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Harland Family

Harland, William, 1786?-1866.
  • Archives and manuscripts

About this work



Several of William Aurelius Harland's letters from Hong Kong have rare postal markings and for security reasons these have been replaced by photocopies in the files produced to the public.



Physical description

107 items

Acquisition note

Purchased from Sotheby's, London, December 1998.

Biographical note

The Harland family were based in Scarborough, North Yorkshire.

Dr. William Harland (1786?-1866) trained at Edinburgh before practising in Scarborough; he was three times Mayor of the town, a friend of the engineer George Stephenson and the designer of a steam-powered car.

His son Dr. William Aurelius Harland (1822-1858) likewise trained at Edinburgh; as a consequence of an unwise marriage to a servant girl (see MS. 7682/22-23), he left England for Hong Kong in 1846. Here he became resident surgeon of the Victoria Seamen's Hospital and studied natural history, mineralogy and Chinese medical jurisprudence, publishing extensively in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society. He died of a fever in 1858, shortly before he was due to publish a study of the natural history of Hong Kong.

Another son of Dr. William Harland, Edward Harland (1831-1895) (whom the letters mention in passing), was joint founder of the Harland and Wolff ship-building firm.

"On William Aurelius Harland, collector of Hong Kong plants" by James R. Troyer, in Archives of natural history (Vol. 24, pt. 1 (Feb. 1997), pp.149-152), gives further information but gives his birth-date as 1818/19 on the basis of an error in the age given on his tombstone.

Related material

In the Wellcome Library:

Hong Kong figures mentioned in William Aurelius Harland's letters include the Colonial Surgeon William Morrison (see MSS. 5827-5852 for papers relating to the Morrison family) and the administrator, linguist, writer and traveller Sir John Bowring (1792-1872) (see MS. 6128).

Finding aids

Database description transcribed from Richard Aspin and Christopher Hilton's typescript supplement to S.A.J Moorat's Catalogue of Western Manuscripts..


  • English

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