14 - Promotion to Glory




by Margaret du Plessis


PROMOTION TO GLORY - Sunday midnight, 26 February 1887



Commissioner Frederick Tucker was 34 years old when his wife, Louisa Mary passed away at home in Bombay. He had been visiting and campaigning in Ceylon and on his return journey, travelling overland and nearing home, he received the news of her death. This must have come as a great shock to him. Who was there to comfort him? Did he shed tears? Little did he know that he would arrive too late to see her for the last time. Because of the intense heat and humidity in Bombay, it was important that burials took place almost immediately after death. His dear wife was buried before he reached home.

The Late Mrs Tucker - The Final Parting 1887

A few months after her death, Tucker wrote a letter addressed to ‘My Dear Comrades’. This was published in ‘ALL THE WORLD’.[1]

My Dear Comrades,

I am sure that I shall have your fullest sympathy with me in my bereavement and that you will pray for me that I may have grace to say, “The Lord has given and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord for ever.” The blow falls upon me the more heavily that I was not at the side of my dear wife during her last hours.

My life since joining the Salvation Army has been so irregular, and so much of my time has been spent in rough pioneering, that we have been very much separated. No one can guess the bitter sorrow of those long partings to both of us. I had now thought they were drawing to a close, and that the regular establishment of our work and the creation of a large staff of devoted officers would necessitate my constant presence in Bombay. She had eagerly looked forward to the same thing; but God has prepared her a better home – a mansion not made with hands.

The news of her death reached me in Raichore (Karnataka) when I was on my way to Bombay, and I was too late even for the funeral. It is a great consolation to me to know that her end was so peaceful. She passed away so quietly that those who were round her could scarcely believe that she was gone. It seemed as if her eyes were fixed upon something which she could see in the other world. There was no terror in the look, but a beautiful smile. She literally “fell asleep” with the same expression on her face.

All day Sunday, she had an unusually calm and heavenly look, and to the last she was quite conscious. Her only reason for wishing to live was that she might be a better picture of Jesus than she had been, and almost her last words were “Jesus is present! I am ready!” The two last songs which she got Mrs Taylor and others to sing to her were – “Jesus lover of my soul” and “Draw me nearer.”

My heart is very full. I need your prayers.

May my own sorrows enable me the better to “weep with those who weep.”

Comrades, pray for me.

Your loving Comrade,

Fakeer Singh

The Funeral - Monday 27 February 1887

On Monday afternoon the remains of Mrs Tucker, the much loved wife of our dear Commissioner, who laid down the Cross and took the Crown on Sunday at midnight, were carried to their last resting place in Sewree Cemetery. We met at Marine Lines and had a consecrating time around the coffin. The hymn “Jesus Lover of my Soul” was given by Colonel Taylor, after which Captains Chakerbutty and Moore led us in prayer.

We sang on our knees the glorious and bright experiences of our departed sister,

“I will love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death,

I’ll praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath,

I’ll say when the death dew lies cold on my brow,

If ever I loved Thee my Jesus ‘tis now.”

And then Colonel Taylor concluded.

We then went to the cemetery (Sewree Christian Cemetery) going through the native part of the town. Arriving at the cemetery our printers (Anglo – Vernacular Press, Bombay ) carried the coffin to the grave, and whilst waiting for Rev. Dr. Stone (who was delayed on the road) who was to conduct the service, we sang, “Above the waves of earthly strife,” with the chorus “My beautiful home.”

Reverend Dr. Stone prayed most feelingly for God’s blessing to be upon Commissioner Tucker, who was on his way to Bombay from Ceylon (Sri Lanka), and for The Salvation Army, and also for the unsaved. He said he had known Mrs Tucker for a long time, and she had often been the means of blessing to his own soul. Some people might have looked upon her life as a wasted one, because she had left a high place in society to come and work among the lowest, but he was sure it was not wasted.

There were many lying around them in that cemetery to whom death had been a sting and over whom the grave had the victory, but with our departed sister the case was different, the sting of death had been taken away and over the grave she had complete victory.

We then committed the body “earth to earth, dust to dust, ashes to ashes”, and left the spot, more determined than ever to devote our lives to the salvation of the dying world. Almost the last words of Mrs Tucker were these – “Jesus is present, I am ready.” Oh! What a glorious death-bed experience!

Conclusion and acknowledgements:

We are indebted to the scribe, Sena Putra for a detailed account of Mrs Tucker’s funeral.

I shall never forget the visit to the Christian Sewree Cemetery when we discovered the exact place where she was buried. I felt disappointed that there was no tombstone and no memorial to remind us of Mrs Major Tucker, the first missionary English officer to die in India.

Following that visit I returned to London with an urge to discover more about Tucker’s first wife. I read on microfilm the International War Crys published in London for the years 1882 – 1887 and excitedly photocopied and typed any article that included the words ‘Mrs Major Tucker’.

I soon found myself referring to Mrs Major Tucker as a second Catherine Booth. ‘Louisa Mary’ soon became a household name and friends kindly listened as I excitedly passed on the latest information discovered in yet another War Cry. Increasingly I came to understand that her gifts were similar to Catherine Booth’s gifts of preaching, evangelism, writer and one who was at ease among the rich and the poor, visiting prisoners and those who were dying at home.



[1]   In the May 1887 edition of All the World -  International Headquarters