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Finding Aid for the Sir John Bowring Papers, 1839-1857
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Sir John Bowring Papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1839-1857
    Collection number: 722
    Creator: Bowring, John, Sir, 1792-1872
    Extent: 5 boxes (2.5 linear ft.)
    Abstract: Sir John Bowring (1792-1872) undertook commercial missions on behalf of the government, examining the accounting and financial systems of other governments, which led to a change in the English Exchequer. In 1824, his friend Jeremy Bentham founded the Westminster Review, and Bowring became one of the first editors. He served as a member of Parliament intermittently between 1835-47 and worked vigorously for the repeal of the corn laws. Also served as British consul at Canton, 1847-54, and from 1854-60 he served as plenipotentiary to China, governor, commander-in-chief and vice-admiral of Hong Kong. He established diplomatic relations with Siam in 1855. He authored many books on travels and politics. The collection consists of correspondence, manuscripts, and related printed material comprising a portion of the official and semi-official records of Sir John Bowring's diplomatic missions in China.
    Repository: University of California, Los Angeles. Library. Department of Special Collections.
    Los Angeles, California 90095-1575
    Physical location: Stored off-site at SRLF. Advance notice is required for access to the collection. Please contact the UCLA Library, Department of Special Collections Reference Desk for paging information.

    Biography

    Bowring was born on October 17, 1792 in Exeter, England; after school in Exeter, he spent four years in a merchant's house where he learned a variety of languages; in 1811 he became clerk in the London house of Milford & Company, subsequently going into business on his own; later undertook commercial missions on behalf of the government, examining the accounting and financial systems of other governments, which led to a change in the English Exchequer; in 1824 his friend Jeremy Bentham founded the Westminster Review, and Bowring became one of the first editors; served as a member of Parliament intermittently between 1835-47; was closely connected with Richard Cobden, and worked vigorously for the repeal of the corn laws; served as British consul at Canton, 1847-54; from 1854-60 he served as plenipotentiary to China, and governor, commander-in-chief, and vice-admiral of Hong Kong; established diplomatic relations with Siam in 1855; author of many books on travels and politics; he died on November 23, 1872.

    Biographical Narrative

    John Bowring, English diplomat, linguist, writer, and traveller was born at Exeter, October 17, 1792, and was the eldest son of Charles Bowring of Lakebeare. Bowring received his education in Exeter, and upon leaving school entered a merchant's house there. During the four years that he remained with this firm, he laid the foundations for his linguistic attainments, becoming farmiliar with the French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, German, and Dutch languages. Later he acquired sufficient knowledge of Swedish, Danish, Russian, Servian, Polish, Arabic, Magyar, Bohemian, and Chinese to enable him to translate works in those languages.
    In 1811 Bowring became a clerk in the London house of Milford & Company and subsequently went into business on his own, travelling abroad extensively for commercial purposes. This experience qualified him for the various commercial missions he later undertook on behalf of his government. These were in the nature of examining the accounting and financial systems of other countries. Reports of these missions, particularly that of the commission to examine the accounts of the United Kingdom, of which Bowring was secretary, led to a complete change in the English exchequer, and was the foundation of all improvements which have since been made.
    Jeremy Bentham, intimate friend and advisor of Bowring, founded the Westminster Review in 1824, and Bowring became one of its first editors, writing political as well as linguistic articles for the journal. His political views also found expression in Parliament, where he served as a member from the Clyde burghs and other districts intermittently between 1835 and 1847. He was closely connected with Richard Cobden and others in the establishment of the Anti-Corn Law League in 1838 and worked vigorously in Parliament for the repeal of the corn laws.

    Scope and Content

    Collection consists of correspondence, manuscripts, and related printed material comprising a portion of the official and semi-official records of Sir John Bowring's diplomatic missions in China. Correspondents include Charles John Canning, George Frederich Villiers (4th Earl of Clarendon), Sir Thomas Wade, Sir James Stirling, and William Miller.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.

    Subjects

    Bowring, John, Sir, 1792-1872--Archives.
    Governors general--China--Hong Kong--Archival resources.
    Great Britain--Foreign relations--China.