Thursday, 12 March 2015

British Consular Staff in China

The British Crown Colony of Hong Kong sat on the edge of the mighty Chinese Empire so it will not be surprising to hear that the colony was used as staging post.  British Consulates were located at strategic points along the China Coast each maintaining their own sets of archives and registers.  Those that have survived can now be found in The National Archives at Kew

Many of the early consulate staff had previous service in Hong Kong.  One such man was Henry Fletcher HANCE who joined the Hong Kong Government as a clerk in 1844.  A few years later, in a move aimed at furthering his career, he was successful in obtaining a post in Canton as Fourth Assistant with the Superintendent of Trade for China.  Henry went on to become the Keeper of the Archive whilst his leisure hours were spent in pursuit of his favourite science – Botany.  Henry’s full story can be found on my China Interlude Blog:

For those interested in exploring the lives of those employed in the British Consular Service in China I can do no better than recommend “The China Consuls:  British Consular Officers in China 1843 – 1943” by P.D. Coates.