Soothill, William Edward

Reference code(s): GB 0102 WMMS/MMS Biographical Series, Box 638
Held at: School of Oriental and African Studies Library
Domain: archival
Title: Soothill, William Edward
Date(s) of contents: 1882-1911
Level of description: Fonds
Extent and medium: 7 small folders


Name of creator(s):

Administrative/Biographical history: William Edward Soothill was born in 1861 at Halifax, England. In 1882 he became an ordained minister of the United Methodist Church and went out as a missionary to Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province, China from 1882 to 1914 serving with the United Methodist Free Churches, Home and Foreign Missions. During that time he founded a hospital, training college, schools and many preaching stations. He was also a considerable translator and lexicographer. His published works include A dictionary of Chinese Buddhist terms, The lotus of the wonderful law or the lotus gospel, The student's four thousand [characters] and general pocket dictionary and Timothy Richard of China : seer, statesman, missionary & the most disinterested adviser the Chinese ever had. For a number of years he was Principal of Shansi University. In 1920 he was appointed Professor of Chinese at the University of Oxford. He married Lucy Farrar in 1884. She was the author of A passport to China: being the tale of her long and friendly sojourning amongst a strangely interesting people. Lucy Soothill died in 1932 and her husband in 1935. They had two children, Victor and Dorothea. Dorothea (1885-1959), later the second wife of Sir Alexander Hosie of the China Consular Service, was also the author of a number of books about China.

Custodial history: Donated to the Methodist Missionary Society by Lady Hosie.

Immediate source of acquisition: Deposited on permanent loan with the records of the Methodist Missionary Society in 1978.


Scope and content/abstract: Letters from William Edward Soothill written from China to his parents, 1882-1885 and, to his mother, 1901-1911
Mission account book 1864-1881
Letters from Lucy Soothill and from Dorothea Soothill in China to various family members, 1885-1911
Photograph of WE Soothill c. 1882 and one of his wife Lucy Soothill, nee Farrar taken in 1891.

System of arrangement: See Scope and Content


Language: English

Conditions governing access: Unrestricted but only to be viewed on microfiche.

Conditions governing reproduction: No publication without prior permission in writing. 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 Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society (Ref: MMS/WMMS), including letters from individual missionaries.


Archivist's note: This description compiled by Rosemary Seton, Archivist, SOAS

Date(s) of descriptions: 2005

Letter writing

Personal names
Hosie | Lady | Dorothea | 1885-1959| diplomat's wife and author
Soothill | Lucy | d. 1932 | missionary wife and author
Soothill | William Edward | 1861-1935| missionary and sinologist

Corporate names
United Methodist Free Churches, Home and Foreign Missions

East Asia