McDougall, Francis Thomas (DNB00)

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McDOUGALL, FRANCIS THOMAS (1817–1886), bishop of Labuan and Sarawak, born at Sydenham in 1817, was son of William Adair McDougall, captain in the 88th regiment, and his boyhood was spent among military surroundings. His mother, whose maiden name was Gell, had strong religious principles of the evangelical type. At her suggestion McDougall was entered as a medical student at the university of Malta, where his father's regiment was quartered, and he walked the hospitals at Valetta. In 1835 he became a medical student at King's College, London, and graduated in medicine at London University. Accompanying a young gentleman to Oxford as physician, he matriculated at Magdalen Hall, and graduated B.A. in 1842, rowing bow in the university eight which beat Cambridge in the same year. On leaving Oxford he found employment in superintending some iron-works in South Wales, and soon married Harriette, daughter of Robert John Bunyon, who was connected with the concern. The elder sister married Bishop Colenso. The works failed, and were closed. Thereupon McDougall, in accordance with a resolve formed at Oxford, took holy orders. He was ordained in 1845 by Dr. Stanley, bishop of Norwich, and became curate first of Farnlingham Pigot, and in 1846 successively of St. Mark's, Lakenham, a populous suburb of Norwich, and of Christ Church, Woburn Square, London. In 1847 he had almost simultaneously the offers of a permanent position at the British Museum, which he could hold with his curacy, and of mission work in Borneo, under the auspices of Sir James Brooke [q. v.], the newly constituted rajah of Sarawak. He chose the former, for the sake of his family, but afterwards repented, and in December 1847 set out for Borneo. Three races were then settled in that part of Borneo in which the McDougalls laboured: the Malays, who had come over from the Malay peninsula on the opposite shore, and were the ruling class; the native Dyaks, and the immigrant Chinese. The Malays were Mahommedans upon whom little impression could be made; but the Dyaks and the Chinese, especially the Dyaks, were much more promising. McDougall found his medical Knowledge of great service. Medical missions were not then understood; and he had to explain to the supporters of the mission that in using his medical skill he was not going out of his proper sphere as a Christian. With the invaluable aid of Mrs. McDougall he established what was termed a 'Home School,' in which children were trained from infancy in the principles of Christianity. In 1853 he returned home in order to manage the transfer of the mission from the Borneo Mission Society, whose funds came to an end, to the Society for Propagating the Gospel which adopted it. In 1854 he was back again in Sarawak. The work of the mission grew, and as more clergy and catechists came to take part in it, need was felt for a properly constituted head. After many difficulties, McDougall was appointed bishop, taking his title at first, not from Sarawak, where the bulk of his work lay, but from the small island of Labuan, off its coast. Sarawak was a native state under an English rajah; Labuan was the only spot in those seas under the immediate control of the colonial office, and it was then thought impossible to erect a bishopric beyond the dominions of the crown. He was consecrated at Calcutta on St. Luke's Day, 1855. This was the first consecration that had taken place out of England, and it was by special commission from the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Bishop of Calcutta (Dr. Daniel Wilson). McDougall had many trials; his children died, his own health and that of his wife were impaired, though they both remained bravely at their post when others deserted it; and an insurrection of the Chinese in 1856 nearly swept away all the good work that had been done.

In 1862 McDougall's position was seriously imperilled. He accompanied Captain Brooke, the rajah's nephew, who was then taking his uncle's place at Sarawak on a three months' cruise. On their way the ship was attacked by pirates, who far outnumbered them. Every available man was of the utmost importance. The bishop felt it his 'stern duty' to take part in the combat. He fought bravely, and applied his medical skill to dress the wounds of his comrades. Unfortunately he sent an account of the affray to the 'Times,' in which he adopted rather too bellicose a tone. 'My double-barrelled Terry's breech-loader,' he wrote, 'proved itself a most deadly weapon for its true shooting and certainty and rapidity of firing.' The Bishop of London (Dr. Tait) shrewdly told McDougall, 'The letter will soon be forgotten; but when you next get into a similar encounter, you must get your wife to write about it.'

The bishop's troubles did not interfere with his work. Converts both among the Dyaks and Chinese increased. In three consecutive years, 1864, 1865, and 1866, the bishop held diocesan synods of all his clergy. He rewrote a 'Malay Prayer-book,' which he had published through the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge in 1857, and prepared 'A Catechism for the use of the Missions of the Church in Borneo,' which was published in 1868. Meanwhile his health had in 1867 compelled him to return to England, and in the spring of 1868 he resigned his bishopric. Dean Stanley presented him to the vicarage of Godmanchester (1868), where he formed a close friendship with the bishop of the diocese, Dr. Harold Browne, who made him archdeacon of Huntingdon in 1870, and canon of Ely in 1871. When Dr. Browne was translated from Ely to Winchester, he took McDougall with him, giving him a canonry at Winchester in 1873, and the archdeaconry of the Isle of Wight in 1874. To these he added in 1886 the small vicarage of Milford. There he died on 16 Nov. 1886. Mrs. McDougall, who published 'Letters from Sarawak on Borneo,' 1854, and 'Sketches of our Life at Sarawak,' 1882, predeceased him on 7 May 188a

[Memoirs of Francis Thomas McDougall, sometime Bishop of Labuan and Sarawak, and of Harriette his wife, by her brother, Charles John Bunyon, 1889; Sketches of our life in Sarawak, by Harriette McDougall, 1883; Letters from Sarawak, addressed to a child (Harriette McDougall, about 1854).]

J. H. O.