William Frederick Mayers

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William S. Frederick Mayers (1831–1878) was a British official and sinologist. [1]



He was son of the Rev. Michael John Mayers, and was born on 7 January 1831 in Tasmania. At the time his father was colonial chaplain there, and was subsequently appointed consular chaplain at Marseille, where Mayers received most of his schooling. [2]

After spending some years as a journalist in New York, Mayers in 1859 went to China as a student-interpreter, accompanying Lord Elgin to Beijing. and, after serving as interpreter to the allied commission charged with the government of Canton, was appointed interpreter to the consulate there. [2] He encountered Gustaaf Schlegel there in 1861. [3] In 1864 he was at Shanghai, assisting with Harry Smith Parkes the Bakufu officials Moriyama Takichirō and Yamaguchi Shichijirō. [4]

Mayers filled consular posts at Chinese ports until 1872, when he was made Chinese secretary of legation at Pekin. In the same year he visited England, and in August read a paper on the Pathays of Yünan before the geographical section of the British Association at Brighton. [2]

Mayers in 1861 became fellow of the Royal Geographical Society; he was also a member of the Royal Asiatic Society, He died on 24 March 1878 at Shanghai of typhus fever, and was survived by his wife. [1] [2]


Mayers was a noted Chinese scholar. He wrote: [2]

He collaborated with Henry Fletcher Hance, as sinologist and botanist. [5]

In 1867, with Nicholas Belfield Dennys and Lieutenant Charles King, Mayers wrote The Treaty Ports of China, and in 1877 translated the Peking Gazette for that year. His official report on The Famine in the Northern Provinces of China was published as a parliamentary paper. He was a contributor to periodical publications, especially the China Review, published at Shanghai, He published in 1869 in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society a paper on the Lamaist Septem in Tibet. [2]


  1. 1 2 Ryan, Janette. "Mayers, William S. Frederick". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/18431.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Lee, Sidney, ed. (1894). "Mayers, William Frederick"  . Dictionary of National Biography . 37. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
  3. Kuiper, Koos (P.N.) (17 July 2017). The Early Dutch Sinologists (1854-1900) (2 vols): Training in Holland and China, Functions in the Netherlands Indies. BRILL. pp. 339 note 81. ISBN   9789004339637 . Retrieved 6 November 2017.
  4. Cassel, Par Kristoffer (11 January 2012). Grounds of Judgment: Extraterritoriality and Imperial Power in Nineteenth-Century China and Japan. Oxford University Press, USA. p. 97. ISBN   9780199792054 . Retrieved 6 November 2017.
  5. FAN, Fa-ti; Fan, Fa-ti (30 June 2009). British Naturalists in Qing China: Science, Empire, and Cultural Encounter. Harvard University Press. p. 164. ISBN   9780674036680 . Retrieved 6 November 2017.

Wikisource-logo.svg  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain :  Lee, Sidney, ed. (1894). "Mayers, William Frederick". Dictionary of National Biography . 37. London: Smith, Elder & Co.

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