Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Miss Emma Georgiana Hurn

Emma was born at Peckham Rye on 6 July 1868 and “born again” in July 1890.  In 1896 she was accepted at Doric Lodge which had been established in 1884 by Dr. & Mrs. Grattan Guinness for the training of lady missionaries. The Lodge was situated in Bow Road opposite Harley House which was the training centre for male missionaries.  During holidays she did work for the YWCA where it was reported that all the girls loved her and brought their troubles to her as to a friend.

Once Emma’s basic training was over she entered the China Inland Mission Home to prepare for her move to the Far East.  She sailed for China on 3 January 1898.

Emma was posted to Si-chau, Shansi Province way up in the north of China.  A few months after arriving she wrote that she was slowly learning the difficult language.  As each day progressed she was able to understand a little more of what was being said.  She longed to be able to speak freely to the local people.

The year 1900 saw the Boxer uprising in northern China.  Emma hid in the mountains for three weeks with fellow missionaries  - Emma Dobson, Mr. & Mrs. Peat and their two children.  They were captured by the Boxers who were on the verge of killing them when the local magistrate at Si-chau stepped in and, for their own safety, put them in prison.  They were then moved to Ping-yang and from there to K’u-wu.  At K’u-wu they managed to borrow a little money from the magistrate which got them as far as the Ai-koo mountains but here they were overtaken by another group of Boxers.  This time all six were slaughtered.

In all 189 Protestant Missionaries including 53 children were killed during the Boxer uprising.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Summer Heat in Old Shanghai

Shanghai – Paris of the East – what a picture those words conjure up in the mind. I had the very good fortune to visit Shanghai very briefly a couple of years ago and I was hoping against hope that some of the Shanghai of yesteryears survived. It took a lot of searching for but I did find manage to find a wonderful coffee shop hidden deep within the old Hongkong Shanghai Bank building on The Bund. It was decorated in 1920s style and for a few moments, as I sipped my coffee on its veranda, I thought that I might be back in old Shanghai.

The summer of 1900 proved to be oppressively hot and humid and proved too much for some of the Old China Hands. Mr. David BRAND, born in Glasgow in 1845, had journeyed to China in the late 1860s and later became the Head Partner in the firm of Brand Bros. He was much respected in the community and was affectionately called “Dahvid”. He was described as being “witty and ready with a keen shrewd Scotch humour that made him a most sought after companion”. Heat and fever caught up with Mr. Brand and he passed away at 1am on Monday 23 July at his home on The Bund.

The funeral took place at The New Cemetery, Bubbling Well Road at 6pm the same day and the hearse and coffin were covered in beautiful floral wreaths and crosses. Half the Settlement turned out to pay their respects.

Little did anyone know at that time but events later in the 20th. century were to spell disaster for that lovely cemetery. In the early 1950s it was announced that all the graves were to be exhumed and moved to a new cemetery at Dazang on the outskirts of the city. Anyone wishing to arrange for the re-interment of their family members elsewhere were to make their own arrangements. The British Government did what it could and arranged for notices to appear in the major English and Scottish newspapers. A few families did manage to get the remains of their loved ones moved to Hong Kong and the imports started early in 1954. Hong Kong Burial Registers show that the cremated ashes of Mr. D. Brand (and his son Mr. R.A. Brand) were imported into HK from Shanghai under Removal Permit No. 8. They were re-interred in Section 16G of the Colonial Cemetery in grave number 10869 on 3rd. March 1954. No service was held on this occasion. During the month another 15 sets of ashes came in from Shanghai and were re-interred in the Hong Kong Cemetery.

These were the lucky ones. The graves of those souls who had no-one to arrange for their safe removal to Hong Kong – or back to the UK – were exhumed and moved to Dazang. If their headstones happened to show that they had been members of the military then the inscriptions were defaced to remove all reference to their units, ranks, service numbers and dates of death. The cemetery at Dazang has now been “lost”. Historians and researchers in Shanghai have been unable to determine where it was sited – all that they can say is that it no longer exists. Section 16G at the Hong Kong Cemetery is therefore a very special place as in my mind it represents all those who were previously buried in the Foreign Cemeteries of Old Shanghai.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Foochow Protestant Cemetery

Missionaries first came to Foochow in 1847. Later it was reported that during the following ten years seven had died in Foochow – two ladies from the American Board Mission; three ladies from the American Methodist Mission; one lady and one gentleman from the C.M.S. Mission. This picture shows the Protestant Cemetery which was once located on the side of a hill at Maiyuan Road. A century later the cemetery contained 400 graves. It’s fate? To be demolished during the Cultural Revolution.

Foochow was also the last resting place for many British seamen – Apprentices, Able Seamen, Engineers and Captains all of whom died at Pagoda Anchorage, Foochow. It is doubtful whether any of these had stones erected in their memory.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Did your Ancestors spend an Interlude in China?

Hong Kong was ceded to Britain on 20th. January 1841 but the first British arrivals were not impressed with the barren island. Tradesmen and government officials settled themselves on the banks of the harbour which was the one redeeming feature of this otherwise inhospitable place. A thriving community was soon evident but the tropical heat and unsanitary conditions took their toll - life expectancy was short and the Colonial Cemetery started to fill.

The government officials of Hong Kong were no different from those of other British colonies and during the next 150 years produced mountains of paperwork relating to their policy decisions and administrative duties - most of which involved copious correspondence with the government back home in Britain. The Colonial Office paperwork now resides in The National Archives at Kew.

Meanwhile, on the mainland, consulates looked after the interests of the British Government in the major cities of China where factories were thriving on trade in silk and tea. Foreign Office correspondence can also be found at The National Archives and is a goldmine of information on the expatriates of the time.

It was not long before China became the focus of missionaries who sought to bring the word of the Lord to the local inhabitants. Over the years many died for their beliefs. Records of various missionary societies can be found in the archives of the School of Oriental and African Studies in London.

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