South China Incoming Correspondence

Scope and Content

Incoming correspondence from missionaries in the South China mission field to the London Missionary Society headquarters. Early correspondence comes from Macau [Macao] and Canton [Guangzhou] as well as places in Ultra Ganges [S E Asia]. Later the correspondence from Hong Kong predominates, though there is also, in almost every year, a separate series of letters originating in Canton.

What is significant about the South China letters is that they begin much earlier [1803?] than the formal and permitted establishment of missions. The painstaking work of Robert Morrison, Willliam Milne, Walter Medhurst and others (all except Robert Morrison having to remain outside China in the Ultra Ganges [South-East Asia] region) paved the way. They prepared the first protestant edition of the Bible in Chinese and an Anglo-Chinese dictionary as well as Christian literature in the form of printed tracts and, subsequently, books of biblical commentary and of scientific interest (including physiology and feng shui). Most of these were printed in Malacca, Canton or Hong Kong on presses run by the LMS using Chinese type faces which may have been prepared in their own foundry.

In addition to those already named, the principal early correspondents in the series are the Chinese minister whom Robert Morrison called Leangafa [spelling variations include Leang A Fa, Leang A-Fa, Leung A-Fa] (letters from 1826 to 1852) and missionaries, Elijah Bridgman, Dr William Lockhart, Dr Benjamin Hobson, William Charles Milne, James Legge, Dr Henri Hirschberg, John Chalmers, Frederick Turner and Ernest Eitel.


Letters from the province of Fukien [Fujian] are held in a separate sequence.

Conditions Governing Access


Other Finding Aids

A detailed list of Incoming Correspondence for South China, 1807-1874 (list G2), is available for consultation in the Special Collections Reading Room, SOAS Library.

Archivist's Note