Was it Heredity or Environment?

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Why Did Four Lathrop Sisters from One Norwich, Connecticut Family (with Scudder Ancestry)
Each Decide to Give Their Lives to Missionary Service in Faraway Ceylon [now Sri Lanka]?

When someone does something out of the ordinary, especially when they engage in a cause bigger than themselves for which they know they may give up their lives, curiosity begs to explore their motivations and what influences formed their decisions. In the previous issue of the Scudder Family Historical & Biographical Journal  we shared our unanticipated discovery about family relationships among Dr. John Scudder’s fellow traveling companions en route to the Ceylon Mission in 1819. It was a surprise to us to find that there was a Scudder descendant among three out of the four missionary couples. The finding was the result of curiosity to know who the other missionary couples were with Dr. John and Harriet (Waterbury) Scudder that would not only would share the long voyage but also the work and trials of the Ceylon Mission in its early days.

As noted in the previous Journal issue, the family relationship between Dr. John Scudder and his second cousin Lydia (Middleton) Woodward was likely known to them for they shared a great-grandfather, but each had volunteered for missionary service independent of the other.[1]

We had found nothing in print to indicate that the Scudder family heritage held in common between Dr. John Scudder and Harriet Wadsworth (Lathrop) Winslow, the wife of Rev. Miron Winslow, had been previously noted elsewhere.[2] We shared that surprising detail in articles in the June 2019 issue of our journal. While some may view the relationship between Dr. John Scudder and Mrs. Harriet Winslow to be somewhat remote, it is relevant when one considers the power of family and cultural heritage as significant influences that may have prepared them to be receptive to the idea of foreign missionary service. With this realization that six of the eight missionaries bound for Ceylon were Scudders by blood or marriage, we suggest that the numerical total of “Scudder” missionaries to Ceylon and India previously given in histories appropriately needs revision.

Pursuing this story one step further next uncovered that Harriet Wadsworth (Lathrop) Winslow had three younger sisters who also served in the Ceylon Mission. This means there are another three Scudder descendant missionaries, plus their husbands, to add to the total of Scudder extended family members who served in the Indian subcontinent. In this issue of the Scudder Family Historical & Biographical Journal we explore the heredity and cultural environment of the four Lathrop/Scudder missionary sisters who exemplify in great degree the Scudder spirit of service to others. December 2019 Journal issue’s articles will include:

“Who Was Joanna (Leffingwell) Lathrop, ‘Missionary Mother’ of the Other ‘Scudder’ Missionary Family to Ceylon? Who Was Deacon Charles Lathrop?”  http://scudder.org/who-was-joanna-leffingwell-lathrop

“The American Lothrop/Lathrop Story Begins with Rev. John1 Lothrop’s Escape from the Clink” https://scudder.org/the-american-lathrop-story-begins

“Samuel Lathrop and Elizabeth (Scudder) Lathrop: Barnstable, New London and Norwich” https://scudder.org/samuel-elizabeth

“Who Was Miron Winslow’s Second Wife?” [coming soon]

“The Three Sons of Henry Scudder, Yeoman of Horton Kirby, Kent continued: Correction #2.   https://scudder.org/correction-2-henry-scudder

“Correction #2 Thomas Scudder (T), Immigrant, Did Not Marry Elizabeth Lowers!. She was Another Man’s Wife!”  https://scudder.org/correction-2-thomas-scudder/

“Will of Henry Scudder of North Cray, Kent, 1641, Husband of Elizabeth Lowers”

“Will of John Lowers, 1650, brother of Elizabeth (Lowers) Scudder of North Cray.”


[1] Margery Boyden, “Did Dr. John Scudder Know He had Two Scudder Missionary Cousins Aboard the Indus, 1819?” Scudder Family Historical and Biographical Journal, Scudder Association Foundation, volume 1, no. 2 (June 2019), https://scudder.org/did-dr-john-know/.

[2] Margery Boyden, “Harriet Wadsworth (Lathrop) Winslow: the Third ‘Scudder’ Cousin on the Indus,” Scudder Family Historical and Biographical Journal, Scudder Association Foundation, volume 1, no. 2 (June 2019), https://scudder.org/harriet-wadsworth/.


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