Sibree Family Papers
Name of creator(s): Sibree | James | 1836-1929 | architect, missionary and naturalist
Administrative/Biographical history: James Sibree: born in Hull, England, 1836; son of the Rev James Sibree, Congregational minister, and Martha Goode Aston; educated at Hull Collegiate School; articled to a civil engineer; Assistant Surveyor, Local Board of Health, Hull, 1859-1863; appointed London Missionary Society (LMS) architect of four large stone churches in Madagascar, each a memorial to a martyr of persection, and was sent to Antananarivo, 1863-1867; worked on the churches at Ambatonakanga, Ambohipotsy, Andohalo and Manjakaray, and other mission buildings; trained for the Congregational ministry at Spring Hill College, Moseley, Birmingham, 1868-1870; also carried out deputation work for the LMS; ordained in Hull, 1870; married Deborah Hannah (d 1920), daughter of the Rev J Wilberforce Richardson, Congregational minister, in London, 1870; two sons and three daughters; LMS missionary in Madagascar, 1870-1877; led the extension of mission work outside the capital, founding the first country station, at Ambohimanga, and settling there, 1870; chosen one of the LMS delegates to revise the Malagasy Bible and began work on it, 1873; accompanied the LMS deputation to Antsihanaka province, 1874; took an explorative and evangelistic journey to south-eastern Madagascar, 1876; moved to Antananarivo to work at the theological college, 1876; difficulties with the government in Madagascar forced him to withdraw, 1877-1883; undertook LMS deputation work in England, 1877-1879; appointed missionary to South India, superintending the LMS high school as Vizagapatam, 1879; returned to England owing to his wife's ill health, 1880; LMS deputation work in England, 1880-1883; returned to Madagascar as principal of the LMS theological college and with his wife engaged in other missionary activities, 1883-1915; architect of almost 100 mission buildings, including c50 churches; in the years leading up to the French invasion (1895) an outspoken supporter of Malagasy independence; chief English authority on Madagascar; received Sir G Back's Grant for his work on the geography and bibliography of Madagascar, 1892; Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society; Fellow of the International Society of Philology; Membre de l'Académie Malgache from 1902; honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity, University of St Andrews, 1913; returned to England owing to his wife's ill health, 1915; resigned as a missionary, 1916; continued deputation work for the LMS and Bible Society, 1920s; died following an accident, 1929. Publications include: Madagascar and its People (1870); South-east Madagascar (1876); The Great African Island (1880); A Madagascar Bibliography (1885); Madagascar before the Conquest (1896); The Madagascar Mission (1907); Our English Cathedrals (2 volumes, 1911); A Naturalist in Madagascar (1915); Things Seen in Madagascar (1921); edited Register of Missionaries and Deputations of the LMS (1923); Fifty Years in Madagascar (1923), his autobiography; works in the Malagasy language; articles on Madagascar for several editions of the Encyclopaedia Britannica and Chambers's Encyclopaedia.
Custodial history: The papers form part of the special series of personal papers of individual London Missionary Society missionaries and officers.
Immediate source of acquisition: Transferred from the Council for World Mission Library when it was catalogued in 1999-2000.
CONTENT AND STRUCTURE
Scope and content/abstract: Papers, 1820-1953, of the Sibree family, comprising miscellaneous correspondence and manuscripts, press cuttings and printed papers, 1867-1929, of James Sibree, the subjects including missionary, literary and architectural work and the history, customs and language of Madagascar, including a manuscript of his `Missionary Heroes and Heroism in Madagascar', 1925; eight scrapbooks of James Sibree's papers, 1820-1927, containing printed materials and cuttings, correspondence and notes, maps and sketches relating to Madagascar and to the Sibree family; two volumes presented to James Sibree on the 50th anniversary of his missionary service in Madagascar, 1913; other papers of James Sibree relating to Madagascar, 1874-c1916 and undated, including its natural history; photographs, comprising portraits of missionaries and others connected with the Madagascar mission, 19th century, Sibree family photograph album, 1902-1913, including volcanic eruptions in Samoa, and photographs of Madagascar, including buildings, landscapes, and individuals; scrapbook of Elsie Sibree, c1913-1953, including press cuttings, photographs, and notes.
System of arrangement:
ACCESS AND USE
Language: English and Malagasy
Conditions governing access: Unrestricted.
Conditions governing reproduction: No publication without written permission. Apply to archivist in the first instance.
Finding aids: Unpublished handlist.
Related material: The School of Oriental and African Studies holds the records of the London Missionary Society (Ref: CWM/LMS), including letters from individual missionaries, among them members of the Sibree family (Ref: CWM/LMS Incoming Correspondence series); candidate's papers of James Sibree, Mary Amelia Sibree and James Wilberforce Sibree (Ref: CWM/LMS Candidates' Papers Box 15 Nos 12-14), of Alice Deborah Sibree, Dorothy Sibree and Elsie Isabel Sibree (Ref: CMS/LMS Candidates' Papers 2nd series 1900-1950 Box 35), and papers relating to the unaccepted candidacy of James Sibree's uncle, P Sibree (Ref: CWM/LMS Candidate's Papers Box 24 No 40); photographs and an engraving of James Sibree, some of them including his wife Deborah, and a photograph of James Wilberforce Sibree with his wife Lucy and their children (Ref: CWM/LMS General Portraits Box 5); reports from Madagascar by James and Elsie Sibree, 1871-1938 (Ref: CWM/LMS Madagascar Reports passim) and from Samoa by James Wilberforce Sibree, 1898-1918 (Ref: CWM/LMS South Seas Reports passim); typescript notes on the Madagascar Mission by James Sibree (Ref: CWM/LMS Madagascar Miscellaneous Box 1); photographs of James Sibree and family in Madagascar (Ref: CWM/LMS Madagascar Miscellaneous Box 4, CWM/LMS Madagascar Photographs passim) and of James Wilberforce Sibree and his family in Samoa (Ref: CWM/LMS South Seas Photographs passim). SOAS also holds notebooks containing Sibree's memoirs, including a pamphlet by Peter Sibree, 1832 (Ref: MS 380616); papers of James Sibree Milledge on the Sibree family (Ref: MS 380680); and the papers of James Trenchard Hardyman, which include material relating the Sibree family, including manuscripts and printed articles by James Sibree (Ref: PP MS 63).
Archivist's note: Compiled by Rachel Kemsley as part of the RSLP AIM25 project. Sources: Who's Who; 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: Feb 2002