Journal of a Voyage to China by James Dow

Scope and Content

A leather bound journal in which James Dow, a tea taster and, subsequently a tea trader, gives an account of his journey to, and time in, China which spans the years 1851-1864. It includes handwritten dated entries which detail day-to day activities on board the ship and information about the route taken including a stop-off in Singapore. He goes on to make observations about his residence in China, and in particular, Shanghai, including travelling and visiting markets for the purpose of trade.

Administrative / Biographical History

James Dow was born in 1827 in London, England. He married Mary McLean in 1851 in Lancashire and then left for Shanghai in the same year as a tea-taster. He worked under a man named Sam Rawson. Eventually James Dow started buying tea and established a business of his own. James and Mary Dow had a daughter Clementina Caroline Lockett Dow born in 1852 in Lancashire. Later that year Mary and the baby went to Shanghai to join James. They had three other children by 1856, only one of whom, Walter Norton Dow, survived infancy. Mary died before early 1867. James married his second wife, Marianna Letitia Goodwin in 1867 and they had three boys and a girl, all born in Shanghai. James Dow died in 1875 in Shanghai, China.

James was interested in his experiences in China and wrote his observations as letters home. These pages, probably suplemented by daily jottings, have been bound into this journal. It is possible that Marianna had this portion of the journal bound for Clementina because it dealt with James' life when he was married to Mary McLean.

Access Information


Acquisition Information

Donated to SOAS in June 2005

Other Finding Aids

Handlist available