Finding Number (Click this to view full catalogue structure)L
TitleRecords of the Loochoo Naval Mission
Extent4 boxes
DescriptionThis small archive primarily comprises the papers and correspondence of the Loochoo Naval Mission's Secretaries, and missionaries Dr Bernard Jean Bettelheim and Reverend George Harman Moreton, together with papers of others active in the work of the mission 1843-1857. It also includes annual reports 1847-1855, circulars, newsletters, appeals and other printed material, and publications incorporating extensive extracts from the missionary journals and reproductions of key items of correspondence 1843-1857, with miscellaneous financial papers 1843-1852. The records illustrate the tremendous personal drive and commitment of those determined to extend the Christian missionary movement to all areas of the world, inspiring UK government intervention in the face of opposition from the local authorities. As well as personal accounts of the Loochooan life and political climate, the naval connection has resulted in the inclusion of such unusual items as the 1842 designs and plans for 'gangway annular scupper mouths' for use in frigates and brief references to international shipping movements in the area.
ArrangementThe collection forms part of the wider Church Mission Society Archive. It is catalogued as a discrete collection which has been arranged in two broad sections:
Access ConditionsAccess to all registered readers.

For preservation reasons, digital or microfilm copies of the records in this collection are made available in place of the originals.
Finding AidsA catalogue of this collection is available on the online archive catalogue. Click on the Finding Number to display the summary contents list of the catalogue and to view the full catalogue. A paper copy of this catalogue is also available for consultation at Special Collections.
Access StatusOpen, but subject to some access restrictions
Administrative HistoryThe Loochoo Naval Mission was founded in 1845 by Lieutenant Herbert John Clifford, County Waterford, Ireland. He had spent 15 years trying to persuade established missionary societies to send a missionary to the Loochoo [Ryuku] Islands and, after fundraising for two years, he formed the mission with Commander Henry Downes (d 1852), Notting Hill, London, and a small group of fellow royal navy officers. Their intention was to send a missionary to the islands aiming thereby to reach Japan which remained largely closed to foreigners. When their application for help from the CMS was refused, the officers set up an independent fund and sent out Dr Bernard Jean Bettleheim who arrived in Loochoo with his wife and child in May 1846. Bettleheim combined missionary work with medical practice and working on a grammar, dictionary and translations of Scripture until 1854. The second missionary, Reverend George Harman Moreton, arrived in Loochoo with his wife and child in 1853. The Mission came to an end when Moreton's health failed [1857].

In the UK, the business of the Mission was conducted almost entirely by Clifford and Downes until a permanent Committee of naval officers and laymen was formed in London in 1852. The Mission operated through Honorary Secretaries for England, Scotland, Ireland, Hong Kong and (from 1853) China, and a Corresponding Committee in Hong Kong chaired by the Right Reverend George Smith, the Lord Bishop of Victoria 1849-1865. With much of the Committee dispersed on active service, communication was typically by post; efforts focussed on raising funds to support the missionaries, with an active programme of appeals and publicity primarily involving the printing and circulation of extracts from the missionaries' correspondence and journals (these being shipped back through a variety of means including English, French and American naval ships and men-of-war). The Society's office was at 48, Salisbury Square, London.

In 1861 the balance of funds was given to the CMS as a basis of support for evangelistic work in Japan, when that should be possible. The CMS began work in Japan in 1869.

Source: Rosemary Keen 'The Church Missionary Society Archives: or thirty years work in the basement' in Catholic Archives, No. 12, 1992; the printed records.
Custodial HistoryThe records of the Loochoo Naval Mission passed in to the custody of the Church Mission Society (formerly Church Missionary Society) and were subsequently held as a deposited collection within the wider Church Mission Society Archive.
AcquisitionThe Church Mission Society Archive was transferred to University of Birmingham: Special Collections (now Cadbury Research Library) as part of a long term contract made between CMS and the University of Birmingham. The first transfer took place in 1979-80 and the Records of the Loochoo Naval Mission were received in 1986.
CopiesAvailable on microfilm and online.

Microfilm copies:
The records of the Loochoo Naval Mission were microfilmed and published by Adam Matthew Publications in 1997 as part of its micropublication of the Church Missionary Society Archive. Filmed as: Church Missionary Society Archive, Section I: East Asia Missions, Part 1. Copies are available at institutions around the world. The full text of the printed guide to the microfilm is available online through the Adam Matthew Publications website at Cadbury Research Library holds a reference set of the microfilm in microfilm drawer E2; paper copies of the guide are also available.

Looking at records online:
Digital copies of the records which were micropublished by Adam Matthew Publications are also available online through the website of Adam Matthew Digital. Under the title: 'AM Scholar - Church Missionary Society Archive': East Asia Missions. The digitally published copies are available to members of, and visitors to, the University of Birmingham and other subscribing institutions.

All visitors who have registered for a Cadbury Research Library Reader ticket can access the online copies on the public access computers in the Cadbury Research Library Reading Room. Staff and students of the University of Birmingham may also access the products when off campus through the University’s eResources (log in through FindIt@Bham).

To find out about options for accessing microfilm or digital copies of the records in this collection if you are unable to visit the Cadbury Research Library, please contact Adam Matthew for information about holding institutions near you, and options for arranging institutional subscription or a four-week free trial of the digital products. Go to:

To find out about a Cadbury Research Library Adam Matthew Partnership Project which offers 12 researchers, one year of free individual access to the Adam Matthew products: ‘Church Missionary Society Archive' and 'Church Missionary Society Periodicals', please go to the Research, Learning and Teaching page of the Cadbury Research Library website and follow the links under 'Support for remote learners’ at
Related MaterialCadbury Research Library holds the Church Mission Society Archive including the official CMS archive, unofficial papers and other deposited archives. These archives include material relating to the CMS Japan Mission founded in 1869 and a few items concerning the Loochoo Naval Mission. The CMS periodicals and name card index can be searched for references to the Mission and its personnel.
Publication NoteThe publication by Edward E. Bollinger, 'The Cross and the Floating Dragon: the Gospel in Ryukyu' (William Carey Library, 1983), includes a chapter on, and biography of, Dr Bernard J. Bettelheim.


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