Hong Kong 1836 – 1842 – part 1

Articles in this chapter are initially from Canton Register whilst later ones are from the Friend of China.

The first few articles relate to the use of Hong Kong as a smuggling anchorage before its informal and later formal cession to the British. It was the place to which British merchants retired after they were evicted from Macau and their trade with China was perpetually cut-off. They used the anchorage to trans-ship arriving British goods to American bottoms for the river carriage to Canton.

I have left Capt Elliot’s two naval battles – the Battle of Kowloon Bay and his Battle of the Bogue – in the China chapter.

The subsequent articles detail the early history of Hong Kong after its transfer of sovereignty to the British crown. It is regrettably comprised of a rather long list of crimes and punishments which appear due to the island being repopulated with British trading intermediaries who were a rough lot, whilst the original residents largely removed to China to preserve their livelihoods.

Apart from endless robberies ashore and piracies afloat, the new colony was also noted in its early years for a type of summer fever that carried-off a great many residents. The crime spree was eventually contained by registration of small boats and the fatal fevers were diminished by better hygiene.

In respect of smuggling, which was Hong Kong’s raison d’etre, a quotation attributed to ‘the grandfather of free trade’ Adam Smith is reproduced here from an earlier chapter:

to pretend to have any scruples about buying smuggled goods would be regarded as one of those pedantic pieces of hypocrisy which instead of gaining credit with anybody seems only to expose the person who affects to practise them to the suspicion of his being a greater knave than most of his neighbours.”

Vol 9 No 18 – 3rd May 1836

Letter to the Canton Register Editor – I recently made a survey of the Pearl River Estuary. We started at Kap Shui Mun (the passage between Ma Wan and Lantau Islands) at the end of which was a perfect harbour. We then went to Lamma which had looked good but turned out to be unprotected from the weather – the best bay (Sok Kwu Wan) was too landlocked. We found a small but good harbour at the waterfall on Hong Kong opposite Lamma (Waterfall Bay, Pokfulam). This had good depth by two entrances. We then looked at Lyemun and, of all the harbours in this vicinity, this is the best. The entrance from Tai Tam is as safe as the Bogue and gives access to deep water passages both north and south of Lintin. Kowloon Bay is an excellent anchorage of 5-7 fathoms over a clay bottom, plenty of fresh water ashore and easy approaches east and west.

These observations lead us to conclude that if England is to occupy any part of South China it should be Hong Kong. If it was a free port it will be the most considerable mart east of the Cape. The Portuguese got it wrong – they accepted shallow water and exclusive rules. Hong Kong has deep water and should be a free port for ever.

Sgd A Passenger

Editor – The survey of the estuary was called by the India Company’s Select Committee to discover the safest passages up the China Sea. It was not then intended to promote an extensive smuggling trade outside the river so not every bay was examined. Indeed a close inspection of the coast would have unsettled the local officials whom the Company was at pains to keep friendly.

Now the situation has changed but what does England want with Hong Kong and its wretched village of poor fishermen (Chek Chu, later called Stanley). If ‘A Passenger’ is suggesting we possess the islet and oust its inhabitants that would be a thievish, cunning and cowardly deed, unbecoming to our country.

Vol 9 No 18 – 3rd May 1836

Letter to the Editor – Do not decry Hong Kong too quickly. There are fine granite quarries worked by industrious stone masons who will benefit if we fortify the island. There is a thriving fishing village whose business will improve if we move in.[1]

The present poverty of the Hong Kong people makes them more amenable to us. We can buy their land more cheaply. Sgd Temper

Editor – Hongkong is part of China, we cannot just take it. If we multiply Lintins along the China coast we avoid the restrictive commercial laws by trading at sea. When we go on land we and our native trade partners are oppressed by the government. We do not have to forcibly take and retain an island – that would be piracy.

The China trade is too important for the British government to abandon or leave it subject to the interdiction of the Chinese government. If we seize an island, how can we carry on a trade in Canton within ten minutes walk of the Viceroy’s yamen? It would be too rapacious. We are despondent at British efforts hitherto to protect and promote the China trade but things are so bad they can only get better.

Vol 10 No 34 – 22nd August 1837

In response to the objection of the Viceroy of the Two Kwong, it is contemplated to remove the shipping from Kap Shui Mun to Hong Kong. This chasing of the shipping from harbour to roadstead and from roadstead to somewhere else should be carefully monitored.[2]

Hong Kong is a good anchorage but is a long voyage from Macau and Canton. The renewed zeal of the coast guard suggests the shipping may not remain there long either. Whether the ships will be able to return to Lintin in November remains unclear.

These removals weaken our cause and encourage the local officials to believe they can stop the smuggling trade. Whilst the Canton government is enforcing these Imperial orders, we should continue to treat its officers with contempt.

Vol 11 No 39 – 25th September 1838

Notices:

  • The Lulworth will sail from Hong Kong for Calcutta on 1st October. For freight visit Captain Graham at 5 Imperial Hong, Canton.
  • The Forth will sail from Hong Kong for Singapore and Calcutta on 1st October. For freight visit L de Souza, 5 Danish Hong.

Vol 12 No 3 – 15th January 1839

Captain Ho Ko Chung, commanding the Chinese squadron at Kowloon Bay, Hong Kong, has petitioned the Viceroy on 10th January 1839 as follows:

“A small foreign ship with an awning over her aft deck (a schooner – likely one of the ferries banned from the river) is cruising off western Hong Kong between Apleichau and Green Island. I have sent boats to constantly observe her and prevent native fishermen, etc., from contacting with her.

“Ships that enter the river and go to Whampoa are trading ships. Ships that loiter in the outer waters are smuggling ships. This is clearly a smuggling ship.

“If this ship is attacked by pirates and robbed, the foreigners will assuredly protest and routinely inflate the real value of their claim.

“Please publish an Edict so the Hong merchants can tell the foreigners not to allow their ships to wander around, otherwise they risk being fired upon.”

Viceroy’s reply:

“I order the warjunks to drive this ship away. Should she resist, open fire and destroy her. The foreigners ignore my determination and continue in their old ways. The Hong merchants will again impress on them that ships coming to China for trade must enter the river and anchor at Whampoa.

They will be examined and give a bond that they will not smuggle. Then their trade may commence.

If they bring opium or other contraband they will be driven out and not allowed to sell their contraband in the outer waters. If they disobey they will be attacked by our warjunks.”

Vol 12 No 10 – Tuesday 5th March 1839

Captain E Parry of the receiving ship Hercules has provided a report from the smuggling fleet at Hong Kong harbour, 2nd March 1839:

The government junks have been more numerous and reduced the number of visits our customers have been able to make. A few of the local grog shops that supply our sailors with Sam Shoo on Sundays have been burned down.[3] There is a rumour that five fire rafts are to be sent against us but I think it unlikely. That is the extent of the difficulties we have.

The senior naval officer asked us to go elsewhere for 2-3 weeks as Commissioner Lin is arriving in about a week. We will leave on Monday morning and probably anchor off the Soko Islands.

Vol 12 No 11 – 12th March 1839

Letter to the Editor – it is apparent that we are approaching a crisis. The terms of our future trade are about to be settled. Opium importation is the paramount matter to the Chinese. It will have to end before any permanent arrangements for the rest of our trade can be made. The Chinese are threatening to end the opium trade on the coast and at Hong Kong (where the receiving ships are temporarily based). The foreigners will struggle to preserve their valuable trade.

One proposal is to withdraw the ships to Manila or Singapore, wait a few months until things are quiet again, and then incrementally resume business.

What about the rest of our trade once the Chinese find they are able by mere Edicts to stop this important branch of it. Will we all be exposed to greater extortion? We cannot conduct reciprocal trade when the Chinese have such an advantage. How can we risk our capital when we will be putting it at the mercy of the Chinese? Opium has been a most lucrative trade due to Chinese connivance. If it is not to be tolerated in future we must either abandon it or conduct it without Chinese assistance. No-one will give-up while there is a prospect of continuing.

The only way we can continue the business is by taking a settlement under British rule on the Chinese coast. Many suitable places exist, not least the Bonin Islands which Britain recently took possession of, presumably with just such an eventuality in mind.[4] We have repeatedly put this proposal to the British government but Palmerston has temporised and little should be expected. British politicians are anticipating war with Russia in which case maritime trade will be subject to attack by privateers.

The Bonin Islands would make a splendid naval base for a Russian war and could also protect our China trade. The islands are perfect for forcing a trade with north China and south Japan. If they were made a free port, they would quickly become as valuable as Singapore. The islands would also give our south sea whalers a place to refit and allow their exploitation of the fishing grounds off Japan. They would be a better place for the opium fleet to withdraw to than either Manila or Singapore – the Spanish government at Manila has enacted the death penalty on opium offences.[5] If we uninterruptedly developed opium at Bonin we could grow trade to the size at which the British government must take note of it. Sgd X, Canton, 1st March.

Editor – We should not voluntarily withdraw from Canton as it has been the established port for foreign trade for 70+ years. We should be able to establish our free trade on Taiwan if the other European powers can be brought to agreement. The Chinese are just commencing to subdue the aboriginals, occupy the productive land and develop the island. Their rights to do so are based on superior force – there are no Imperial assertions of a moral basis to the occupation.

The annoying thing is that the Chinese are disinterested in anything non-Chinese. They do not value any of the things we think they should value – our technological, scientific & military knowledge and commercial methods. The British government should recognise the absolute necessity for its interference.

Vol 12 No 13 – 26th March 1839

From the Editor of Canton Register’s diary of events:

Sunday 24th March – We told How Qua today is a holy day and no work or official duties might be performed. He was pleased at the postponement.

Later that morning we received a circular from Capt Elliot:

“I hear you are detained in Canton. I have lost confidence in the provincial government. I require all British ships to assemble at Hong Kong and prepare to defend themselves.

In the absence of HMS Larne, Captain Parry of the receiving ship Hercules (or failing him Captain Wallace of the Mermaid) will command the defence of the fleet.

I command you all to submit to the orders of Parry and Wallace.” Dated at Macau, 22nd March.

Vol 12 No 22 – 28th May 1839

W P Snow, American Consul, has circulated the following edict of Commissioner Lin, dated 18th May, for the information of the American community:

“Chinese officials have visited the fleet at the Nine Islands to examine the ships but an American ship raised its anchor and sailed away. The details of this ship are to be widely circulated so she can do no more trade in China.

“The foreigners say the Nine Islands anchorage is exposed and they want to move their ships to Tsim Sha Tsui in Hong Kong harbour. Thirteen ships at Macau have been measured and are ready to enter the river for trade but the details of their cargo is not yet known.

“The foreigners speak in general terms in their routine attempts at deception but they have consented to be measured and have applied for a safer anchorage at Hong Kong so we will be compassionate to them.

“The (Chinese) officials at Macau will tell the foreigners they do not need to anchor at Tsim Sha Tsui – all ships may come to Whampoa for trade.”

Vol 12 No 28 – 9th July 1839 (actually published 12thJuly)

An affray on the Hong Kong waterfront between foreigners and Chinese has caused the death of two of the latter. We await details.

Vol 12 No 32 – 6th August 1839

Elliot’s notice to British citizens, 5th August, Macau:

A session of the British Court of Justice will be held on a British ship in Hong Kong harbour on 12th August.

Vol 12 No 33 – 13th August 1839 (published 16th August)

Proclamation of the Tso Tong of Macau, 15th August:

“The English ships have remained outside and the sailors have been going ashore at Hong Kong and causing disturbance. People have died and Elliot is ordered to surrender the murderer(s) for justice.

“He is also ordered to send the empty opium ships away – 12 of them still remain. Of those ordered away by the Emperor, only Dent’s ships have gone. The other traitorous foreigners keep their ships here spying around and Elliot does nothing to further the Imperial will.

“Now whether the English live on their ships at Hong Kong or reside at Macau their provisions are to be cut-off. The Portuguese at Macau and the merchants of other nationalities are not involved in this. The compradors and servants of the English have three days to withdraw their services and return to their homes.”

Vol 12 No 33 – 13th August 1839 (published 16th August)

Elliot called a well-attended public meeting of the English mercantile community at Macau to consider the above Edict. A committee was appointed to identify the way forward.

Editorial – our provisions and servants are to be withdrawn for what? A Chinese was killed in a fight and the law demands ‘a life for a life’. In this case Elliot invited Commissioner Lin to send an observer to the trial of the suspected murderer(s) (the purpose of convening a Court in Hong Kong above) and Lin responded by marching on Macau with a body of troops.

Vol 12 No 34 – 20th August 1839

The grand jurors empanelled on a ship in Hong Kong harbour on 12th August to hear the trial of three suspects in the Tsim Sha Tsui murder case are John Harvey Astell, William Bell, George T Braine, David L Burn, Wilkinson Dent, Thomas Fox, Thomas Gemmell, Crawford Kerr, William P Livingston, James Matheson, Peter Scott, John Rickett, Dadabhoy Rustomjee, Dinshaw Furdonjee, Framjee Jamsetjee, Heerjeebhoy Rustomjee and Bomanjee Maneckjee.

Two indictments were presented.

The first was against a British seaman for the murder of Lam Wai Hei on 7th July at Tsim Sha Tsui village at the eastern end of the harbour. It was ignored by the jurors.

The second was against five sailors for riotous assembly at the same village, for entering private dwelling houses, for searching those houses, for assaulting and wounding the male and female occupants, young and old, and for destroying a temple outside the village. They were all convicted after hearing.

In his judgment Elliot said ‘I have sought for extenuating circumstances as you are all English Christians but I have found none. It was inexcusable negligence to permit such a large party ashore without an officer-in-charge, particularly in the present circumstances.[6] Two named seamen will be imprisoned in some British gaol for three months and do hard labour. They are both fined £15 and will remain incarcerated until they pay. The other three are imprisoned for six months hard labour and are fined £20, sentences to commence from the date you are committed to prison.

Vol 12 Nos 36 – 39 – 1st 8th15th 22nd 29th September

Editorial – our absence from Macau since 26th August stopped publication of the Canton Register throughout September.

This issue addresses what happened during that month. We will preface those events with details from Hong Kong since 7th July.

Readers may know that Captain Douglas of the Cambridge was appointed by Elliot to protect British shipping at Hong Kong.

After the death of Lam Wai Hei on 7th July, Elliot requested us to be more circumspect and to prepare our defences. Social calls between the ships were stopped. People going ashore now go in groups.

On 12th July Capt Douglas published a reward of £200 for information leading the arrest of the murderer of Lam Wai Hei (provided he was an Englishman) and £100 for identification of the other rioters and their ring leaders. Commanders of ships were severely reprimanded for permitting their sailors ashore in large uncontrolled groups.

On 27th August Elliot reported the lives of English people were threatened and he had to protect the fleet from surprise attack. In the absence of any military authority he would assume it in addition to his civil duties.

On 3rd September, Commissioner Lin with the Viceroy of the Two Kwong and Governor of Kwongtung visited Macau.

The Portuguese put out an honour guard of 150 men and fired a 19 gun salute from the Monte Fort. The Bar Fort and St Pedro Fort later also fired 19 gun salutes.

The major commanding the honour guard accepted 400 Taels of silver, 10 cows, 10 pigs, 6 baskets of flowers, 4 jars of wine, 2 tubs of sugar and 4 chests of tea from the Commissioner as gifts for his men. The Portuguese governor prepared a lavish lunch at Monte Fort (the Governor’s palace, his official residence, is in the fort) but the Commissioner declined to attend. The Procurador met the Commissioner at the temple near the bar fort and found himself being questioned:

‘do you know why I have come to Macau?’ ‘To stop the opium trade’;

‘If Portuguese again trade in opium will the Macau government surrender the culprits to China?’ ‘It is not possible to surrender a Portuguese to Chinese jurisdiction whatever offence is alleged.’

In spite of this independent response, the Commissioner conferred the Chinese rank equivalent to the Kwongchow Foo on the Procurador. He then left the temple and passed along Beale’s Lane to the Praia Grande. He proceeded via Rua de Hospital to St Antonio’s Gate (the gate wherein he came) and left the enclave.

On 4th September Elliot and Captain Smith in the Louisa together with the schooner Pearl and the boats of the Cambridge and some other ships, sailed to Kowloon Bay village for provisions. Elliot is said to have hoisted the British flag and told the warjunks stationed there that it would remain hoisted as an invitation to villagers to bring provisions alongside the British boats. If no provisions were supplied he would deem it due to the presence of the warjunks and the flag would be pulled down signalling the start of an attack on the Chinese fleet.

The villagers did indeed bring provisions to the shore but the warjunk officers would not permit any trade. Between 2 – 3 pm about 30-40 shots were fired by the British flotilla at the warjunks. Elliot used all the gunpowder on Louisa and sent a signal to the Fort William receiving ship to send its boats in assistance. The Louisa then sailed down on Kowloon village and three warjunks were driven ashore. A Chinese petty officer and two men were killed. Capt Douglas and two of his crew were wounded.

Next morning many of the boats of the English fleet sailed on Kowloon village reportedly with the intention of destroying the fort but they unexpectedly changed their minds and returned to the shipping without firing a shot.[7]

On 12th September the Spanish brig Bilbaino was fired and burned whilst at anchor in Taipa Roads. According to the Canton Press of 14th September the ship had anchored in the Taipa at 5 am 12th September. Later some warjunks approached. On seeing this, the watch officer ordered the Spanish flag hoisted. The warjunks then floated two lighted fire rafts towards the ship which the foreigners avoided by paying-out cable. The warjunks then attacked from ahead and astern using cannon while soldiers boarded the ship at the gangway. Most of the crew jumped overboard and were rescued by the Chinese attacking force. The ship was then plundered and fired. The Spanish Chief Officer was taken away with a chain around his neck. The Boatswain and five other crew were put ashore on a nearby island. 13 other crew were left in the ship’s longboat without oars or rudder. They were later rescued by a boat from the Bar Fort. Six others were saved and four more are detained by the Chinese with the Chief Mate. The Portuguese Governor subsequently approved publication of the following Edict:

“Chinese officials have burnt the Spanish brig Bilbaino on suspicion it contained opium.

The Leal Senado has approved the use of an armed brig to cruise Taipa Roads to preserve order. Any ship with opium is commended to surrender its cargo to the armed brig. These regulations come into effect on 1st October.”

Sgd Silveira, Pinto, Braga, Silva, Barretto, Leinos, Lima (all the Leal Senado members). 14th September.

On 10th September some officials with three Linguists came to Rev Bridgman and took him to the Bogue to interview the Wei Yuen, representing the Commissioner, reportedly to request the American to act as intermediary with the British.

Bridgman returned to Macau two days later.

18th September was the Emperor’s birthday. The usual ceremonies were held. At a meeting with Portuguese officials, the Chinese said they hoped the difficulties with the English could be soon resolved.

On 24th September Elliot with Capt Smith of HMS Volage interviewed the Keunmin foo (Prefect) at the Portuguese governor’s house. According to the Canton Press the purpose was to seek for some means whereby British ships could offload. The Chinese require that:

    • no opium ship come near Chinese coasts;
    • the opium ships and the 16 banned foreigners leave and
    • the murderer of Lam Wai Hei be surrendered.

On fulfilling these conditions the British shipping with legal cargo is welcome to resume trade at Whampoa.

Editor – while this is tempting, we must take a long view of our future China trade. We need the British government to intervene. Then it is conceivable that the Commissioner will remove the ban on the 16 men.

The boat of the Myram Dyaram was chased by Chinese warjunks through the Kap Shui Mun passage (Between Lantau and Ma Wan Islands). Captain MacDonnell of the Psyche was cut off from the shipping at Hong Kong by warjunks and fled to Macau which he reached next day. His crew had to drink seawater and were very tired. The boat departed Macau 6th September to return to Kap Shui Mun anchorage. On board were Capt MacDonnell, the Chief Officer and 11 other people. The boat never arrived. It is supposed they were captured by Chinese patrol boats in the estuary.

Lin’s proclamation to the Chinese people to resist English landing parties:

“The English are overbearingly proud and oppose Chinese law. The opium smugglers linger at Macau and the empty receiving ships stay nearby. Newly arrived ships bring opium and other goods and remain at Hong Kong unable to enter the river and offload. While there they killed our Lam Wai Hei in a drunken brawl.

“We have repeatedly told Elliot to settle this matter but he opposes our authority. His contumacy and stiff-necked presumption is unsurpassed.

“We have accordingly instructed all local officers on land and sea to intercept any provisions being sold to the English so they may finally be brought to reason.

“The English are now living on their ships in Hong Kong harbour and it may be foreseen that they will sail along the coasts seeking for food and water. If they cannot buy supplies they may attempt to forcibly take them.

“This proclamation is to advise all the coastal people to form groups, buy weapons and defend themselves.

“If the foreigners come to trouble you, it is lawful for you to oppose them, fire upon them, drive them away or imprison them. They are few, you are many.

“But you may not take to your boats and go looking for trouble.” Sgd 31st August 1839

Vol 12 Nos 36 – 39 – 1st 8th15th 22nd 29th September

Elliot’s proclamation, 11th September:

Commissioner Lin alleges some of the shipping at Hong Kong is engaged in selling opium. I am at the Hong Kong anchorage and I fly the national flag. I will not protect opium smugglers. The smugglers have put our lawful trade at risk and the Commissioner uses their actions to vindicate his.

I now require the commanders of each ship that does not carry opium to attend me on board the Fort William within the next 48 hours and make Oath of the fact. I require all British ships engaged in opium trafficking to depart the China coast.

Vol 12 Nos 36 – 39 – 1st 8th15th 22nd 29th September

Petition of the British merchants in Hong Kong harbour to Foreign Secretary Palmerston:

We wrote to you on 24th May about the outrages of the Chinese but their violence against us continues. Elliot surrendered our opium to them and ordered us to adjourn to Macau where we expected to continue trade under Portuguese protection until you responded.

After three months at Macau we found Lin’s actions menacing and retired to our ships.

Our lives were threatened to secure the surrender of an alleged murderer for execution. He had been involved with other British and American sailors in a fight at Hong Kong. Elliot held a judicial hearing but was unable to fix the death on any British subject. Had we still been at Canton we fear we would again have been imprisoned to secure the surrender of the man.

We have been deprived of servants, food and residences without notice and had insufficient time to bring our necessaries with us. The Macau government at first offered to protect us then withdrew the offer. A British-owned ferry was boarded, five of the seven Lascars killed and an English passenger mutilated. The boat’s contents were looted.[8]

We protested the Commissioner’s seizure of the property of our constituents in our previous memorial and asked you to display British power so the outrages might be redressed.

Sgd Dent & Co, Bell & Co, D & M Rustomjee, Fox Rawson & Co, Lindsay & Co, Dirom & Co, Gribble Hughes & Co, R Wise Holliday & Co, MacVicar & Co, Jardine Matheson & Co, Jamieson How & Co, Bomanjee Maneckjee, Framjee Jamsetjee, Cowasjee Shaporjee, Bujujee Sorabjee, Hormanjee Framjee, Cowasjee Saporjee Tabac, Burjorjee Maneckjee, Nasservanjee Bomanjee, Pestonjee Cowasjee, Cowasjee Pananjee, Eglinton MacLean & Co, W & T Gemmell & Co, Turner & Co, Cox & Anderson, A & D Furdoonjee, Daniell & Co.[9]

Vol 12 No 41 – 8th October 1839

extract

……..all the British rioters in the affray leading Lam Wai Hei’s death were brought to trial, none were missing, but the accused was not convicted. He is a crewman of the Snarley Yow.

The Jurors’ refusal to hear the case may have derived from the fact that the Snarley Yow was not in Hong Kong on 7th July (date of affray).

Vol 12 No 43 – 22nd October 1839

extract

The man who was accused of Lam Wai Hei’s murder was serving on the Portia but it was not until two days after his acquittal that Elliot and Capt Smith learned he had formerly served on the Snarley Yow.”

Vol 14 No 7 – 14th Feb 1841

Shuck (Editor of the Friend of China) and some other missionaries sailed to Hongkong (the island of fragrant streams, he calls it) for inspection.

They found Wong Nai Chung has some 400 people. A mile further east was Hung Heung Soo with some 100-120 people. Then for 3-4 miles there was no inhabitation, just occasional groups of 2-3 families, including at the quarry which was ‘the last place we saw on the north side.’

‘We slept in the ship and next morning returned to Wong Nai Chung and followed a narrow path over naked rocky hills and valleys and frequent streams. After several miles we found a larger stream with several fields along its banks which we followed to Tai Tam, a village of 10-12 families totalling 70-100 people. There was more natural forest here than anywhere else.

‘2-3 miles on was Chek Chu (later Stanley), the most commercial place on the island. It is on a peninsula like Macau with harbours at either side. There were over 1,000 people living there and about a 100 shops and 100 boats in the harbour. We walked back to Wong Nai Chung via a different path and saw a few houses at one point which our guards said were occupied by robbers. They told us we had missed one village called Hong Kong (now Aberdeen), after which the island is named. It is in the SW of the island and has 60 families with about 300 people.

‘In sum, the island has plenty of good water, plenty of good rock for any purposes, small areas suitable for cultivation and numerous fine bays and deep harbours. It appears to represent a substantial foundation on which to build our new colony. The total population appears to be 2,000 – 2,500 people of which 1,000 are in the west and north and 1,500 in the east and south.

‘Several other villages could be seen on nearby islands.’

Vol 14 No 18 – 4th May 1841

Elliot’s notice of Principles and Conditions of land grants in Hong Kong, pursuant on his (unratified) Treaty of Chuen Pi:

  • Land will be disposed of in accordance with public need.
  • Each title will require a certain value of structure to be erected within a reasonable time.
  • There will be a general reservation of Crown rights.
  • Pending for further instructions, land will be allotted upon the basis of quit rent to the Crown.
  • Each allotment will be auctioned publicly at a certain upset rate of quit rent. It will be disposed of to the highest bidder.
  • Anyone taking land on these terms may purchase the freehold, if HMG offers it, or continue to hold their original quit rent.
  • Arrangements with natives for cessions of lands may be made only through authorised government officers. Titles must be registered with government.
  • All natives occupying land must prove title and register it with government.

A sale of town lots with water frontage will be held in Macau soon. Successful purchasers will be entitled to buy rural lots of ….. square acres each. They may choose their own sites. No river is to be diverted.

Sgd Charles Elliot & J R Morrison, 1st May 1841

Editor – we doubt Elliot has authority to found a civil government on Hong Kong or sell any land. We cannot even say whether the British government will retain the island.[10]

Vol 14 No 22 – 1st June 1841

A Tso Tang is an assistant magistrate. He is appointed at busy ports like Macau. For military purposes, Hongkong is included in Tai Pang district, a town to the east of Hong Kong & Kowloon (on the spit of land between Mirs and Daya Bays) where the Tso Tang of Sai Ngon (the sub-district in which Hong Kong is sited) resides.

There is an army commander (Heep Toi) at Tai Pang who splits his time between that place and a government office in Kowloon City. The following is a list of the settlements on Hong Kong with their approximate populations:

Chek Chu 2,000; Shaukeiwan 1,200; Wong Nai Chung 400; Heung Kong 200; etc., totally some 4,200 people plus 2,000 boat people and 800 shopkeepers in the bazaar.

Vol 14 No 25 – 22nd June 1841

34 lots of land have been sold at Hong Kong on 14th June 1841 and £3,238 per annum obtained in quit rents. Successful bidders are:

Lot No £ Successful Bidder
1 20.00 R. Webster.
2 21.20 H. Leighton.
3 32.10 Gemmell & Co.
4 38.10 Holliday Wise & Co.
5 52.00 Heerjeebhoy Rustomjee.
6 52.00 Heerjeebhoy Rustomjee.
7 57.00 Dirom & Co.
8 50.00 A Parsee.
9 43.00 M/s Hooker & Lane.
10 50.00 D & M Rustomjee & Co.
11 65.10 Dent & Co.
12 64.00 Dent & Co.
13 80.00 Lindsay & Co.
14 80.00 Gribble Hughes & Co.
15 111.00 D & M Rustomjee & Co.
16 150.00 Innes Fletcher & Co.
17 140.00 Gemmell & Co.
18 160.00 Heerjeebhoy Rustomjee.
19 150.00 J M & Co.
20 185.00 J M & Co.
21 230.00 J M & Co.
22 35.00 R. Gully.
23 60.00 M/s Jamieson and How.
24 57.00 John Smith.
25 67.00 John Smith.
26 25.00 Framjee Jamsetjee.
27 57.00 Capt Hart.
28 75.00 MacVicar & Co.
29 95.00 MacVicar & Co.
30 100.00 Turner & Co.
31 115.00 Turner & Co.
32 265.00 T. Larkins.
33 250.00 Fox MacVicar & Turner.
34 205.00 Capt Morgan.

The total of quit rent committed for was £3,238 per annum. This information comes from the Hong Kong Gazette but it is wrong.

The terms of sale were read to the assembled people and the lots immediately put up for sale. If this is A R Johnstone’s first official act (he is appointed Governor of Hong Kong by Charles Elliot a week after the auction) it is worrying. Aliens cannot own British imperial land without the sovereign’s permission but several appear to have won title at this auction.

Some other lots were sold to a total of 50 lots with additional terms apparently related to all lots, e.g:

  • the buyers will build to a minimum appraised value of £1,000 on each lot within 6 months of sale;
  • a £500 deposit as security is required with the first year’s quit rent in advance.

Each lot is a marine lot (between the proposed road and the sea) and has a frontage of approx 100 feet but overall sizes vary from 5,400 sq ft to 35,000 sq ft. Many of the purchaser’s names have now changed. It appears there was an immediate secondary market in the titles.

If our quarrel with China ends honourably, we will have to return Hong Kong to the Emperor and all expenses paid in Hong Kong will be forfeit.

A reassuring indication of nascent co-operation amongst the community occurred. One English firm, which desperately needed warehouse space, had already built on Hong Kong before the lots were offered for sale. Friendliness amongst the bidders resulted in no competing bids being made for that part-developed lot.

Vol 14 No 25 – 22nd June 1841

Charles Elliot’s letter to J M & Co and Dent’s concerning the auction of Hong Kong land:

The response was good. I will move Her Majesty’s Government to pass the lands in fee simple for 1 – 2 years purchase at the existing rates or charge them in future with a nominal quit rent.

I am motivated to provide both Britons and foreigners with enough space at moderate rates as will enable you to accommodate yourselves. Please tell everyone. Sgd. Elliot, 17th June.

Vol 14 No 26 – 29th June 1841

On 22nd June 1841, A R Johnstone was appointed Governor of Hong Kong by Elliot (apparently acting in his own capacity – no mention of Bremer, the supposed Joint Plenipotentiary, on the documents).

Vol 14 No 29 – 20th July 1841

The self-elected government of Hong Kong has placed advertisements in the Canton Press referring to Victoria Avenue, Government Quay and Government House. This will mislead readers in England.

  • Firstly, a ship has arrived with cargo for Whampoa or Hong Kong discharge at 30 rupees per ton or Macau discharge at 24 rupees.
  • Secondly, Government House turns out to be a mat-shed that blew away in the last typhoon. Everything else there is just as temporary. Readers in London should forget Hong Kong and the notion there is a British government ensconced there. It is a mere utopia.

Vol 14 No 29 – 20th July 1841

Palmerston has received a delegation of City merchants on 21st April. The group comprised Wm Crawford MP for the City, John Horsley Palmer former Governor of the Bank of England, Wm Jardine MP for Ashburton, Jamieson and Milligan.

They discussed Elliot’s negotiations with the Chinese.

They said they were apprehensive and needed reassurance. No-one knew what Elliot was doing.

Palmerston was not sure either.

The deputation said it spoke on behalf of the merchants in China, Calcutta, Bombay and those interested in East India trade in London. They had all lost confidence in Elliot and wanted to know what the government would do now. They insisted that government policy should consider their commercial interests. They thought none of the objects of the expeditionary force would be met by Elliot’s preliminary negotiations.

Jardine explained the trading systems in detail to illustrate his advice that British trade could unlikely be transferred to Hong Kong. Palmerston mentioned a Petition from Bombay which said “According to the press and private letters, Elliot has made a treaty which abandons our protection. We want to talk with you.” It was signed by 39 Bombay merchants and dated 12th March 1841 at London. He said it was due to be debated in the Lords.

Editor – Great to see Jardine, with 20 years experience in China, upholding our view on the uselessness of Hong Kong

Vol 14 No 34 – 24th August 1841

Elliot and Bremer sailed over to Hong Kong from Macau in the Louisa on 20th August in the teeth of the typhoon that blew away the mat-shed Government House. They were themselves blown back to the west and wrecked on Kow Lan, near the village of Fei Sha, south of the Broadway. The island is in the Wong Leung To group, part of Heung Shan.

At first the Plenipotentiaries were knocked down by the villagers and Bremer was stripped of all his possessions but then a man, who turned out to be an ex-comprador, intervened and took them into his house. He fed and clothed them and eventually brought them back to Macau in his boat.

Bremer landed on the Praia Grande in a red Guernsey frock and drawers. He looked quite attractive from a distance. The price of their freedom was $3,000 (later corrected by the Editor to £3,000). The remaining crew returned later.

It was a terrible typhoon. The barometer fell below 29” on 21st. The Sylph was lost on Lintin, the James Laing on Kau Yi Chau, the transport Prince George fell to pieces, the Black Joke and Jane were wrecked, the Framjee Cowasjee and many others went aground, the Rose and Snarley Yow foundered. Most other ships were dismasted or remain missing.

Editor – Elliot was sent here as Master Attendant. Had anyone been doing that job, the shipping in Hong Kong would have been properly anchored with open hawses to the N E and damage reduced, but he appointed no-one to the task.

Vol 14 No 35 – 31st August 1841

Departures per the Company’s armed steamer Atalanta for Singapore, Madras and Bombay on 24th August (omitted from last issue due to lack of space):

Capt Elliot and family, Commodore Bremer, Capt W Warren, Dr Alexander Anderson and David Jardine.

The San Pedro Fort at Macau fired 13 guns on Elliot’s embarkation. There were no English marks of respect for the departing Plenipotentiary.[11]

Vol 14 No 42 – 19th October 1841

Editor – A R Johnstone, the Governor of Hong Kong since Elliot’s departure, is trying to force us into his island. Our letter bags, which are delivered to the Superintendents Office at Macau, are forwarded unopened to Hong Kong although we are in Canton or one or other of the smuggling bases.

The new Plenipotentiary Pottinger has undertaken to act in accordance with our convenience. Well, this is inconvenient.

Vol 14 No 44 – 2nd November 1841

One of the last acts of the late Lord John Churchill, as Commander of the Royal Naval fleet, was permitting the British storeships then at Kap Shui Mun to hoist the Union Jack.

Capt Belcher, who has been appointed Harbour Master of Hong Kong, has now forbidden it as contrary to Cap 13 of the 4th William IV which disallows the wearing of any flags usually worn by H M Ships.

Vol 15 No 12 22nd March 1842

The Editor of the Friend of China in his 17th March 1842 edition, has reported that pirates in the estuary are said to be directed by influential Chinese who have moved into Hong Kong as their base.

Vol 15 No 12 22nd March 1842

A list of property owners in Hong Kong, the successful bidders at the first land auction, is given. The Editor says it may not be entirely accurate.

It includes Dent & Co, Dirom & Co, Fergusson Leighton & Co, Fox Rawson & Co, Gemmel & Co, Gibb Livingston & Co, Holliday Wise & Co, Innes Fletcher & Co, Jardine Matheson & Co, Jamieson How & Co, Lindsay & Co, Turner & Co as well as numerous individuals, including Cowasjee Rustomjee, Framjee Rustomjee, Heerjeebhoy Rustomjee, A R Johnstone the Governor, C Markwick, Lt Pedder, Lt Ochterlony, John Slade the Editor of the Canton Register and four Christian missionary societies.

Friend of China 24.3.42 edition

The Hong Kong Gazette, the Government paper, is discontinued from today. Official notices will in future be made in the Friend of China.

  • Pottinger has proclaimed that the Hong merchants visited him in Macau. The meeting had nothing to do with the Chinese seizure of a boat in the river as rumoured.
  • First newspaper adverts for wines and timber for ship- and house-building at Hong Kong in this issue.

Friend of China 24.3.42 edition

Editorial – Its astonishing to see a house building boom in Macau when the British will soon leave to live in Hong Kong. If Macau was a free port it might have a future but Hong Kong is advancing more quickly because it offers free and inexpensive asylum with ample protection for persons and property.

Friend of China 24.3.42 edition

23.3.42 – The Australasian Packet sailed from Hong Kong for Namoa (an island off Kwongtung near the border with Fukien where the opium smugglers maintain permanent houses and stores) and Amoy with a full cargo of opium.

Friend of China 24.3.42 edition

22.3.42 the East India Company’s warships Ariadne and Hooghly were sent to Cheung Chau after a man was attacked by pirates and his property taken there while he was allowed to proceed alone in a small boat to Hong Kong to get money to ransom his property. His boat was found at Cheung Chau and was seized but no trace of his property remained in it.

The Company’s Officers captured a few islanders as hostages for the return of the property and handed them over to the Magistrate in Hong Kong.

Vol 15 No 13 – 29th March 1842

A census of Queen’s Town (the informally adopted name of the foreign settlement on Hong Kong Island) revealed the native population is primarily made-up of carpenters, bricklayers & masons (3,000 of them) who are involved in the construction of our homes and warehouses. Apart from them we have 600 hawkers, 500 chandlers, 440 prostitutes, 300 unemployed people, 130 opium sellers and some others in food retail, services and the like to a total of 8,200 residents.

The major village of Hong Kong at Chek Chu is believed to contain about 3,000 people. There are a few hundred in each of the villages of Wong Nai Chung, Little Hong Kong, Shek Pai Wan and some other smaller hamlets making a total of over 12,000.

Vol 15 No 13 – 29th March 1842

  • Friend of China, 24th March – The Hong Kong Gazette, the Government paper, is discontinued from today. Official announcements will in future be made in the Friend of China.
  • The popular public house for seamen in Hong Kong is Britain’s Boast.The high-class place in town for the ships’ officers, civil servants and merchants is the Victoria Tavern (named in emulation of the prestigious London Tavern)
  • The Hong Kong population now is believed to be between 15,000 – 18,000

Editor – the recent census is much too small. The boat population is much more than 2,100. A figure of 5,000 boat people is more realistic. Most of this floating population are outcasts from their own country, perhaps liable to punishment under their own laws. Piracy and robbery are big problems here but, apart from that, the risk of injury in Hong Kong is less than in England.

Vol 15 No 13 – 29th March 1842

Hong Kong shipping report from the Friend of China, 24th March, showing date of movement, ship name and tonnage, etc.

January Ship Movements:

2.1.42 

 

13.1.42

24.1.42

 

24.1.42

26.1.42

28.1.42

Sri Singapore 85T to Whampoa with opium. 

Mavis 113T from Macau to Whampoa with opium.

Young Queen 85T from Macau to Macau with opium.

Sylph 317T arrived from Calcutta with General cargo;

(departed for Macau 2.2.42 with opium)

Caroline 85T to Whampoa with opium.

Young Queen 85T to Macau with opium.

Lady Grant 236T to East Coast with opium.

February Ship Movements:

4.2.42 

7.2.42

6.2.42

13.2.42

15.2.42

17.2.42

16.2.42

17.2.42

24.2.42

28.2.42

1.3.42

Harlequin 292T from East Coast with specie for Macau. 

Australasian Packet 194T to East Coast with opium.

American ship Anglona 108T to Macau with opium.

Thistle 140T to Macau with opium.

Aurora 90T to Macau with opium.

Young Queen 85T to Macau with opium.

American ship Ariel 105T East Coast with opium.

Anglona 108T to East Coast with opium.

Harrier 163T to East Coast with opium.

Young Queen 85T to East Coast with opium.

Red Rover 250T from Calcutta to East Coast with opium.

Vol 15 No 13 – 29th March 1842

Pottinger has proclaimed to the merchants of Hong Kong on 22nd March:

The Hong merchants have visited Macau to obtain agreement for the reconstruction of the fortifications at the Bogue and up the river to Whampoa.

I declined to see them but I sent Major Malcolm to advise them that all such works are not permitted and any rebuilding would cause a resumption of hostilities.

I have asked the navy to watch and, by this notice, request the merchant shipping to report any construction seen.

Friend of China 31.3.42 edition

A Lands Committee was established in Hong Kong in March to compensate villagers for their occupied land; select sites for public landing places; delineate the cantonment boundary, the naval depot and dockyard; and select a watering place. Sgd Pottinger

Friend of China 31.3.42 edition

Editorial – Several Chinese have been killed or hurt while building. We need regulations to prevent dangerous activities on site.

Friend of China 31.3.42 edition

Some readers have enquired if Queen’s Town is to be the name of the city of Hong Kong. We just copied it off the recent government census. It’s a nice name. There are other Queen’s Towns in Jamaica, Ireland and Canada.

Names are important. The capital of upper Canada was long called York but it was too similar to New York and was changed a few years ago to Toronto.

We also want something distinctive to avoid confusion and suggest the Queen’s name – Victoria. It may be considered to prelude a ’victory’ over Chinese superstition, pride and prejudice.

Friend of China 31.3.42 edition

Officers charged with the first British government of Hong Kong:

Pottinger 

Alex R Johnstone

John R Morrison

Charles E Stewart

Alex Anderson

Henry Holgate

Major W Caine

S Fearon

G F Mylius

Lt W Pedder

Mr A Lena

Mr Mullaly

Plenipotentiary, Minister Extraordinary 

deputy Superintendent of British Trade

acting Secretary and Treasurer

asst Secretary and Treasurer

Surgeon

acting Surgeon

Magistrate

Coroner, clerk of the court, interpreter

Land Officer and Surveyor

Marine magistrate and Harbour Master

asst Marine magistrate and Harbour Master

Postmaster

Vol 15 No 14, 5th April 1842

Delano, who is US honorary Vice Consul this year, has sent us for publication an official complaint he has received from Admiral Kearney:

The Hong Kong Government Gazette has printed the name of an American ship engaged in the opium trade (see the shipping report above).

The US Government does not sanction the smuggling of opium in violation of Chinese Law. It may not be done in ships flying the American flag. The owners and crew of any American vessel with opium that is seized by the Chinese will receive no support from my naval squadron.

Sgd L Kearney, Commander East Indian squadron.

(This earns a sarcastic rejoinder from Editor Slade of Canton Register in a spoof reader’s letter reviewing the history of American involvement in opium trade)

Vol 15 No 14, 5th April 1842

The Friend of China of 31st March reports that some of the successful buyers of marine lots in Hong Kong have complained that the restriction on reclamation of land beyond the high water mark is unreasonable.

This restriction was promulgated by Pottinger in his new Land Regulations.

When they bought their lots they expected to reclaim land beyond the lot boundary to a couple of fathoms where they intended to create a sea wall.

They propose to petition Pottinger for approval to reclaim land from the sea for a modest extra fee.

Vol 15 No 14, 5th April 1842

The Friend of China also reports on provisions in Hong Kong – food supplies are good.

In the bazaar, all sorts of fish are available. Beef is cheap but mutton is expensive. Pheasants, partridges and venison and other game, all raised on the island of Hong Kong, are available.

On our rambles we have only seen snipe, quail and partridge but have heard there are small deer on the south side. Vegetables are abundant. Bread and biscuits are made locally, even milk and butter are no longer rare.

Goats and cows prosper in Hong Kong but sheep are in such demand they are eaten before they can multiply.

Friend of China 7.4.42 edition

Editor – Many people have told us that the best name for our town is Victoria

Vol 15 No 15 12th April 1842

Hong Kong Shipping Report, March 1842 (copied from Friend of China, 7th April)

 

8.3.42

7.3.42

7.3.42

7.3.42

7.3.42

10.3.42

16.3.42

20.3.42

29.3.42

23.3.42

23.3.42

20.3.42

22.3.42

23.3.42

24.3.42

25.3.42

28.3.42

28.3.42

30.3.42

30.3.42

William 172T opium to east coast. 

Harlequin 292T opium to east coast.

Aurora 90T opium to Whampoa.

Young Queen 85T opium to Whampoa.

Ariel (US) 98T opium to east coast.

Arrow 175T opium to Macau.

Hannah Kerr 594T opium to Macau.

Psyche 100T opium to east coast.

Thistle 140T opium to Macau.

Ardaseer 422T opium to Macau.

Australasian Packet opium to east coast.

Arrow 175T opium to east coast.

Poppy 140T opium to east coast.

Primavera 105T opium to Macau.

Rob Roy 380T opium to east coast.

Black Swan 150T opium to east coast.

Sri Singapura 90T opium to Whampoa.

Young Queen 85T opium to Macau.

Maulmein 171T opium to East coast.

Primavera 105T opium to east coast.

Ariel 82T opium to east coast.

Vol 15 No 15 12th April 1842

Letter of 1st April from the American Honorary Consul W Delano Jr. to the Editor of the Friend of China – ‘Please publish the attached letter dated 31st March 1842 from Commander L Kearney of USS Constellation’:

“Your 24/3 edition again reports American ships carrying opium.

I wish you to advise your readers, and the Chinese authorities by translation of this letter, that the US government does not sanction American-flag vessels to smuggle opium into China.

If any such vessel is seized, the US authorities will not assist its owners.”[12]

Friend of China 14.3.42 edition

Hong Kong’s population is already greater than Singapore’s was five years after its establishment which then numbered 10,683. Singapore’s progress was delayed by a lack of official recognition and it took a treaty with the Netherlands and the Sultan of Johore before its possession was finally confirmed. That is why they were slower than us to get started.

Vol 15 No 14, 5th April 1842

The Friend of China reports that Pottinger appointed a Lands Committee in March to assess compensation to existing Hong Kong villagers for our assumption of their land titles; to select sites for public landing places; to delineate the boundary of the military cantonment, naval depot and dockyard; and to select a watering place.

Vol 15 No 16, 19th April 1842

Proclamation of the Hong Kong government, 23.3.42:

Spanish, Mexican and other dollars, their component parts, Company Rupees and their component parts and Chinese copper cash are the legal tender of the colony. All dollars are valued at par. The following exchange rates are fixed

2¼ Company Rupees 

533 cash

1,200 cash

$1 

1 Company rupee

$1

Vol 15 No 16, 19th April 1842

Friend of China, 14th April – The fire risk in Hong Kong is grave although not as grave as at Canton. The land officers have proscribed the construction of mat houses by Chinese immigrants and required them to rebuild in brick.

Chinese artisans cannot afford this and are moving up the hill beyond the British area. Already streets are appearing on the hillside where it had previously appeared too precipitous to build.

We hope insurers will set up offices here soon. At present growth rates, the value of European housing, personal effects and merchandise will exceed $5 millions by the end of this year.

Friend of China 28.4.42 edition

Petition of major British merchants at Macau to Pottinger dated 4.4.42:

The Spanish pilar dollar has become scarce and is no longer minted. We ask the Plenipotentiary to make Mexican and other Republican dollars the standard in government and mercantile transactions at Hong Kong and places in China occupied by Her Majesty’s forces. This might in time encourage the Chinese to cease discriminating between the various coins.

Sgd J M &Co, Dent & Co, Ferguson Leighton & Co, MacVicar & Co.

Pottinger replied 27.4.42:

I agree, but this has no effect on my previous instruction about legal tender in Hong Kong.

Editor – it is seven years since George Best Robinson wrote Pam of his ‘unfeigned regret at the dissensions and violent party spirit that so fearfully prevailed among the mercantile community.’

Now the merchants are combining!

Friend of China 28.4.42 edition

Reports from London describe Hong Kong as the valley of death because of sickness and the high mortality rate amongst the troops.

Friend of China 5.5.42 edition

Powers of Hong Kong Magistrates (land and sea):

  • William Caine, brevet Major in the Cameronian (26th) Regiment, Chief Magistrate of Hong Kong, is empowered to exercise authority, as near as may be, according to the laws, customs and usage’s of China (every description of torture excepted) for the preservation of the peace and the protection of life and property of all the native inhabitants, etc.

Any crime attracting an award of 6+ months gaol, $400+ fine, 100+ lashes or death will be remitted to the head of government for confirmation of judgment.

In all cases involving punishment or sentence you will keep a record of the brief facts.

You also have authority over other people (excluding Chinese forces and Her Majesty’s forces) committing breaches of the peace. Any army personnel committing offences will be handed over to the military.

You will investigate all cases of debt up to $50 yourself. Cases up to $200 will be investigated and referred to head of government for disposal. When you confine debtors to elicit payment you will advise the head of government.

  • William Pedder, Lieutenant of the Royal Navy. Similar jurisdiction for breaches of the peace, felonies and debt in the harbour (same restrictions as Caine). Penalties of 1 month gaol, $100 fine, 36 lashes and death to be confirmed by head of government.

Friend of China 5.5.42 edition

Any land sales made by holders of grants issued after the recent land auction must be registered with the Land Officer to be valid.

Friend of China 19.5.42 edition

It has belatedly been recognised that we also should have requested the cession of Kellett Island from Keshen to prevent the Chinese establishing themselves on it. A fort will be constructed there and garrisoned with a platoon commanded by a lieutenant.[13]

Friend of China 19.5.42 edition

Rumour – General Burrell is to be Governor of Hong Kong while Pottinger is away in the North. The Editor thinks we should instead have A R Johnstone to whose “unremitting exertions and earnest devotedness, the present prosperity of our colony is mainly owing”.

Vol 15 No 22, 31st May 1842

Friend of China, 19th May – Lt Benjamin Fox R N, 29 years, 1st Lieutenant of HMS Nimrod is the officer killed on the heights of Canton on 24th May 1842.

A memorial to him has been erected on the Hong Kong waterfront.[14]

Vol 15 No 22, 31st May 1842

Editorial – The unprofessional conduct of the police at Hong Kong has caused Pottinger to discharge the entire force and replace it with soldiers. These men have also proved inadequate to the task and robberies are out of control. Hong Kong still lacks its own legislature and is fundamentally a garrison town.

The appointment of the magistrate seems ultra vires. The chief magistrate (Caine) has jurisdiction over the Chinese only. The marine magistrate (Pedder) has jurisdiction over everyone who is not in the armed forces.

Thus any English civilian may be imprisoned for a month or fined $400 or lashed 36 times on the order of Pedder for breach of any of the regulations.

We hear Major Caine will soon rejoin his regiment – that will be the time to review these magisterial powers.

Friend of China 2.6.42 edition

3 privates of the 49th regiment have been caught robbing a Chinese family in Hong Kong.

Many Chinese inhabitants report there have been numerous similar events before but as the criminals are soldiers they have kept quiet.

Vol 15 No 23, 7th June 1842

The Land and Road Inspector of Hong Kong (G F Mylius) is replaced by Edward Grascott Reynolds effective 1st May 1842. Reynolds has been told that all land sales are prohibited (Mylius had his land sales approved by Johnstone).

If Reynolds finds anyone building anything anywhere he is to stop the works and report to Johnstone. His job is not to sell land but to keep the roads, bridges and drains in order and ensure those civil works presently authorised for construction are well made.

He is to maintain and keep clean the public watering places, jetties and the market. No nuisances are permitted. If he encounters any difficulty he is to tell Johnstone or ask the magistrate to send police.

Editor – we thought the market building was a private building erected by the marketeers themselves!

Friend of China 9.6.42 edition

Hong Kong burglaries:

Mr Pybus’ godown, Captain Duus’ godown, Mr Kinsley’s godown, the French consul’s godown, the Victoria Hotel, and the naval commissariat stores have all been burgled by gangs from Kowloon who come across the harbour in boats at night.

They scratch out the mortar and remove bricks from the walls to gain entry. This might happen less if our municipal police force had not been summarily disbanded.

Friend of China 9.6.42 edition

We hear capitalists in London are arranging to open a bank here in Hong Kong.

The convenience of paper money is attractive but all the colonial banks print too much, then the money gets too cheap and trade turns into mad speculation. Finally the bank reduces the issue, credit tightens and a panic ensues.

This has happened repeatedly in England and America and we don’t want it here.

Vol 15 No 24, 14th June 1842

Friend of China of 16th June reports Mr Dutronquoy of the London Hotel in Singapore has opened a London Hotel in Queen’s Road, Hongkong.

Friend of China 16.6.42 edition

Hong Kong burglaries:

Mr Almack’s China house, Townsend and Co’s godown, D. Wilson and Co (of Calcutta)’s premises have all been burgled this week. Some stolen property was found at the waterside which suggests it might be the same Kowloon gang as last week. There are reports of similar burglaries in Macau as well.

Carpenters living at and employed on buildings near Townsend and Co’s godown knew of that crime but kept quiet as they said they themselves would have been attacked if they raised the alarm.

One thief was caught and sentenced to 60 strokes of the bamboo (the revised punishment instead of the lash). Fortunately the attacks are only on property and not on the person.

A few weeks ago the burglars forced open the treasury of ‘an eminent firm’ in Macau and stole silver but the firm is keeping it quiet.

Vol 15 No 25, 21st June 1842

Since Pottinger arrived he has had a fresh-fish market built in Hong Kong. There is also Major Malcolm’s Canton Bazaar for other provisions.

Malcolm’s Bazaar was built on one of the lots sold by Johnstone to an English company in the early days. When the buyer could not produce evidence of ownership, the lot reverted to government, which did not want it and it was sold a second time, on this occasion to Malcolm, who built the Bazaar.[15]

Friend of China 23.6.42 edition

Crime report:

  • Two thieves were caught stealing a cow worth $10 from Pokfulam village on Hong Kong Island. They were sentenced to caning and their queues were cut off.[16]
  • John Northgate, a sailor of HMS Druid, bought two bottles of Sam Shoo from Ah Tuk for a rupee.[17] At that time he had $8 in his pocket as well. He then got drunk and when he regained consciousness his pocket was empty. A friend, who was less drunk, swore he saw the theft committed by Ah Tuk.Ah Tuk got 4 months gaol with hard labour and was ordered to remain in prison until he repaid the $8.

Friend of China 23.6.42 edition

A native municipal police force has been re-established on Hong Kong.

Friend of China 23.6.42 edition

We must have an insurer for our houses, contents and personal effects. People are minimising the costs of building because of the lack of insurance.

Cannot one of the marine insurers accept fire risks as well?

We are glad to see that some of the recent villas erected have provision for the storage of ice. It is so easily procured in China but is never seen south of Amoy.

Friend of China 23.6.42 edition

13.6.42 Pottinger has returned to Hong Kong on the Company’s steamer Queen.

Friend of China 23.6.42 edition

Pottinger is a splendid Plenipotentiary. He has done everything we could have wished. The erection of the market and the removal of all the hawkers to trade within it was a great benefit to Hong Kong.

He stopped the Royal Navy seizing local junks, destroying confidence and disrupting local trade.

(Many other benefits of his mild government are listed in the paper.)

Friend of China 23.6.42 edition

The success of Hong Kong is guaranteed by the already heavy and recently augmented imposts on trade at the port of Canton which, in the aggregate on both exports and imports, now amount to nearly $17 million a year.

In 1836 James Matheson said in his book “The Present Position and Prospects of the British Trade with China” that ‘the regulations of trade (at Canton) are so contrived, as to secure the most grievous and increasing impositions’ and he asked ‘ how can a British merchant continue to carry on his commercial pursuits at Canton, but at a sacrifice of his personal safety and self-respect’

Vol 15 No 26, 28th June 1842

Robberies continue unabated at Hong Kong. Gangs sail across from Kowloon at night and burgle at will. More or less everyone has been affected. From Macau we hear it is the same group that robbed all the foreigners there, one by one, recently.

A few weeks ago they forced open the Macau treasury of that ‘eminent firm’ and removed an immense amount of silver. We hear the amount far exceeded the value of all the property reported stolen since Hong Kong was ceded to us.

Vol 15 No 27, 28th June 1842

An American missionary has added another pagan soul to the Lord’s fold by the simple expedient of paying $2 to the heathen to be baptised.

The man-of-God, fearful that his convert might be alarmed by the water pouring over his head, engaged a couple of Hong Kong’s native policemen to hold the man’s arms.

We wonder if this increases veneration for Christ?[18]

Friend of China 30.6.42 edition

The main road of Hong Kong, which we have called Queen’s Road, floods in rain. There are drains across it north / south but they are not interconnected east / west and water accumulates in between.

This week the magistrate heard a police charge against two Chinese shopkeepers for obstructing the road. What they did was import some sand to one of the flooded parts to make the pavement passable on foot without wading ankle-deep in mud. Its just as well he discharged them after hearing.

Friend of China 30.6.42 edition

The Royal Asiatic Society held a meeting in Hong Kong recently:

Alexander R Johnstone, Deputy Superintendent of Trade and effectively Deputy Governor (standing in for Pottinger while he is in the North) told the meeting that Col Sabine had told him there is a magnetic observatory in Peking like the one the Royal Society wants to build in London.

Friend of China 30.6.42 edition

In June 1841 Elliot told us he would ask the British Government to reduce duty on tea shipped from Hong Kong by 1d per lb.

Had the merchants responded to this excellent suggestion and Elliot been successful, the total tea duty would now, after Peel’s changes, be down 2d per lb.

Friend of China 30.6.42 edition

Mr Parkinson, who lives at the head of the Wong Nai Chung valley (where the Hong Kong Stadium is now sited) saw the theft of five horses that had been turned out to graze near his house.

A gang of men arrived, hobbled the horses, up-ended them, tied them on bamboos like pigs and carried them off up the hill towards Chek Chu.

Friend of China 30.6.42 edition

The recent and unseasonable heavy rains have damaged our new roads and washed away parts of the seawall.

A Chinese house collapsed, two people were killed and four seriously injured. They had previously been warned to remove. We fear, unless some law enforcement is practised, a new family will build on the same spot and in due course experience the same collapse with the same result.

We should not join with the Chinese who attribute these deaths to chance. We need a Building Code.

Friend of China 7.7.42 edition

Letter to the Editor – The authorities at Canton are utterly opposed to the development of Hong Kong. All the merchants wish to keep the foreign trade at Canton and injure the prospects of Hong Kong as they are convinced our advance will be their retreat.[19]

The Portuguese in Macau feel the same way for the same reasons. Some other foreign merchants (and even a few English ones) also wish to continue in the old way at Macau and Canton. They note that this island is becoming the resort of all sorts of outlaws and freebooters who annoy the peaceful and unarmed people.

Notwithstanding this, our population and trade are both increasing rapidly. Several thousands of shopmen and merchants from Canton and its surrounds have bought land from our government here and have erected buildings. We can buy locally more or less everything that is available at Canton and at only slightly higher prices.

All we have to do is provide security and protection to this growing Chinese community and it will procure the finest products of the Empire at the best prices for our trade. We already offer security and protection on shore. The guns of the forts protect us and the harbour. The government is trying hard and doing quite well. The harbour is magnificent.

It is only outside the harbour that shipping is at risk of piracy. The authorities must address this want of security. Above Whampoa and all around Macau, British arms have swept the Chinese influence at sea completely away but we have not substituted our own control.

Yesterday a Chinese boat of 80-100 tons with 60-80 crew left Hong Kong for Macau and 3-4 hours later was involved in piracy. The French gentlemen in the schooner Paradox intervened and captured the boat although all the men escaped. She is now a prize in port.

The Paradox had been en route to Macau carrying the French Consul Challaye, Mr Chonsky the secretary to Col Jancigny, Mr Froget a local French resident and 5 lascars. On rounding the point near Green Island they saw two pirate boats attacking a fast passenger boat on the Macau / Hong Kong run. Most of the passengers were Macanese men and women. The pirates numbered about a hundred but the Paradox bore down on the vessels. The pirates may have thought it was a man-of-war for they fled. One boat escaped, the other ran aground. The crew of about 60 men threw their two iron cannon overboard and made for the hills. M Challaye landed in pursuit. He discovered a man hiding on shore and captured him. He then reported to West Point barracks and a party of men was sent off in pursuit. The captured boat was brought into the government landing place and immediately recognised as having been moored there the previous night. A lot of powder, shot, stink pots, bamboo filled with powder (for incendiaries), pikes, spears and matchlocks was found on board together with two iron and one brass cannon.

Two account books were found recording the shares of the crew in piratical distributions. (A few days ago another fast passage boat to Macau with about 60 passengers was attacked but the pirates were driven off by some Europeans who carried pistols on board)

The authorities at Canton know what is occurring and might have allied themselves with the pirates to punish the ‘traitorous’ natives in Hong Kong.

We have a naval force on station – why not use it on patrol? Whampoa should be visited 2-3 times per month; a ship should always be at the Bogue; another between Lintin and Kap Shui Mun and another south of Lantau. They should patrol frequently but irregularly.

Native boats of the type usually attacked should be sent out manned by soldiers in disguise to lure the pirates in to attack. This would remove the problem very quickly.

Sgd. Senex, Harding Place, Hong Kong.

Friend of China 14.7.42 edition

M. Challaye’s statement concerning the Paradox piracy:

I embarked with Chonsky and Froget and at 1 pm had reached the passage between Hong Kong and Green Island. We saw a small ‘fast boat’ chased by a pirate. Men on the fast boat cried out for help. The pirate was travelling WSW under sail and went aground on the rocks. The crew (c. 60) jumped ashore and dispersed. A 2nd pirate boat was seen escaping towards the south of Lantau.

Chonsky, Froget and I loaded our arms and went aboard the grounded ship. We had the Paradox tow her off and brought her to West Point barracks. As I disembarked a Chinese walked passed me from the direction of the piracy. I thought he might know something and arrested him and took him to the Barracks Commander, a Major, who sent a detachment off to search. I returned to the pirate boat and anchored her off the police station at the Bazaar. The police I/C sent a guard to protect the evidence.

Futtoo, a Lascar, says “I was a passenger on Lorcha No 35, owned by Jose, out of Macau 2nd July with 2 Portuguese, 3 lascars and 5 Chinese on board. Arriving at Kap Shui Mun a pirate boat fired a musket at us and chased us. We were faster and fled, anchoring near a headland for the night. The pirate laid off and watched us. In the morning when the wind started we made for Hong Kong and the pirate followed. One of the pirates called out to us that we had only escaped because it was night but he would catch us now it was day.

On reaching the point of Hong Kong a schooner came into sight with French people on board. We turned around and fired off a musket at our pursuers. The pirate then made for land and ran aground. The crew (60-70 men) fled up the hill each carrying a bundle and two swords. They threw three large guns into the sea. They also had spears, matchlocks and plenty of ammunition. I did not recognise any of the pirates or the prisoner Chak Wan (the man Challaye arrested).

Jose Antonio, owner of the lorcha, agrees with the above and adds he saw the prisoner running and saw the Frenchman catch him.

Ah Chiu, a butcher of Hong Kong Bazaar, says Chak Wan is his partner. He left the bazaar 3rd July to sell opium in West Point Barracks. He is a good man and I offer to be his security in $100. I have known him for a month.

Ah Sum say Chak Wan is my brother. We were partners as butchers but the business was unsuccessful. Then a month ago he joined Ah Chiu. I am certain Chak Wan has nothing to do with pirates.

The prisoner is released on the security offered. The boat is detained by the Harbour Master.

Friend of China 14.7.42 edition

On 23rd June James Borton, proprietor of Britain’s Boast pub in Hong Kong, was charged with assaulting Daniel Edwards, a Portuguese crewman on a lorcha.

Friend of China 14.7.42 edition

Yu Ming got 60 strokes for selling sam shoo to the Cameronians.[20] Selling wine to the army is proscribed.

Chuen Chow got 20 strokes for not selling sam shoo to the Madras Infantry. A Madrassi soldier ordered wine and offered Chuen half a rupee, Chuen had sam shoo in his shop but denied it (suspecting he was being set-up). He was charged with fraud as he took the money for sam shoo but did not supply it.

Editor– some types of distilled spirits can cause sudden death. Sam shoo seems to be particularly efficient in this respect. It should be chemically analysed to see what is causing this.

Friend of China 14.7.42 edition

The editor of the Friend of China, the Rev J Lewis Shuck, dedicated the new Baptist Chapel on Queen’s Road on 10th July 1842, (delayed by a typhoon to 17th July).

Friend of China 21.7.42 edition

Hong Kong crime report. Tuk Kwai has been charged with piracy:

Ah Chu says he was sailing his laden boat to Hong Kong and at Kap Shui Mun (north of Lantau) was attacked by pirates. He made no resistance and he was dropped on shore and the boat and cargo was sailed away by the pirates. He now accuses Tuk Kwai of being one of the pirates and proves his evidence is true by cutting off a cock’s head.

Tuk Kwai denies.

Chan Shing, a shopkeeper in the Bazaar says Tuk Kwai has been his partner at the shop for four months and could not have been a pirate during that time.

Ngai Sun says I know Ah Chu was robbed and two days ago he recognised Tuk Kwai as one of the robbers.

Finding – Tuk Kwai is convicted. 100 lashes and 6 months hard labour in irons.

Friend of China 21.7.42 edition

Abdul Kareem, a tindal (a native Petty Officer of Lascars) employed by J M & Co, says that at 2300 – 2400 hours 30th June, Kala Khan a sepoy on duty at the J M godown at East Point, told him a boat pulling 30-40 oars had just left the rocks in front of the godown. He said Mr Rolfe and 2 sepoys were on alert.

“I alerted the night watch and the sepoys (about 10 of them) on Capt Morgan’s gig. 9 of the sepoys had loaded muskets and I had a pistol. Then Buxoo, a Lascar who is sick and was resting on a board outside the godown, called to me and pointed-out several men who were stealthily advancing from the shore, occasionally squatting down to observe. At that hour and in those circumstances, I assumed they were robbers.

“I left 2 men guarding the godown and took the rest with me. I hailed the strangers but they retired without answer. I followed them to a large rock at the end of the beach. There were about 10 men and I could see a small boat on the sand half out of the water and another larger boat at anchor a few yards out. I hailed them again. One of them blew a horn and 40-50 persons emerged from behind the rock shouting ‘da, da’. They threw a shower of stones and we opened fire with 6 muskets. The group fled. Some ran up the hill; others burned some papers and threw them into the sea. Then they sounded the horn again and went off in their boat(s).

“I feared they might have a big gun in the larger boat and did not pursue. This morning at 9 am a wounded Chinese was brought-in. On our side only Jaffa, one of the gig’s crew, and I were struck and very slightly hurt by stones.”

Kala Khan and Hayat Khan corroborated Kareem’s evidence.

The magistrate went to J M’s godown to interview the wounded Chinese but he declined to answer questions.

Ah Sum from Ham Shui near Mr Burn’s site says last night my brother Ah Su and I were sleeping outside Mr Burn’s house. Some 7-8 black men started firing at about 20 men gathered nearby and woke us up. My brother arose and was hit. The black men ran away. We did not see any boats or pirates.

Ah Kuen says I was sent to Mr Burn’s site by Mr Gillespie’s comprador as head mason and have been working there for 5 months. I look after the site. I have never seen a pirate there. I have known Ah Su for 4 days. He and his two brothers are my workers on Mr Burn’s site. They have worked there for 2 months. Ah Su is a good man and would not be involved in piracy. I saw him sleeping on some rocks about 20 feet from the house when the shooting started. There is a ferry, a passage boat called Hong Kong Lu, which comes everyday between 8am – 4 pm. I never heard any of the men express ill-feeling towards J M & Co.

Ah Tsat, a contractor for J M & Co, said the day before yesterday my brother Ngai Yee who is a comprador told me that pirates would soon attack J M’s godown in revenge for Capt Morgan having ordered Capt Nias to burn down their huts last year. I was told they also intended to rob me as I have prospered in J M’s employ. I warned the tindal Abdul Kareem to keep alert.

The pirates come from Lam Tin near Sun On and from Tung Kwoon. Their group is known as the Tung Yuen Wui and they have two small fast boats of 15-16 oars each. When Capt Nias burned their huts at Tsim Sha Tsui last year he also burned one of these boats. The leader of the pirates is Fat Yau from Lam Tin. Capt Nias offered me $300 to catch him.

I do not sleep at the godown, I go there every morning. I live on board my boat in Victoria harbour. I did not see the pirate boat nor the wounded man.

Ah Chiu, a pun-tau[21] of J M & Co says the night before last Cheung Sze told me that pirates would attack J M’s godown so I was alert. I told my coolies and Capt Morgan’s comprador. I live at Wong Nai Chung. The wounded man has died.

Ngai Yee gave evidence that ten days ago he went over to Tsim Sha Tsui. “As I walked I heard someone talking loudly and mention my brother’s name. That caught my attention and I listened. Those people were saying Capt Morgan had burned their houses and they should burn his godown in revenge. I don’t know who they were but came away quietly and told my brother.”

Friend of China 21.7.42 edition

Ngai Yun appeared at Court 5th July with a petition saying on 30th June Ngai Chi, Ngai Yau and Ah Sing of the municipal police boarded his boat at 8 pm and stole $138 and a bundle of clothes. Ngai Yun followed them to their house where they returned the clothes. He has 5 crew who will be witnesses.

Ordered to appear tomorrow with his witnesses; the policemen to be detained.

Ngai Yun appeared 6th July. None of his witnesses had agreed to attend. His friend Ah Suen told him yesterday to complain to the magistrate against the police and gave him a petition to present. As he cannot read he did not know what it said. He was not really robbed but Ah Suen told him to say so.

“Ah Kwai the chief policeman owes me $40 from when we used to trade together and the petition should have been grounded on that. I thought the magistrate would compel Ah Kwai to pay.”[22]

Ah Kwai is called, admits the debt and agrees to pay by instalments. Ngai Yun is satisfied. He is ordered to have his friends produce Ah Suen and will remain a prisoner until he does so.

Vol 15, No 30, 26th July 1842

Stylish Chinese Edicts seem to be addictive. The Hong Kong magistrate Caine has just issued his version of one. It reads:

“Caine, a military officer of the great English nation charged with magisterial authority over Hong Kong, clearly makes known his commands.

“It appears that recently there have been lawless characters who in buying and selling have mingled counterfeit silver coins with the genuine. This causes great wrath.

“This percipient proclamation is issued to the merchants engaged in trade. Whosoever hereafter makes use of counterfeit coin or gives them in exchange for other money shall be immediately seized and punished.”

Friend of China 28.7.42 edition

Hong Kong crime report:

  • Padre Theodore Jose accused Kou Pou of robbery.At 2am on 5th July the Father was awakened by someone moving a box containing $1,000 approx. He leapt up and seized the man. Another escaped. Thomas Low a Chinese Christian living with Jose witnessed Jose seize the man inside the house. He found medicine and shoes on the man which had also been stolen.

The prisoner denied robbery and said he was very poor. Sentence 100 lashes, 4 months hard labour in irons.

  • Joseph Francis, Chief Mate of the Sulimany, accuses Beechamee (a Portuguese topaz) of robbery. On 16th June Francis found three watches and Beechamee missing from the ship. He sent a party to Macau and learned Beechamee had sold one watch and was selling the others. The value is $112. The prisoner admits. He broke the crystal of one watch by mistake. Two are still with the shopkeeper Joaquim and he will write and get them back.

Sentence 100 lashes, four months hard labour, restitute the watches or pay $112.

Friend of China 28.7.42 edition

Ah Poo, Lo Ah Wong and Ko Chai are charged with piracy. Tien Lung says the four prisoners were crew of a pirate boat and robbed him on 6th July at the Tung Ku (now called Lung Kwu) anchorage. In the course of robbery Ah Poo wounded Tien with a knife. Ah Ching, one of Tien Lung’s crew, swears the prisoners were on the pirate boat. Yun Fat also swears that the prisoners were on the pirate boat that robbed him.

Ung, wife of Chow Ling, says on 6th she was in her husband’s boat and had just sold some fish when her boat was attacked by 10-12 pirates in the estuary. They took her boat, sent her ashore on Lintin in their own boat, and left. Her husband and son Ah Kuen jumped overboard and swam ashore.

Ah Kuen says he was in his Dad’s boat off Law Chau, near Lintin. I don’t remember Ah Poo but the other three prisoners were amongst the pirates. I saw Ko Chai in Queen’s Road yesterday whilst I was searching for the pirates with my brother in order to get back the family boat. I pointed him out to a policeman who arrested him. Later Ko Chai took us to a hut high above the bazaar where the other three prisoners were living.

All the crown witnesses have sworn by cutting off a cock’s head.

All four defendants deny. They have not left Hong Kong island recently and are all in employment. The complainant says he could not be mistaken. He knows them all and particularly remembers Ah Poo who cut his right ear.

Tai Chung a contractor says Ah Poo is my carpenter. He has worked daily for the last 3 weeks except 5th, 7th, and 10th July. He comes at 9 am each morning. I have to check his book to see if he worked on 6th. Ah Fat says Ah Poo is his brother. He did not see him 4th – 6th but did on 7th. He works at Rev Shuck’s establishment; I work near Capt Morgan’s. Ah Kai knows Ah Poo and Lo Ah Wong well. I see them everyday for the last month. I don’t know the other two.

Tai Chung was confronted with Ah Kai and confirmed Ah Poo did not work yesterday for Rev Shuck.

Judgment – All four prisoners guilty. 100 strokes. 6 months hard labour in irons.

Friend of China 28.7.42 edition

Ah Kum, Ah Bat and Ah Sing are accused of being pirates. Sgt Collins says last Monday night some prisoners escaped. I caught these three on Tuesday morning with property from Ko Peh Lok’s house which they had had the temerity to burgle.

Ko Peh Lok is the chief of the pirates.

I took them to their boat and found papers on board which are pirate papers. Ah Chu, head of the Chinese police, says the prisoners took Ko Peh Lok’s property after escape from prison and from the heap of papers on their boat there can be no doubt they are pirates.

Defence: The papers found on the boat were forcibly put there by real pirates whom the Defendants had approached to buy insurance to facilitate their maritime trade without attack.

We do not know the names of those pirates and they have since all run away. We came to Hong Kong only a month ago and cannot distinguish the good from the bad. The pirates come from Lantau. They have a fishing boat. Ko Peh Lok’s people forced us to take his property on board our boat. Then the police came, the pirates ran away and we were arrested.

Judgment Guilty. Boat forfeited. 50 strokes each; 4 months hard labour. Ah Sing 5 extra strokes for contempt.

Friend of China 28.7.42 edition

We should have an Anglican cathedral in Hong Kong. At present there is only the propaganda fide and the American Baptist mission for worship. Chusan, Amoy and Ningpo have several Catholic and American missions for worship.

Concerning this subject, Lancelot Dent, on arriving at Singapore on his way home, heard of the intention to build an Anglican church here and donated $500 through his Agents to the fund.

Friend of China 28.7.42 edition

Chinese merchants bringing timber and bricks from Canton to Hong Kong for sale have been caught in transit by Chinese Customs officials. Their cargoes were confiscated and they have been imprisoned.

Vol 15, No 31 – 2nd August 1842

The Queen’s Road Chapel was formally dedicated on 17th July 1842. This is the first Episcopalian church in Hong Kong (the Catholics built theirs last year).

The Reverends Shuck, Dean and Bridgman (all Americans) conducted the first service.

Friend of China 4.8.42 edition

Major General Burrell, Military Commandant of Hong Kong is promoted 31st July 42 and has been replaced by Lt Col Taylor.

The latter officer regrets the sickness which has become so prevalent in the last month. He commends his men not to drink sam shoo as it has destroyed too many soldiers already.

Friend of China 4.8.42 edition

Hong Kong crime report:

  • Ah Kee, Ah Yu and Ah Sing, all municipal policemen, are charged by Tai Mai Tan that they came to his house, seized him and took him to Sgt Collins. Tai believes he was seized because he complained of a nearby gambling house where disturbances occurred and some men reported being robbed. After release, he went to Tsim Sha Tsui. Yesterday Lee Chong and Chan Kee complained Tai Mai Tan owed them $100 subsequent to and connected with a robbery in the gambling house.Tai Mai Tan states as follows:

    My wife is Ah Sai and there are 8 women in my house under my protection. Several days ago Constable Ah Kee lusted for Sau Hing but I did not allow. Then yesterday he came with two colleagues in revenge. It is nothing to do with gambling or robbery. Sau Hing was mending clothes when the policemen arrived. Those clothes were further damaged by the policeman. My curtains were damaged and intentionally burned by the policemen’s cigars.

    Ah Lin says at 5 pm she was sleeping in her home when she heard a disturbance and learned her father Tai had been taken away by police. Sau Hing knows all about it but she had gone out. The policemen say they had come to arrest Tai for $100 debt. They found him when he answered the door and did not need to enter the house. Ah Lin knows nothing about any damage.

    Sau Hing says she was at her father-in-law Tai’s house when three police constables came and seized Tai saying he owed money. Constable Yu tore some of our clothes and wanted to love me. Ah Kee did not damage our clothes but he seized Tai.

    Ms Chui Fung says Sau Hing used to belong to me. The curtains were torn in my house on 11th June by Lam Ping when he quarrelled with Sau Hing. The couple then separated and Sau Hing went to stay with Tai. Lam Ping will return in a few days and will corroborate what I say.

    Ah Yau says he lives next door to Tai and saw the policemen arrest him at his door. They did not enter his house. Ah Chi and Ah Chu were also in the vicinity. They saw Tai being led away and heard no disturbance. Finding – case dismissed.

  • Ah Fuk went to a shop in Morgan’s Bazaar. He had a dollar and four rupees tied in a handkerchief which he placed on a bench in the shop. Then the handkerchief disappeared. The shopman denied knowledge. Ah Fuk searched him and found it. Heen Shing corroborates Ah Fuk.

The defendant shopman says the money was voluntarily given in part payment for a house he is building for Ah Fuk. Guilty. 60 strokes and cut off his queue.

  • Tien Cheah, Ah Yu, Tuk Seen and Hung Ho are charged with repeatedly erecting a mat house without authority. They have no defence. Hung Ho is old. He is fined $2. The others are fined $1 and get 20 strokes.
  • A/Sgt Crompton charges Ah Soo and Ah Mee with keeping a gambling table, making disturbance and resisting arrest. Fined $10 each.
  • Ah Chung, policeman, gets 15 strokes for permitting a visitor to come to the gaol talk with a prisoner and supply him with food.

Friend of China 4.8.42 edition

Editorial – British prestige is damaged by capturing places and then surrendering them. Here in Hong Kong a piece of land has been granted to build a Chinese temple and handsome subscriptions collected from both Chinese and Europeans, but work has not begun because the Chinese community do not expect us to retain possession of the island. Our Chinese residents are all fearful of what will become of them if they are returned to the care of their own government.

At least the business community has confidence. Many godowns are being built and hardly a firm doubts we will retain Hong Kong permanently.

Friend of China 4.8.42 edition

The value of Wakefield’s publication in 1830 of the principles of colonisation was only recognised after he gave evidence to Mr Ward’s parliamentary committee in 1836. His leading principle was then sanctioned by the Select Committee of the House.

In Canada and Australia the Wakefield system was opposed.

Wakefield was himself personally involved in the colonisation of New Zealand. His ideas have now been collected in Lord Stanley’s Colonial Lands Bill.

A price is to be fixed for land in the ‘settled’ colonies. It can be raised from time to time but never lowered. Half or more of the proceeds of land sales are to be devoted to encouraging immigration in order to ensure a sufficient supply of labour to operate trade and commerce. The other half is used to fund the surveys and pay compensation to natives who are dispossessed in the process of colonisation. Land sales are to be by auction.

Here in Hong Kong we will never be short of labour. Indeed the Chinese are more useful and intelligent settlers than the hill coolies of India. We might soon develop a business as a source of Chinese artificers, fishermen and farmers to other British colonies.

Vol 15, No 32 – 9th August 1842

On 24th July an Imperial rescript was received at Canton concerning the barbarian seizure of the heen district of Hong Kong (‘fragrant rivers’ in this Edict).

“They have built houses there and appear to intend its permanent occupation. This matter must be looked into and taken care of.”

Friend of China 11.8.42 edition

Letter to the Editor – There are 3,000 – 4,000 Chinese workers employed by Hong Kong Government on road construction, etc.

Friend of China 11.8.42 edition

The French official Challaye was burgled early on Sunday morning. A ladder was used to enter at the first floor. They stole a portmanteau containing $900, a box with $80-90 on his desk and a dressing case. Part of the stolen property was abstracted from Froget’s room but he himself was not disturbed. Three other thefts with the same modus operandi occurred last week and two of them produced very heavy losses.

Friend of China 12.8.42 Special edition

The Plenipotentiary Sir Henry Pottinger warns the people of Hong Kong that the Canton Provincial Government cannot be relied upon as they might at any time be required by the Emperor to disavow their previous agreements.

He particularly refers to the agreement to cease hostilities in the river.

He reminds all foreigners that putting themselves or their property in the power of the Canton Provincial authorities is at their own risk and peril. The arrangements made by Elliot for Hong Kong remain in force until H M’s will is known.

Friend of China 18.8.42 edition

The first autopsy done in Hong Kong was on Ms Nga Lok Po who died suddenly causing her relatives to suspect she had been poisoned. The Inquest was held on 15th August and Dr Lunn, the pathologist, identified cause of death as a ‘visitation of God’.[23]

The second autopsy related to a traumatic injury. Ho Wai, 40 years, a house painter of Canton Bazaar was in partnership with Ah Nam. On 10th August Ah Nam visited Ho Wai who was breakfasting with his girl friend Ah Hee on board his boat. Nam demanded arrears of wages, which was refused. An argument ensued. The two then went ashore to the tenement where they usually live and a fraças ensued. No-one else was in the house. Ho Wai came out bleeding copiously from the neck and said before he died that he had been struck by Ah Nam. Dr Lunn identified the wound as the cause of death and opined it was done with a knife or chopper. Ah Nam ran away. The jury reached a verdict of ‘wilful murder’.

Editor Shuck – ‘this is the first case of murder on the island. The people are generally so peaceful and non-contentious that there must be some extenuating circumstances.

Friend of China 18.8.42 edition

  • Subscriptions are being invited in London for a new bank with connections in India and China.
  • This year’s London season has been very gay and a grand fancy ball for 1,500 guests was attended by the Queen (dressed as Queen Philippa) and Prince Albert (as the Black Prince). Capt Elliot appeared in a superb Chinese costume as Commissioner Lin.

Friend of China 18.8.42 edition

A record of daily temperatures and air pressures in Hong Kong since the last edition is given.

Friend of China 18.8.42 edition

For the last 5 weeks heavy rains have stopped all building work. The tiny supply of brick and timber (diminished due to the embargo placed on shipments by the Kwangtung Government) is also delaying progress.

  • A large two storey house is being built for Pottinger facing the parade ground.
  • American missionaries are building next to the Roman Catholic College.
  • One wing of the Morrison Education Society has been completed – it is a good site and a good building. Lancelot Dent (a founder member of the society) donated $3,000 towards its construction.

Friend of China 25.8.42 edition

Hong Kong Crime report:

Facts – Ponan Lall, a sepoy of the 39th regiment, boarded Ah Sai’s boat to the Shah Allum. On boarding the boat, Lall tied his bundle (containing spare clothes and cooking utensils worth 10 rupees) to a bamboo strut supporting the roof covering. When alongside the Shah Allum the craft nearly upset and the occupants were thrown into the sea.

Lall managed to board one of the many small boats alongside Shah Allum and was rowed to Ah Sai’s boat to ask for his bundle. Ah Sai said he did not have it. Lall saw some wet cloth in Ah Sai’s hand and caught hold of him finding part of his possessions in a bag.

Judgement – Guilty. Ah Sai to get 40 strokes and go to gaol until he pays 10 rupees to Lall as compensation.

Friend of China 25.8.42 edition

The people of Heung Shan (the island, of which Macau is the southern appendage, – now called Chung Shan) have memorialised the Viceroy at Canton. They complain that Hong Kong is the base of pirates who continuously attack their trade. The booty is taken back to Hong Kong and sold.

To avoid Hong Kong piracy they must buy a pass from the Hong Kong pirates. If they do not buy one, they are robbed and injured. These pirates have taxed the entire coastal trade of China in the vicinity of Canton. They must be stopped.

Hong Kong is in the district of Sai Ngon which borders Heung Shan at the north east.[24] Hong Kong is said to have an efficient police force of foreign and native officers. They should arrest these pirates.

Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)
  1. A reference to Chek Chu, the major settlement on Hong Kong island that was renamed Stanley by the British. In fact most Chek Chu villagers moved out when the British moved in. We disallowed Chinese officials to licence their fishing and the villagers removed to maintain their livelihoods. Hong Kong was repopulated with the people who facilitated foreign trade.
  2. See the China and Opium chapters for details of effective Chinese policing of the smuggling bases at Lintin, Kum Sing Mun (Kiao Island), Nine Islands, Lung Kwu Chau and Hong Kong by Viceroy Teng and his staff. He stopped the Chinese intermediaries visiting the receiving ships and forced the foreigners to deliver the Drug themselves.
  3. Sam shoo is an approximation of the Cantonese words for ‘thrice fired’ and refers to rice wine that has been distilled three times. The high alcohol content in sam shoo took westerners unawares and rendered many a fine beer-drinker hors de combat.
  4. G Tradescant Lay is the promoter of the Bonin Islands as his preferred British trade entrepot for Japan and China.
  5. All regional governments are aware of the deleterious effect of opium on the Chinese army. European colonial powers use local people in their armies. They are equally exposed to the same risk.
  6. The men are all crew of the Snarley Yow (Smolius)
  7. Elliot’s ‘Battle of Kowloon Bay’ is reported more fully below.
  8. See the China and Opium chapters for the matter of the Black Joke.
  9. The signatories include all the merchants conducting Britain’s China trade. Commissioner Lin’s robust policy has alarmed the British traders and united them.
  10. These arrangements follow Elliot’s agreement with Keshen, sometimes called the Treaty of Chuen Pi, that was not ratified by either London or Peking.
  11. This withholding of respect for leaders of the British community in China becomes the norm. All the early Governors of Hong Kong were ignored on departure.
  12. After this notification the Friend of China Editor ceased identifying the cargoes carried in ships listed in its shipping reports.
  13. Kellett Island was a tiny island in the eastern harbour of Hong Kong. It has long since been connected to Hong Kong island by a causeway.
  14. I do not know where this memorial was erected. I cannot recall ever seeing it or even a photograph of it. A more accessible memorial to Fox (his uniform jacket) is displayed in the museum at the Bogue Forts.
  15. I did not see anything specific in the newspapers but this article indicates Elliot’s first land sale in Macau of Hong Kong land, which is detailed in the earlier articles above, was not ultimately approved.
  16. This strange queue-cutting punishment emulates Christian practice when inducting a Chinese into the religion by baptism – to indicate the convert repudiates the Chinese Emperor and submits to Christ. It likely deters an offender from returning to China and so serves a double purpose.
  17. Sam Shoo is rice wine distilled three times to achieve a high alcohol content.
  18. Rev Lewis Shuck, Editor of the Friend of China, complained about this report and the widespread ridicule of Christianity amongst the foreign community.
    Editor Slade responded that his informant is a well-respected merchant in Macau and beyond reproach. He justified publishing the report by adverting to increasing local reports of misjudged missionary zeal. He says “a wise man has told us that ‘in any controversy, the instant we feel anger, we have already ceased striving for the truth and are merely striving for ourselves.’”
  19. The supposed cause of the crime spree in Hong Kong.
  20. China makes vast quantities of wine from a great variety of grains, flavoured with a myriad variety of fruits, spices and vegetables. In the English-language press all Chinese wine is called sam shoo, meaning triple distilled. It is uniquely strong.
  21. A labour contractor.
  22. This looks like an early example of what used to be called gau deem – the innocent interpretation of criminal facts.
  23. The relatives must have been appalled – even the foreigners’ God is against us.
  24. Sai Ngon County extends from the vicinity of Wai Chow, its major town, to the offshore islands.

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