Tidbury, August Charles (1878–1951)

By Michael W. Campbell

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Michael W. Campbell, Ph.D., is North American Division Archives, Statistics, and Research director. Previously, he was professor of church history and systematic theology at Southwestern Adventist University. An ordained minister, he pastored in Colorado and Kansas. He is assistant editor of The Ellen G. White Encyclopedia (Review and Herald, 2013) and currently is co-editor of the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Seventh-day Adventism. He also taught at the Adventist International Institute for Advanced Studies (2013-18) and recently wrote the Pocket Dictionary for Understanding Adventism (Pacific Press, 2020).

First Published: November 28, 2021

While the conversion and early missionary efforts of Tidbury are not as well known in Adventist historiography, he was an early self-supporting educator who contributed in a significant way to the early founding of Adventist missionary work in Hong Kong and Canton, China. Such efforts were often collaborative, self-supporting, and worked under the aegis of the first official missionaries.

August Charles Tidbury was born July 26, 1878, in Swindon Wilts, United Kingdom. He was an engineer officer in the British Royal Navy, which he started on July 13, 1900.1 In April 1901 he married a Belgium woman, Marie Vanden Vinns (1875-1944) in Portsmouth, Hampshire. The couple would have two sons, Charles (1910-1937) and George (1913-2004). He was one of the young men on the H.M.S. Terrible. He learned about the Adventist message through the efforts of Abram La Rue (1822-1903) in 1902 from whom he bought a copy of Bible Readings. As he described the experience:

One evening shortly after my arrival in Hong Kong in 1901, a fellow engineer asked me to go ashore with him to visit an old gentleman that he knew. I followed my friend to Arsenal Street and had the privilege of meeting Brother La Rue, who afterward had such a great influence on my life and plans. We had an interesting visit for an hour or so, and as we were preparing to leave, Brother La Rue gave me a tract entitled “Immortality of the Soul.” As I first read this leaflet I thought, “This is some new-fangled American idea,” but as I read it again, I said to myself, “This seems to be sound and sensible.” As I studied this tract further, I came to the conclusion that since the Seventh-day Adventists seemed to be right on the question of the nature of man, they were perhaps right on other points of doctrine also. However, I did not want to become an Adventist, as it would be inconvenient and would interfere with my work. But through Bible readings given me by La Rue, and through reading the literature which he gave me from time to time, I was later forced to lay aside my preconceived ideas and accept the truth for this time.2

Two of the other young men were a W. J. Young (d. 1941) and David Morrison (1880-1950), who later became ordained ministers in England. In 1904 Tidbury was baptized in Canton, China, with N. P. Keh (Ziying Guo) (1865-1927). Afterward he and his wife remained in Canton where for the next two years they helped establish an Adventist missionary presence. Tidbury was involved in the formative years of the Canton Boys’ School established by Edwin Wilbur3 and which was termed “Anglo-Chinese School” by J. N. Anderson.4 On August 11, 1904, he began teaching the “advanced classes” with J. N. Anderson and two Chinese teachers in the Canton Boys’ School with additional tutoring of English in the morning and evening. By March 1905 these early efforts at forming a school more formally organized into two separate schools taught in Chinese and English. While it is unclear when Tidbury left Canton, after about two or three years he took a job with a large European firm where he spent significant amounts of time in either Singapore or Borneo where he remained an active church member for the rest of his life. In the 1930s and 1940s (including World War II) they were noted as the only European Adventists in Sandakan and attended the Adventist Chinese church there (1939).5 In 1950 he moved to Australia presumably to be closer to his surviving son, George, who lived there.6 He died on February 5, 1951, in Woy Woy, New South Wales, and interred at the crematorium in Rookwood.7

Sources

Anderson, J. N. “China Mission.” Caribbean Watchman, August 1, 1905.

Moon, E. A. “The Reward of Faithfulness.” ARH, December 14, 1939.

Tidbury, A. C. “Personal Testimony.” The China Division Reporter, March 1938.

Wilbur, E. H. “The Boys’ School, Canton, China.” ARH, March 23, 1905.

Notes

  1. United Kingdom Royal Navy Registers of Seamen’s Services, 1848-1939, accessed from Ancestry.com [accessed December 20, 2021].

  2. A. C. Tidbury, “Personal Testimony,” The China Division Reporter, March 1938, 3.

  3. E.H. Wilbur, “The Boys’ School, Canton, China,” ARH, March 23, 1905, 12.

  4. J.N. Anderson, “China Mission”, Caribbean Watchman, August 1, 1905, 10.

  5. E. A. Moon, “Itinerating in British North Borneo and Sarawak,” Far Eastern Division Outlook, November 1939, 5.

  6. See note in Far Eastern Division Outlook, Nov. 1950, 8.

  7. C. C. Cleveland, “Statistics Reveal Progress,” Far Eastern Division Outlook, August 1953, 2; Obituary, Australasian Record, April 2, 1951, 7.

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Campbell, Michael W. "Tidbury, August Charles (1878–1951)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. November 28, 2021. Accessed June 18, 2024. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=HJES.

Campbell, Michael W. "Tidbury, August Charles (1878–1951)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. November 28, 2021. Date of access June 18, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=HJES.

Campbell, Michael W. (2021, November 28). Tidbury, August Charles (1878–1951). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved June 18, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=HJES.