Translate Page

Leonora Howard King (1851-1925)

Medical missionary to China

Howard, Leonora (Leonora Howard King) (1851 ~ 1925)

A native of Ontario, Canada, Howard graduated in 1676 from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, her medical education having been paid for by the Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society (WFMS) of the Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1877, she went to Peking (Beijing) under WFMS auspices and took charge of the Peking hospital. In March 1879, she was called to Tientsin (Tianjin) to care for Lady Li hung Chang, wife of the viceroy. Lady Li, having recovered, wanted Howard to remain in Tientsin. The viceroy had turned a temple into a medical dispensary under the auspices of the London Missionary Society (LMS), and as an inducement to stay, the viceroy proposed that Howard open a women’s ward.

In 1881, the Methodists opened the Isabella Fisher Hospital (named after the mother of the principal donor, in Baltimore, Maryland) in Tientsin. Howard managed the hospital until her 1884 marriage to Alexander M. King of the LMS, which ended her connection with WFMS. The Kings remained in China; she maintained her contacts with the vice-regal families and then with the Nationalist government until her death, although she never became an official LMS missionary.

By Susan E. Warrick, Independent Scholar in United Methodist Missions History, Madison, New Jersey, USA

This article is reprinted from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, Macmillan Reference USA, copyright 1998 Gerald H. Anderson, by permission of The Gale Group; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved. It is taken, with permission, from the Biographical Dictionary of Chinese Christianity.


Margaret Negodaeff-Tomsik, The Good Fight is a full-length biography (1994).

Information about Howard can also be found in Frances J. Baker, The Story of the Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society (1896) and in Mary Isham, Valorous Ventures (1936).

United Methodist Communications is an agency of The United Methodist Church

©2023 United Methodist Communications. All Rights Reserved