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Biographical entry Schofield, Robert Harold Ainsworth (1851 - 1883)

MRCS May 23rd 1877; FRCS June 13th 1878; BA, BSc Lond; BA Oxon 1873; MA, MB Oxon 1877.

1 August 1883
Tai-Yuen-Fu, Shansi, China
Missionary surgeon


The third son of Robert Schofield, of Heybrook, Rochdale, by his second wife, Mary Ainsworth Taylor. His eldest brother was Alfred T Schofield, MD, MRCS Edin, well known as a general practitioner and writer. Robert was educated at the Old Trafford School, near Manchester, and at Owens College, where he obtained the Victoria Scholarship in Classics. He took the degrees of BA and BSc London, and was then elected an Associate of Owens College. He obtained an Exhibition at Lincoln College, Oxford, where he entered in October, 1870, matriculating on the 18th of the month as a Member of the University. His college career was brilliant. He took a 1st Class in Natural Science in 1873, and the same year won the Junior Greek Testament Prize.

He was elected Burdett-Coutts Scholar in 1874 and obtained the Radcliffe Travelling Fellowship in 1876. After graduating BA in 1878, he acted as Demonstrator in the Museum of Comparative Anatomy under Professor George Rolleston. The same year, 1873, he gained the Open Scholarship in Natural Science at St Bartholomew's Hospital, and so vigorously prosecuted his medical studies that he won successively the Foster Scholarship in Anatomy, the Junior and Senior Scholarships in their respective years, the Brackenbury Medical Scholarship, and the Lawrence Scholarship and Gold Medal.

As Radcliffe Travelling Fellow he proceeded to Vienna and Prague in 1877, to follow his studies. During the war between Servia and Turkey he volunteered to serve as a surgeon in the Red Cross Society (National Aid Society), and was put in charge of the Hospital at Belgrade while the campaign lasted, and the year after he served in a like capacity on the Turkish side during the Russo-Turkish War. Returning to St Bartholomew's on the expiration of his Fellow¬ship, he was successively House Surgeon and House Physician.

He now announced his intention of entering the medical mission field, and to that resolve, in spite of all opposition, he steadfastly adhered. After his marriage he embarked for China in the spring of 1880. He was associated as a medical missionary with the China Inland Mission under J Hudson Taylor, MRCS. He first took up his residence at Chefoo, and later was sent to Tai-Yuen-Fu, in Shansi, far to the north-west of China. There, labouring in his vocation at the mission station, now the Schofield Memorial Hospital, he died of typhus on Aug 1st, 1883, and his brother states that 'his astral body' appeared on the same night to his sisters at the foot of their bed, though they were a thousand miles away and had no knowledge of his death until some months afterwards.

Schofield was respected by all who knew him. The charm of his personal character was very great; transparent simplicity of thought and speech, a gentleness and amiability almost feminine, and a power of sympathy that was practically unbounded, were united to abilities of the highest order, a clear judgement, and a determination of unswerving firmness.

He was a Fellow of the Obstetrical Society, London, and his London address was 28 Cambridge Gardens, W.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Nias's Dr John Radcliffe, Oxford, 1918, 92, 93. Dr Alfred T Schofield's Behind the Brass Plate, London, 1828, 25, 80, 81].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England