Name of creator(s): Hislop, Stephen (1817-1863)
Administrative/Biographical history: Stephen Hislop was born in 1817, the son of a builder in Duns in Berwickshire. Having shown an early aptitude as a naturalist, Hislop studied at Edinburgh University, followed by studies in divinity at Glasgow and Edinburgh. He owed his evangelical and missionary inspiration to the evangelist Presbyterian William Chalmers Burns (1815-1868) and to the Church of Scotland missionary and educationalist John Wilson (1804-1875). In 1844 Wilson, based in western India, called for scientific assistance; the Free Church of Scotland (FCS) accordingly despatched Hislop. However, Hislop was thence sent to Nagpur in central India, to open a mission recently endowed by an army officer.
Hislop was to spend most of the rest of his life in Nagpur, apart from a period from 1850-1851 when he relieved the incapacitated Church of Scotland missionary John Anderson (1805-1855) at the latter's school in Madras, and a period of sick leave from 1858-1860, when he attended the Liverpool Conference on Missions, assisted the revival in Eastern Scotland, and continued the advocacy of Alexander Duff (1806-1878) for Free Church of Scotland missions. Hislop's approach was similar to that of Duff's insofar as he believed that the creation of an intellectual environment with a basis in Christian education was the best way to foster missionary endeavour. To this end, he established a school in Nagpur (for some time the only one in the area), which developed into the higher education institution Hislop College.However, Hislop differed from Duff in possessing a greater understanding of the complexities of Indian religion, and in that he preached in the vernacular (being extremely proficient in Marathi). In addition, as the Free Church of Scotland's was the only Protestant mission in Nagpur, Hislop took responsibility for evangelizing all sections of local society, including local communities, migrants, Indian and European troops and administrators. Hislop particularly demonstrated his commitment to integration with local people by spending a month each year with the marginalized Gondh people. This experience informed Hislop's posthumous work, Papers relating to the aboriginal tribes of the Central Provinces, left in MSS., ed. by Richard Temple (Nagpore?: 1866), which includes a translation of Gondh myth, which Hislop employed as a starting point for Christian instruction, an ethnographic survey, and a vocabulary of varying dialects, including comparisons with Tamil and Telugu.
Hislop maintained his love of science, regarding scientific endeavour as "glorifying to the God of truth"; his activities were of major significance and incorporated botany, archaeology, zoology, and pioneering work in Indian geology. He left few writings apart from his scientific papers. He also maintained uncompromising political convictions, believing British officialdom to be inept, and Indian officialdom to be corrupt (Nagur went from being a princely state to a British administered territory during Hislop's time there). During the 1857 mutiny Hislop and his fellow Europeans were saved thanks to a warning from a Muslim friend; six years later Hislop drowned during an archaeological expedition whilst crossing a swollen river.
Immediate source of acquisition:
CONTENT AND STRUCTURE
Scope and content/abstract: The main part of the collection comprises the papers of Stephen Hislop (MSS 8957-76), and includes: letters to Hislop (1844-64, n.d.) mainly from fellow missionaries such as John Wilson, John G. Cooper and Richard Stothert, and from others with an interest in anthropology and geology, plus a few letters to Hislop's wife (483 ff.); copies by Hislop of his letters to the convenors of the FCS Foreign Mission Committee plus some other letters on financial matters, plus material on indigenous missionary workers, ethnographic notes, the geology of Nagpur, and notes on sermons (1845-52, 1857, n.d.; 332 ff.); Hislop's letter-book containing copies or notes of his outgoing letters (1854-62), mainly to government and army officers, plus some to fellow missionaries and some private letters (plus some notes on financial transactions, unindexed) (183 ff.); Hislop's diaries (1847-61; mainly from Rajpur; 217 ff.) and 1860-3 (67+ blank ff.); copies of postal regulations (1854-5, 1861) and list of letters posted (1854-63) and extracts from books, periodicals and newspapers, concerning Indian history, customs and missions (212 ff.); collection of pamphlets and other printed items belonging to Hislop or preserved with his papers, including theological and missiological works.
The remainder of the collection (MSS 7745-6) consists mainly of letters to Hislop (1857-63), from the letter-books of clerks of the Foreign Mission Committee of the FCS.
System of arrangement: The collection is arranged as follows:
ACCESS AND USE
Conditions governing access:
Conditions governing reproduction:
MSS 8963-76 (collection of pamphlets and other printed items on theological and missiological subjects) have been entered into the National Library of Scotland's Catalogue of Printed Books. Individual manuscripts may be interrogated by entering the call number in the format "MS.8963" as a search term, and selecting "Shelfmark" as search type.
Note: Compiled using:
Date(s) of descriptions: July 2002.