Carstairs Douglas


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Carstairs Douglas (Chinese: 杜嘉德; Southern Min: Tō· Ka-tek) (born December 27, 1830 in Kilbarchan, Renfrewshire; died July 26, 1877 in Xiamen, China) was a Scottish missionary, remembered chiefly for his writings concerning the Southern Min language of Fujian, in particular his Chinese-English Dictionary of the Vernacular or Spoken Language of Amoy.

Castairs Douglas was born a son of the manse in Kilbarchan in Renfrewshire, Scotland, the youngest or second-youngest of seven children. His father was the parish priest and his elder brother was also closely involved in the church. Douglas studied at the University of Glasgow from 1845 until 1851, gaining an MA degree, and was later awarded the LL.D. by his alma mater in recognition of his scholarly achievements. Going on to study Divinity at the University of Edinburgh, Douglas professed a keen interest in missionary work. He was ordained in February 1855 and set sail for China a month later.

As one of the treaty ports opened to Westerners in 1842, Xiamen (then known in the West as Amoy) was one of the few places in China where missionaries could go about their work relatively unmolested. During his tenure Douglas was responsible for increasing the single church in Xiamen to a congregation of twenty-five churches, composed mostly of Chinese members. While stationed in Xiamen, Douglas visited Taiwan and was influential in the decision by the English Presbyterian Mission to send missionaries to the island.


During twenty-two years as a Presbyterian missionary in Xiamen Douglas amassed a wealth of information on the Southern Min language spoken in the area, eventually compiling his Chinese-English Dictionary of the Vernacular or Spoken Language of Amoy (1873), which was the first comprehensive Southern Min-English dictionary and which remains an important work in the understanding of the language

He died of cholera on July 26, 1877 at the age of 47 in his adopted home of Xiamen and was buried on Gulangyu. He is memorialised in a stained-glass window in St. Bryce Kirk, Kirkcaldy which was dedicated by his brother, an elder of the kirk.


Rev. Robert Douglas and Janet Monteath


  • *Robert Douglas b 1822 at the Manse, Kilbarchan, Renfrewshire. Son of the Reverend Robert Douglas of Kilbarchan. Founder of Douglas and Grant Engineering, Dunnikier Foundry, Cupar, Fife.  Married Frances Mary Matilda Cumming b 1826 in the British Chaplaincy, St Petersburg, Russia. Daughter of Boswell Englebrecht Cumming of St Petersburg and Foma Lister.

  • *Dr James Douglas b.c. 1812 at the Manse, Kilbarchan. Practised medicine in Glasgow and married an Agnes Atkinson, who emigrated to Australia with their three children after his early death.

  • *Ann Douglas b.c. 1816 the Manse, Kilbarchan who married James Murdoch, the Procurator Fiscal of Ayr.

  • *John Monteath Douglas b.c. 1819, the Manse, Kilbarchan d. 1899 . Stockbroker and author of works on bimetallism. His wife is unknown but his eldest daughter Mary Douglas married Major General George Stewart b 1839 d.1927. and who was involved with the Indian Mutiny and the China campaign.

  • *The Reverend George Cunningham Monteath Douglas b.c. 1823, the Manse, Kilbarchan. Admitted to Glasgow University at the age of 11 and worked his way up to the postion of the Reverend Principal of the Scottish Free Church College.

  • *Campbell Douglas b.1828 the Manse, Kilbarchan. Architect, married Elizabeth Menzies, daughter of Allen Menzies, Professor of Conveyancing at the University of Edinburgh.



This page was last updated on 11 October 2021

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