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The Staunton Collection


The main collection transferred from King's College London (KCL) to SOAS on its founding was the library of Oriental and African works of the Marsden Collection. However, amongst the other KCL books that were transferred to SOAS was the collection of Chinese books of Sir George Thomas Staunton (1781-1859).

George Staunton (1781-1859)

George Thomas Staunton was born on May 26th 1781, son of Sir George Leonard Staunton (1737-1801) of Clydagh, Co. Galway. On his father's death he inherited the title of baronet.

Sir George Leonard Staunton was appointed Secretary to the first British embassy to China, led by Lord Macartney, that left England in 1792 and returned in 1794. On his return, Staunton produced the official account of embassy, An Authentic Account of An Embassy from the King of Great Britain to the Emperor of China (London : G. Nicol, 1797).

Staunton took his young son with him on the embassy, serving as page boy to Lord Macartney. On the voyage out to China, the young George Staunton studied the Chinese language under the tutorship of the embassy's two Chinese interpreters. When the embassy arrived at the Chinese court, and Lord Macartney was presented to the Qianlong Emperor, the emperor enquired whether any of the foreigners could speak Chinese, and on being informed that the page boy had gained some proficiency in the language, young Staunton was called forward for an interview with the emperor. The emperor was so pleased with the young man, that he took an embroidered purse from his girdle, and gave it to him as a token of his favour.

The young Staunton completed his education at Trinity College Cambridge, and then went to work for the East India Company in Canton.

In 1817 he returned to England, and settled in Hampshire, where he bought the estate of Leigh Park. From 1818 to 1854 he sat as a member of parliament for various south Hampshire constituencies.

He died in London on 10th August 1859.

The Staunton Collection

Staunton donated his collection of Chinese books to the library of King's College in 1853.

Staunton's books were presumably transferred to SOAS, along with the other works in Oriental and African languages held by KCL, after the Great War. However, the books would seem to have been integrated into the main Chinese collection, and are not now readily identifiable.

Fortunately, a manuscript catalogue of the collection was made when the books were presented to KCL (perhaps made by Staunton himself). This brief catalogue in seven pages, entitled "Catalogue of Chinese printed Books & Manuscripts Presented to the Library of King's College by Sir George Staunton January 1853", was bound into the back of the 1827 printed catalogue of the Marsden Collection (SOAS callmark EC82.114). Arranged into the following ten subject areas, the catalogue lists a total of seventy-four books.

Chinese Title Volumes Description
行文語類 4 Phrases used in Elegant composition Explained
爾雅 2 Dictionary of Synonymes
爾雅 3 The same with comments on each
字類楆韻 2 Dictionary according to the radicals
增韻詩學 4 Dictionary of poetical phrases & rhymes
家庭講話 1 Domestic saying in Mandarin dialect
正音撮要 4 Handbook to the true sounds of the Mandarin for Canton men
康熙字典 32 The Imperial Dictionary of Kanghi
詩韻集成 5 Perfect Collection of poetical rhymes
分韻 1 Tonic dictionary for Canton

Chinese Title Volumes Description
通鑑綱目 100 Complete mirror of History (Chinese) by Choo Hi & his disciples
三國志 20 History of the Three Kingdoms
書經體註 4 Shoo King - The ancient historical classic with text & commentary
監本書經 4 Another edition of the Shoo King
古文析義 16 Ancient literature - historical fragments
楚辭燈 2 Fragments of Chinese History
宜榢堂叢書 64 Selection of the Ika Hall - Mathematics, History - Essays
東華錄 12 Annals of the Manchoos

Geography & Astronomy
Chinese Title Volumes Description
瀛環志畧 6 Geography by the Lieut. Gov. of Fokien
高厚蒙求 5 Researches in Astronomy &
地理五訣 4 Cosmogony

Chinese Title Volumes Description
畫舫錄 6 Descriptions with cuts
東西洋考 6 Examinations into Foreign affairs
川沙撫民廳志 4 Tsoong ming Isd. & the mouth of the yang tsz kiang River
山海經 6 Natural History & fables
陽湖縣志 32 Topography of a Province

Chinese Title Volumes Description
海島算經 1 Three small works on Arithmetic
遠西奇器圖說 2 Wonderful machinery of the Far West by the Jesuits A.D. 1624 Diag. & Expl.
古算經表 1 Ancient modes of reckoning - peculiar notation
藝游錄 4 Contains an account of native & Indian arithmetic, Extraction of the Square root
幾何原本 3 parts Translation of the 1st 6 books of Euclid by Matthew Ricci the Jesuit

Moral Philosophy & Metaphysics
Chinese Title Volumes Description
四書合講 6 The "Four Books" Chinese Classics by Tsang tsz, Confucius & Mencius (3 Commentaries)
四書補註 5 Another Edition (2 Comms.)
四書便蒙 10 Another Edition printed with Commentary (Commentary of Choo Hi)
四書離句 12 Another Edition with printed - [Commentary]
性理精義 4 Doctrine of nature printed with Commentary
明心寶鑑 1 Collection of moral sentences from the classics
寶家傳 32 The "Family Jewels" exhortations to filial piety
莊子因 6 The works of Tsang tsz, a celebrated philosopher
易經備旨 5 The Yih king Book of changes
糿學須知 4 Youthful Learning with Commentary
廣訓衍 2 The Sacred Edicts
會元千字文 1 The Thousand character classic
千字文註 1 The same with Commentary
三字經 1 The trimetrical Classic with Commentary
萬物真原 1 The true origin of all things by a [Rom...]

Chinese Title Volumes Description
國朝三槎風雅 4 Selections of national poetry
千字詩 2 Small collection for Schools
唐詩註 5 The poetry of the Tang Dynasty with full commentary
詩經備旨 4 The Poetical classic
四家詩鈔 5 The Four Poets, Soo toong poo &c.
鳳閣新裁 4 Selection of poetry, new edition

Chinese Title Volumes Description
聊齋志異 16 The Pastimes of Study - Fairy tales
紅樓夢 20 The Dreams of the Red Chamber
三國志 20 History of the three kingdoms
好逑傳 8 The Fortunate Union
唐演傳 12 Legends of the Tang Dyn.
今古奇觀 8 Wonders of ancient & modern times

Mythology, Buddhism &c.
Chinese Title Volumes Description
增訂敬信錄 1 The Religious worship of the Buddhists
神仙通鑑 24 Encyclopedia of Chinese mythology
本草備要 4 Account of Herbs & minerals
蹶張心法 1 The science of the sword & bow
芥子園畫傳 5 Manual of Drawing with illustrations

Chinese Title Volumes Description
策學纂要 6 Introduction to the classics
分類詳註尺牘 6 Treasury of Ceremony
孔子家語 2 Domestic sayings of Confucius
百一鈔 1 A hundred & one notes on various subjects
切問齋文鈔 10 Extracts from the best authors on variety of subjects
文房肆攷 4 The implements of the study, Ink, stone, pencil, paper
平平錄 3 Notices on a variety of things, names &c.
天后經懺 1 Prayers & Penances to the Queen of Heaven the Holy mother
上海同仁堂 1 Report of Native hospital Shanghai
陽宅三要 2 On casting nativities
東園雜字 1 Child's primer