Autobiographical notebooks of James Sibree

Scope and Content

Five notebooks containing the memoirs of James Sibree, 1836-1879, 1913-1926, recording his early life in Hull, family history, training at Spring Hill, missionary work in Madagascar and in Vizagapatam, India, with the London Missionary Society, and his later years.

Administrative / Biographical History

James Sibree was born in Hull on 14 April 1836. In his early life, Sibree served as an engineer's pupil and worked for the Hull Board of Health (1859-1863). In 1863 he sailed to Madagascar having been appointed Architect of the Memorial Churches, Tananarive, for the London Missionary Society (LMS). He worked on the churches at Ambatonakanga, Ambohipotsy, Andohalo and Manjakaray. He returned to England in 1867 to study at Spring Hill College, Moseley, near Birmingham. During his time at Spring Hill he also carried out deputation work for the London Missionary Society. James Sibree was ordained in 1870. He was also married in February of that year to Deborah Richardson. Together with his wife, he returned Madagascar as a missionary and was stationed at Ambohimanga. He worked on a revision of the Malagasy Bible, took part in a deputation and in 1876 went to work at the Theological Institution in Tananarive. In September 1877 the Sibrees returned to England, owing to problems with the local government. From 1877 to 1879, he carried out deputation work in England. In November 1879 he was appointed as Principal of the London Missionary Society High School at Vizagapatam, South India. However, due to illness the Sibrees returned to England in June 1880. From 1880 to 1883 he once more carried out deputation work in England. In 1883, he and his wife were re-appointed to Madagascar, where Sibree became Principal of the LMS College at Tananarive. The Sibrees left Madagascar, arriving back in England in November 1916. Deborah Sibree became ill, and a great deal of James Sibree's time was devoted to nursing her. She died on 21 July 1920. In the last years of his life, James Sibree continued to carry out much of the deputation work for the LMS and the Bible Society. In 1923, James Sibree completed the Register of Missionaries and Deputations of the LMS.


The volumes are arranged in chronological order. There appears to be a gap in the series, for the years 1879-1913.

Conditions Governing Access


Acquisition Information

Unknown source. The material was accessioned in 1994.

Conditions Governing Use

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

Related Material

The School of Oriental and African Studies holds records of the London Missionary Society (Ref: CWM/LMS), including papers relating to individual missionaries, among them James Sibree. SOAS also holds papers of James Sibree Milledge on the Sibree family (Ref: MS 380680) and the papers of James Trenchard Hardyman, which include material relating the Sibree family, including manuscripts and printed articles by James Sibree (Ref: PP MS 63).