William Almack: Journal

Scope and Content

A bound journal covering July 1837 - July 1841, 164 pages, plus a further 17 pages of miscellaneous items at the end. The journal describes Almack's voyage out to China on the barque Anna Robinson, and thereafter provides a clear and detailed record of the events leading up to the first Anglo-Chinese or Opium War (1840-1842). The account also covers the principal events and military engagements at the outset of the war, leading up to the convention which ceded Hong Kong to the British crown in 1841. There are numerous references to, and judgements about, the role played by the British Superintendent, Sir Charles Elliot (1801-1875). At the back of the volume are a number of handwritten transcripts. There are two accompanying documents: a set of commercial introductions written on Almack's behalf on going to Canton in 1837, and a written oath by Robert Wylie Wilson, Captain of the Euphrates, dated 4 March 1844, attesting to Almack's death during the voyage home.

Administrative / Biographical History

William Almack (1811-1843) was born on 26 November 1811, the sixth son of Thomas Almack and Anne Barugh of Cherriburton, Yorkshire. His eldest brother was the solicitor and antiquary Richard Almack (1799-1875), of Long Melford, Suffolk. After several years as a tea taster with a London merchant house, William Almack travelled to Canton in China in 1837 to buy teas for the house of Messrs Jamieson and How. He died at sea on 15 December 1843 whilst returning home an invalid on the Indiaman Euphrates. His property in the city of Victoria, Hong Kong, was designated 'Almack Place' by the colonial government.

Access Information

Open for consultation by holders of a Reader's Ticket valid for the Manuscripts Reading Room.

Acquisition Information

Purchased at auction, Stride & Son, 6 October 1998.


Description compiled by Robert Steiner, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives.

Other Finding Aids

There is a detailed description of the collection in the Additional Manuscripts Catalogue, available in the Manuscripts Reading Room.

Geographical Names