John Harington Gubbins

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John Harington Gubbins
Born (1852-01-24)24 January 1852
Died 23 February 1929(1929-02-23) (aged 77)
Edinburgh, Scotland
Nationality British
Occupation Consular official, scholar

John Harington Gubbins (24 January 1852 – 23 February 1929) was a British linguist, consular official and diplomat. He was the father of Sir Colin McVean Gubbins


Gubbins attended Harrow School and would have gone on to Cambridge University, had family finances allowed.[citation needed]


Gubbins was appointed a student interpreter in the British Japan Consular Service in 1871. He was English Secretary to the Conference at Tokyo for the Revision of the Treaties, after Ernest Satow left Japan in 1883. On 1 June 1889, he was appointed Japanese Secretary at Tokyo.

He was employed in London at the Foreign Office from February to July 1894 in the Aoki-Kimberley negotiations which resulted in the Anglo-Japanese Treaty of Commerce and Navigation (16 July 1894). He was, especially in retirement, a close friend of Satow's. He was elected the first President of the newly founded Royal Asiatic Society Korea Branch in 1900.

Despite having no university degree, Gubbins was awarded an honorary master's degree from Balliol College and was made Lecturer in Japanese language at Oxford University (1909–12). Lack of pupils led to his position being terminated.

See also[edit]


  • Ian Nish, "John Harrington Gubbins, 1852-1929," chap. 8 in Britain and Japan: Biographical Portraits, vol. 2, edited by Ian Nish (Japan Library, 1997).
  • Private correspondence from J.H. Gubbins to Sir Ernest Satow, 1908–27, UK Public Record Office (PRO 30/33 11/8, 11/9 and 11/10).