Rev William Arthur Cornaby

Scope and Content

Papers of William Arthur Cornaby comprising:

Correspondence, mainly with his family (including his brother Henry and his niece Annie), 1885-1893. A few letters are incomplete.

Chinese passport, 1902.

Notes, including some for sermons, undated.

Brief extracts from his journal, undated.

Typescript manuscript by Cornaby entitled 'An Old Prescription and a Prayer' (July 1906).

Annotated typescript manuscript by Cornaby entitled 'A Journey up the Han, May 1897'.

Printed article by Cornaby entitled 'Reversion and Reform', undated.

Image of a ?sage from unidentified book, undated.

Cornaby Family Tree, c1958.

Administrative / Biographical History

William Arthur Cornaby was born in Sydenham in London on 19th June 1861, the sixth child in a family of 12 children. He attended the School of Mines in South Kensington and became a chemistry demonstrator at Clifton College in Bristol. In 1883 he decided to enter the ministry and was admitted to Richmond College in that year. Following two years at the college he was sent out to Hankow [Wuhan] in central China as a missionary with the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society. In 1889 he married Margaret Baker and in 1895 was appointed to Hanyang where, in addition to running a church and school, he became the editor of The Chinese Christian Review, a monthly Chinese magazine for preachers. In 1905 he was appointed to take up literary work in Shanghai with the Christian Literature Society under the direction of Timothy Richard. His chief work was to edit the Ta Tung Pao, a weekly magazine targeted at Chinese officials and scholars. Cornaby's first wife, Margaret died in 1915 and, in 1916, he married a friend of the family, Emma Foggitt of the London Missionary Society. In 1919 Cornaby, already suffering from malaria, contracted tuberculosis. He died at Kuling on 11th March 1921.

Further reading:

Kernahan, C., Cornaby of Hanyang : a great-souled missionary. An appreciation (1923);

Cornaby, W. A., A string of Chinese peach-stones (1895);

Cornaby, W. A., China under the searchlight (1901);

Cornaby, W. A., China and its people (1910);

Cornaby, W. A., Chinese letter-writing for missionaries (1914);

Cornaby, W. A., et al, The call of Cathay: a study in missionary work and opportunity in China old and new (1910).

Conditions Governing Access

Only to be viewed on microfiche


Archivist's Note


Conditions Governing Use

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

Copyright probably held by Methodist Missionary Society.

Custodial History

Donated to the Methodist Missionary Society by Mr and Mrs J. R. Hart in 1958. John R Hart was the grandson of W.A. Cornaby.

Related Material

Also within the records of the (Wesleyan) Methodist Missionary Society is the official correspondence for William Cornaby (MMS/China/Correspondence/ Wuchang/FBN 18-20 & MMS/China/Correspondence/South China/FBN 11-12). Furthermore, the synod minutes will detail the work of William Cornaby, and his colleagues, in the Hankow/Wuchang district (MMS/China/Synod Minutes/FBN 1-4).