Diaries of Godfrey Hirst

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Personal diaries of Godfrey Hirst, kept between 1909 and 1939, during most of which time he was working for the American Bible Society as a Bible salesman in Hankow, China. The collection also includes copies of a number of photographs of Godfrey Hirst and his family.

Administrative / Biographical History

Godfrey Hirst was born at Commondale, Yorkshire, in 1873. After training as a miller in accordance with his father's wishes, records show that he changed course and went to sea, from 1896 working as a Second Mate on voyages around the UK, rising to First Mate in 1900, and from 1902 until at least 1904 working mainly on the China coastal trade as master of small river steamships. It appears that at some point after that Godfrey took a job as an accountant in Shanghai. He also underwent a conversion experience (referred to at various points in his diaries). Having been turned down by the China Inland Mission, he was taken on by the American Bible Society as a Bible salesman, and in this capacity was able to evangelise in Hankow. Whilst in China he met and married Edith Marie Simpson, who had gone to Shanghai with the China Inland Mission. They had three sons, John, Godfrey and Theodore. After their work in China, Godfrey and Marie retired to Roehampton and then to a home for retired missionaries in Tonbridge Wells.

Conditions Governing Access

Open

Acquisition Information

Donated to SOAS Library on 3rd February 2012, by Neil Hirst, grandson of Godfrey Hirst.