Robert Morrison

Researched by Bill Ricalton LLHS

Robert Morrison's father came to Wingates from Fife in search of agricultural work in Northumberland. In 1768 he married Hannah Nicholson, of Wingates, in St Helen's church Longhorsley. He lived in Wingates for 13 years, before moving to Bullers Green Morpeth.

Dr Robert Morrison 1781 - 1834

Robert the youngest of eight children was born on the 5th of January 1781. No registration of the birth has been found, but it is claimed that he was born in Wingates. It was known that there were very heavy snow falls at the time, and it seems likely that if the removal was at the end of December, Hannah remained with her parents for his birth, before joining the rest of her family.

His father, later said to be a last and boot maker to whom Robert was apprenticed. He was also well drilled in the scriptures, and catechism from strict Presbyterian forebears. He was given further instruction by the minister, of High Bridge Presbyterian Church in Newcastle, where he was a keen student, later learning Hebrew, Latin and Greek.

He eventually achieved his great ambition to become a missionary, being accepted by the London Missionary Society. He went to their academy at Gosport to learn Chinese and French: also studying medicine in London and astronomy at Greenwich.

In January 1807 he embarked for China, spent the first 16 months with a teacher, in a concentrated study of the language and customs. Though a missionary, he was attached to the East India Co. in Macao and became their official interpreter.

Robert published several religious books, and other works, in Chinese. In 1813 along with Wm Milner, completed the Old and New Testaments and the Book of Common Prayer. He afterward compiled a Chinese Dictionary.

Robert Morrison died in Canton in August 1834. His body was taken by boat to Macao where it was interred in the Protestant Cemetery where his memorial can still be seen.