Papers of Sir John Mansfield Addis

Scope and Content

The collection comprises correspondence relating to Addis's education at Rugby and Oxford (1925-1936); correspondence, including that with his sister Robina Addis, diaries and research material relating to his diplomatic career (1933- 1974) and material relating to his retirement years (1975-1982) including reports of South East Asian Tours, lecture notes, research and scholarly work. Also includes personal items (1914-1983) and photographs (1933-1974).

Administrative / Biographical History

John Mansfield Addis was born on 4 June 1914. He was the twelfth child and fifth son of Sir Charles and Lady Addis. He was educated at Rugby from 1928 to 1932 and then at Christchurch College, Oxford. He joined the Diplomatic Service in 1938 and served for a while as Assistant Private Secretary to the Permanent Under-Secretary, Sir Alexander Cadogan. Between 1942 and 1944 he worked as Civilian Liaison Officer at the Allied Force Headquarters in the Mediterranean, London, Algiers and Caserta, and in 1944 as Second Secretary, HM Embassy Paris. Between 1945 and 1947 he served as Assistant Private Secretary to the Prime Minister, Clement Atlee.

In 1947, he began his service in China, as First Secretary and Head of Chancery, HM Embassy Nanking and then in 1950, HM Embassy Peking. He remained in Peking for the next seven years and his postings included Assistant in the China and Korea Department, Foreign Office (1951-1954), Member of the UK Delegation to Geneva Conference on Korea (1954) and Counsellor and Consul General, HM Embassy Peking (1954-1957). He left China in 1957. Subsequent postings included Head of Southern Department, Foreign Office (1957-1959); HM Ambassador Vientiane, Laos (1960-1962); Fellow at the Harvard University Centre for International Affairs (1962-1963); HM Ambassador, Manila (1963-1969) and HM Ambassador, China (1972-1974). He retired in 1974.

In 1975 he was elected as Senior Research Fellow in Contemporary Chinese Studies at Wolfson College, Oxford, and held this position throughout his retirement. He was also a member of the Advisory Council of the V&A Museum, a Trustee of the British Museum, Board Member of the Hong Kong Shanghai Bank, Adviser to the Barclays International Bank and Great Britain China Centre. He died on 31 July 1983. He never married.


The material has been sorted into sections corresponding to the chronological periods in Addis's life: education at Rugby and Oxford, 1925-1936; establishing his diplomatic career, 1937-1959; Ambassador, 1960-1974; retirement, Asian tours, memberships and committees, lectures and scholarly work, 1975- 1982; miscellaneous: personal and photograph collection, 1933-1974. Within each section, material is arranged in chronological order.

Access Information

File of correspondence and photographs [Closed until 2010]



Acquisition Information

Donated in 1984.

Other Finding Aids

Unpublished handlist with brief index.

Archivist's Note


Conditions Governing Use

With family

Related Material

Related Collections at SOAS: Addis, Sir Charles Stewart [PP MS 14]

Associated Material held elsewhere: Correspondence and papers (1932-1986) of Robina Scott Addis are held at the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine: Contemporary Medical Archives Centre [ref. PP/ADD]; Victoria and Albert Museum (artefact collections / documentation); British Museum (artefact collections / documentation).