Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Crowd Sourcing 4th of Five

This is the 4th section of a draft version of one of the chapters for my upcoming book The Silver Bowl. It is one of four thumbnail sketches of Irishmen whose impact on Hong Kong in its early days as a Colony were significant. My hope is that helpful readers can set me straight if I am wrong about any of the facts. I still have much to learn.

Sir Henry Kellett (1806-1875)
Portrait by Stephen Pearce (1819-1904). SOURCE: Wikipedia.
Sir Henry Kellett, also an Irishman, and a naval officer serving on the HMS Sulphur under Belcher’s command, was amongst that first crew that hoisted the flag at Possession Point on Monday, January 25th, 1841. It bears remembering that he and his fellow soldiers had done this in spite of the fact that the war had not yet been officially won, and no treaties had yet been signed. Sir James John Bremer had arrived on the island, planning to be the top gun to officially take possession, only to find that his uppity Irish underlings had already performed the ceremony. He wasn’t too thrilled.

Other than this, Kellett’s most significant contribution to Hong Kong was his later work mapping the coast of China with his good friend Richard Collinson. These maps were a boon to local traders, bankers, governors and the British military. Afterwards, in 1869, Kellett returned to Hong Kong to serve as Vice Admiral and Commander-in-Chief of the China Station under yet another Irishman, Governor Robert Graves MacDonnell. He was still there when TJ sailed from Yokohama to take up his new post as sub-manager of HSBC at Hong Kong. The two countrymen would almost certainly have met, given their overlapping social circles, though there is no record of it.

Sometime before his death in 1875, Kellett returned to his birthplace of Clonacody, Co. Tipperary, and was buried in the land of his ancestors. One of his tributes could just as easily have applied to Thomas Jackson:
There are numerous witnesses to his kindness and to the pains he took to keep up morale and good humour under trying conditions. The stormy “Jacky” Fisher, who served under Kellett in China, was at first repelled by him: “He hasn’t a spark of religion about him, never goes to Church, and this, together with his being an Irishman, makes me distrust him,” but soon yielded to his charm: “he is so full of kindness to me.” Dictionary of Canadian Biography.



No comments:

Post a Comment