© National Portrait Gallery

Born: Oc­to­ber 17, 1792, Heav­i­tree, Ex­e­ter, Dev­on, Eng­land.

Died: No­vem­ber 23, 1872, Ex­e­ter, Dev­on Eng­land.

Buried: Higher Ce­me­te­ry, Ex­e­ter, Dev­on, Eng­land. On his tomb­stone were the words from his hymn: In the Cross of Christ I Glo­ry.


Bowring was the hus­band of Deb­or­ah Cas­tle.

An ac­comp­lished lin­guist, he mas­tered five lang­uages by age 16 with­out a teacher. It has been said he was event­u­al­ly flu­ent in over 20 lang­uag­es and could speak 80 more; he was known for his trans­la­tions of Dutch po­et­ry. At age 33, he became ed­it­or of the West­min­ster Review.

Bowring was also one of the pre­em­i­nent Bri­tish states­men of his day: Com­mis­sion­er to France, Con­sul at Can­ton (Guang­zhou), Min­is­ter Plen­i­po­ten­ti­a­ry to Chi­na, Gov­er­nor of Hong Kong, and twice a mem­ber of Par­lia­ment. Queen Vic­tor­ia knight­ed him in 1854.