Diaries of Sir Chaloner Alabaster

Scope and Content

The collection includes nine of Alabaster's diaries (1854-1875), which give accounts of his time in China. The later diaries are incomplete and contain far less detail than earlier volumes. Additional material (1868-1898) includes papers and correspondence detailing his military service, accounts, obituaries and copies of A Chapter from the Chinese Gospel , by Alabaster, from Occasional papers on Chinese Philosophy . Material used in The China Consuls , P. D. Coates, OUP, 1988.

Administrative / Biographical History

Chaloner Alabaster was born in 1838 at Barcombe in Bournemouth, and educated at King's College, London. In 1855 he was appointed student interpreter in China and served through the Opium wars and the Taiping Rebellion. He was Vice-Consul at Shanghai (1869-1873), and went on to become Consul General at Hankow (Wuhan) (1880-1886) and Canton (1886-1891). In 1892, the year of his retirement, he was knighted. He died in 1898. Sir Chaloner Alabaster was married in 1875, to Laura, daughter of Dr. D. J. MacGowan of New York. His elder brother was a member of the China Consular Service from 1856 and his son became Attorney General in Hong Kong.


The diaries and additional material are arranged in chronological order.

Access Information


Acquisition Information

Donated in 1987. The material was presented by Dr. C. A. Curwen, Lecturer in the History of the Far East at the School of Oriental and African Studies in 1987.

Other Finding Aids

Unpublished handlist

Conditions Governing Use

For permission to publish, please contact Archives & Special Collections, SOAS Library in the first instance


Used in The China Consuls P. D. Coates, OUP, 1988