February 05, 2020

The Cambridge Seven

Stephen Nichols
The Cambridge Seven

In 1885, seven British aristocrats committed themselves to delivering the gospel to the ends of the earth. On this episode of 5 Minutes in Church History, Dr. Stephen Nichols presents the men who have been called the Dream Team of Missions.


Montagu Harry Proctor Beauchamp. Stanley P. Smith. Arthur and Cecil Polhill-Turner. Dixon Edward Hoste. William Wharton Cassels. Charles Thomas Studd, a.k.a. C.T. Studd.

These men have been called the Cambridge Seven. They’ve also been called the Dream Team of Missions. They were all British aristocrats, educated in Britain’s finest boarding schools. They all hailed from some of the finest families of England. All, except one, went to Cambridge University and the various colleges there as undergrads. In February 1885, the Cambridge Seven boarded a boat headed to China. They had all been accepted as missionaries in the China Inland Mission, the mission founded by Hudson Taylor.

C.T. Studd was the most famous of the Cambridge Seven. His father inherited money, but also made a fortune manufacturing indigo. C.T. was sent off to Eaton and then to Cambridge. The Studds had manor homes as well as a London house in the exclusive Hyde Park Gardens neighborhood. There were eleven children in the Studd family, and three of the brothers excelled at cricket. C.T. was the best of the three.

After Eaton, C.T. Studd went to Cambridge, and he played for England’s national team. But he heard the gospel and was converted. His father had been converted by hearing Dwight L. Moody preach at a crusade in London, and a few years later C.T. Studd was converted. He wanted to give his life to foreign missions, and so he went with his Cambridge colleagues to China.

He’s known for two memorable sayings: “Only one life, ’twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last,” and “Some want to live within the sound of church or chapel bell. I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell.”

So he went off to China.

While he was in China, he married Priscilla. They had four daughters. After his time in China he was a missionary in India for about six years, planting a church and pastoring. He would later turn his heart and his attention to Africa. He established The Heart of Africa Mission, which would become the World Evangelisation Crusade, or WEC International. Belgian Congo served as home base for work in Africa. C.T. Studd died in 1931, in the Belgian Congo.

What happened to the other six of the Cambridge Seven? When they landed in China in 1885, they split up into two groups. The two brothers, Arthur and Cecil Polhill-Turner, went with C.T. Studd. Arthur would end up working in Dazhou, in China. He established the Gospel Hall there as well as a hospital, among other things. He died in 1935. His brother Cecil also served in China. He died in 1938.

Montagu Proctor Beauchamp was the son of a baron, and when his older brother died, he inherited the title. He served in China for about fifteen years, and then as a chaplain to British forces in World War I, in Egypt and Russia.

Stanley Smith was on the rowing team at Cambridge. He landed in China in 1885, and worked there until 1931. He preached right up until the night before he died, in 1931.

Dixon Hoste had a legacy of a long missionary service. He was held in a Japanese internment camp in Shanghai during World War II. After the war he returned to England, and died the next year, in 1946.

William Wharton Cassels saw much of the world. He was born in Portugal, educated in Cambridge, and then from 1885 to 1925 ministered in China, where he died.