Order with this ReferenceCWM/LMS/Madagascar/Personal/Boxes 2, 5-13
Ref NoCWM/LMS/20/06/02
TitlePapers of James Sibree and Sibree Family
Date(s) of Creation1820-1953
Level of DescriptionSub-Series
Extent9.5 boxes
Name of CreatorSibree; James; 1836-1929; architect; missionary and naturalist
Sibree; family; missionaries
Administrative & Biographical HistoryJames Sibree: born in Hull, England, 1836; son of the Rev James Sibree, Congregational minister, and Martha Goode Aston; educated at Hull Collegiate School; articled to a civil engineer; Assistant Surveyor, Local Board of Health, Hull, 1859-1863; appointed London Missionary Society (LMS) architect of four large stone churches in Madagascar, each a memorial to a martyr of persection, and was sent to Antananarivo, 1863-1867; worked on the churches at Ambatonakanga, Ambohipotsy, Andohalo and Manjakaray, and other mission buildings; trained for the Congregational ministry at Spring Hill College, Moseley, Birmingham, 1868-1870; also carried out deputation work for the LMS; ordained in Hull, 1870; married Deborah Hannah (d 1920), daughter of the Rev J Wilberforce Richardson, Congregational minister, in London, 1870; two sons and three daughters; LMS missionary in Madagascar, 1870-1877; led the extension of mission work outside the capital, founding the first country station, at Ambohimanga, and settling there, 1870; chosen one of the LMS delegates to revise the Malagasy Bible and began work on it, 1873; accompanied the LMS deputation to Antsihanaka province, 1874; took an explorative and evangelistic journey to south-eastern Madagascar, 1876; moved to Antananarivo to work at the theological college, 1876; difficulties with the government in Madagascar forced him to withdraw, 1877-1883; undertook LMS deputation work in England, 1877-1879; appointed missionary to South India, superintending the LMS high school as Vizagapatam, 1879; returned to England owing to his wife's ill health, 1880; LMS deputation work in England, 1880-1883; returned to Madagascar as principal of the LMS theological college and with his wife engaged in other missionary activities, 1883-1915; architect of almost 100 mission buildings, including c.50 churches; in the years leading up to the French invasion (1895) an outspoken supporter of Malagasy independence; chief English authority on Madagascar; received Sir G Back's Grant for his work on the geography and bibliography of Madagascar, 1892; Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society; Fellow of the International Society of Philology; Membre de l'Académie Malgache from 1902; honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity, University of St Andrews, 1913; returned to England owing to his wife's ill health, 1915; resigned as a missionary, 1916; continued deputation work for the LMS and Bible Society, 1920s; died following an accident, 1929. Publications include: Madagascar and its People (1870); South-east Madagascar (1876); The Great African Island (1880); A Madagascar Bibliography (1885); Madagascar before the Conquest (1896); The Madagascar Mission (1907); Our English Cathedrals (2 volumes, 1911); A Naturalist in Madagascar (1915); Things Seen in Madagascar (1921); edited Register of Missionaries and Deputations of the LMS (1923); Fifty Years in Madagascar (1923), his autobiography; works in the Malagasy language; articles on Madagascar for several editions of the Encyclopaedia Britannica and Chambers's Encyclopaedia.

James Sibree's children included several other missionaries:

James Wilberforce Sibree: born at Ambohimanga, Madagascar, 1871; studied at Cheshunt College; ordained, 1896; appointed LMS missionary to Samoa and married Gertrude Helps (d 1900), 1897; sailed to Samoa, 1898; married Lucy Phoebe Johnson (d 1937) at Apia, 1905; resigned as missionary owing to his wife's ill health, 1921; subsequently pastor at Epping, near Sydney, Australia; died there, 1927.

Mary Amelia Sibree: born at Ambohimanga, Madagascar, 1874; assistant teacher at the Girls' Central School, Antananarivo, from 1892; appointed LMS missionary and became head mistress of the school, 1898; returned to England, 1899; married the Rev Percy Milledge (1874-1907), who was appointed to the Madagascar mission, 1901; took charge of the mission following her husband's death, 1907-1908; re-appointed missionary to Madagascar, 1909; undertook deputation work in England for the LMS, 1915-1919; resigned, 1919; appointed to new work in Madagascar, 1922; at the theological college, Antananarivo, 1925-1926; returned to England for health reasons and died, 1926.

Alice Deborah Sibree: born at Antananrivo, Madagascar, 1876; studied at the London School of Medicine for Women; appointed to the Maternity Hospital, Hong Kong; dedicated and sailed, 1903; returned to England and resigned from the LMS, 1909; subsequently returned to Hong Kong and undertook voluntary medical mission work; married C C Hickling; awarded MBE for services during World War One; decorated as Sister of the Order of St John of Jerusalem; died at Hong Kong, 1928.

Elsie Isabel Sibree: born in Catford Bridge, Kent, England, 1881; educated at Walthamstow Hall; French Government Teachers' Diploma (brevet); accompanied her parents to Madagascar, 1901; became assistant French teacher at the Girls' Central School, 1902; Girls' High School, Ambatonakanga, 1904-1907; head mistress of the Girls' Central School, Antananarivo, 1907; lived in England, 1921-1930; returned to Madagascar and was appointed warden of the theological college, Ambohipotsy, also superintending the district of Ambohiptsy from 1938; engaged in other missionary work alongside her educational work; retired, 1954; died in Sevenoaks, 1969.

James Sibree's niece, Dorothy Sibree, was born in Hull, England, 1882; trained at Cheltenham Women's Training College; appointed to Mirzapur, India, and sailed, 1915; transferred to the Benares mission, 1921; married the Rev W G Murphy of the Gopijang mission, 1923; transferred with her husband to Travancore, 1927; died at Neyyoor, 1927.
Held at:SOAS University of London
Custodial HistoryThe papers form part of the special series of personal papers of individual London Missionary Society missionaries and officers.
Source of AcquisitionTransferred from the Council for World Mission Library when it was catalogued in 1999-2000.
DescriptionPapers, 1820-1953, of the Sibree family, comprising miscellaneous correspondence and manuscripts, press cuttings and printed papers, 1867-1929, of James Sibree, the subjects including missionary, literary and architectural work and the history, customs and language of Madagascar, including a manuscript of his `Missionary Heroes and Heroism in Madagascar', 1925; eight scrapbooks of James Sibree's papers, 1820-1927, containing printed materials and cuttings, correspondence and notes, maps and sketches relating to Madagascar and to the Sibree family; two volumes presented to James Sibree on the 50th anniversary of his missionary service in Madagascar, 1913; other papers of James Sibree relating to Madagascar, 1874-c1916 and undated, including its natural history; photographs, comprising portraits of missionaries and others connected with the Madagascar mission, 19th century, Sibree family photograph album, 1902-1913, including volcanic eruptions in Samoa, and photographs of Madagascar, including buildings, landscapes, and individuals; scrapbook of Elsie Sibree, c1913-1953, including press cuttings, photographs, and notes.
Access StatusTemporarily Closed
Language(s) of MaterialEnglish
Other Finding AidsUnpublished handlist
Related MaterialThe School of Oriental and African Studies holds the records of the London Missionary Society (Ref: CWM/LMS), including letters from individual missionaries, among them members of the Sibree family (Ref: CWM/LMS Incoming Correspondence series); candidate's papers of James Sibree, Mary Amelia Sibree and James Wilberforce Sibree (Ref: CWM/LMS Candidates' Papers Box 15 Nos 12-14), of Alice Deborah Sibree, Dorothy Sibree and Elsie Isabel Sibree (Ref: CMS/LMS Candidates' Papers 2nd series 1900-1950 Box 35), and papers relating to the unaccepted candidacy of James Sibree's uncle, P. Sibree [Peter Sibree] (Ref: CWM/LMS Candidate's Papers Box 24 No 40); photographs and an engraving of James Sibree, some of them including his wife Deborah, and a photograph of James Wilberforce Sibree with his wife Lucy and their children (Ref: CWM/LMS Missionary Portraits Box 5); reports from Madagascar by James and Elsie Sibree, 1871-1938 (Ref: CWM/LMS Madagascar Reports passim) and from Samoa by James Wilberforce Sibree, 1898-1918 (Ref: CWM/LMS South Seas Reports passim); typescript notes on the Madagascar Mission by James Sibree (Ref: CWM/LMS Madagascar Miscellaneous Box 1); photographs of James Sibree and family in Madagascar (Ref: CWM/LMS Madagascar Miscellaneous Box 4, CWM/LMS Madagascar Photographs passim) and of James Wilberforce Sibree and his family in Samoa (Ref: CWM/LMS South Seas Photographs passim). SOAS also holds notebooks containing Sibree's memoirs, including a pamphlet by Peter Sibree, 1832 (Ref: MS 380616); papers of James Sibree Milledge on the Sibree family (Ref: MS 380680); and the papers of James Trenchard Hardyman, which include material relating the Sibree family, including manuscripts and printed articles by James Sibree (Ref: PP MS 63).
Archivist's NoteCompiled by Rachel Kemsley as part of the RSLP AIM25 project. Sources: Who's Who; Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, ed Gerald H Anderson (1998); LMS Register of Missionaries, ed James Sibree; National Register of Archives.
Access Points - SubjectAfrican cultures
African history
Austronesian and Oceanic languages
Cultural heritage
Customs and traditions
Malayo-Polynesian languages
Missionary work
Natural disasters
Natural history
Religious buildings
Travel abroad
Volcanic eruptions
Access Points - Places
Place CodePlace Name
7729889Eastern Africa
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