John Campbell Papers

Scope and Content

Papers, 1772-1840, of and relating to John Campbell, concerning his family, life and work and comprising miscellaneous papers, including certificates and handbills, 1772-1829; miscellaneous correspondence, 1784-1818; correspondence on Campbell’s death, 1840; notes for sermons, 1826 and undated; notes on Campbell from the Dictionary of National Biography and genealogy, undated; original sketches from his South African travels, 1813 and undated, and illustrations from his published accounts of his travels, 1815, 1822; proof copy of An Account of the London Missionary Society, c1823; a tract, A Brief Comparison … of Popery and Protestantism [author unknown; after 1791], with a notebook cover containing odd notes, undated; notebook containing diary entries on an LMS deputation to Norfolk, 1806; New Testament (Edinburgh, 1802) inscribed by John Campbell, 1803, and with a note by him, dated 1839, describing how he preached from it extensively, from Orkney to Cornwall and at the Cape of Good Hope; a tract for children, Cuff, the 'Negro' Boy [by John Campbell, undated].

Administrative / Biographical History

Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, 1766; attended the Royal High School; apprenticed to a goldsmith; helped to found the Religious Tract Society of Scotland, 1793; founded the Missionary Magazine in Edinburgh, 1796; promoted Sunday schools and preached widely; among the founders of societies for 'fallen women' in Edinburgh and Glasgow; interested in the condition of slaves; following the Haldane revival, became a Congregational minister; founded an independent chapel, 'Kingsland', and a school in London; minister at Kingsland from 1802; helped to found the Bible Society; director of the London Missionary Society (LMS); appointed to the first deputation to inspect LMS settlements, in southern Africa; sailed to Cape Town, 1812; the first person to visit the missions inside and outside the colony, travelling extensively and visiting Bethelsdorp, Graaff Reinet, Griqua Town and Lattakoo, and communicating with tribes in other localities, 1812-1814; helped John Anderson to establish a permanent Christian presence among the Griqua people; returned to England with his report and maps of the colony and its hinterland, 1814; with the Rev John Philip, sailed to South Africa on a deputation to regulate the LMS mission, 1818; arrived at Cape Town, 1819; the deputation visited Paarl, Tulbagh, Caldon Institution (Zuurbraak), Pacaltsdorp, Bethelsdorp, and Theopolis, but a war prevented them from travelling further; returned to Cape Town; made long journeys across the colonial frontier, travelling to Griqua Town, New Lattakoo (Kuruman), Old Lattakoo, Meribohwhey, Mashow, Kurreechane, and towns west of Kuruman, 1820; returned to England and resumed his pastorship of Kingsland, 1821; a prolific writer on African missions and a pioneer author of children’s books; for many years editor of the religious publication The Youth’s Magazine; died, 1840.

For further information see:

John Campbell, Travels in South Africa, undertaken at the request of the Missionary Society (London: 1815).

John Campbell, Travels in South Africa, undertaken at the request of the London Missionary Society. Being a narrative of a second journey in the interior of that country (London: 1822).

Robert Philip, The Life, Times, and Missionary Enterprises of the Revd John Campbell (London: 1841).


The New Testament and Cuff, the 'Negro' Boy are in Box 5; the other items, arranged in five folders, are in Box 3.

Conditions Governing Access


Acquisition Information

Deposited on permanent loan with the records of the London Missionary Society by the Congregational Council for World Mission (later Council for World Mission) in 1973.

Other Finding Aids

Unpublished handlist; detailed typescript list stored with the material.

Archivist's Note

Compiled using:

Dictionary of National Biography

Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, ed. by Gerald H. Anderson (Cambridge: William B. Erdmans, 1998).

A Register of Missionaries, Deputations etc from 1796-1923, ed. by James Sibree (London: London Missionary Society, 1923).

National Register of Archives:

National Portrait Gallery website:


Custodial History

The papers were deposited with the London Missionary Society and form part of the special series of personal papers of individual LMS missionaries and officers.

Related Material

The School of Oriental and African Studies holds the records of the London Missionary Society (Ref: CWM/LMS), including letters from individual missionaries, among them John Campbell (Ref: CWM/LMS South Africa Incoming Correspondence); notes and extracts by John Campbell from various journals on South Africa, 1814-1815 (Ref: CWM/LMS South Africa Journals Box 2 Files 41, 43, 47), and a photograph of an oil painting of Campbell (Ref: CWM/LMS Missionary Portraits Box 1). SOAS also holds the papers of James Trenchard Hardyman, including a file on John Campbell, 1812-1947 (Ref: PP MS 63 Box 11 File 33).

The National Library of Scotland, Manuscripts Division, holds 24 items of Campbell’s correspondence, 1789-1840 (Ref: MS 10999).

The National Portrait Gallery, London, holds a mezzotint portrait of John Campbell by Thomas Hodgetts, after John Renton, published 1819 (Ref: NPG D1189).