Sunday, August 19, 2012 | By: Rudi Butt

Timeline: The Expanded Version

Updated on August 23, 2012

Note: It won't be any time soon that I am going to have this completed. A more complete but much thinner version is available here: Timeline: The First Of Its Kind Events in Hong Kong.

A timeline of first of its kind events in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong's First...
5000
BCE
Inhabitants (5000 BCE)
The first human beings arrive Hong Kong in the 5th millennium BCE, from the mainland I suppose, and settle in the out-lying islands.
(They are, without question, indigenous inhabitants 原居民 and therefore shall be given the right to inherit rural land, under the New Territories Ordinance 1910. Additionally, they shall be entitled to apply for the construction and ownership of small houses 丁屋, under the “Small House Policy 小型屋宇政策 of 1972. They, however, shall not be entitled to add illegal structures to their houses 僭建村屋, but it will be done nonetheless.)
1278
Imperial Sojourners (1278)
Zhao Shi 趙昰 and his younger brother Zhao Bing 趙昺, the 17th and 18th (last) emperors of Song Dynasty 宋朝 seek refuge in Hong Kong from the Mongolian invaders. Sadly, the 11-year-old Zhao Shi never leaves, he dies on May 8, 1278 in Gangzhou 碙州 (Lantau 大嶼山) having suffered from near-drowning when fell off a boat a few months earlier. Zhao Bing is crowned emperor two days later in Meiyu 梅蔚 (Mui Wo 梅窩). On March 19, 1279 prime minister Lu Xiu-fu 陸秀夫, on hearing news that Song has collapsed completely, carries the 8-year-old boy king on his back and jumps off a cliff at Mount Ya 崖山 in Guangdong.
Additional note: A part of a rock on which the brothers were said to have rested is displayed at the Sung Wong Toi Garden 宋王台花園 in Ma Tau Wai.
1700s 
Religious Building (1700s)
Built in the 1700s at Stanley, the Temple of Water Immortal 水僊古廟 is the oldest surviving religious building structure on Hong Kong Island.
1841
Survey of Harbor (1841)
The first survey of the Hong Kong Harbor (later Victoria Harbor) is made by Commander Edward Belcher of the British Royal Navy aboard HMS Sulphur. He is appointed the first Harbor Master of Hong Kong in the latter half of 1841. Belcher will embark on the task of surveying the China sea in 1844, which no one has done before. Belcher will later be promoted to the rank of Admiral.
Newspaper (May 1, 1941 - March 24, 1842)
John Robert Morrison 馬儒翰, son of Scottish missionary Robert Morrison 馬禮遜 founds the first newspaper in Hong Kong -- the Hong Kong Gazette 香港公報. The newspaper is the quasi-official mouthpiece of its bankroller, the office of the British Superintendent of Trade in China, for which the Morrisons work as translators. It is published in Macau for circulation in Hong Kong, the inaugural issue is dated May 1. The paper will be discontinued on March 24, 1842; offical notices will in future br made in the Friend of China.
Census (May 15, 1841)
The first Hong Kong census publishes today claims a (land based) population of 3,650, an additional 2,000 persons are reported to live on boats.
Land Sale (June 14, 1841)
34 lots of land are sold today though bidding processes. The sale brings in GBP3,238 per year in quit rents. The successful bidders are: D & M Rustomjee & Co., Dent & Co., Dirom & Co., Fox, MacVicar & Turner, Gemmell & Co., Gribble Hughes & Co., R. Gully, Hart (Capt.), Heerjeebhoy Rustomjee, Holliday Wise & Co., Hooker & Lane, Jardine, Matheson & Co., Jamieson & How, Framjee Jamsetjee, T. Larkins, Lindsay & Co., H. Leighton, MacVicar & Co., Morgan (Capt.), John Smith (Seriously...), Turner & Co., and R. Webster. The land sale is arranged by Alexander Robert Johnston 莊士敦, Deputy Superintendent of Trade, who will become Administrator of Hong Kong from June 22 through the end of 1941 and again in the second half of 1842. Although the British forces in China, acting under the Convention of Chuenpee 穿鼻草約, has occupied Hong Kong on January 20, 1841, Britain has no sovereign rights over the island because neither Britain nor Qing China has ever ratified the agreement. The Johnston land sale is, therefore, illegitimate.
Post Office (November 12, 1841)
Hong Kong’s first post office opens today, three months after the Postal Department was established. It is situated where the Central Government Offices 中區政府合署 stand today. It will continue to provide postal services until replace in 1846 by a new post office  located on Queen’s Road Central near Pedder Street.
1842
Cross-Harbor Ferry (1842)
The first ferry to run across the Hong Kong Harbor, between Tsimshatsui and Central, is provided by Indian trading house Abdoolally Ebrahim & Co 鴨都喇利. Left photo: Seth Ebrahim, founder of Abdoolally Ebrahim & Co.
Fish Market (1842)
A fresh-fish market is built this year by the order of governor Henry Pottinger.
Legal Tender (March 23, 1842)
The following currencies are proclaimed today by the government as the legal tender of Hong Kong: Spanish, Mexican and other dollars, their component parts, Company Rupees and their component parts and Chinese copper cash. All dollars are valued at par. The following exchange rates are fixed: 2.25 Company Rupees to 1 dollar, 533 cash to 1 Company Rupee, 1,200 cash to 1 dollar. Company Rupees are coinages issued by the British East India Company.
Newspaper Advertisements (March 24, 1842)
The first newspaper advertisements in Hong Kong appear in the Friend of China today. They are for wines and timber for ship- and house-building.
Government (March 31, 1842)
Henry Pottinger announces today the officers charged with the first government of Hong Kong: Pottinger - Plenipotentiary, Minister Extraordinary , Alexander Robert Johnstone - deputy Superintendent of British Trade, John Robert Morrison - acting Secretary and Treasurer, Charles Edward Stewart - asst Secretary and Treasurer,  Alexander Anderson – Surgeon, Henry Holgate - acting Surgeon, William Caine – Magistrate, Samuel Fearon - Coroner, clerk of the court, interpreter, George F. Mylius - Land Officer and Surveyor, William Pedder - Marine magistrate and Harbor Master, Mr Alexander Lena - asst Marine magistrate and Harbor Master, Mullaly (given names unknown) – Postmaster. Since Hong Kong has as yet to become a British colony, the nature of this government could only be considered as the British occupation government.
Protestant Church (July 17, 1842)
The Queen's Road Chapel is formally dedicated today.  The service of the first Protestant church in Hong Kong is conducted by the Revs. Jehu Lewis Shuck 淑士人, Dan, and Elijah Coleman Bridgman 裨治文. They are all Americans.
Murder Case (August 10, 1842)
The first recorded murder case in Hong Kong takes place today. The case reveals that Ah Nam visited Ho Wai this morning, the two were decorators working out of Canton Bazaar. Ah Nam demanded arrears of wages Ho Wai owed him, which was refused. An argument ensued, the two went into an empty house to have the matter sorted out, except that the 40-yeas-old Ho Wai came out bleeding copiously from the neck and said before he died that he has been struck by Ah Nam. Dr Lunn identified the wound as the cause of death and opined it was done with a knife or chopper. The jury reached a verdict of “willful murder”. By that time, Ah Nam were long gone and no arrested were ever made.
Autopsy (August 15, 1842)
Hong Kong's first autopsy is performed today by Dr. Lunn, the pathologist. The subject is Nga Lok-po, a Chinese woman who died suddenly causing her families to suspect she has been poisoned. The inquest identifies cause of death as a “visitation of God”.
Curfew (October 4, 1842 to June 21, 1897)
Chief Magistrate William Caine 威廉堅, acting as the head of Hong Kong's quasi police force, today orders the city's first curfew under the pretext of fighting crime at night. The curfew regulates the Chinese inhabitants only (and nobody else) and denies them the freedom to walk the street after 11pm. A later version prohibits the Chinese inhabitants from the street between 8pm and 10pm unless they carry a lantern, and they must carry passes after 10pm. The curfew will be temporarily suspended between 1847 and 1850, and will only be lifted completely after 55 years on June 21, 1897, in consideration of Queen Victoria's diamond jubilee celebrations. This will set the record as the longest curfew imposed during peacetime anywhere in the world.
1843
Map of Hong Kong (1843)
Lieutenant Thomas Bernard Collinson  哥連臣 of the British Royal Engineers produces the first map of Hong Kong, which is an ordnance map commissioned by the British Army.
Stanley Ferry (February 14, 1843)
A ferry service to run between Hong Kong Harbor and Stanley commences today. The service is provided by P. Townsend & Co., which also engages itself as an auctioneer. Two boats are in use: Witch, which sails from the Harbor Master's jetty at 10am on Tuesdays and Fridays; and Rory o'More, which leaves Stanley to return at 4pm on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Passage each way costs 4 Rupees.
Market (1843)
The Canton Bazaar 廣州市場 opens as the first market in Hong Kong and becomes known as the Middle Bazaar from 1843. In time it will evolve into the Central Market 中環街市. Left photo: Central Market, ca.1905.
Colonial Governor (June 26, 1843)
Henry Pottinger  砵甸乍, who has been administrator of Hong Kong (1841-1843) is appointed the first colonial governor of Hong Kong today. He will hold the office until May 8, 1844. After departing Hong Kong, he will assume the positions as governor of Cape Colony, and later governor of Madras.
Law-making Body (June 26, 1843)
The Legislative Council is established today under the “Charter of the Colony of Hong Kong”. The Governor, in consultation with the Legislative Council, which is nothing more than an advisory body, is empowered to make and enact laws in Hong Kong.
Shark Sighting (August 17, 1843)
The first recorded sighing of sharks in Hong Kong waters takes place today. Sharks are sighted in the Victoria Harbor; sea bathers are warned (not sure by what means).
Official Legislative Council Members (August 21, 1843)
Alexander Robert Johnston, former Administrator of Hong Kong; John Robert Morrison, Chinese Secretary for the Hong Kong Government, and Interpreter to the Superintendent of Trade; and William Caine, Chief Magistrate are appointed official members of the Legislative Council today. Unofficial members will not be appointed until 1850.
Legislative Council Member to Die in Office (August 29, 1843)
John Robert Morrison dies today from sudden sickness, he was appointed to the Legislative Council only days ago. He is the first Legislative Council member to die in office.
1844Legislative Council Meeting (January 11, 1884)
The Legislative Council convenes today for the first time since its inauguration in June the previous year, owing to J.R. Morrison's death and A.R. Johnston's return to England. By now the council, in addition to its chairman, who is the Governor, only has two members: William Caine and Major-general George Charles D'Aguilar 德忌笠, commander of British forces in Hong Kong and China.
Lieutenant Governor (January 13, 1844)
Major-general G.C. D'Aguilar is appointed today the newly created position of Lieutenant Governor. The position will always be held by the commander of British forces in Hong Kong and China until it will be made redundant in 1902.
Superintendent of Police (February 24, 1844)
Captain George Thomas Haly of the 41st Madras Native Infantry is appointed today Superintendent of Police. He was also sworn-in as a Justice of the Peace on February 22. Haly will return to the army on March 3 and be replaced by Captain John Bruce of 18th Royal Irish.
Court of Law (February 24, 1844)
Hong Kong's first court of law is opened today, without judges. Henry Pottinger, the Governor, is the presiding judge. Since he has no legal training, he is assisted by his close friend and Government Legal Adviser (position has never been confirmed by Whitehall) Richard Burgass.
Law (February 28, 1844)
The first law in Hong Kong is enacted today – Ordinance No.1 of 1844, titled “An Ordinance to define the law relating to slavery in Hong Kong”. The law will, on August 12, be disallowed by London (per C.O.D., No.26) since the existing British anti-slavery law already has a blanket coverage for the entire empire domain.
Court Session (May 2, 1844)
The first ever session of the court is held today. Two murder cases are tried. A Filipino seaman is found guilty of murdering his second mate of the Harlequin, the death sentence is passed. An artillery marine of HMS Driver charged for murdering a Chinese boatman is acquitted. The court decided that the wrong man was arrested, because the color of the coat he wore on the day of the muder was of a different color than one worn by the supposed slayer. The Governor and Lieutenant Governor sit as judges. Richard Burgass, the Governor's legal adviser is clerk and Charles Batten Hillier, Assistant Magistrate, is registrar. A jury is sworn-in with Patrick Stewart as foreman. The 16-member jury, made up of government officials and merchants, includes: David Jardine, John Dent, T.A. Gibb, John Holliday, Christopher Augustus Fearon, Charles Edward Stewart (Colonial Treasurer, the position, however, has never been confirmed by Whitehall), Charles St. George Cleverley (Surveyor-General), etc.
Colonial Treasurer (May 9, 1844)
Robert Montgomery Martin is appointed Hong Kong's first Colonial Treasurer (position renamed Financial Secretary in 1937) today. He is a vocal advocate of giving up Hong Kong as a colony, saying there is no future in this territory. He also openly opposes Governor John Davis' policy to legalize the opium trade (as means to increase government revenue). In July 1845, he will quit, after the denial of a six-month vacation request he is to make. Martin is a prolific writer and a founding member of the Statistical Society of London, the Colonial Society, and the East India Association. Martin has three predecessors, however none of these appointments were confirmed by Whitehall. On April 1, 1842, John Robert Morrison was appointed acting Secretary and Treasurer, and Charles Edward Stewart the assistant Secretary and Treasurer. Edward Elmslie was appointed Treasurer after Morrison died. Elmslie was previously secretary and treasurer to the British Superintendent of Trade in China. Stewart was promoted to Treasurer in 1843.
Waterboat
A waterboat is a boat fitted with a tanks and a force pump that supplies fresh water to ships in the harbor at where they anchored. The first water boat service is supplied by N Duus commencing in May. Nicolia Duus is a Danish merchant.
Gambling Prohibition (June 10, 1844)
Public gambling is banned with today's enactment of Ordinance No.14 of 1844, titled “An Ordinance for the suppression of public gaming in the Colony of Hong Kong". The ordinance is the first law to deal with gambling.
Additional note: The ban on public gambling remains today (with the exception to monopolies granted to the Hong Kong Jockey Club) although the original ordinance has long been repealed and replaced by newer laws.
Legitimate Drug Dealing (November 26, 1844)
The selling and retailing of opium in an amount smaller than one chest for consumption becomes legal today with the enactment of Ordinance #21 of 1844. The provisions of licensing opium retailing is purposely (and clumsily in my view) bundled with other miscellaneous matters, as it is clearly demonstrated in the title of the ordinance, that reads, “An Ordinance for licensing the Sale of Salt Opium Bhang Ganja Paan Betel and Betel-leaf within the Colony of Hongkong and for the licensing of Pawnbrokers and Auctioneers with a Table of Fees on Official License and Signatures.” What a mouthful. The opium license(s) is granted through bidding processes. People carrying on opium retail business without a license is subject to a fine of 500 dollars. The ordinance further empowers the Governor to make further rules and regulations in matters relating to the farming, selling and retailing of opium. Essentially, anything he wishes to do with opium will become legal.
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