Legge, James

Reference code(s): GB 0161 MSS.Eng.misc. c.863-5, d.1252-65, e.1377-81
Held at: Bodleian Library - Special Collections
Domain: archival
Title: Legge, James
Date(s) of contents: 1873-1951
Level of description: Fonds
Extent and medium: 22 shelfmarks


Name of creator(s): Legge|James|1815-1897|missionary and sinologist

Administrative/Biographical history: Born at Huntly, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, 1815; educated at Aberdeen grammar school; studied at King's College and University, Aberdeen; MA, 1835; affiliated with the Congregational Church; studied at Highbury theological college, London; appointed London Missionary Society (LMS) missionary to Malacca; ordained at Brompton, London, married Mary Isabella Morison (1816-1852), and set sail, 1839; arrived at Malacca and was appointed Principal of the Anglo-Chinese College, 1840; began translating and annotating the Chinese classics; he was to become a pioneering Sinologist; his wife, also a missionary, pioneered education for Chinese girls; DD, University of New York, 1842; following the treaty of 1842, which opened the ports of China, Legge left Malacca for Singapore, 1843; proceeded via Macau to Hong Kong and attended a conference of LMS missionaries and a general convention of missionaries, 1843; appointed to deliberate on the controversial issue of how to render `God' in Chinese, advocating use of the name `Shang Di'; head of the Anglo-Chinese Theological Seminary, Hong Kong (which replaced the Anglo-Chinese College in Malacca), 1843-1856; the preparatory school attached to the Seminary opened, 1844; it became co-educational, 1846; Legge helped to develop an independent Chinese congregation in Hong Kong; visited England for health reasons, 1845-1846; returned to Hong Kong and, in addition to his missionary work, pastor to an English congregation, 1848; visited England, 1858; married a widow, Hannah Mary Willetts (d 1881, née Johnstone), and returned to Hong Kong, 1859; ceased to be supported by LMS funds and returned to England, 1867; LLD, University of Aberdeen, 1870; pastor at Union Church, Hong Kong, 1870-1873; visited mission stations at Shanghai, Chefoo (Yantai) and Peking (Beijing) and returned to England via Japan and the USA, 1873; withdrew as a missionary of the LMS, 1873; Fellow of Corpus Christi College Oxford, 1875; first Professor of Chinese, University of Oxford, 1876-1897; honorary MA, University of Oxford; LLD, University of Edinburgh, 1884; died in Oxford, 1897. Publications include: translated and edited The Chinese Classics (5 volumes, Trübner & Co, 1861-1872, and 3 volumes, Clarendon Press, 1879-1894); Inaugural Lecture ... in the University of Oxford (1876); The Religions of China (1880); and numerous Chinese translations, Chinese tracts, and other pamphlets on Chinese subjects.

Custodial history:

Immediate source of acquisition: Donated in 1983


Scope and content/abstract: Papers relating to Legge's role as Professor of Chinese at Oxford, including lectures delivered, notebooks, translations, drafts of a Chinese-English phrase book and dictionary. Papers of Legge and his family, comprising a copy of a journal kept by Hannah Mary Johnston before her marriage to Legge, autobiographical notes by Legge, and miscellaneous papers.

System of arrangement: Arranged in 22 units.


Language: English and Chinese

Conditions governing access: Entry to read in the Library is permitted only on presentation of a valid reader's card.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Finding aids: Finding aid available in the Library.


Related material: Two collections of Legge papers are held in the Library of the School of Oriental and African Studies.


Archivist's note: Originally compiled by Emily Tarrant, Bodleian Library and modified by the Mundus team.

Date(s) of descriptions: October 2001, modified March 2003


Personal names
Legge | Hannah | d 1881 | née Johnson | formerly Hannah Willetts | missionary
Legge | James | 1815-1897 | missionary and sinologist

Corporate names
Oxford University

East Asia