Scope and Contents
The collection contains a comprehensive set of papers covering the activities of Jardine, Matheson & Co. Ltd, its predecessors, its subsidiaries and associated firms up to 1969: • The company's business history is covered in large series of accounts (A) and correspondence (B-E, J-K). • The rest of the collection is comprised of legal documents (F), printed commercial circulars and periodicals (G), documents in Chinese (H), papers of other companies (I), and miscellaneous papers (L). • The collection is predominantly in English, with a large set of Chinese documents, a significant number of French and Spanish papers, and a few items in other languages.
- Jardine, Matheson and Co. Ltd (Organization)
Conditions Governing Access
Access to the collection is subject to special conditions and is at the discretion of Matheson & Co. Ltd, part of the Jardine Matheson Group. A statement of the conditions and an application form are available in the Manuscripts Reading Room. Printed copies of the form are available by post (please contact the University Library). An electronic version can also be found at https://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/files/jm_permission_form.pdf.
Records described in the catalogue as being in a bad condition are in a fragile state that precludes them being made available to readers.
Access to some records may be restricted under the terms of the Data Protection Act, 1998.
Conditions Governing Use
The collection is subject to copyright, with the exception of some printed material now outside copyright.
Biographical / Historical
Jardine, Matheson and Company was formed by William Jardine (1784-1843) and James Matheson (1796-1878) on 1 July 1832. It was based initially at Canton (Guangzhou), but transferred its main office to Hong Kong in 1844. Over the course of the next decade, the firm opened new offices, and began to handle a wide range of imports into China, such as coal, metals and machinery. In its early years, the firm was involved in the opium trade.
By the 1860s, however, the company's share of the trade was decreasing, and by 1872 its involvement had virtually ceased. This period saw the firm begin to engage in service operations alongside imports and exports. It pioneered sugar-refining in Hong Kong with the formation of the China Sugar Refinery Company, and entered the railway industry with the building of the first railway from Shanghai to Woosung in 1876.
By the 1880s, its interests in China extended to wharves, warehouses, cotton mills, mining and engineering. This period saw the founding of the Indo-China Steam Navigation Company (1882) and Hongkong Land (1889). Jardine, Matheson and Co. became a limited company in 1906, by which time the heart of the firm's business was in Shanghai; the head office was based officially in the city from 1912.
The outbreak of war with Japan in 1941 forced the firm to relocate its main office to London, but it was one of the first companies to resume business in China and Hong Kong once the conflict ended, and it returned to Japan in 1947.
1 collection (c. 25 cases (c. 95m³))
Language of Materials
The spelling of Indian names has been standardised wherever possible, with common alternative spellings listed.
Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements
The majority of the collection is in a fair or good condition and available for consultation. Damaged records are listed as being in a moderate, poor or bad condition. Records described in the online catalogue as being in a bad condition are in a fragile state that precludes them being made available to readers.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The original accession of records was presented to Cambridge University Library by Jardine, Matheson & Co. Ltd in 1935.
Existence and Location of Copies
The collection includes microfilms of the main in-correspondence series (B1-11) and some other papers in the archive. Details are provided in the relevant sections of this catalogue.
Historical information in the catalogue regarding individuals and companies (including information included in personal and corporate name index terms) is drawn primarily from 'The Thistle and the Jade' and the records themselves.
- Language of description
- Script of description