TOMLIN, JACOB (1793-1880). Pioneer Protestant missionary in Thailand.

After study at St John’s College Cambridge (BA), Tomlin was in 1826 appointed by the LMS to Melaka. He reached there in 1827 but moved frequently around the region. He visited Singapore and Batavia and in August 1828 went on an extended visit to Thailand. His writings give a picture of a pioneer phase of missionary activity where the political situation provided freedom and the novelty of the message and literature attracted interest rather than fear. While in Thailand his random tracting and preaching had no prospect of building a church, but witness on Chinese junks was seen as a strategy for reaching China. He visited to Bali and again to Bangkok, this time in the company of Abeel. He is remembered for being one of the early Protestant missionaries in Thailand, though he was little more than a visitor.

While principal at the Anglo Chinese College in Melaka in 1833 he abolished the stipend the mission paid to students. His relationship with the LMS was terminated in 1834 after which he ran his own school in Melaka before returning to pastoral work in England in 1836. He retained his interest in Chinese ministry and published on the debate over the appropriate Chinese name for God, favouring Shin rather than Shang-te.


A Missionary Journal kept at Singapore and Siam from May, 1830, to January 1832, Mission Press, Malacca, 1832.

Journal of a nine months residence in Siam, by Jacob Tomlin, missionary, London, Frederick Westley and A H Davis, 1831.

Journal kept during a voyage from Singapore to Siam, and while residing nine months in that country, 67pp, Singapore.

Missionary Journals and Letters, 384pp, London, 1845.

Tomlin, Jacob. Missionary journals and letters: written during eleven years’ residence and travels amongst the Chinese, Siamese, Javanese, Khassias, and other Eastern Nations, London, James Nisbet, 1844. In Malacca and Singapore from 1827 to 1836.

[Anon] “Shin v. Shang-Te” antagonist versions of the Chinese scriptures. A review of the controversy respecting the proper rendering of ELOHIM and QEOS into Chinese, and statement of the evidence showing a large majority for “Shin, ”&c. By a life-member of the Bible Society, of thirty years’ standing. London, [c.]1854

Critical remarks on Dr Tregelles’ Greek Text of the Revelation and his two English versions compared with the Received Text and Authorised translation showing the great superiority of the latter, by a close and candid examination of his various readings, tested by the context, parallel places, and general analogy of Scripture. “These critical remarks first appear in the Constitution newspaper in 1863-4 and are now published separately, in 10 letters, Liverpool, Arthur Newling, 1865, 79pp.

SOAS Archives. Letters of 1/4/1828; 1/11/1832; 20/6/1833; 21/10/1833; Board Meeting Minute Book, 24/11/1832.

[Alexander Wylie], Memorials of Protestant Missionaries to the Chinese giving a list of their publications and obituary notices of the deceased with copious indexes, American Presbyterian Mission Press, 1867, 50-51.

Time Line

Deacon, Chester 1845, priest, 1846

Curate, St Augustine’s Liverpool, 1845-6

Curate in charge, Tunstall near Kirby Lonsdale, Yorks, 1847-8

Curate, Brodsworth, Yorks, 1860-61

Curate, Croxall, Derbyshire, 1865-6

Vicar, Wollaston, Northants, 1868-76

Resided at Chester House, Irchester, Northants,

Died 5 Sept, 1880.

John Roxborogh.