Friday, November 30, 2012

It takes a village.

It takes a village to raise a child. We all know the truth of this old saw. It is less well known that it also takes a village  - and sometimes even a city - to support the work of someone such as myself. I am just home from my first-ever trip to Hong Kong, and the flood of thanks that keeps surfing inside my jet-lagged head is both overwhelming and unending. Surf on!

Some of these people who deserve thanks are nameless, such as the young toxicology student who I met at the University of Hong Kong. On the day that I showed up there, I had still been unable to locate a campus map and had asked him, hard at work on his laptop, where the Library might be. Which library?  he asked. History and such, I replied. I will walk you there, he said. Are you sure? I asked, It is not out of your way?

We chatted as we walked, mostly about Canada’s record with respect to food inspections. I had a much more negative take than he did. He had not heard of our federal government’s latest cuts to our inspection capacity, and that Canada now has meat-packers doing their own inspections under diminished oversight. He was curious about Canada’s processes, both political and practical, but his questions also challenged me to remember and re-evaluate the little that I did know. We parted at the library, and as I looked back over my shoulder I saw him retracing his steps. I was going that way anyway he had said to me when we started out. Hmm. There was a kindness in how he had offered his gift of being a guide, a way that had made it lighter for me to accept. 

The path through Stanley Market to Annelise's apartment.

My thoughts of undertaking a trip to Hong Kong had started when a perfect stranger, Annelise, offered me a mattress in a corner of her 400 sq. ft. flat in Stanley. We had only known each other through a few posts concerning the history of some houses on The Peak. The next thing I knew was that I had bought a ticket, and was about to meet the best guide possible. Not only did Annelise have connections that opened doors to all sorts of adventures, but she also made sure that I had grasped the rudiments of getting about: how buses and taxis worked, where the public toilet facilities were.

Through her, I met the members of the Royal Asiatic Society. After my presentation to them, I received at least a dozen calling cards, and have been invited to follow up with these members on outstanding questions. Believe me, I will. First, I need to take the time to assemble what I have learned in the various archives during my two week stint. After all, I don’t want to ask any questions that I can actually answer on my own hoof. I also want to refine the questions that are still outstanding so that I can minimize the time it will take to run each to ground.

Over the next couple of weeks, I will post expanded versions of several parts of my presentation. I promised to do this so that those members of the RAS who could not be there will feel included. Together, we will all learn more. I will also post my outstanding questions. 

On other posts later in December, I will update my readers on what one of my heroes in life, Ursula Franklin, would call my ever-expanding domain of ignorance. This is the border between what I do know and what I don’t. If it is growing, then it is because I have been learning more, but this always means that I will continue to have more questions. There is at least that.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Shameless Self Promotion #2

Hong Kong Royal Asiatic Society: Sharon Oddie Brown
Tuesday November 22, 2012

The next speaker at the Royal Asiatic Society is an unusual choice. She failed history in High School, and then steered clear of all such courses at university. Fortunately, the lack of paper credentials has never stopped her in the past. She has had a range of disparate careers: as a Director of Outdoor and Environmental Studies for the YWCA, as the manager of a bar that was profitable enough to pay off its mortgage, and as the author of a book on home palliative care, Some Become Flowers: Living with Dying at Home.

Aside from her professional work, Sharon has designed several additions to buildings, including a four story circular tower. She researched the engineering requirements, and drew up the blueprints. She and her husband then did most of the construction work. This and other buildings she has had a hand in either building or adding to are all still standing.

In the mid-1980s, she was elected twice as a Mission City alderman. In that decade, she also became a good enough shot with a 22 rifle that a bothersome bear took note and thereafter left her strawberries alone. In the early 2000s, the volunteer financial and legal work she undertook in Roberts Creek contributed – with the help of many others - to the first rural cohousing community being successfully built in Canada. It came in under budget.

The history bug is one of her more recent obsessions. It was triggered by an intricate, double-walled silver bowl that her grandmother had smuggled into Canada in 1924. When Sharon’s father died in 1995, her curiosity about why this bowl had been given to one of her ancestors led her to the story of Sir Thomas Jackson and his brother David. Both men were her great- granduncles, and both were key players in the early days of HSBC in Hong Kong and Japan.

Sharon’s curiosity also resulted in her finding seventy-seven letters written by her great-great grandmother, letters that had once been lost for decades in a bog in Ireland. It also led her to the tale of a gypsy telling the fortunes of a man and a boy - one who would be known all over the world, and the other who would die a dastardly death. The gypsy’s prediction is only one of the many stories that she will relate at the Thursday evening talk. She will also display more than a hundred family photos and have available copies of several news clippings from the mid to late 1800s in the early days of the Colony of Hong Kong.

Her web site and blog are visited by thousands of people on a regular basis. Her method of research is idiosyncratic, but has recently been given a name: crowd sourcing. This has become an accepted method of historical research, since wedding the power of the internet with collaborative sharing can clearly produce results that cannot be realized in any other way. She has shared thousands of documents, photos and articles on her web site and blog. If you ask her, she will confess that although this approach requires an indecent amount of time and effort - it is also one heck of a lot of fun and well worth the candle.

Shameless Self Promotion #1

Sir Thomas Jackson and The Bank:
Not your average banker
Thursday, 22nd November, 2012

This talk is the second in the series on notable Hong Kong personalities of the 19th Century, and will present a marked contrast to Sir Patrick Pope Hennessy’s life and times in Hong Kong. For Sir Thomas, (known as “TJ” in the Bank) was certainly not your average bank manager, and with few formal qualifications, would probably be lucky to get an interview for a teller’s post these days; but, this is a tale of a young man, son of an Irish tenant farmer, who ended up by reshaping international banking in the Far East in the late 1800s.
David McLean & Thomas Jackson - 1866
He grew up in a border village near Crossmaglen, South Armagh and the family having little money for his higher education, he was apprenticed as a clerk to the Bank of Ireland’s Belfast Branch for two years, before he gambled on a career in the Far East with the Agra Bank.  In 1865, he joined the 2-year old HSBC in Hong Kong as a junior clerk, amongst a total of less than a dozen staff. And as the Bank quickly rose to prominence in the Far East, so too did TJ quickly rise up the ranks of The Bank. He was a keen racehorse owner and member of most of the main clubs in Hong Kong.  His wife Amelia, daughter of a sea captain, was also very active in Hong Kong being a president of the LRC, an enthusiastic gardener and tennis player.

Our Speaker, Ms Sharon Oddie Brown, is based in Roberts Creek, BC, Canada, and is a distant relative of the Jackson family. She is now writing a biography of Sir Thomas, his family and life during those exciting times of the late 19th century Hong Kong.She is presently in HK to research some missing items and is also hoping for further useful leads through  this talk. She will have available original photos of personalities, Peak houses, gardens and the LRC for our comment. Sharon has written the prize-winning book “Some Become Flowers” and runs a very active blog containing a wide range of topics, including organic farming and cooking, as well as plenty of history

Find out : Why Sir Thomas is the only statue in Statue Square and why are there no Royals?
 Who polished Sir Thomas’s shoes?   What is Sir Thomas’s connection with the USA?
 What was the  big scandal at the Ladies Recreation Club?
 Why was the HSBC known as the “Old Cow”?    And much more....

Speaker:                  Ms. Sharon Oddie Brown
Date/Time:              Thursday, 22nd November 6:30pm  (Cash bar is open from 6.00 pm).
Venue:                     The Helena May (Garden Room), Garden Road, Hong Kong..

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Sir Robert Ho Tung (1862-1956)

Sir Robert Ho Tung (1862-1956)
 Ho Tung was one of Sir Thomas Jackson’s cherished friends. After TJ’s death, he continued to stay in touch with Thomas’ eldest son, Sir Thomas Dare Jackson. There is more than one photo of Ho Tung in the various archives in the homes of my extended family in Ireland and England. Also, in the HSBC archives in London, there is a handwritten timeline of TJ’s life (the first Sir Thomas) that Ho Tung compiled to assist various researchers in writing the history of HSBC.

Not surprisingly, it was Ho Tung who presented an address to Thomas Jackson on behalf of the Chinese Community, when TJ was leaving Hong Kong, thanking him for ... fostering the good works of all classes of charitable and religious institutions in Hong Kong, and without discrimination, your private munificence ...” He also mentioned the very cordial relations that ever existed between yourself and the Chinese merchants and traders of Hong Kong.

The early life of Ho Tung was not so uncommon in the early days of Hong Kong.  His father was a merchant, Charles Henry Maurice Bosman, of Dutch and Jewish ancestry. His mother (surname Sze and given name probably Tai) had been sold by her family. She arrived in Hong Kong in 1855 and became Bosman’s long-term mistress, bearing him several children.

A couple of decades younger than Thomas Jackson, but doing business with him on a regular basis, Ho Tung had started out as a comprador brokering deals on behalf of merchants and bankers such as John Bell-Irving of Jardines, and Paul Chater of Chater & Mody – both of whom served on the board of HSBC when Jackson was the manager. By the time Ho Tung retired in 1900 as Jardine’s chief comprador, he was worth more than $2,000,000 in cash alone.

He was also active in public life. In 1895, he spoke out against legislation that discriminated against non-Europeans. In 1898 he chaired the Tung Wah Hospital board. In 1915, as part of his philanthropic activities, he made a substantial donation to the University of Hong Kong He also donated $50,000 to buy airplanes and ambulances to assist the British cause in WWI, and as a result of such actions, he received his first knighthood.

On the political front, he tried to bridge divides and hosted meetings with numerous Chinese political reformers at Idlewood, one of his several Hong Kong houses. In 1922, he brought rival Chinese war lords together in Hong Kong in an attempt to broker peace, not that he succeeded. As a result of actions such as this, and much more, he was awarded a 2nd knighthood in 1955.

His first wife was Margaret Mak, daughter of Hector MacLean’s mistress (Maclean was a Jardine’s agent). Clara Ching-yung, his second but ‘equal’ wife, was a cousin of his 1st wife.  Together, he and Clara had three sons and seven daughters. He also had a daughter with his concubine, Chau Yee-man. It would be surprising if these concurrent relationships didn’t result in at least some domestic complications.  In 1906, after successfully gaining an exemption from the Peak Reservation Ordinance which reserved The Peak for Europeans, he bought three houses on The Peak to accommodate his ever-expanding and complex family,

In preparation for my upcoming trip to Hong Kong, I revisited much of this history and was finally able to put two and two together. For some time, I had been perplexed by a photo that included an elderly man conversing with Ho Tung. The other man had looked familiar, but I couldn’t place him. It turned out that he was none other than George Bernard Shaw. Not only that, but Shaw – who was a distant cousin of Governor Lugard’s wife Dame Flora Louise Shaw - had previously visited Ho Tung at his home in Hong Kong in 1933. SEE: Financial Times article.

NOTE: In this photo, Ho Tung was 88 years old and Shaw was 94.
 Here is the letter that Ho Tung sent to TJ’s son, Sir Thomas Dare Jackson, with the photos. It was this that made me realize who the two men were. The reference to Ayot, St Lawrence refers to the place where Shaw lived from 1906 until his death in November 1950 . Shaw died 8 months after the photo was taken.

SOURCES: There is a splendid biography of Ho Tung, which includes much more than what I have mentioned here, in the Dictionary of Hong Kong Biography. There are also a number of interesting references in Hong Kong in Chinese History: Community and Social Unrest in the British Colony, 1842-1913. The quotes from the Chinese Address to Thomas Jackson come from Frank H. H. King, The Hongkong Bank in Late Imperial China 1864-1902. p. 567
GRATITUDE: The Bowman-Vaughan family often deserves special mention for their generosity in assisting me with my research, but particularly so in this case. Annabel shared these photos as well as the letter with me, and her sister Venetia photographed them much better than I could have. Their brother Tommy hosts me whenever I visit London – and years ago even went to the trouble to set up a guest suite for me. Their sister Juliet has also hosted me when I have been in the western part of Ireland. Great-grandchildren of Sir Thomas Jackson, they have all inherited his generosity of spirit and are all significant contributors to this story.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Crowd Sourcing and the Dares

Crowd sourcing in our time is not unlike barn raising in the days of horse and buggy. Total strangers reach out and accomplish things that no one person could ever do alone. Both rely on a foundation of trust and reciprocity, trusting that it isn’t a one way street. For me, it is a wonderful sight when the ribs of the barn are nailed into place, even when it isn’t my barn.

In this post I am assembling what I know about the back story of the Dare family sisters and brothers-in-law of Sir Thomas Jackson – aka TJ - and I am hoping by doing this to learn more. So, let me make this clear right up front. This post is part of my own barn raising. Even so, I am also hoping that by sharing what I know that it may help others in the process.

The reason for exploring these stories is that success in banking – as in any business -  is  about connections, which is what TJ got in spades when he married the young Amelia Dare, daughter of Capt George Julius Dare and Sarah Shrieve Park of Singapore. Her father had first sailed from Calcutta to China in 1823, and then between Singapore and China 1840-45, and had been settled in Singapore since 1848. He knew the territory from inside out and back again.

Amelia’s father may have died when she was four years old, but his business connections lived on through his sons. Their ancestors, the Dare, Parke and Julius families, had been merchants, hotel keepers, army men, as well as ships captains and chandlers and generations of them had lived throughout the British Empire since the mid 1700s. As a result, they had a fluency in the language of commerce in every region, and their finger was continued to monitor the pulse of business gossip.

The women in these stories also deserve our attention. They always had their ways of contributing to their husbands’ business enterprises and connections. In one family story, Amelia’s grandmother, Louisa Caroline Julius, was proposed to by none other than Horatio Nelson when he visited St. Kitts. She turned him down. After all, he had yet to make his fortune, and she had her eye on the long game. In the end, it would be her money that bankrolled the first ship of her son George Julius Dare, Amelia’s father. After George Julius Dare died both prematurely and unexpectedly, the family had to regroup. By the time that Amelia married TJ in Yokohama in 1871, they were once again back on a firm footing.

The text that follows will only be a quick flypast describing Amelia’s brothers and brother-in-laws, with a focus on their inter-connected business involvements. I have bolded names of individuals and businesses to make them easier to spot amongst the dreck of text. Other links at the bottom of this post will link to my web site or to other articles on my blog site where more can be found about these people.

George Mildmay Dare: (b. 1840-1907) First born child of George Julius Dare and Sarah Shrieve Parke, he was initially employed by the firm of Syme and Co. in Singapore. After working there for five years, he worked for two more years at Bangkok – doing what, I don’t know. After this, he moved to Hong Kong, joined Rusden Phipps and Co at Foochow, and then spent the next eighteen years in Japan. First, he joined the Glover Trading Co. (Guraba-Shokai) in Nagasaki, and then became a partner in MacDonald and Dare. They were brokers in Yokohama that were deeply involved in the silk trade. When TJ was manager at Yokohama, he met and proposed to Amelia. She was living there with George, her mother and various siblings. The silk trade represented a significant part of HSBCs business dealings in Yokohama. After 1868, silk reeling grew into being Japan’s main export industry and the silk industry needed up front capital to operate. There is a fair bit about GM Dare in a blog piece that I did as well as in his 1907 obit.

John Julius Dare (1841-1879). Except for the story when he and his mother and older brother were on a ship captured by pirates and he was near death when they finally came ashore, I know little about him. He never married, and the only other mention that I have found so far in any public records was that he was active in amateur theatricals in Singapore where he and his brother George were both known for playing the parts of women to great acclaim. In the family, he was referred to as Julius – not John - and was remembered as a great athlete and a brilliant horseman. Behind his death certificate is a sad story. He died of cholera at the family home in Yokohama, as did his mother five days later. She had been nursing him throughout his illness. He was 38 years old. She was 62. Since he lived for eight years after Amelia’s marriage in Yokohama, TJ would have known him well, and there may also have been business ties.

Blanche Emily Dare (1843-1920). She married William Ramsay Scott, born in 1838 in Java, the sixth son of Robert Scott. His father was an East India merchant, who later became Secretary General of Java. William was also a dab hand at theatrical entertainment, often assuming a leading role in the local productions. In 1858, by age twenty, he was a clerk in the firm of William Macdonald & Co. in Battery Road, Singapore, and became partner in 1867. They did business with Jardine Matheson. Macdonald & Co. wound up sometime in the 1870s, and Scott then started up his own firm: Scott, Witham and Co., and then later in 1877, he founded the firm W.R. Scott & Co.. In the late 1880s, that firm was bought up by Barlow & Co., whose owners often served on the board of HSBC. In 1889 he was mentioned in news as being the Singapore Agent agent for "Canton Insurance Office Ltd.". [The Straits Times 11 July 1889 p.1]..He then returned to England, where he was described in the census as an East India Merchant, like his father. It was Scott who was the first to let TJ’s mother know of the birth of TJ’s son, George Julius Jackson. His other claim to fame is one that TJ’s mother would have cherished. His uncle – I believe this would be Capt. William G. Scott - was supposedly a cousin of the famed Scottish novelist, Sir Walter Scott. Why it was his uncle who was supposed to be related, but not his father, suggests that Capt. William Scott married another Scott. This Capt. Scott was a harbour master and lived near the site of the present Hurricane House, the Singapore residence of HM the King of Siam.

Louisa Caroline Dare (1845-aft 1915) married in 1864 Captain Charles James Bolton, born in 1839 in Singapore. If he had not already met her before, they would have met on the 16th of March 1863 when John Julius Dare brought the rest of the family up from the Cape to Singapore in the clipper-steamer Clan Alpine (her sisters Blanche and Florence had left the Cape the year before). The Clan Alpine belonged to Jardine, Matheson's and was captained by Bolton. Bolton was well known in the region as the captain of Jardine Matheson & Co.'s crack opium schooner, and when steam came, he became captain of the Glenartney. I have a hunch that he was the son of the Capt Bolton who transported convicts from Cork in 1839 – but I can’t yet prove it. Louisa’s son, Charles George Bolton was born in Singapore on 14 November 1866, so I would assume that they were based there, although she may have just been visiting.   At the time of the 1881 Census of England, Charles jr. was a naval cadet aboard HMS Dapper in Dartmouth, Devon, England.  Louisa died, at sea in 1870. Her husband remarried and died in England in 1917.

Sarah Elizabeth Dare (1847-?) married John Catto Abell in 1879 in Kobe. He had lived in Shanghai for several years before setting up as a gold and bullion dealer at Kobe in 1868. In 1873, his partnership in Abell & Herhausen finished when Otto Herhausen moved to Osaka. Subsequently, Abell set up as an independent merchant in Kobe, and was described as a bill and bullion broker. In 1886, he added the insurance business to his scope of operations becoming the agent for E.B. Watson – who in turn was the agent for the Chinese Insurance Co. – and then from 1888, Abell became the sole agent for the Union Assurance Society: Fire and Life. The business grew such that it made sense to take on a partner, and he formed Abell and Ralston with James Ralston. Sometime in 1900, after the death of Ralston, Abell took over the business until ill health confined him to bed and he died in 1903. Sarah and John’s son, John Dare “Jock” Abell joined the Kobe staff of HSBC in 1901. Before then, he had worked at the Lucas & Co. Trade and Assurance Agency in Kobe. He did not stay long at HSBC, moving on to Strachan & Co Insurance Agents in Kobe in 1904. Then in 1907, he returned to banking, serving as a banking clerk with the International Banking Corp. in Kobe, a position that lead to him becoming an accountant. Abell sr. was also very active in the Hyogo and Osaka Chamber of Commerce, functioning as secretary 1871-1888. He also served as a trustee (1897-1899) of the Kobe Regatta & Athletic Club, and was one of its longest serving members. In 1904, a year after his death in 1903, his wife Sarah is still recorded as living in Kobe, perhaps with her son.

Anna Maria Dare (1849-1931) married Whitworth Allen in 1870 in Singapore. He was a clerk with William MacDonald & Co. In Singapore - 1859 -1864, at the same time as another of the Dare brothers-in-law, William Ramsay Scott, also worked there.  After 1864, Whitworth went to Penang, in what capacity I do not yet know. Judging from the birth places of their seven children, the family was based in Panang for at least a decade, but also spent time in England. Their son, Alfred Whitworth Allen, was another of the many TJ nephews to serve at HSBC. He joined the London office in 1894, then in 1898 was posted to Hiogo where he stayed until 1904 when he went on leave, and then returned for a stint in Manila. From there he served at Foochow, and then again at Manila. Later postings included Sourabaya, Iloilo, Shanghai, Tsingtao, Ipoh, Malacca, and Kuala Lumpur. When he resigned due to ill health in 1928 he had reached the level of 9th in staff seniority.  With respect to other familial links in the region, Whitworth Allen’s sister Amy Allen married Edmund Ironside Marsh the brother of Hong Kong Governor, Sir William Henry Marsh. Another son of Whitworth & Anna Maria was George Edward Allen. He married Mary Alice Hartigan, the daughter of Anna Marie Dare’s sister, Florence Gertrude Dare and Dr. William Hartigan, the HSBC doctor who was long active in Hong Kong and who signed TJ’s death certificate in London in 1915.

Amelia Lydia Dare (1851-1944) married Sir Thomas Jackson – the key focus of my research, so I will not natter on about him here. There is plenty elsewhere.

Alfred Henry Dare (1853-1924) was a junior with HSBC at Yokohama. Frank H.H. King writes: The last junior to be recruited in the East was A.H. Dare, a relative of Thomas Jackson's wife, and his entire career (with the exception of a year in Amoy in 1883) was spent in Japan, although he received leave to England and was on the Eastern, not the "Local British Staff". He resigned in 1893; the Court subsequently learned that the reason had been health and consequently voted him a gratuity of 1,000 pounds. Although he died in England, he was buried in Japan, next to his wife, Lena Mary Fielden, a statement of the depth of connection that he and his family felt to the place. They had four children.

Florence Gertrude Dare (1835-1938) married Dr. William Hartigan in 1881, probably in Japan. He was a native of Limerick in Ireland, and was educated at the Catholic University School and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. He went to Hong Kong where he was a physician to the Alice Memorial Hospital and an examiner at the Medical College for Chinese. Dr. Sun Yat Sen mentions him as one of his significant teachers He had three papers published in the Journal of Tropical Medicine.  He was also the doctor for HSBC in Hong Kong, but not on staff as an actual staff member. It was his recommendation that European staff be provided summer accommodation on the Peak, which was where TJ and Amelia built their summer home, Creggan.  

Julius family Tree: on my web site.
Dares included in a MURRAY-TOLLEMACHE-PARKE family tree on my web site.
Tales of the Elusive Julius – a wee history of the fmily on my blog.
Tip of the iceberg – some musing on the DARE family tree.