Harriet Wadsworth (Lathrop) Winslow: the Third “Scudder” Cousin on the Indus

by Margery Boyden, Scudder Association Foundation Historian.

Harriet Wadsworth Lathrop Winslow image

Harriet Wadsworth Lathrop Winslow[1]

It is well known to history that the Scudders and Winslows commenced their missions to Ceylon together. What is not well advertized is that Rev. Miron Winslow’s wife, Harriet Wadsworth (Lathrop) Winslow, of Norwich, Connecticut was a distant cousin to Dr. John Scudder. Mrs. Harriet Winslow actually had more Scudder ancestors than Dr. John Scudder had. Harriet (Lathrop) Winslow was three times descended from Puritan immigrant Elizabeth2 Scudder (E), (John1, HenryA)[i] and her husband Samuel2 Lathrop (Rev. John1)—twice on her paternal line and descended again of this same couple once on her maternal line.[2]

Harriet Wadsworth (Lathrop) Winslow was born 9 April 1796 at Norwich, Connecticut to Charles Lathrop and Joanna Leffingwell.[3] Harriet’s parents were 2nd cousins once removed and both descended from the immigrant ancestor Elizabeth2 Scudder (E) (John1, HenryA), who married Samuel2 Lathrop (Rev. John1) 28 November 1644 at Barnstable, Massachusetts. Elizabeth2’s immigration to New England likely occurred with her mother before the end of the Puritan migration by 1640/41, about five years after her brother John2 arrived in 1635. Elizabeth2 (Scudder) Lathrop and her husband Samuel moved to New London, Connecticut in 1648 and then to nearby Norwich by 1668.[4]

In this diagram, all Scudder ancestors from whom Harriet (Lathrop) Winslow descends at least twice are highlighted in yellow. Harriet’s parents are highlighted in green. Note that there are five additional Scudder-Lathrop ancestors named on this chart from whom Harriet descends only once: Israel3, Nathaniel4, Thomas4, Rebecca4 and Lydia5 Lathrop. As this chart indicates, many of the descendants of Elizabeth (Scudder) Lathrop and her husband remained at Norwich.

Elizabeth Scudder Family Chart

Click on Family Chart to Enlarge

Due to her intricate Scudder/Lathrop ancestry, Harriet Wadsworth (Lathrop) Winslow should be considered as much of a Scudder family missionary to Ceylon as any who bore the Scudder surname.  It is appropriate to honor her on this bicentennial anniversary of her departure in 1819.

Mrs. Winslow kept a diary that includes a chronicle of the voyage, described as a “floating Bethel” because of the spiritual revival onboard,[5] but she begins her diary with details of her own earlier, personal spiritual revival in Norwich, Connecticut. She describes the process by which her heart changed to overcome what she calls a bad temper and sometimes being unkind and disobedient towards her mother. As she grew in spiritual knowledge, she became a zealous participant in her church, influential and much admired by her fellow congregants. After her transformation was effected, and while still in her teens, she had already strongly felt that she was called by the Spirit to be a missionary to India when of sufficient age.[6]

Harriet’s husband, Miron Winslow, was born at Williston, Vermont, in December 1790, the son of Nathaniel and Anna Kellog. His brief biography states: “Both of his parents were pious, and they consecrated him to God in baptism. He was a subject of serious impressions from his childhood.” His parents educated him to be a merchant. At twenty-one, he moved to Norwich, Connecticut, to start his own business. There he met Harriet and observed her in action as a dedicated Christian disciple. He must have liked what he saw.

Miron had his own deep conversion process and thereafter wrote to his parents that he had a desire and “strong conviction of duty to renounce his worldly prospects” and to turn his life over to the service of Jesus Christ. He felt that this would necessitate more education. In 1816, Miron became a student at the Theological Seminary at Andover and received a Master’s degree at Yale College in 1818.

Miron was ordained as a missionary in the Tabernacle Church in Salem, Massachusetts in November of 1818 with Messrs. Spaulding and Woodward.[7] Having observed Harriet’s spiritual stamina, when Miron Winslow accepted his call to missionary service in Ceylon, he knew he wanted Harriet Wadsworth Lathrop to be his companion. From her viewpoint, Miron and his dedication to fulltime missionary service to Ceylon well suited her desire to be a missionary to India that was kindled when she was a teenager.

After each of the two families arrived in Ceylon, Mrs. Harriet Scudder and Mrs. Harriet Winslow were in a short time stationed about 17 kilometers apart, close enough to continue to forge strong bonds and to meet together for prayer meetings and in cooperative efforts in their mission work.

A street in Ceylon[8]

In her journal, Harriet Winslow records on 16 January 1820 that she and Harriet Scudder “went with one of the Wesleyan brethren to two of his schools this morning and were much gratified by their appearance.” The Wesleyan brethren had 12 schools in and around Colombo, but Harriet Winslow notes her concern that these learned men used language that talked over the heads of the children they taught and was convinced that to avoid this problem, females should be employed in instructing the young pupils.[9]

Three days after this outing, Harriet Scudder bore her third child, a second Maria Catherine Scudder, who died five days later. This was only two months after burying the first Maria Catherine at Calcutta. The Winslows had their first son, Charles, a year later in January of 1821.

The Oodooville Girls Boarding School, date unstated but prior to 1890 main building

The Oodooville Girls Boarding School, date unstated but prior to 1890.[10]

Oodooville was also known as Uduvil. Although by then the mother of two, in 1824, Harriet Winslow followed through on her vision that women were well suited to teach the young. She founded the Uduvil Girls’ School in Jaffna which was the first girls’ boarding school in all of Asia and became its first principal. This is a remarkable credential for any woman, but especially in her era and at Ceylon and is a credit to Harriet’s vision, determination and skills.

Mrs. Harriet Winslow served for 14 years at Jaffna, Ceylon where she bore six children, all of whom were Scudder descendants too. Harriet Winslow’s second and fourth children died very young in Ceylon. Charles Lathrop Winslow was born 1821; Harriet Maria was born 1822, d. 1825; Joanna Lathrop Winslow was born 1825; George Morton Winslow was born 1827, died 1828; Harriet Lathrop Winslow was born 19 April 1829; and Elizabeth Coit Winslow was born 1831. Harriet was skilled at running the girls’ school and her own busy household.

Meanwhile, Harriet Scudder’s fortunes had improved. Though her 4th child William Brainard Scudder, born in March 1821, lived only three days, by 1831 Harriet Scudder had 7 more children who did survive. With these 7 children, age 10 and younger, Harriet Scudder also had a busy household to manage as well as her mission duties. Although stationed a few kilometers apart, the two Harriets were a comfort to one another during this demanding phase of life as the year 1832 drew to its close.

But tragedy struck the Winslows, not once but thrice. Harriet Winslow’s diary and letters to her mother not only describe her trials but also give a firsthand view of life in the mission field of Ceylon. The first hard blow was the death of her eldest son, Charles Lathrop Winslow, May 24, 1832 at New York City. He died at age 11, just months after leaving his parents for schooling in America. Prior to receiving knowledge of his death, Harriet wrote of the pain of this separation:

April 22d, 1832.–Near the close of the last year, we were called to prepare our beloved son to go to America. Many a heart-rending pang did I experience; but I think I was graciously supported by Him who can do all things…. Charles’s feelings were much exercised. Never can I forget some seasons when we were together at the throne of grace. How did he plead that his parents might be ‘supported, and comforted when he should be gone,’ and ‘that he might come back and preach…’ but ’if we should not meet on earth, that we might meet in Heaven.’

We returned home on the 6th of April; and here again my darling boy was nowhere to be found. His little garden, planted with so much care; his dog, of whom he was so fond; every foot of ground in the yard; every article of furniture, and every spot in the house reminded me of him. We now hope, as he has been absent three months, that he is near the American shores.[11]

Principal Harriet Winslow Uduvil Girls School, Jaffna

Principal Harriet Winslow Uduvil Girls School, Jaffna[12]

November 20, 1832.

My Most Beloved Mother,

I scarcely dare trust myself to commence a letter to you; and yet I feel that I must tell you, that we have received the mournful intelligence which has made our hearts bleed as they never did before. The boy who carried my last letter for you, and as I thought for Charles also…on the 4th ult., returned with the heavy tidings. Oh, the anguish of my first feelings!…that he should so soon after reaching our friends, should be taken away, I had not for a moment anticipated. Still the Lord is good, all his dispensations are right…[13]

December 16th.—The Lord has come very near to us since I last wrote, and we have realized in part what was then so much dreaded. Dear Charles is no longer an inhabitant of earth; but is, I trust, before the throne of God and the Lamb. The shock was what few can conceive. Oh, how we loved him—How our expectations were raised concerning his usefulness. But the Lord has not seen as we see….It has made the Savior more precious. Indeed, I think that new views of his character, and of my relation to Him, have been given me.[14]

[Another sheet], “December 10th.—I hoped to fill a long letter to my dear mother, but have not been well…The cholera prevails to an alarming extent in the district. Very many have been carried off by it, and the consternation of the people exceeds all that I have known before….

I have said we are invalids. Soon after the afflictive tidings reached us, Mr. W. had an attack of something like cholera, from which he recovered but slowly. While he was still confined, Eliza and Harriet were also taken sick, and for a few days were very ill. As soon as Mr. W. was able to go so far, we took them to the sea-side, and spent about a week; when all returned home much better.[15]

If these were not enough trials, Harriet continues:

On Monday following, Mr. W. and I went to the monthly prayer-meeting at Batticotta. On returning home in a small wagon…the horse took fright, and plunged down a steep embankment of the road, overturning the wagon. I fell on Mr. W., and was thus saved from much harm to myself, but injured his side and breast. Dr. S[cudder] came and bled us, and we kept our bed and room for some days. Mr. W.’s side is still painful, and he has now a cold on his lungs. So the Lord is pleased to keep us in the furnace. We are slow to learn, and may need further discipline; more even than we have had.

When Mr. W. was so ill, I thought I could bear any thing but his removal, even that of all my children; and when, as he was recovering and H. and E. were attacked, I began to fear that the Lord was about to accept of my choice, and remove them.[16]

Of course Harriet Winslow would worry about cholera. She had already lost her eldest daughter Hannah Maria to cholera in November of 1825.[17]

In the pages of the Memoir of his wife Harriet, Miron Winslow observes that in early January 1833, “In expectation of her confinement concerning which she was for no apparent reason, uncommonly doubtful, she made her preparations much as she would have had she known the result; and that she should be unable at last even to bid any one farewell.” Reflecting on how her trials had spiritually prepared her “for passing over Jordan,” Miron also records how she left a farewell letter for him, hints for her children and instructions for managing the household, the missionary station and the school.[18]

Tamil Girls in a Boarding School

Tamil Girls in a Boarding School[19]

After severe complications incident to illness and childbirth, Harriet Winslow died at Oodooville, Jaffna in the early morning of 14 January 1833. This loss left Reverend Winslow without a companion and with three surviving motherless children while an ocean away from his relatives. Mrs. Harriet Scudder too must have keenly felt the loss of her friend. One wonders if the motherless Winslow children may have sometimes been among the 40 “mostly orphans”.[20] that were “looked after” in the Scudder household. Winslow left for America about eight months after his wife’s death with his three little daughters and seven other female children of other missionaries to be educated and cared for by relatives.[21]

Harriet Wadsworth (Lathrop) Winslow died before the arrival of three of her Lathrop sisters who over the next few years also engaged in missionary service in Ceylon or in India. The first to come was Elizabeth Coit (Lathrop) Hutchings, who was Mrs. Samuel Hutchins/Hutchings. The Hutchings came with the new reinforcements for the mission in the October following Harriet’s death.[22]

The August issue of the Scudder Biographical & Genealogical Journal will share how Harriet Winslow’s Lathrop sisters from Norwich, Connecticut add to the list of Scudder descendants who served missions to Ceylon and India. These other missionary daughters of Charles Lathrop and Joanna Leffingwell were just as thoroughly “Scudders” as Harriet (Lathrop) Winslow. (See diagram above). Harriet’s sisters, are named in this 1837 death notice for their sister Charlotte Huntington (Lathrop) Cherry, wife of Rev. Henry Cherry.[23]

Charlotte Lathrop Cherry Death Notice

Click on Obituary to read the detail better

Harriet Winslow’s death would eventually bring Rev. Winslow even closer in family relationship to Dr. John and Harriet Scudder and create for Harriet Scudder a sweet mercy she did not foresee when she bade her good-byes to her family at New York.


“More about Harriet Wadsworth (Lathrop) Winslow’s Missionary Family,”

ALSO NEXT ISSUE, “Miron Winslow and His 2nd Wife.”


[i] The letter “A” is not an initial but a generational designation.This will assist in clearing up some confusion in print about the relationships among the immigrants. HenryA’s sons Rev. Henry1, Thomas1 and John1 will share the same generational number “1” to show their proper relationships. Therefore, their children will be generation “2”. There has been confusion about the relationships between Thomas1 (T), John2 (J) and Elizabeth2 (E) because of their immigrant ancestor status designating them as “American Scudder generation 1” to each of their descendant lines but they were not the same generation in the family structure.
[1] Miron Winslow, Harriet Lathrop Winslow, A Memoir of Mrs. Harriet Wadsworth Winslow, Combining a Sketch of the Ceylon Mission, (1835), Front Matter.
[2] E. B. Huntington, A Genealogical Memoir of the Lo-Lathrop Family in this Country, 38, 46–47, 57–61, 73-74, 78–80, 108, 152–153. Mrs. Winslow was also related to another later Scudder missionary, David Coit Scudder on at least the Coit, Lathrop, Leffingwell and Scudder family lines. See Scudder Ancestors in America Genealogical Database, scudderancestorsinamerica.com.
[3] Huntington, 152. See also “John and Elizabeth Scudder Once Again,” Scudder Searches, Scudder Association, volume V, no. 2, (Summer 1993): 3–6. This issue corrects Elizabeth’s personal data and should supersede all prior publications by the Scudder Association. A more full treatment about Elizabeth will appear in a near future issue of Scudder Family Historical & Biographical Journal.
[4] Huntington, 38–40.
[5] Jared B. Waterbury, Memoir of Rev. John Scudder, 3.
[6] Ceylon Missionary Report, 1826.
[7] Leonard Woods, Memoirs of American Missionaries, Formerly Connected with the Society of Inquiry Respecting Missions, in the Andover Theological Seminary, (Boston: Peirce and Parker, 1833), 104–106.
[8] “A Street in Ceylon Lined with Tamarind, Cocoanut, and Other Trees, “ image from Mary Leitch, Seven Years in Ceylon: stories of mission life, (New York: American Tract Society, 1890), 61.
[9] Winslow, 127.
[10] “The Oodooville Girls Boarding School,” image from Leitch, 73.
[11] Winslow, 372.
[12] United States Embassy, Sri Lanka, http://www.slembassyusa.org/srilanka_us_relations/historical_context.html.
[13] Winslow, 373.
[14] Ibid.
[15] Winslow, 377.
[16] Ibid.
[17] “American Board of Missions. Cases of sickness and of death in the mission families of Ceylon,” The Missionary Herald, volume XXII, no. 6, (June 1826), 197.
[18] Winslow, 385.
[19] “Tamil Girls in a Boarding School,” image from Leitch, 117.
[20] Dr. D. C. Ambalavanar, “John Scudder, Physician and Missionary,” Columbia Medicine Magazine, Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, http://www.columbiamedicinemagazine.org/webextra/spring-2017/node%3Atitle%5D-1.
[21] Winslow, 401.
[22] Birth and death dates for George Henry Woodward are given in William Park Armstrong, The Princeton Theological Review, (1903), 109.
[23] Death of Mrs. Charlotte Lathrop Cherry, Obituary, New York Journal of Commerce. Death Notice, New York Journal of Commerce, New York City, N.Y. The New York Journal of Commerce was published from 1827–1893.

©Scudder Association Foundation, June, 2019 All rights reserved

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