Thursday, October 1, 2009 | By: rudi butt

Opium Hall Of Fame

Updated (partial) on March 22, 2013

Opium Storage Ship
source: Okinawa Soba, flickr
The Shameless

The Monopoly

British East India Company: Licensed to Traffic in Contraband

Free Traders - before 1830s

John Jacob Astor
The US Pioneer Opium Shipper, John Jacob Astor

American fur merchant John Jacob Astor (b.1763-d.1848) probably was the first opium free trader from the West (notes must be taken however that Turks and Indians had been shipping opium to China for centuries), and certainly the first American to trade opium in China. He began shipping opium from Turkey to China in 1816 but abruptly stopped in 1819. With the fortune he fast-tracked from dealing in opium, he started heavily investing in lands in New York City and became America's first multi-millionaire before long. According to Forbes Magazine's studies in 2006, he was the fourth all-time wealthiest American [1]. J.J. Astor's great-granddaughter, Helen Schermerhorn Astor married James “Rosy” Roosevelt, the half-brother of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Incidentally, F.D.R's maternal grandfather, Warren Delano, Jr., also made his fortune in opium, working for the leading American opium trader – Russell and Co.

[1] All-time Wealthest American
1. John D. Rockefeller (1839-1937), Estimated 2006 Net Worth: $305.3 billion
2. Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919), Estimated 2006 Net Worth: $281.2 billion
3. Cornelius Vanderbilt (1794-1877), Estimated 2006 Net Worth: $168.4 billion
4. John Jacob Astor (1763-1848), Estimated 2006 Net Worth: $110.1 billion
Bill Gates' 2006 Net Worth was at $52 billion and, Li Ka-Shing (not American, but just for the fun of comparing) $19 billion

Free Traders - 1830 to 1842

Key Events
Bell and Co.UK1844: Joseph Mackrill Smith, partner since 1840, was appointed a JP.[1][2][3][5(40)][6]
Bibby Adam & Co.UK1840: Withdrew from China.1, 2, 3, 4, 5(5), 6
K. H. Cama & Co.Parsi [4]
P. F. Cama & Co. Parsi [4]
P. D. N. Casmaji & Co.Parsi [4]
Joseph and William Cragg & Co.UK1839: Dissolved, Gibb Livington & Co. was charge to take care of all outstanding matters.[1][2][5(53)]
Daniell & Co.UK [1][2][3][5(1,466)][6]
Dent & Co. 寶順洋行UK1823: Company founder Thomas Dent arrived Canton
1839: Senior partner Lancelot Dent arrested by Canton authorities on opium smuggling charges, which fused the First Opium War
1841: Moved to Hong Kong exodus of British firms from Canton; became the third leading opium firms after the houses of Jardine and Russell.
1844: Senior partner John Dent was appointed a JP.
1863: John Dent was elected chairman of the Hong Kong Chamber of Commerce.
1865: Partner Francis Chomley was elected the first chairman of HSBC.
1866: John Dent was appointed Senior Unofficial Member of the Legislative Council.
1867: Hong Kong operation collapsed amidst worldwide financial crisis originated in London in 1866; headquarters removed to Shanghai; the Dent building in Hong Kong was sold to the Hong Kong Hotel Co.
Dirom & Co.UK [1][2][3][6]
Abdoolally Ebrahim and Co. 鴨都剌利洋行Parsi1842: Ran Hong Kong's first cross-harbor ferry service.
1864: Received compensations from the British Government for its opium confiscated by the Qing government in 1839.
Present day: Remains active in Hong Kong under the name of Abdoolally Ebrahim Group.
Habibbhoy Ebrahim Sons and Co.IN [5(30)]
Eglinton Maclean & Co.UK [2][3][5(30)]
Fox, Rawson and Co.UK [1][2]
W. and J. Gemmell and Co.UK [1][2][3][5(266)][6]
Gibb, Livingston and Co.UK [1][2][3][4][5(29)][6]
Ameroodin Jaffeerbhoy Co.IN [2][3][4][6]
Jamieson & HowUKScottish origin[5(10)]
Jardine, Matheson and Co.UK [1][2][3][5(7.341)*]
Layton and Co.UK [2]
Lindsay and Co.UK [1][2][3][4][5(314)][6]
MacVicar and Co.UK [1][2][3][5(1,146)][6]
D. N. Mody and Co.Parsi [4]
Hadjee Mohomed and M. M. HosseinParsi  
Cassumbhoy Nathabhoy Sons and Co.IN [4]
Nowrojee and Co. Parsi [4]
Cawasjee Pallanjee and Co. Parsi [6]
Robert Wise Holliday, and Co.UK [1][2][3][4][6]
Russell and Co.USA [1][2][4][5(1,437)]
Russell, Sturgis, and Co.USA [1][2]
Rustomjee Ruttonjee and Co. Parsi [5(14)]
David Sassoon Sons, and Co. UK
David Sassoon was a Baghdadi Indian Jew and a naturalised British subject.
Turner and Co.UK [1][2][3][4][5(71)][6]
Wetmore and Co.USA1842: Ceased to deal in opium.[1][2][4][5(103)]
Amerally AbdoolallyParsi  
Adam AllarakiaParsi1859: Listed as a partner of Allarkia, Noor Mohamed, Sons, & Co. 
Vully Mohommed AllobhoyParsi  
D.J. BarradasPT1859: Listed as a clerk and having his residence at Shelley Street. 
B.C. BhabbaParsi  
Cursetjee BomanjeeParsi [1][2]
Sackhuson BurdroodenUK [1][2][3][6]
Alexander CalderUSA1843: Joined the Macau based firm of Hughesdon Brothers of China; the firm changed its name to Hughesdon Calder & Co., and moved to Hong Kong; the firm handled, among other things, the sale of China sycee silver.[5(15)]
Hormuzjee ByramjeeParsi [1][2][5(4)]
Charles Spencer Compton UKowner of C.S. Compton and Co.; fined $200 by the British Consul in Canton for causing a riot by kicking over a Chinese stall and beating its owner with his stick; appointed a JP in 1844[3][6]
Framjee DadabhoyParsi 1/2/6
J. de SouzaPT 1/2/5(183)
Dassabhoy Hormutzjee DollakacParsi 5(67)
Nasserwanjee DorabjeeParsi 1/2/5(127)/6
Pallonjee DorabjeeParsi 5(51)
Mohommedbhoy DossabhoyParsi  
Solomon EbrahimParsi  
Cowasjee EdulgeeParsi 5(232)/6
Ahmad Hadjee EsaacParsi  
Hormuzjee FramjeeParsi 1/2/5(73)/6
Nasserwanjee FramjeeParsi 6
Eneas Fraser Jr.UK
A.D. FurdonjeeParsi 1/2
Alladinbhoy HabibbhoyParsi  
Silas Aaron HardoonUKHardoon was a Baghdadi Indian Jew and a naturalized British subject 
HendersonUKRelated to Jardine, Matheson & Co.2
Bomanjee HonsanjeeParsi 1/2
Dossabhoy HormusjeeParsi 1/2/6
Bomanjee HosonojeeeeParsi 5(3)/6
James InnesUK 1/2/3
Framjee JametjeeParsi 1/2/5(12)
MacdonaldUK 2/3
Bomanjee ManuckjeeParsi 1/2/6
Burjoorjee ManockjeeParsi 1/2/6
Nasserwanjee Bomonjee ModyParsi 5(92)
Burjorjee MonackjeeParsi 5(54)
Pallanjee NasserwanjeeParsi 1/2/5(9)/6
Hadjee Abdoola NathanParsi n/a
Framjee NowrojeeParsi n/a
Edward PereriaPT 5(33)
Jamasetjee PestonjeeParsi n/a
Ahmadbhoy RamtoolaParsi n/a
Heerjeebhoy RustomjeeParsi 1/2/5(1,700)/6
Jamsetjee RutonjeeParsi 1/2
Shasmkkshaw RustomjeeParsi 1/2/6
Dadabhoy & Manockje RustomkeeParsi 1/2/5(970)/6
Bomanjee RuttonjeeParsi 5(4)
Cowasjee SaporjeeParsi 1/2/5(67)
S.A. SethParsi
Muncherjee Pestonjee SetnaParsi 4
Cursetjee ShapoorjeeParsi 1/2/6
A.I. Smithunk. 5(7)
Abaden and Jam SoodenParsi 1/2/5(25)
James StarkeyUK
Captain of the ship "Thistle"5(10)
Burjorjee SuradjeeParsi 5(59)/6
Cowasjee Saporjee TabackParsi 5(13)/6
StewartUKpossibly William Stewart who later joined Jardine, Matheson & Co.2/3
John ThackerUKship captain
1939 - bought opium in Bombay and brought them to Canton in February; later surrendered to Charles Elliot
David WilsonUKship captainn/a

*Jardine , incldung 5,000 owned by its Parsee partners

[1] Those who were signatories of a letter titled "The Foreign Merchants to the Imperial Commissioner"

Canton, March 25, 1839

The foreign merchants of all nations, in Canton, have received with profound respect the Edict of his Excellency the Imperial Commissioner; and now beg leave to address his Excellency, having already communicated through the Hong merchants their intentions of doing so with the least possible delay.

They beg to represent, that being now made fully aware of the Imperial commands, &c., the entire abolition of the traffic in opium, the undersigned foreigners in Canton hereby pledge themselves not to deal in opium, nor to attempt to introduce it into the Chinese Empire.

Having now recorded their solemn pledge, they have only further most respectfully to state to his Excellency, that as individual foreign merchants they do not possess the power of controlling such extensive and important matters, as his Excellency's edict embraces; and they trust His Excellency will approve of their leaving a final settlement to be arranged through the Representative of their respective nations.


[2] Those who were held in imprisonment (house arrest) between March 25 and May 4 by order of Imperial Commissioner Lin Zexu.

[3] Those British (including Anglo-Indian) merchants were discharged on signing a bond on May 27, 1839, guaranteeing that they would never return to China.

[4] Founding Members of the Hong Kong Chamber of Commerce.

[5] All opium merchants were asked to surrender their inventories of opium to Charles Elliot on March 27, 1939, who in turn surrendered the same to Imperial Commissioner Lin Zexu. This shows the known quantity of opium surrendered to Elliot.

[6] Those who were signatories of a letter titled "Memorial from Her Majesty's Subjects to Viscount Palmerston", Canton, May 23, 1839, in which opium merchants were appealing their claims on account of the opium surrendered for Her Majesty's service. I found at least one record that shows the British Government had indeed compensated opium merchants against their claims. Abdoolally Ebrahim and Co. was paid in 1864.

Free Traders - post Opium War

Opium related operations of the following companies and individuals began after the First Opium War. Their operation was mostly Hong Kong based.

Augustine Heard and Co.
American, [4]

Fletcher and Co.
British, [4]

Emmanuel Raphael Belilios 庇理羅士
Baghdadi Indian Jew, longest serving director (1868-1888) of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, became HSBC Chairman in 1876, a position he held until 1882. He was appointed to the Legislative Council in 1881 and as the Council's Senior Unofficial Member between 1892 and 1900.

Douglas Lapraik - British, [4]

George Duddell
George Duddell

Alexander Martin Mathieson
British (of the firm of McEwen and Co.), who together with George Duddell, secured Hong Kong's first ever opium monopoly at a public auctionat 2pm on February 28,1845, for a period of one year at the monthly rate of $710. Duddell was the Government Auctioneer at that time. Entirely unable to enforce their monopoly, Duddell and Mathieson negotiated the surrender of the lease within three months.

Lo Aqui 盧亞貴
Chinese, and partner Fung Attai bought opium monopoly, the one surrendered by Duddell and Mathieson, at an auction in July 1845 at the monthly rate of $1,710.

Fung Attai
Chinese, partner of Lo Acqui in operating the opium monopoly in 1845.

Chan Tai-kwong
Chinese, who was a protégé of the Bishop of Hong Kong and the front man of Wo Hang company 和興 – a syndicate of merchants from Xinhui 新會, obtained the opium monopoly in 1858, paying GBP7,075 for a twelve-month period. Wo Hang was heavily involved in coolie trade and the general entrepot trade of Hong Kong. Wo Hang's well known brands of opium included Hong Kong Hop Lung 香港合隆 and Hong Kong Wa Hing 香港華興.

Yan Wo company 仁和
A syndicate of merchants from Dongguan 東莞 and rival of Wo Hang company, obtained the monopoly in 1859 at a annual rent of GBP 6,812. Well known brands of opium produced by Yan Wo included Sheung Wan Fook Lung 上環福隆, Sheung Wan Lai Yuen 上環麗源 and Wik To Lei Victoria Tai Shun 域多厘泰巽.

Sun Yee company
In March 1874, Wo Hang, Yan Wo and a third copmany named Chap Sing formed a new syndicate known as the Sun Yee company, Wo Hang's headman Li Tak-cheong became the headman of Sun Yee.

It was estimated that by 1876 each Chinese person in Hong Kong, in average, smoked half a kilogram of opium in that year. Also, a total of 4,638,750 kilogram of Bengal opium 公班土 and Malwa opium 白皮土 were imported to Hong Kong.

Man Wo Fung company
The firm in 1878 paid $205,000 per year for three-year monopoly. The company's front man in Hong Kong is Singaporean Tan King-sing. He represent the company's principle shareholder and manager - Ban Hap (aka Ngan Chan Wai), a Hokkien Chinese based in Saigon.

Man Wo Sang company
In 1880, Yan Wo abandoned Sun Yee and went into partnership with Ban Hap, in a new enterprise known as Man Wo Sang.

Lee Keng-yam
A Singaporean who led a syndicate from Singapore in 1885 paid $182,400 a year for a three-year monopoly.

The Lee Theater
Lee Hysan 利希慎 (b.1879 Hawaii - d.1928 Hong Kong)
Hong Konger, American-Chinese (born in Hawaii), highly respected land developer and entrepreneur, also known as the 'King of Opium', inherited opium business from his father Lee Leung Yik 利良奕, held opium monopoly in Macao at one time, shot death on April 20, 1928 while go to lunch in Central; son Harold Hsiao-Wo Lee 利孝和 was co-founder of Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB); granddaughter Vivienne Poy 利德蕙 is Canadian Senator, owner of fashion house ' Vivienne Poy Mode' and Chancellor of the University of Toronto; Lee at one time owned an area in Causeway Bay that is bordered by Hysan Road (a road named after him), Percival Steet, Pak Sha Road, and Yun Ping Road, and the land lot that housed the Lee Theater that he built in 1925.

Holders of Opium Monopoly 1844-1910 (updated 2015/12/02)

11845George Duddell and Alexander Martin Mathieson; the farm was surrendered after 3 months.$1,710 p.m.
21845Lo Aqui and Fung Attai; actual period held unknown.
31846$1,560 p.m.
41858/03/20Wo Hang firm; one year; the farm was annulled prematurely for unknown reason.$33,000 p.a.
51858/04/01Chan Tai-kwong 陳大光 front man of Man Cheong Shop 萬祥行; one year; the farm was annulled prematurely for unknown reason.
61858/05/22Ing Ayu 吳雨, Fook Loong Shop 福隆店 (#319 Lower Bazzar); six months.
71859/04/01Cheong Asun 張新. Manager, Foo Tai Pawnbroker Shop 孚泰店 (#59 Queen's Road, West) and Lum Ki 林基, Too Loong Shop 道隆店 (#2776 Bonham Strand, Broker); one year.
81860/04/01Ho Alaong 何良福, Chee Loong Shop 兆隆店 and Ing Atu 吳雨, Fook Loong Shop 福隆店; one year.
91862Lee Asseng, See-Tye Shop (#181 Bonham Strand, West); one year.
101864/04/01Ho Leong [or Ho Alaong] 何良 [or 何良福], Chin Loong [also Chee Loong] Shop 兆隆店 (#541 Jervois Street) and Ng Yu [or Ing Ayu] 吳雨, Fook Loong Shop 福隆店 (#77 Jervois Street); one year.
111865/04/01Hu Nu, Peng Kee Shop (#25 Jervois Street); one year.
121866/04/01Hu Nu, Peng Kee Shop; one year.
131867/05/01Ho Leong 何良, Chiu Loong Shop 兆隆店 and Ng Yu 吳雨, Fook Loong Shop 福隆店; one year.
141868/05/01Ho Leong 何良, Chiu Loong Shop 兆隆店 and Ng Yu 吳雨, Fook Loong Shop 福隆店; one year, license annulled prematurely for unknown reason, was up for sale by tender on Augsut 1.
151874a partnership of Sun Yee, Wo Hang, Yan Wo, and Chap Sing firms
161878-1880Man Wo Fung firm; brought in by Governor John Pope Hennessy
171880-1882Man Wo Sang firm, a new alliance between Yan Wo and Sun Yee
181882/03/01 - 1883/02/28See Song-kai and Wan Hiu-seung.$210,000 p.a.
191883/03/01 - 1884/02/28Hung Kwong 孔廣, Kwong Shang Lung firm 香港中環廣生隆 and Luk Hing 陸慶, Wing Cheung firm 香港中環榮昌; 1 year
201884/03/01 - 1885/02/28Kwok chiu 郭釗, Tak On Gong Yin firm 德安公煙 and Tang Cheung 鄧長 [1], Tin Po Wah firm 天寶華
211885-1887Lee Keung-yam; 3 years license
221890sFook Hing firm; also exported opium to North America
231890sFook Hing firm; also exported opium to North America
2418923 years.$340,800 p.a.
2518953 years.$296,000 p.a.
261898Man Fook and Fook Hing firms; 3 years.$372,000 p.a.
2719013 years.$750,000
281904Chin Joo Heng firm; 3 years$2,200,000 p.a.; reduced to $2,040,000 p.a. from 1904/11/01
2919073 years.$1,452,000
3019103 years.$1,183,200

The bond pertaining to the opium monopoly for 1884
executed by monopoly holders Tak On and Tin Po Wah firms
By this time, the opium monopoly was providing around 20% of government revenue.

Shipping Information

The following Hong Kong shipping report from the Friend of China, March 24, 1842 showed date of movement, ship name and tonnage, etc.

January Ship Movements:

2nd - Sri Singapore 85T to Whampoa with opium. Mavis 113T from Macau to Whampoa with opium.
13th - Young Queen 85T from Macau to Macau with opium.
24th - Sylph 317T arrived from Calcutta with General cargo; departed for Macau 2.2.42 with opium. Caroline 85T to Whampoa with opium.
26th - Young Queen 85T to Macau with opium.
28th - Lady Grant 236T to East Coast with opium.

February Ship Movements:

4th - Harlequin 292T from East Coast with specie for Macau.
6th American ship Anglona 108T to Macau with opium.
7th - Australasian Packet 194T to East Coast with opium.
13th - Thistle 140T to Macau with opium.
15th - Aurora 90T to Macau with opium.
16th - American ship Ariel 105T East Coast with opium.
17th - Young Queen 85T to Macau with opium. Anglona 108T to East Coast with opium.
24th - Harrier 163T to East Coast with opium.
28th - Young Queen 85T to East Coast with opium.

Opium Nomenclature

These are streets or places named after people connected with the dealing of opium, one way or the other:

Street NameEtymology
Anton Street
Charles Edward Anton; the 16th Taipan of Jardine, Matheson and Co.
Duddell Street
George Duddell; government auctioneer; the first opium farmer; land speculator.
Gresson Street
William Jardine Gresson; grandson of Elizabeth Jardine, daughter of William Jardine's brother David; director of Jardine, Matheson and Co. (1901-1906) and director (1916-1910).
Gutzlaff Street
Karl Friedrich August Gutzlaff; Prussian missionary; interpreter of Jardine, Matheson and Co.; Chinese Secretary of the Hong Kong Government.

Gutzlaff Street 吉士笠街 was named after Karl Friedrich August Gutzlaff – Prussian Missionary; interpreter of Jardine, Matheson and Co.; Chinese Secretary of the Hong Kong Government.

Hysan Avenue 希慎道 was named after Lee Hysan – opium dealer nicknamed “King of Opium of Hong Kong and Macau”; single largest land owner in Causeway Bay

Jardine's Bazaar 渣甸街, Jardine's Crescent 渣甸坊 and Jardine Terrace 渣甸台 were named after William Jardine – co-founder of Jardine, Matheson and Co.

Keswick Street 敬誠街 was named after James Johnstone Keswick – 10th Taipan of Jardine, Matheson and Co.; co-founded Hong Kong Land with Paul Chater; Chairman of the Hong Kong Chamber of Commerce (1893-1894)

Lan Fong Road 蘭芳道 was named Wong Lan Fong 黃蘭芳 – wife of Hysan Lee

Landale Street 蘭杜街 was named after David Landale – 13th Taipan of Jardine, Matheson and Co.; Senior Unofficial Member of the Legislative Council (1946-1950); Chairman of the Hong Kong Chamber of Commerce (1915)

Lee Garden Road 利園山道 was named after the amusement park Lee Hysan envisioned for building in the area but didn’t build

Matheson Street 勿地臣街 was named after James Matheson - co-founder of Jardine, Matheson and Co.

Percival Street 波斯富街 was named after Alexander Perceval – the 7th Taipan of Jardine, Matheson and Co.; a relative of the wife of James Matheson; founding Chairman of the Hong Kong Chamber of Commerce (1861); Senior Unofficial Member of the Legislative Council (1861-1864)

Spring Garden Lane 春園街 was named after the villa of John Dent built in that area in the 1840s; Dent is the Senior Partner of Dent and Co.



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