Morrison, Robert (transcripts)

Reference code(s): GB 0102 MS 380583
Held at: School of Oriental and African Studies Library
Domain: archival
Title: Morrison, Robert (transcripts)
Date(s) of contents: (1824 [1874]) [1989]
Level of description:
Extent and medium: 1 file


Name of creator(s): Hobson | John | fl 1989
Hobson | Leila | fl 1989

Administrative/Biographical history: Robert Morrison: born near Morpeth, Northumberland, England, 1782; grew up in Newcastle-upon-Tyne; following a rudimentary education, apprenticed to his father as a last and boot-tree maker; joined the Presbyterian church, 1798; decided to prepare for missionary work; studied at Hoxton Academy (later Highbury College), London, 1803; studied at the Missionary Academy, Gosport, Hampshire, 1804; appointed by the London Missionary Society (LMS) and studied medicine, astronomy and Chinese in London, 1805; ordained and sailed via Philadelphia and New York to Canton, 1807; pioneering Protestant missionary to China, though he saw few conversions himself; married Mary Morton (1791-1821), daughter of an East India Company surgeon, in Macau, 1809; became translator to the East India Company's factory in Canton, securing a legal basis for residence and a means of supporting himself, 1809; completed the translation of the New Testament into Chinese, 1813; it was printed, 1814; viewed with hostility by Chinese officials; baptised the first Protestant Chinese Christian, 1814; served as translator on Lord Amherst's abortive embassy to Peking (Beijing), 1816-1817; returned to Canton, 1817; on the completion of his Anglo-Chinese dictionary, received the degree of Doctor of Divinity, University of Glasgow, 1817; with William Milne (1785-1822) founded the Anglo-Chinese College, Malacca, for training missionaries in the Far East, 1818; with Milne, completed the translation of the Bible, 1819; visited Malacca, 1823; travelled to England, 1823-1824; Fellow of the Royal Society, 1824; helped to established the short-lived Language Institution in London; ordained the first Chinese native pastor, 1825; married Eliza Armstrong (1795-1874), 1825; left England and returned to Canton, 1826; died at Canton, 1834. Publications include: Dictionary of the Chinese Language (1815-1823); Grammar of the Chinese Language (1815); Chinese Bible and numerous Chinese tracts, translations, and works on philology. His son from his first marriage, John Robert Morrison (1814-1843), succeeded his father at the East India Company and became secretary to the Hong Kong government.

Custodial history:

Immediate source of acquisition: Donated by descendants of Robert Morrison in 1989.


Scope and content/abstract: Papers relating to Robert Morrison, comprising typescript transcript [1989] of Robert Morrison's manuscript 'Domestic Memoir of Mrs Morrison' [1824], written as a memorial to his first wife Mary after her death, and including a letter of advice, 1824, to his two eldest children, Mary Rebecca and John Robert, his chronology of his life and family (1782-1823), genealogy of the Morrison family, including notes on Robert and Mary Morrison's parents, memoir of his life with Mary, extracts (not chronological) of letters between the couple (1811-1821), with observations on domestic and other affairs, including long periods when Mary remained in England with the children, and account of Mary's death and notes on her tombstone. Also a photocopy of an obituary of Morrison's second wife Eliza [1874], and a copy of the Morrison family tree (c1770-1988).

System of arrangement:


Language: English

Conditions governing access: Unrestricted.

Conditions governing reproduction: No publication without written permission. Apply to archivist in the first instance.

Finding aids: Collection level description.


Related material: The School of Oriental and African Studies holds the records of the London Missionary Society (Ref: CWM/LMS), including papers of and concerning Robert Morrison, among them undated [early 19th century] copy of Morrison's domestic memoir of 1824 (Ref: CWM/LMS China Personal Boxes 1-3), and also letters from Morrison (Ref: CWM/LMS South China Incoming Correspondence, CWM/LMS Ultra Ganges (Malacca) Incoming Correspondence Box 2), his candidate's papers (Ref: CWM/LMS Candidates' Papers Box 12 No 12), a photograph of a drawing of Morrison and a note from him, 1824 (Ref: CWM/LMS China Photographs Box 3 File 9), and various portraits of Morrison (Ref: CWM/LMS General Portraits Box 4). SOAS also holds a photocopy of a drawing of Morrison (Ref: CIM/PP Box 20 File 222) and the second edition of his translation of the New Testament (Ref: CIM Box 22); a biography of Morrison, 1960s, among the papers of Sir Alwyne Ogden (Ref: PP MS 47 Box 12 File 111); and papers relating to his library, 1916-1926 (Ref: MS 226830 SOAS Library Book Exchange passim). Morrison's collection of several thousand Chinese books was bequeathed to University College London and later passed to the School of Oriental and African Studies.


Archivist's note: Compiled by Rachel Kemsley as part of the RSLP AIM25 project. Sources: Dictionary of National Biography; Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, ed Gerald H Anderson (1998); LMS Register of Missionaries, ed James Sibree; National Register of Archives.

Date(s) of descriptions: Jul 2002

Children of missionaries
Ordained missionaries
Protestant nonconformists
Religious groups
Travel abroad
Wives of missionaries

Personal names
Hobson | John | fl 1989
Hobson | Leila | fl 1989
Morrison | Eliza | 1795-1874 | née Armstrong x Armstrong | Eliza
Morrison | John Robert | 1814-1843 | Colonial Secretary of Hong Kong
Morrison | Mary Rebecca | fl 1824 | daughter of the missionary Robert Morrison
Morrison | Mary | 1791-1821 | née Morton x Morton | Mary
Morrison | Robert | 1782-1834 | missionary to China
Morrison | family | of Northumberland
Morton | family | of Macau

Corporate names

East Asia
Western Europe