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Morrison, Robert (1782–1834)

  1. Ron J. Bigalke Jr.

Published Online: 25 NOV 2011

DOI: 10.1002/9780470670606.wbecc0939

The Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization

How to Cite

Bigalke, R. J. 2011. Morrison, Robert (1782–1834). The Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 25 NOV 2011


Robert Morrison was born the youngest son of eight children to James and Hannah Morrison in Buller's Green, Northumberland, January 5, 1782, and died August 1, 1834 at his home in Guangzhou, China. His family were devout Scottish Presbyterians. His maternal uncle, James Nicholson, provided his elementary instruction, which included the study of biblical languages and multiple disciplines in the natural sciences. His father apprenticed him to manufacture boot-trees but he still continued his studies. He received catechetical instruction, in a sort of Sunday School, from John Hutton at the High Bridge Chapel. According to one of his relatives, he was able to recite the entirety of Psalm 119 from memory by the age of 13. Although he was raised in the border country, he maintained relationships with the Church of Scotland. At 16, he devoted his life to Christ and became a member of the Presbyterian Church in 1798, and established a praying society in his father's workshop for evening devotions. In 1803, he entered Hoxton Academy in London, an evangelical college for training congregational ministers, where he learned the basics of Latin, in addition to the rudiments of Greek and Hebrew. His mother died in 1804, and in the same year he applied to the London Missionary Society, believing he was called to proclaim the gospel in China. He was able to receive instruction from Yong Sam-Tak, a Chinese student, to read and write Chinese. To intensify his learning, he invited Sam-Tak into his house, and was able to master the resources made accessible to him. Morrison obtained a Jesuit translation of the gospels into Chinese from the British Library that he studied daily with Sam-Tak and labored to transcribe. The Royal Society loaned him a dictionary manuscript of Latin and Chinese which he also worked to transcribe. In 1807, he was ordained at Scots Church and departed for China.


  • Morrison, Robert (1782–1834);
  • devoting his life to christ, establishing a praying society;
  • baptizing the first chinese protestant christian, cai gao;
  • Morrison, writing of a chinese dictionary