Soothill, William Edward

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

  • Letters from William Edward Soothill written from China to his parents, 1882-1885 and, to his mother, 1901-1911
  • Mission account book 1864-1881
  • Letters from Lucy Soothill and from Dorothea Soothill in China to various family members, 1885-1911
  • Photograph of WE Soothill c. 1882 and one of his wife Lucy Soothill, née Farrar taken in 1891.

Administrative / Biographical History

William Edward Soothill was born in 1861 at Halifax, England. In 1882 he became an ordained minister of the United Methodist Church and went out as a missionary to Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province, China from 1882 to 1914 serving with the United Methodist Free Churches, Home and Foreign Missions. During that time he founded a hospital, training college, schools and many preaching stations. He was also a considerable translator and lexicographer. His published works include A dictionary of Chinese Buddhist terms, The lotus of the wonderful law or the lotus gospel, The student's four thousand [characters] and general pocket dictionary and Timothy Richard of China : seer, statesman, missionary & the most disinterested adviser the Chinese ever had. For a number of years he was Principal of Shansi University. In 1920 he was appointed Professor of Chinese at the University of Oxford. He married Lucy Farrar in 1884. She was the author of A passport to China: being the tale of her long and friendly sojourning amongst a strangely interesting people. Lucy Soothill died in 1932 and her husband in 1935. They had two children, Victor and Dorothea. Dorothea (1885-1959), later the second wife of Sir Alexander Hosie of the China Consular Service, was also the author of a number of books about China.

Conditions Governing Access

Unrestricted but only to be viewed on microfiche.

Acquisition Information

Deposited on permanent loan with the records of the Methodist Missionary Society in 1978.

Other Finding Aids

This description constitutes the only finding aid at present.

Archivist's Note

This description compiled by Rosemary Seton, Archivist, SOAS

Conditions Governing Use

No publication without prior permission in writing. Apply to SOAS Archives in first instance.

Custodial History

Donated to the Methodist Missionary Society by Lady Hosie.

Related Material

The School of Oriental and African Studies holds the records of the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society (Ref: MMS/WMMS), including letters from individual missionaries.

Geographical Names