Bowring, John, 1792-1872

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1792-10-17
Death 1872-11-23
English, Icelandic, Swedish, French, Latin

Biographical notes:

John Bowring was an English statesman and author, renowned as a polyglot. Born in Exeter and raised as a Unitarian, he began working at the age of thirteen, and actively sought to learn languages from travellers. He established a mercantile firm, and travelled extensively, meeting Jeremy Bentham; a controversy over some Greek loans affected his reputation and financial status, but Bentham helped by appointing him political editor of Westminster Review. Bowring published several volumes of verse, translated from different languages, and he began working for various government commissions. He was elected to several terms at Parliament, was made consul to Canton, and later knighted and appointed governor of Hong Kong. He wrote numerous books on a variety of topics, and was reputed to have been able to speak over 100 languages.

From the description of John Bowring letter to Mr. Coppinger, portraits, and remembrance card, 1841-1872. (Pennsylvania State University Libraries). WorldCat record id: 79637513

Sir John Bowring British radical politician, diplomatist, and writer. Bowring was gifted in many languages and was a disciple of the reformer Jeremy Bentham. He was secretary of the London Greek Committee, and at the behest of Lord Byron, helped to organize a loan to the Greeks in their war for independence. Byron's death in 1824 indirectly complicated the financial arrangement, which led to scandal for Bowring. He went on to translate many literary works from a wide array of foreign languages, and to hold a seat in Parliament and serve as governor of Hong Kong. His most successful book was The Kingdom and People of Siam (1857).

From the description of Sir John Bowring manuscript material : 2 items, 1822-1828 (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 76945368

Bowring was born on Oct. 17, 1792 in Exeter, England; after school in Exeter, he spent four years in a merchant's house there, where he learned a variety of languages; in 1811 he became clerk in the London house of Milford & Co., 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 Nov. 23, 1872.

From the description of Papers, 1839-1857. (University of California, Los Angeles). WorldCat record id: 39450001

Sir John Bowring, British politician, diplomat, and writer. A multi-lingual disciple of Jeremy Bentham. He was secretary of the London Greek Committee, and at Byron's request helped to organize a loan to the Greeks in their war for independence. Byron's death in 1824 indirectly complicated the financial arrangement, which led to scandal for Bowring. He went on to translate many literary works from a wide array of languages, to hold a seat in Parliament and serve as governor of Hong Kong. His most successful book was The Kingdom and People of Siam (1857).

From the guide to the Sir John Bowring manuscript material : 4 items, 1822-1832, (The New York Public Library. Carl H. Pforzheimer Collection of Shelley and His Circle.)

British diplomat, member of Parliament, and linguist; of Larkbear, Devonshire, England.

From the description of Papers, 1833-1904; (bulk 1849-1859). (Duke University Library). WorldCat record id: 19242705

British Consul at Canton in 1849 and Governor of Hong-Kong in 1854.

From the description of Letters, 1862-1893. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122476441

From the description of Letters, 1849-1869. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122427222

Bowring was a British linguist, diplomat, and author.

From the description of Letters from various correspondents and other papers, 1798-1865. (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 79789697

From the description of Letters from various correspondents, 1798-1865. (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 122372655

From the guide to the Sir John Bowring letters from various correspondents and other papers, 1798-1865., (Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University)

From the guide to the John Bowring letters from various correspondents, 1798-1865., (Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University)

English consular agent and linguist.

From the description of Autograph letter signed : London, to Messrs. Carey, Lea, and Carey of Philadelphia, 1828 Mar. 30. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270131610

1811 joined Milford and Company, London branch; 1817 established Bowring and Company; c 1823 secretary of the London Greek Committee; 1824 political editor, the Westminster Review; 1828-1829 unpaid commissioner to the Netherlands; 1830 secretary to Sir Henry Parnell's commission on the public accounts; 1831-1834 commissioner to investigate relations between Britain and France; 1835-1837 Member of Parliament for Clyde Boroughs (Kilmarnock); 1837-1838 fact finding mission to Egypt and Constantinople; 1841-? 1848 Member of Parliament for Bolton; 1849-1853 counsul at Canton (Guangzhou); 1853-1859 plenipotentiary and chief superintendent of trade in the Far East and governor, commander-in-chief and vice-admiral of Hong Kong; 1854 knighthood; 1856 elected member of the Royal Society; 1861 commercial agent to Italy.

Epithet: diplomat, politician and writer

Title: Knight

British Library Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue : Person : Description : ark:/81055/vdc_100000001219.0x000327

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.

From the guide to the Sir John Bowring Papers, 1839-1857, (University of California, Los Angeles. Library. Department of Special Collections.)

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Subjects:

  • Statesmen--19th century--Correspondence
  • Diplomatic and consular service, British
  • Diplomats--Great Britain--19th century--Correspondence
  • Serbian poetry--Translations into English
  • English poetry--19th century--Manuscripts--Specimens
  • Authors, English--19th century--Correspondence
  • Governors general--Archival resources
  • Photographs--19th century
  • Chinese--Missions
  • Politicians--Great Britain--19th century--Correspondence
  • Letters--19th century
  • Serbian poetry--History and criticism
  • Icelandic literature--19th century
  • Portraits, British 19th century
  • Swedish literature--19th century

Occupations:

  • Diplomats
  • Governors general--China--Hong Kong--Archival resources

Places:

  • San Francisco, California (as recorded)
  • Quebec, Canada (as recorded)
  • Great Britain (as recorded)
  • New Zealand, Australia (as recorded)
  • Jamaica, Central America (as recorded)
  • Cephalonia, Greece (as recorded)
  • Ireland, Europe (as recorded)
  • Xanthus, Lycia (as recorded)
  • Dublin, Ireland (as recorded)
  • Tahiti, Pacific Ocean (as recorded)
  • Great Britain (as recorded)
  • Stockport, Cheshire (as recorded)
  • Poulton, now county Gloucestershire (as recorded)
  • Malta, Europe (as recorded)
  • Glasgow, Scotland (as recorded)
  • Australia, Australia (as recorded)
  • Udny, Aberdeenshire (as recorded)
  • Kirkwall, Scotland (as recorded)
  • Coorg, South India (as recorded)
  • lrvine, Ayrshire (as recorded)
  • Satara, Bombay Presidency (as recorded)
  • Melbourne, Australia (as recorded)
  • Paisley, Renfrewshire (as recorded)
  • China, Asia (as recorded)
  • Blackburn, Lancashire (as recorded)
  • Isle of Man, England (as recorded)
  • Brazil, South America (as recorded)
  • Bristol, Gloucestershire (as recorded)
  • Glasgow, Scotland (as recorded)
  • India, Asia (as recorded)
  • Carlisle, Cumberland (as recorded)
  • Portland, Dorset (as recorded)
  • Ireland, Europe (as recorded)
  • United States of America (as recorded)
  • Great Britain (as recorded)
  • Society Islands, South Pacific Ocean (as recorded)
  • Hereford, Herefordshire (as recorded)
  • Scilly Islands, England (as recorded)
  • Scotland, United Kingdom (as recorded)
  • Bristol, Gloucestershire (as recorded)
  • Birmingham, Warwickshire (as recorded)
  • Egypt, Africa (as recorded)
  • Mexico, Central America (as recorded)
  • Great Britain (as recorded)
  • Egypt, Africa (as recorded)
  • Belfast, Northern Ireland (as recorded)
  • Paris, France (as recorded)
  • Central America, America (as recorded)
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (as recorded)
  • London, England (as recorded)
  • Dunbar, Haddingtonshire (as recorded)
  • Chelsea, Middlesex (as recorded)
  • Cavan, county of, Ireland (as recorded)
  • China--Hong Kong (as recorded)
  • Ireland, Europe (as recorded)
  • New Zealand, Australia (as recorded)
  • Gloucester, Gloucesterhire (as recorded)
  • Brenzett, Kent (as recorded)
  • United States of America (as recorded)
  • India, Asia (as recorded)
  • Yorkshire, England (as recorded)
  • Normandy, France (as recorded)
  • Tahiti, Pacific Ocean (as recorded)
  • Greece, Europe (as recorded)
  • Great Britain (as recorded)
  • France (as recorded)
  • Great Britain (as recorded)
  • China, Asia (as recorded)
  • Russell, New Zealand (as recorded)
  • Texas, U.S.A. (as recorded)
  • Manchester, Lancashire (as recorded)
  • Forfarshire, Scotland (as recorded)
  • Algiers, Africa (as recorded)
  • Clare, county of, Ireland (as recorded)
  • Madras, India (as recorded)
  • Canada, North America (as recorded)
  • Guernsey, Channel Islands (as recorded)
  • India, Asia (as recorded)
  • Plymouth, Devon (as recorded)
  • Brookeborough, Fermanagh (as recorded)
  • Morocco, North Africa (as recorded)
  • France (as recorded)
  • Anglesey, Wales (as recorded)
  • Holyhead, Pembrokeshire (as recorded)
  • Jamaica, Central America (as recorded)
  • Martlesham, Suffolk (as recorded)
  • Hawaii (as recorded)
  • Jerusalem, Israel (as recorded)
  • Brazil, South America (as recorded)
  • Russell, New Zealand (as recorded)
  • Dumfries, Dumfriesshire (as recorded)
  • Mysore State, India (as recorded)
  • Scotland, United Kingdom (as recorded)
  • Belfast, Northern Ireland (as recorded)
  • Mexico, Central America (as recorded)
  • Paraguay, South America (as recorded)
  • India, Asia (as recorded)
  • Czechoslovakia, Europe (as recorded)
  • London, England (as recorded)
  • China, Asia (as recorded)
  • Exeter, Devon (as recorded)
  • Greece, Europe (as recorded)
  • Fontenoy, Belgium (as recorded)
  • Saltash, Cornwall (as recorded)
  • Society Islands, South Pacific Ocean (as recorded)
  • Greece, Europe (as recorded)
  • Woodbridge, Suffolk (as recorded)
  • Manchester, Lancashire (as recorded)
  • Cambridge, Cambridgeshire (as recorded)
  • China (as recorded)
  • Quebec, Province of, Canada (as recorded)
  • Ellon, Aberdeenshire (as recorded)
  • Warwickshire, England (as recorded)
  • Cork, Ireland (as recorded)
  • Missolonghi, Greece (as recorded)
  • Jaffa, Palestine (as recorded)
  • Melton, Suffolk (as recorded)
  • Chichester, Sussex (as recorded)
  • Peking, Chihli, China (as recorded)
  • Chalk, Kent (as recorded)
  • Greece, Europe (as recorded)
  • Lincoln, Lincolnshire (as recorded)
  • Hong Kong (China) (as recorded)
  • China (as recorded)
  • Tamworth, Staffordshire (as recorded)
  • Great Bealings, Suffolk (as recorded)
  • Great Britain (as recorded)
  • London, England (as recorded)
  • Maguires Bridge, Fermanagh (as recorded)
  • Bangkok, Thailand (as recorded)
  • Bunowen Bay, Galway (as recorded)
  • Douglas, Isle of Man (as recorded)
  • Peebles, Scotland (as recorded)