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Darwin Correspondence Project

Robert Swinhoe


Diplomat and ornithologist. Attached to the British consulate in Hong Kong, 1854; in Amoy (Xiamen), China, 1855. British vice-consul, Formosa (Taiwan), 1860–5; consul, 1865–73. Acting consul, Amoy, 1865–71; Ning-po (Ningbo), 1871–3; Chefoo (Yantai), 1873. Consul, Ning-po, 1873–5. Suffered two paralytic strokes, probably as a result of syphilis, shortly after becoming acting consul at Ning-po. Returned to China in 1873 after two years’ sick leave; suffered a further stroke after becoming consul of Ning-po and returned to England. Retired in 1875 due to ill health. Collected plants and animals in eastern Asia; wrote ornithological and zoological papers. FRS 1876.


Coates 1988

Foreign Office list 1877

P. B. Hall 1987



Coates, Patrick Devereux. 1988. The China consuls: British consular officers, 1843–1943. Hong Kong and Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Foreign Office list: The Foreign Office list. London: Harrison & Sons. 1852–1965.

Hall, Philip B. 1987. Robert Swinhoe (1836–1877), FRS, FZS, FRGS: a Victorian naturalist in Treaty Port China. Geographical Journal 153: 37–47.

ODNB: Oxford dictionary of national biography: from the earliest times to the year 2000. (Revised edition.) Edited by H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. 60 vols. and index. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2004.