Research papers of Patrick Devereux Coates on British Consular Officers in China

Scope and Content

The collection comprises papers, created by P.D. Coates as part of the research for his book The China Consuls . They include correspondence with former consular staff, notes taken whilst researching materials in the Public Record Office and notes from printed and non-printed sources. A list of the China Consuls 1843-1939 is also included.

Administrative / Biographical History

Patrick Devereux Coates was born in 1916. Following his education at Trinity College, Cambridge he entered the Consular Service, having decided to learn Chinese and work for the Chinese Service. Between 1937 and 1941 Coates was posted to Peking, Canton and Kunming. He was then attached to the Chinese 22nd Division in Burma, and to Chinese forces in India from 1941 to 1944.

From 1944 to 1946 Coates was Acting Chinese Secretary to the British Embassy in China. He then returned to Britain and worked first for the Foreign Office in London, and then for the Civil Service in various ministries until his retirement in 1972. In October 1973 Coates obtained a two-year grant from the Nuffield Foundation to work on the research for The China Consuls: British Consular Officers 1843-1943 (published by Oxford University Press, Hong Kong, 1988). During this time he was an honorary Visiting Fellow at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London, from 1973 to 1976. He carried out his research at the School of Oriental and African Studies and the Public Record Office. From 1978 to 1987 Coates also acted as part time editor of Chinese language records for the British Academy at the Public Record Office. He married Mary Eleanor Campbell in 1946. He died at Lewes on 28 October 1990.


The papers are arranged in the following categories: correspondence; list of China Consuls; files containing notes on materials held in the Public Record Office; research from printed sources; research from unpublished materials. P.D. Coates had a careful filing system by which each page of a file was given a running number. He weeded some of the less important letters from correspondence files, and mention is made in the list where it is known that letters were weeded.

Access Information

Files 7-9 and part 28

Stored with collection in separate box


Acquisition Information

Donated in 1994.

Other Finding Aids

Unpublished handlist

Conditions Governing Use

For permission to publish, please contact Archives & Special Collections, SOAS Library in the first instance