Friday, 22 August 2014

Hong Kong Census

Census were undertaken in Hong Kong during the 19th. and early 20th. century however these were for statistical purposes only.  The informative returns that we find in the UK do not exist for the former British Crown Colony of Hong Kong.

An extract from a typical annual Hong Kong Census records the number of Baptisms/Marriages/Deaths as follows:

Europeans etc. Protestant

Chinese Protestant


Europeans etc. Roman Catholic

Chinese Roman Catholic


Population was also recorded and the City of Victoria was shown with the following number of “White” male and females in 1873:

Crews of Merchant Shipping in Harbour
Temporary Residents


For the researcher things get slightly easier in 1911 as the UK census includes details of military and navy personnel worldwide – including those in Hong Kong.  An added bonus is that these returns include details of wives and children.  So head on over to your favourite subscription site (Find My Past, Ancestry etc.) and see what you can find.

Now a short story relating to one man who appeared on that 1911 census in Hong Kong.

Ernest Drury was born in Hastings in 1890.  In 1909 he enlisted for military service and the following year sailed for Hong Kong with his regiment, the Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry.  The 1911 census shows Ernest as a Lance Corporal with the 10th. Battalion in the Colony. 

In December 1911 the Hong Kong Police Force were experiencing difficulties with numbers and 20 men from KOYLI were transferred to police duties on a temporary basis.  A Police recruitment drive was held in the UK and HK and by the end of the year establishment had been boosted by 72 men (41 from the UK and 31 being recruited locally).  Several of the soldiers from KOYLI who were temporarily on loan obtained their discharge and transferred to the Hong Kong Police. Ernest was one of these men swopping his military service number of 10103 for police collar number 124.

August 1914 saw the outbreak of war in Europe but it was almost a year before members of the Hong Kong Police were allowed to enlist.  Drury was one of the first to leave for active service in July 1915.  On arrival in London he enlisted with the Kings Royal Rifles.  Ernest was promoted to Sergeant the following year and saw action in the Somme earning the Military Medal.

Sergeant R/15465 Ernest Drury died on 17 February 1917 and is remembered with honour on the Thiepval Memorial in France.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Hong Kong Research - The Wesleyan Methodist Historic Roll

Towards the end of the 19th. Century the Wesleyan Methodists wanted to celebrate the Centenary of the death of John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement.  They came up with “The Twentieth Century Fund” a project aimed at collecting a million guineas from a million Methodists throughout the world in order to expand the work of the Wesleyan church.

Every person who contributed signed within a “circuit register” and was presented with a certificate :

The pages from the local circuit registers were then bound together to form the Methodist Historical Roll – the 50 volumes of which can now be found at the Methodist Central Hall, Westminster, London where they can be viewed on microfiche.  The volumes include not only circuits within the UK but also around the world including China and Hong Kong.

Of special interest to genealogists is the fact that many of the donations were “In Memoriam” and these entries often show a date of death. 

Perhaps it is not surprising to find the Hong Kong Circuit Register headed by the most prominent Methodist families of Bone and Piercy.  The Piercy family entries are as follows:

The late Jane Wannop Piercy,  Canton
Geo. Piercy Jr,   Hong Kong
Jane Piercy,       Hong Kong
Richard Smailes Piercy,  Hong Kong
James Edward Piercy,    Hong Kong
Arthur Piercy,     Hong Kong
George Harold Piercy,    Hong Kong
Mary Frances Piercy,     Hong Kong

The late Jane Wannop Piercy of Canton would have been wife of the Revd. George Piercy of the English Wesleyan Mission.    She died in Canton in June 1878.

George Piercy Jnr was one of the children of the Revd. George and Jane.  From 1878 to 1917 he was headmaster of the Diocesan School and Orphanage in HK.  His wife was Jane and they had 7 children - two of whom died as infants.  The five surviving children are all named in the HK Circuit Register i.e. Richard, James, Arthur, George and Mary. 

The grave of the babies survives in Hong Kong and shows the inscription:

Jane Wannop Piercy
born 4th. September 1880
died 8th. September 1880

John Guy Piercy
born        April 1895
died    24 May 1895
Burial records show that John Guy Piercy was buried with his sister on 25th. May 1895 aged 54 days.

Grave of Jane Wannop Piercy and John Guy Piercy 

If your ancestor was a Methodist in the Far East then get yourself along to the Methodist Central Hall and be awe struck by the sight of these 50 bound volumes – then consult the microfiche to see if you strike gold.