The Reverend Robert John Davidson (1864-1942) and his wife Mary Jane Davidson (1847-1918) were Quaker missionaries at the Friends’ Foreign Mission Association in Chungking, Szechuan, China from 1890-1894. As well as being a missionary, Mary was a trained nurse and midwife and helped the local community. She is probably responsible for the large number of items in the museum’s collection which relate to women and children. In 1895 the Davidsons returned to Britain, where they toured the country lecturing at Quaker meetings about Chinese life and customs. During these lectures they would dress up and act out aspects of Chinese life, their 6 year old son Robin demonstrating the use of chopsticks, for example. A collection of Chinese objects was used to illustrate their lectures. While in Britain they visited the Horniman Museum and spoke with Frederick Horniman, himself a Quaker, who bought 338 items of their collection for £81.00.
missionary, reverend and collector (1864-1942)