Friday, March 19, 2010 | By: Rudi Butt

Peculiar, Sometimes Dubious, Civil Servants In The Nineteenth Century

Updated (partial) on December 22, 2011

William Caine
William Caine
Chief Magistrate 首席裁判司 (1841-1844); Auditor General (1846-1854); Colonial Secretary (1846-1854); Lt. Governor (May - September 1859)
Honor: naming of Caine Road 堅道

The Rev'd. Chas Gutzlaff : the Chinese
missionary in the dress of a Fokien sailor
by George Chinnery
drawn on stone by R. J. Lane
printed by C. Hullmandel
Karl Gützlaff 郭士立 (郭實臘)
Chinese Secretary 撫華道 (b.1803 - d.1851, died in office)
Honor: naming of Gutzlaff Street 吉士笠街 in Central

Son of a tailor and originally trained to become a saddle-maker, Karl Frederick August Gützlaff (b.1803 Pyritz, Pomerania – d.1851 Hong Kong) was a Prussian born missionary sent to Indonesia by the Netherlands Missionary Society who went to China on his own account because of his keen interest in the country. He was the real life “Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” - a man who lived in total confusion with respect to his true identity. He was a Prussian who anglicized himself as Charles Gützlaff, who authored books in the English language, but dressed himself like a Chinese always (particularly in the look of boat people). As a gifted linguist, he translated the Bible into the Chinese language. As a gifted linguist, he helped William Jardine sold opium to Chinese by interpreting for the latter’s trafficking operation up and down the China coast, enthusiastically and took money for his service.

As a Christian clergy whose objective was missionary work in China, Gützlaff played a role in the First Opium War by spying for the British arm forces [1], by interpreting for the British superintendency, and by actively involved in the possession of Chinese territories fallen into British forces [2].

In 1843, Gützlaff succeed John Robert Morrison, who died in office, as the second Chinese Secretary of the Hong Kong Government. Here is a further example of how mixed up Gützlaff was: as a government official, he spent two hours each day in the morning and provided a private service to foreign residents in Hong Kong who wished to enquire into the character of local watchmen they intended to hire and issued his certificate in respect of those he believed to be honest. He might charge a fee for his service too.

Gützlaff had three wives, all English women. He married a wealthy missionary Maria Newell (c.1794-1831) on November 26, 1829 in Siam. Newell was sent to Malacca as the first unmarried female missionary by the London Missionary Society in 1827 to work as a teacher in a school for girls. Newell died from child birth in February 1831; Gützlaff inherited considerable resources from her. In 1834, he married Mary Wanstall (1799-1849) who ran a school and a home for blinds in Macau. Wanstall was a cousin of Gützlaff’s colleague, a translator for Henry Pottenger by the name of Harry Parkes, who would later became the Biritsh Minister in Peking.The two had no children but adopted two blind Chinese girls, one of whom was educated in England and returned to teach blind girls in a Ningbo school. Wanstall died in 1849. He married Dorothy Gabriel in England on September 17, 1850 while touring Europe giving lectures about China. He died a year later. There were also reports that pointed to two Chinese concubines he kept in Ningbo; their names were unknown.

Gützlaff died in Hong Kong in 1851 leaving behind quite a sizable estate and a questionable legacy, but keeping with him a secret he hided about the "Chinese Union", an evangelistic organ he established in Hong Kong in 1844. It was revealed years after his death that a good number of Chinese evangelists he trained, under the auspices of Chinese Union, and sent to China were unconverted opium-smokers and criminals who had duped him by selling the evangelistic literature to the printer, who then resold it to him. Gützlaff was buried at the Hong Kong Cemetery in Happy Valley. Additional reading: "Drug Money to Fund Printing of Bible"

[1] Gützlaff worked directly for the British Foreign Office long before the onset of the armed conflict. His controlling officer was Major, later Lieutenant–Colonel, George A. Malcolm whose official position was ‘Secretary of Legation’ of the trade Mission led by Pottinger. Gützlaff also ran a network of Chinese spies, sometime took on the identities as his assistants. Here are the names of some of the known agents: Liu Fu-kuei, Yu Te-chang, Ku Pao-lin, Pu Ting-pang, Pao Peng, Chen Ping-chiin.

[2] Gützlaff was one of the three interpreters during the negotiations of the Treaty of Nanking. He was appointed magistrate of Chusan (Zhoushan) 舟山 following the British occupation of the island in 1841, and of Ningbo 寧波 in the same year and of Zhenjiang 鎮江 in the following year. He was the Superintendent of Trade at Dinghai 定海 (a district inside Zhoushan City on Zhoushan Island) from November 1842 till the autumn of 1843.

Robert Montgomery Martin
Colonial Treasurer (1844 - July 1845)

Robert Montgomery Martin (b.1801-d.1868)

Adolphus Edward Shelley 謝利
Auditor General 查數官 (known today as 審計署署長)(1844-1846)
Honor: anming of Shelley Street 些利街 in Central (The Central-Mid-Levels Escalator and Walkway System runs through this street)

Adolphus Edward Shelley (b.1821, Sussex - d.1854) was born into the famous Shelley family in Sussex, as the second son of John Shelley - 6th Baronet Shelley. Young man A.E. Shelley was extravagant in lifestyle and had already expended a good portion of the family fortune, so much so that his father simply wanted to send him away and not having to worry supporting him anymore. John Shelley was acquainted with Edward Henry Stanley, 15th Earl of Derby who was the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and managed to obtain a general introduction letter from Stanley for the young Shelley to meet John Francis Davis, the 2nd Hong Kong governor. Shelley somehow misled Davis that he came to Hong Kong with Stanley’s introduction for the purpose to secure a high ranking office in the government. Without checking with Stanley, Davis appointed Shelley to the newly created position of Auditor General. Davis soon realized his mistake and accused Shelley of being "dissipated, in debt, negligent, guilty of falsehood and quite unfit for high office".

Shelley bullied his staff and conned others into lending him money which he used on land speculation (mostly around the area of the present Shelley Street). His property investment went bad and he sold his portfolio to fellow Sussexian George Duddell before departing Hong Kong. Shelley resurfaced later in Mauritius and became the Assistant Auditor General there. Meanwhile in Hong Kong, Duddell found no joy in his newly acquired land holdings as it came with a large debt in tax and levies Shelley owed to the government. I do not know what happened to Shelley next but do know that his daughter, Katherine Cecilia Shelley, married James Bontein who was the Gentleman Usher to Queen Victoria.

John Walter Hulme 休姆
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court 最高法院首席按察司 (1844-1847, 1848-1860)

John Walter Hulme (b.1804 Fenton, Staffordshire, England - d.March 1, 1861 Brighton) was called to the Bar from the Middle Temple, and went into partnership with famous barrister and legal writer Joseph Chitty, whose daughter, Eliza, he married. He came to Hong Kong in early summer 1844 and became the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. As the Attorney General had not yet arrived however, there was some delay in opening the Supreme Court until October 1, 1844. In 1845 Hulme was apppinted to the Legislative Council, contrary to the principle that the judiciary should be independent of the legislature. Hulme was remembered as the judge who was suspended from office on a charge of drunkenness. It all started from the differences developed between him and the 2nd governor, John Davis, which ripened into an open and bitter quarrel.

The saga began when Davis took the Hulme family with him from London to Hong Kong but left them in Bombay to catch a later passenger ship because of there were a shortage of rooms in the ship to continue to Hong Kong and there were too many in the Hulme family. Hulme was annoyed not only being left behind but also that the delay had cost him GBP250 personally. The two men quarreled over almost everythingfrom the making of rules governing the Supreme Court procedure to the length of Hulme's vacation (Hulme allowed himself a six month vacation) to the control of the Magistrates' Courts. Davis regarded them as part of the administration and subject to his control, whereas Hulme regarded them as courts of law for which he was ultimately responsible. In November 1846 came the Compton case. Compton was an English merchant in Canton who was fined $200 by the British Consul for causing a riot by kicking over a Chinese stall and beating its owner with his stick. Compton appealed to the Hong Kong Supreme Court, as he was fully entitled to, and Hulme reversed the verdict and commented severely on the irregularities of the hearing before the Consul. Davis regarded this as a challenge to his authority as he alone represented the plenipotentiary in China.

Determined to have Hulme dismissed, Davis wrote a letter to Foreign Secretary Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston, in 1846 falsely charging Hulme with being a habitual drunkard, thinking this would strengthen his case for Hulme's dismissal. The accusation back-fired and a reply sent by the Colonial Office who received the letter from the Foreign Office contained magisterial rebuke. As a result of that letter, Davis resigned. Meanwhile, the Executive Council in Hong Kong was instructed to enquired into Davis’ accusation. In November 1847, the case was heard before the Executive Council and Hulme was adjudged guilty on one charge (there were altogether three charges) of  "in a state of intoxication as to attract public attention when attending a public entertainment given by Rear Admiral Thomas Cockrane on November 22, 1845". As a result Hulme was suspended and went back to England on December 30, 1847. He was seen off by most of the prominent foreign residents in the colony. In 1848, Davis left Hong Kong, and Hulme was reinstated and returned to Hong Kong in the same year. Hulme continued to enjoy a great reputation in Hong Kong until his retirement in 1860 (he left Hong Kong towards the end of 1858 for a pro-longed retirement vacation). He died in the following year.

Thomas Scales
Postmaster (c.1845)

Postmaster Thomas Scales was so fed up with Governor John Davis nagging him about the inefficiency of the postal service he refused to handle the governor’s dispatches. Davis sent an Irish army sergeant around to sort the matter out, but Scales continued to be difficult. The sergeant was sent again only this time he was told to use whatever means necessary to make sure the postmaster understand his place. After the necessary means was dully applied, Scales acknowledged his insignificance and the service resumed.

Norcott d'Esterre Parker
Crown Prosecutor (October 15 - December, 1846, November 30, 1847 - September 1849
Coroner (January 12, 1847 - December 1848)

Norcott d'Esterre Parker, Crown Prosecutor and solicitor, in company with twenty nine Chinese was arraigned in the Police Court on a charge of piracy on June 27, 1849. The case revealed that Parker was tipped off some information through Lee Kip-tye, government interpreter, that a junk at anchor in Paong Chow (Peng Chau 坪洲, an islet off the east side of Lantau Island facing Discovery Bay) had on board articles taken from the wreck of some ship. He took it upon himself to investigate the matter on his own authority. The searching party, Parker, Lee and the informant, went to Paong Chow on a port boat hired by Parker, and there they found the junk in matter lying on the beach. Parker went on shore and consulted with a junior Chinese official, who accompanied Parker to the junk, and who, while Parker was searching all over the junk, told the boat crew to open the boxes allowing the contents to be examined by Parker. Meanwhile, a large crowd began to gather around the place, some five hundred, and they, after identifying the informant, started beating the man. Parker and Lee sought refuge in the house of the Chinese official, until Daniel Caldwell, the Assistant Superintendent of Police came for rescue. The headman of the Paong Chow village and two men of the boat crew came to Hong Kong and lodged a complaint to the effect that an Englishman and two Chinese had come to their village in a large boat and boarded a junk in which they had broken boxes. The case was heard by Charles Hiller, the Chief Magistrate. Chinese witnesses was called, who told Hiller boxes were opened by the boat crew acting upon the direction of the Chinese official. Based on this, and other details of the hearing I cannot find as yet, the case was dismissed. Parker, afterward, in a letter he wrote to the Friend of China, which I believed was published, explain away his conduct. And there the matter ended, but the whole story, especially with the additions and exaggerations it received, was not entirely creditable to Parker. I have a funny feeling that Daniel Caldwell who was believed to have extensive connections with pirates in Hong Kong and South China, might have set this up to trap Parker, as a means to defame the Crown Prosecutor.

Norcott d'Esterre Parker (b.June 10, 1819 – d.1846) was the eighth and last child of William Parker (b. January 3, 1778, Douglas, Cork, Ireland – d. October 1837, Passage West, Cork) and Alicia Eleanor Somerville (b. September 25, 1802, Douglas – d. March 20, 1840, Passage West; married on September 25, 1802 in Douglas, Co. Cork, Ireland). He practiced law in Cork City until he moved to Australia in 1844. He settled down in West Maitland, and there he applied in October 1844 to be admitted an attorney, solicitor, and prosecutor of the Supreme Court of New South Wales. He was admitted in early 1845. Towards the latter part of the year, he moved to Sydney and on November 15, 1845, formed a partnership with Dubliner, John Dillon. The new law firm of Dillon and Parker was located at No.10 York Street, next to the City Corporation Chambers. Dillon soon went into serious financial difficulties, resulting in having his estate placed under receivership on March 6, 1846. A couple of months afterward, Parker left Sydney for Hong Kong.

Parker arrived in Hong Kong in June 1846. On July 29 the same year he was admitted to practice in the Supreme Court as a solicitor. He advertised himself to have established an office inside the godowns of Bowra & Co., on Queen's Road. Due to the prolonged sick leave the Attorney-General, Paul Ivy Sterling, had been taking, the government had on October 15, 1846 appointed Parker, as a temporary measure, Prosecutor. Meanwhile, he was allowed to carry on with his private practice. His appointment was discontinued in December and the prosecutor position was taken by another attorney Charles Malloy Campbell. Parker was reappointed to the position on November 30, 1847 when Campbell was raised to the bench as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to succeed John Walter Hulme who had already left Hong Kong (Hulme was Hong Kong's first Chief Justice). Parker was also the Coroner from January 12, 1847 (succeeding Percy Caulincourt McSwyney) to December 1848 (succeeded by Charles Hiller and Charles Gordon Holdforth as Joint-Coroners).

After the piracy charge saga, Parker took a leave of absence in September 1849. He left by packet ship Amoy (several sources referred the ship as Amoy Packet, and said further that Parker was its owner) for California on September 29. The Amoy was never heard of again. William d'Esterre Parker [1], Norcott's brother, was appointed to act as Prosecutor during his absence. The appointment was announced three days before his departure from Hong Kong.

[1] William d'Esterre Parker (b. October 3, 1815, Passage West – d. July 19, 1899, Passage West) was the elder brother of Norcott and the seventh child of their parents. He was an attorney of Exchequer, Ireland, and an assurance agent. William, probably in response to Norcott's request to join him in Hong Kong, left Ireland in January 1849 and arrived here on June 10. In less than a month, he was admitted a solicitor by the Supreme Court on July 2, 1849. I have no idea when William returned to Ireland, where he died at the age of eighty four. William married Kate Spaight Reeves on February 8, 1840. Kate died in 1841 and on June 16, 1842, William remarried Sarah Dowman. William had five children, one by Kate and others by Sarah.

- A biographical sketch-book of early Hong Kong, by G. B. Endacott
- The History of The Laws and Courts of Hong Kong, Volume I, by James William Norton-Kyshe, Noronha & Co., Hong Kong
- Janus: Jardine Matheson Archive
- The Maitland Mercury, and Hunter River General Advertiser, November 9, 1844, December 6, 1845
- New South Wales Government Gazette, November 28, 1845, March 13, 1846
- Rootsweb
- The Sydney Morning Herald, May 23, 1846

William Tarrant
Inspector of Roads (years uncleared)
Clerk of Deeds in the Land Registry Office (1846-1848)

George Duffell
George Duddell
Position: Government Auctioneer (1857-year uncleared)
Assessor and Collector of Police and Lighting Rates (November 1856 – January 1858)
Honor: naming of Duddell Street 都爹利街 in Central

William Thomas Bridges
Acting Attorney General, Acting Colonial Secretary, in multiple occasions in 1850s when the office-holders were on leave.
Honor: naming of Bridge Street 必列者士街 (better known in its short form 必街)

William Thomas Bridges (b.1820–d.year unclear) studied at Oxford, and at the Middle Temple from 1844. He was called to the Bar in 1847 and came to Hong Kong in 1851 where he started a law practice. Wealth began to cumulate for Bridges as business at the law firm thrived. The first sign of his dubious character unveiled when he started lending money at high interest rates. Because of shortage of lawyers in Hong Kong at that time and owing to the introduction his college friend, William Thomas Mercer who was the Colonial Treasurer, Bridges was asked to temporarily take over the office of the Attorney General when the office holder, Thomas Chisholm Anstey, went on leave in 1855. When Mercer became Colonial Secretary and took home leave from February 1857 to November 1859, Bridges stood in for him as well; assuming the most important government office next to that of the governor, while still carrying on his private law practice and money lending business. Bridges resigned in 1859 after being implicated in a number of scandals, and left Hong Kong in 1861. Bridges was a member of the Masonic order in Hong Kong.

Chan Tai-kwong 陳大光
Government Interpreter (1856-c.1857)
Chinese Clerk and Shroff to the Court of Summary Jurisdiction (December 1867 – 1882, died in office)

China-born Chan Tai-kwong (b.1827 Punyu, Guangdong - d.1882 Hong Kong) went to England as a child. In 1849, the 18-years-old Chan by chance met George Smith, the Bishop of Victoria (designated), who felt the young man could be trained as an evangelist among the Chinese. Smith arrived in Hong Kong in 1850 to take up the office of the first Anglican bishopric in the colony and brought Chan with him. Before long Chan was sent to Singapore for training and while there, he married Gay Eng, also known as Sarah Huges, a pupil in the Singapore Chinese Girls’ School. When Chan returned to Hong Kong, he was placed on three years' probation before ordination, but the Bishop did license him to peach to the prisoners in Victoria Goal. Chan was deficient in Chinese while his English ability was not sufficient to write grammatical English. In spite of these deficiencies, he was appointed an assistant tutor in the newly opened St. Paul's College where Smith served as the warden.

Chan was never happy with either being a missionary or a school teacher; he was keen to be engaged in business and got rich quickly. So much so, in 1856, he left St. Paul’s College and served for a while as an interpreter in the government and then took on temporary jobs in some business concerns. Soon enough, he was became associated with a Chinese opium syndicate that want to take advantage of his ability to move in the high society in the colony, particularly the Anglo community. In 1858, Chan, financed by Leong Attoy, Li Tuk-cheong (Li was one of the first three Chinese members of the Hong Kong Chamber of Commerce) and Li Chun - the latter two members of the Li family's Wo Hang 和興 firm, bid for the annual opium monopoly contract. It was granted to Chan by Acting Colonial Secretary William Thomas Bridges who also owned a law practice, of which Chan was a client. Later in the same year, Bridges was investigated for not only passing insider information to Chan pertaining to the bid, but also giving advice, for a fee, to Chan as his attorney on how to win the bid. The implication of the investigation, coupled with unexpected financial difficulties faced by Chan’s firm, forced Chan to renege on the monopoly several months after he was awarded the contract. The sheriff foreclosed on the property of Chan. He then disappeared from Hong Kong, going either to the Mainland or Singapore, or Cuba. However, in December 1867, he reappeared in Hong Kong, not only that, he was miraculously appointed Chinese Clerk and Shroff to the Court of Summary Jurisdiction, succeeding none other than Ng Choy 伍才 (better known as Wu Tingfang 伍廷芳 among Chinese). Here Chan often served as arbitrator in disputes among Chinese. He continued with the Court until his death in 1882. His son-in-law, George Orley, a sanitary inspector, was appointed administrator of his estate, which was valued at $3,000. In 1872, Chan was a member of the general committee of the Tung Wah Hospital. Additionally, he was a member of the Masonic order in Hong Kong.

Thomas Child Hayllar
Acting Attorney General 署理律政司 (ca.1873); Solicitor General 法律政策專員 (ca.1878); Puisne Judge of the Supreme Court 最高法院副按察司 (ca.1879)

Undated photo of the Pope-Hennessys
Thomas Child Hayllar (b.1835-d.), QC, was a highly respected barrister in Hong Kong and was a member of both the Executive and Legislative Councils (appointed on October 13, 1873). He was one of the few friends and supporters the 8th governor John Pope-Hennessy (in office from 1877 to 1883) had. The friendship ended abruptly when Pope-Hennessy caught Hayllar with his wife, Catherine (or Kitty, according to some sources) Pope-Hennessy (b.1850-d.1923), in her boudoir at the Mountain Lodge, the governor’s summer residence. The governor’s wife was a pretty woman and it was an open secret in the colony that she was not happy with her husband. Several days later on April 27, 1879, the two ran into each other and the governor (who was also a barrister by training; he was called to the Bar in 1861) could no longer control his anger and attacked the judge using his umbrella. Hayllar was a much bigger man, physically, than Pope-Hennessy and duly won the battle. It was said that Hayllar who seized the umbrella had it hung over the mantelpiece in his residence, with a plaque that inscribed, "A Memento of the Battle of Mountain Lodge. 27th April 1879."
Hayllar left Hong Kong on January 23, 1882. The governor and his wife left a year later. After John Henry Pope-Hennessy died in 1891, Catherine remarried, and mortgaged the manor house owned by her late husband’s family; as such her sons with Pope-Hennessy never inherited that part of the estate. She was 41.


How some of them were related …

George Duddell and Robert Montgomery Martin
Martin openly objected the legalization of opium when the notion was first introduced by Governor John Davis. When Davis sold the opium monopoly to Duddell (actually at a public auction held on February 28, 1845), Martin proclaimed that, "Private vice should not be a source of public revenue" and promptly resigned.

George Duddell and William Tarrant
Duddell and Tarrant, with Charles Markwick (also a government auctioneer) associated together and purchased land lots from the government in the So Kon Po Valley in 1846. At that time, Tarrant was still employed as a Land Office Clerk. Duddell bought out Tarrant and Markwick in 1851 and started a coffee plantation on the site. The land was finally sold to William Keswick of Jardine and Matheson in 1884.

William Thomas Bridges and Chan Tai-kwong
In 1858, Bridges, wearing two heads of that of an attorney and the Acting Colonial Secretary at the same time, passed on confidential information he obtained as ACS regarding the bidding of the opium monopoly to a client of his private law practice, Chan Tai-kwong who was an applicant for the monopoly contract. Bridges, the lawyer, further advised Chan how to win the bid for a very fat fee, and eventually, Bridges, the government official, granted the contract to Chan. Several months after the contract was awarded; Bridges was investigated for the dubious dealing and later resigned in disgrace. Chan fled Hong Kong.

William Caine and John Walter Hulme
Caine, a governor appointee, did not want the Magistrate's Courts to be controlled by Hulme, who on the other hand considered a court is a court, and he was ultimately responsible for all courts of law. Caine gave evidence against Hulme in the Executive Council meeting held in November 1847 where the latter was charged for drunkenness in the public in an incident that happened over two years ago. Adding further to the unusual circumstance was that Caine also served as a “Judge” in the same proceedings. Hulme was found guilty and was suspended from his post.



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