Records of the Loochoo Naval Mission

Scope and Content

This small archive comprises the secretaries' papers and correspondence as well as the lengthy journals of the missionaries, Dr Bernard Jean Bettelheim and Reverend G. H. Moreton. It also includes printed annual reports of the mission and other associated prospectuses, circulars and appeal leaflets. The naval connection has resulted in the inclusion of such unusual items as the 1842 designs and plans for "gangway annular scupper mouths" for use in frigates.

Administrative / Biographical History

Administrative/Biographical History

The Loochoo Naval Mission was begun in February 1843 by a small group of naval officers who wished to send a missionary to the Loochoo Islands (Ryukyu Islands) aiming thereby to reach Japan. When their application for help from the Church Missionary Society was refused, they set up an independent fund and sent out Dr. Bernard Jean Bettelheim. A chapter on and biography of Dr Bernard J. Bettelheim may be consulted in the publication by Edward E. Bollinger, The Cross and the Floating Dragon: the Gospel in Ryukyu (William Carey Library, 1983). Bettelheim was succeeded by Reverend G. H. Moreton. When Moreton's health failed the mission came to an end. In 1861 the balance of the funds was given to CMS as a basis of support for evangelistic work in Japan, when that should be possible. CMS began work in Japan in 1869. The Secretaries of the Loochoo Mission were Lieutenant Herbert Clifford, 1841-1852 and George Rochfort Clarke, 1852-1857.

Reference: Rosemary Keen, 'The Church Missionary Society Archives: or thirty years work in the basement', Catholic Archives ( No. 12, 1992. ).


The archive has been arranged by dividing the files and papers into two broad sections: A=Administration; F=Finance.

Access Information

Access Conditions

Open. Access to all registered researchers.

Acquisition Information

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was transferred on permanent loan to the Special Collections Department by the CMS in the 1980s.

Other Finding Aids

See full catalogue for more information.

Alternative Form Available

Existence of Copies

The records of the Loochoo Naval Mission have been microfilmed and micropublished by Adam Matthew Publications in 1997 as part of its micropublication of the Church Missionary Society Archive. The Special Collections Department holds a microfilm set and copies are available for purchase from the publisher. Libraries around the world have purchased selective parts of this major micropublication.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to make any published use of any material from the collection must be sought in advance in writing from the University Archivist, Special Collections. Identification of copyright holders of unpublished material is often difficult. Special Collections will assist where possible with identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.


Further deposits are not expected.

Related Material

The Special Collections Department holds the Church Missionary Society Archive, the official archive of the society (GB 150 CMS), which includes material relating to its Japan Mission founded in 1869.

The University of Birmingham, Special Collections Department and the Orchard Learning Resources Centre hold a rich collection of archives relating to missions, charities and other religious and ecclesiastical organisations and individuals.