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Arnold, Ellen (1858 - 1931)

5 July 1858
Aston, Warwickshire, England
9 July 1931
Ataikola, East Bengal, India
Missionary and Teacher


Ellen Arnold was the first missionary to serve with an Australian Baptist missionary society.


Ellen Arnold migrated with her family to Adelaide, South Australia, in 1879. Her father was Alfred Arnold, a jeweller and Congregational lay preacher. Ellen joined the Flinders Street Baptist Church and trained at Adelaide Teachers' College in 1880. After a brief teaching stint, she applied to the South Australian Baptist Missionary Society and departed for Faridpur, India, in October 1882. She and her friend Marie Gilbert were the society's first Australian workers. Arnold returned to Australia to convalesce in 1884, but was back in Bengal by 1885 with four new female recruits for the society. She supervised medical, educational and building projects before shifting to Comilla in 1886 on behalf of the New South Wales Baptist Missionary Society. In 1892, Arnold moved to Pabna where she spent a good portion of her life preaching and setting up schools and dispensaries in the villages of Atailkola and Bera. She played an active part in forming the East Bengal Baptist Union. In 1919 she declined to accept the Kaiser-I-Hind medal for public service in India. After a brief return to Australia in 1930, Arnold returned to Ataikola where she continued her voluntary work until her death in 1931.

Sources used to compile this entry: Ball, G. B., 'Arnold, Ellen (1858-1931)', in Australian Dictionary of Biography Online, Australian National University, 2006,; Dickey, Brian (ed.), Australian Dictionary of Evangelical Biography, Evangelical History Association, Sydney, 1994.

Barbara Lemon

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