01 - Tucker meets Louisa Mary






by Margaret du Plessis


It was a pleasant evening when we arrived at the Sewree Christian Cemetery in Mumbai, India in 2002. We wondered if this was where Mrs Major Tucker, the first wife of Frederick Tucker, was buried. It was near closing time but the officials at the gatehouse kindly handed us the ancient cemetery records dating back to 1887. We opened the first page and could hardly believe our eyes. Her name was listed near the top of the first page of the register:

27 February 1887 – Louisa Mary Tucker, wife of Commissioner Tucker - plot CS 1 – K – 17.

We walked down the avenue of Cypress trees to the site of burial only to find that her grave had been re-used. There was nothing to show, not even a word, that this was the final resting place of this amazing and courageous woman officer. We stood quietly and gave thanks to God for her life. She still remains almost as unknown as she has been throughout history. I returned to London, determined to carry on researching her story.

Pioneer officers to India

Major Frederick Tucker and three other officers (Captain Bullard, Lieutenants Norman and Mary Thompson) arrived in Bombay (Mumbai) on 19 September 1882 to start the work of the Salvation Army. Actually six Salvationists left London on the ship P&O SS Ancona, calling at Gibraltar and Malta where they held open-air meetings. Sister Jennings was taken ill while passing through the Suez Canal and Major Tucker asked his wife, Mrs Major Tucker, to accompany Sister Jennings back to England and then to return to India on the following ship. 

Mrs Tucker shared in her husband’s self-sacrificing devotion to India. It was not the first time she had travelled to India, nor the first time that she had lived there. Her story is little known. The Indian English War Crys and the International Headquarters War Crys of 1882 – 1887 provide additional information on the activities and the many gifts of this amazing pioneer officer.

Tucker meets Miss Louisa Mary Bode 1875

Before Frederick Tucker met The Salvation Army he was an ardent Christian.

F.A. Mackenzie in his book ‘Booth-Tucker – Sadhu and Saint’[1], shares interesting information

“While studying law in London, Tucker stayed on holiday at Sandown in the Isle of Wight, England where he met Miss Louisa Mary Bode and her sisters who were engaged in an active temperance campaign among the soldiers stationed nearby. Miss Bode was a lady of strong character, unceasing in good works, firm in maintaining her own point of view, and ready to rebuke those doing what she considered was wrong. In many ways her disposition and that of Tucker were the direct opposite, and possibly it was this that drew them to one another.

“There was another reason that led Tucker to the lady – fear of himself. He knew that he was susceptible to the appeal of beauty, charm and youthful grace. What if he fell in love with someone in his own circle, whose influence would help to make faith in God grow dim, or his Christian service grow less? If Miss Bode consented to be his wife, she would stimulate his devotion to God, not damp it.

“The fact that Miss Bode was eighteen years his senior did not seem to matter, for while Tucker had a sincere affection and respect for his lady, earthly love was quite a secondary consideration. He was in his early twenties; she was nearly forty. He brushed aside this fact, as one of minor importance, and made a formal offer of marriage.

“When the Tucker family heard the news, they were seriously perturbed. Tucker’s mother pleaded with him, urging that he was making a mistake that might prove the cause of unhappiness for both Miss Bode and himself. Tucker would not yield. It was arranged that the wedding should be delayed for a year and that she should then go to him in India”.[2]




[1] Published 1930

[2] pages 21 – 22.