R. H. Cobbold

Anglican Archdeacon and translator.

The Rev. R. H. Cobbold was an Anglican Archdeacon and translator with the Church Missionary Society. Arriving in Ningbo with W.A. Russell and assisted by Miss Aldersey in 1848, they established a mission which later extended to other parts of Chekiang (now Zhejiang).

Cobbold helped to put William Martin’s romanization of the Ningbo dialect to use through the translation of books and the promotion of their printing. This new writing system was welcomed by the people of the region, who were amazed to see children and other illiterate people learn to read in a matter of days. He worked on translating the Ningbo Romanized Vernacular New Testament along with Russell, Gough, Rankin, Way, and W.A.P. Martin, and later authorized Hudson Taylor’s revision of their text. He also translated Pilgrim’s Progress and Line upon Line.

In 1852, Cobbold and his wife escorted Burella and Maria Dyer to Shanghai and Ningbo aboard the Harriet Humble. They taught the girls Chinese on the way, and once in China, they helped to oversee them. Cobbold and Rankin of the Presbyterian mission visited thirteen walled cities on their two tours of Chekiang in 1855-56. Despite China’s general resistance to foreigners, they were able to travel in Western dress without being stopped. On occasion, he preached at Dr. Parker’s clinic, and he lived in Ningbo until 1862. He then returned to England to become the rector of the parish of Broseley in Staffordshire.


  • A.J. Broomhall, Hudson Taylor and China’s Open Century: Barbarians at the Gates, 306, 394.
  • A.J. Broomhall, Hudson Taylor and China’s Open Century: Over the Treaty Wall, 96, 237, 273-4, 308, 322, 361.
  • A.J. Broomhall, Hudson Taylor and China’s Open Century: If I Had A Thousand Lives, 22, 33, 39, 41-2, 81, 87, 119, 235, 253, 327.
  • A.J. Broomhall, Hudson Taylor and China’s Open Century: Survivor’s Pact, 98, 134.
  • Kenneth Scott Latourette, A History of Christian Missions in China, 249, 252.

About the Author

Laura Mason

Research Assistant, Global China Center.