With no knowledge of Bengali script, Jones employed the Roman alphabet when recording Khasi words. Thomas Jones went to the Khasi Hills with the express aim of educating the Khasis. The importance of education for the Welsh was stressed by generations of their leaders and preachers.
This conclusion presents some closing thoughts on the concepts discussed in the preceding chapters of this book. The book considers the places and peoples on the margins of British empire, in Wales and in India. It also tackles the micro-historical question of the role of the marginal individual in determining the limits of freedom within the social and political systems in which they operate. The book explores the particular brand of Welsh Nonconformity that had been forged through the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries did give a distinct institutional and ideological temper to the Welsh as missionaries. It begins with initials scratched in a Welsh barn at Llifi or Mill. The last Welsh missionaries in the north-east packed their bags in the 1960s, but the legacy of a century and a quarter of evangelisation in the hills has left an indelible mark.
The missionary Thomas Jones II, the local magistrate Harry Inglis, the civil servant's wife Emma Shadwell, and the soldier F.T. Pollok, projected their constructions of Britishness, Welshness, gender or indigeneity onto the canvas of the Khasi Hills. Hugh Roberts and John Roberts visited the grieving Gwenllian Jones at Nongsawlia, but found her hardened against the mission she blamed for her husband's demise. In the aftermath of the Jones versus Inglis affair of the 1840s, Harry Inglis preferred charges against judge Stainforth for borrowing money from a European in his jurisdiction, contrary to civil service regulations. On 27 September 1853, A.J.M. Mills, officiating judge of the Sudder Court, tabled his report to the government of Bengal on the Khasi and Jaintia Hills. The landscape of the hills was a wild canvas on which the clear lines of masterful authority and manly power were delineated.
Through August 1841, the rains were incessant; 264 inches of rain fell at Cherrapunji, or a staggering twenty-two feet. William Lewin was promoted to Lieutenant in May 1825, and in that year saw service during the First Anglo-Burmese war. On his 1822 voyage to India, Lewin was shocked at the brutal slave economy around the Dutch settlement at Paarl at the Cape Colony. The nature of William and Jane Lewin's presence in Cherrapunji from the early 1830s was unusual. William's long-term invalid status enabled him, Jane and the children to be domiciled there as a family group. Lewin ideas of fatherhood were bound up in a Christian model, and his paternal role was a metaphor of God's own authority. The categories of 'soldier' and 'Christian' might seem contradictory, or perhaps too easily assume the more fixed categorisation of later versions of Christian militarism or of the soldier as popular hero.