John, Griffith

Reference code(s): GB 0102 CWM/LMS China Personal Box 11, File 7
Held at: School of Oriental and African Studies Library
Domain: archival
Title: John, Griffith
Date(s) of contents: 1865-1931
Level of description: Fonds
Extent and medium: 1 file


Name of creator(s):

Administrative/Biographical history: Griffith John is one of the great figures of the British missionary movement. During his 55 year period of service in China he was among the first to initiate Protestant missionary work in Hupeh, Hunan and Szechwan provinces, was a prolific author and pamphleteer and made major contributions to the translation of the Bible into Chinese. He was born at Swansea, South Wales on December 14th 1831, studied at Brecon College and Bedford Academy and was ordained in 1855. In that year he married his first wife, Jane Griffith (died 1873) herself the daughter of a missionary. The couple arrived in Shanghai in September 1855 but, from 1861, were to make their permanent base in China at Hankow. Here he began to establish his reputation as author and translator and as a powerful preacher. He set up schools, hospitals and training colleges. In 1889 the University of Edinburgh conferred on him the degree of DD in recognition of his work in China. He died in England in 1912. For further details see R. Wardlaw Thompson, Griffith John: the story of fifty years in China, London, 1906 and Noel Gibbard, Griffith John: apostle to Central China , Bridgend, 1998.

Custodial history: The papers were deposited with the London Missionary Society and form part of the special series of personal papers of individual LMS missionaries and officers.

Immediate source of acquisition: Deposited on permanent loan with the records of the London Missionary Society by the Congregational Council for World Mission (later Council for World Mission) in 1973


Scope and content/abstract: 12 Letters, dated 1865-1869, to Griffith John, from James Legge, John Chalmers, WAP Martin, Robert Dawson, Eliza Medhurst, CM Williams, E. J. Eitels and one from Griffith John to James Legge; a ms account of Johnís travels in China in 1857, a brief sketch of Johnís life and work by his son-in-law, CG Sparham; obituaries of Griffith John ďone of the best known Chinese missionaries,Ē photograph of his grave in Bethel burial ground in Sketty, Swansea and an account of the Griffith John Centenary meetings held in 1931.

System of arrangement: As described in Scope and Contents.


Language: English

Conditions governing access: Unrestricted

Conditions governing reproduction: No publication without prior written permission. Apply to SOAS Archives in first instance.

Finding aids: This description constitutes the only finding aid at present.


Related material: The School of Oriental and African Studies holds the records of the London Missionary Society (Ref: CWM/LMS), including letters and reports from individual missionaries together with their application papers. Griffith John's Reports from China for the period 1867-1905 are to be found with Central China Reports (Ref. CWM/LMS 17/06) and a set of photographs of and related to him are located in China Photographs (Ref. CWM/LMS/15/10/1/021).

The National Library of Wales at Aberystwyth holds letters and papers, 1889-1894, related to him and a set of mss and papers relating to his career.


Date(s) of descriptions: July 2005

Missionary work

Personal names
John | Griffith | 1831-1912 | missionary in China
Legge | James | 1815-1897 | missionary and sinologist

Corporate names
London Missionary Society