Karl Gutzlaff, a German missionary, born in Pyritz, Pomerania, July 8, 1803, died in Victoria, Hong Kong, Aug. 9, 1851. He was born of poor parents, and was apprenticed to a belt maker at Stettin. A sonnet which he addressed to the king of Prussia led to his being admitted as a student into the missionary institute at Berlin. His first appointment was from the Dutch missionary society at Rotterdam, which sent him to Batavia in 1820. There he married a rich English lady, and during the two years that he remained in Java he mastered the Chinese language. He then determined to go on his own account to China. Happening in the summer of 1828 to fall in with an English missionary named Tomlin, stationed in Siam, he went with him to Bangkok, where he stayed three years learning the Siamese language, and assisting Tomlin to translate the New Testament into that tongue. Proceeding thence to China, he fixed his residence at Macao, where he cooperated with Morrison, Medhurst, and others, in their missionary labors, he being now in communion with the Anglican church.
In 1831-'3 he made extensive observations along the coasts of China, Siam, Corea, and the Loo Choo islands, first in the disguise of a Chinaman, and afterward as interpreter and surgeon on board the British ship Lord Amherst. On the death of Dr. Morrison, in 1834, Gutzlaff was invited to succeed him as interpreter to the British superintendency. The difficulties that had grown up between the Chinese and British had obstructed the progress of the missions. The circulation of works in the Chinese character was forbidden, and the missionaries were compelled to remove their presses to Singapore. Afterward he was appointed secretary to the British plenipotentiary, and finally superintendent of trade, which office he held till his death. In 1844 he originated a society, ostensibly Chinese, for the purpose of carrying Christianity into the interior through the medium of native agents, and in 1849 visited Europe in behalf of the project. Besides his translation of Biblical works into various Asiatic languages, he wrote in English, "History of the Chinese Empire" (London, 1834), "China Opened" (1838), a "Journal of three Voyages along the Coast of China" (1831-'3), and a "Life of Tao-Kuang" (1851); and in Chinese, "Pro and Contra." Among his German works are Allgemeine Finder- und Volkerkunde (Ningpo, 1843), Geschichte des chinesischen Reiches (Stuttgart, 1847).