The Chinese Boxer Rebellion was basically the reaction to foreign
trade, foreign intervention, foreign dependency, foreign religion and in
fact anything foreign. The forces of Chinese nationalism had been brought
to fever pitch as illustrated by their "manifesto" in the form of a poem
entitled "Fists of harmonious Righteousness" ;
|Where are the many Christian converts
Who have lost their senses,
They deceive our Emperor.
Destroy the Gods we worship,
Pull down their temples and altars,
Permit neither joss-sticks nor candles,
Cast away tracts on ethics, and ignore reason.
Don't you realise that
Their aim is to engulf the country?
No talented people are in sight;
There is nothing but filth and garbage,
Rascals who undermine the Empire,
Leaving its doors wide open.
But we have, divine power at our disposal
To arouse our people and to arm them,
To save the realm and to protect it from decay.
Our pleasure is to see the Son of Heaven enharmed.
Let the officials perish,
But the people remain invincible.
Bring your own provisions;
Fall in to remove the scourge of the country.
" The Boxer Rebellion was mainly confined to the northern part of
China. The Boxers became so named by the physical exercises they took to
keep fit for battle. It was a bit like a lumbering up session boxers would
go through prior to a big fight. Strange, but these same exercises were
revived only recently by the Cultural Revolutionaries in China.It was a
patriotic attempt by extremists to exterminate foreigners.
Baron Von Ketteler, the German Minister was murdered on the morning of
the 20th June 1900. The Russians had been told to, "behave like Huns," and
at Amur, flung five thousand men women and children into the river to
drown. Large scale reparations by the Chinese were expected and exacted.
The Legations in Peking came under siege and many of the houses were
ransacked and burned by looters accompanied by numerous murders. Sir
Robert Hart had been invited during the siege to go to the British
Ambassador's house but declined. He insisted on sharing the rations and
hardships with his junior assistants although he was 65 years old then. It
was assumed in London that the I.G. had perished and his obituary appeared
in, "The Times."
The I.G. had taken refuge and while he was saved from the handwork of
the Boxers his house and all its possessions were destroyed. Nothing was
left except a few charred walls. The treasures of a lifetime had all been
burned or looted. These included his priceless letters from General
Gordon, photographs of the famous men he had been associated with, and the
beautiful rainbow silk scrolls for his Chinese patent of nobility.
The Boxer Rebellion did not succeed as it was put down by an
international force on the 14th August 1900 and Hart resumed his office on
the 21st August 1900. Soon, temporary living quarters were arranged and
the I.G. had the hard task of picking up the threads of Customs work
It was part of Robert's character that he never blamed the Chinese
nation in any way for the results of the destruction. In fact he made
excuses for them. He maintained that they were motivated by high ideals
and love of their country. He optimistically always looked for reform and
in 1901 published essays he had written on the Chinese question. These
essays were published under the name of, "These from the land of Sinim."
He explains how he chose the title for the book in his letter of the 6th
February 1901 to Campbell;
"As regards the title - if you look at Isaiah XLIX you will read
'Listen, O isles, unto Me': read verses 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 12, and in the last
you will read the words 'These from the land of Sinim.' Considering the
lay-missionary work I have been doing, and the messages I have been
sending, I hope I shall not be considered irreverent in appropriating such
"And I will make all my mountains a way, and my highways shall be
exalted; Behold, these shall come from far; and, lo, these from the north
and from the west, and these from the land of Sinim." - Isaiah XLIX,
Robert Hart in the Preface to his book states, "The five papers which
make up this volume deal tentatively and progressively with a leading
question of the day - how to treat China. .... They do not claim to be
either exhaustive nor infallible, and their main object is to promote good
Wen Hsiang, a key figure in the Chinese Government told Robert, "We
would gladly pay you all the increased revenue you have brought us if you
foreigners would go back to your own country and leave us in peace as we
were before you came."
That illustrated their nationalistic outlook. Unfortunately the
European nations were not to take a tolerant mood to nationalistic views
in the 1900's.
However, years later the Empress Dowager summoned the I.G. to a private
audience in Peking. When she heard how Sir Robert's house had been burned
down her eyes filled with tears, and with real regret in her voice she
said, "How can we look you in the face"? Eventually a new Legation Quarter
was built in Peking Two of the dead Boxer patriots were found in the I.G.s
garden in full regalia, red sashes and rusty swords. They were buried
quietly in Sir Robert's garden. What a cruel trick fate 'lad played on
them when they were helpless.
It was not long until the I.G. was back in the normal routine again. He
enjoyed watching the slow rebuilding of the Legation Quarter. While his
colleagues drove in carriages he still insisted in travelling in his sedan
One of his letters to Macoun sent from Peking on the 13th November 1901
sums up his position admirably,
..." I am exceedingly busy, and my health holds out wonderfully: and
although there are worries enough all round, I suffer from neither "the
blues" nor loneliness. The Native customs will give us some trouble
everywhere, but in three years time we will have everything in apple-pie
order. The Post Office, too, begins to look promising; but the way in
which alien P.O. are being opened left and right is not agreeable -
however I fancy the "stay" is on our side and although the race may be
long - in fact the longer it is, the surer our final success, and the
|Though outwardly a gloomy shroud,
The inner half of every cloud
Is bright and shining:
I therefore turn my clothes about
And always wear them inside out
To show the lining.
But, alas, alas. I'm close on "70", and, by the time all these things
are in shape, I'll be away among the stars talking old times with Wen
Hsiang and Li and borrowing one of Russell's superior telescopes to have a
peep at the "Middle Kingdom" in its latter day glory - unless a glacial
period shall again have intervened and started humanity afresh in some
other Eden. I hope you keep in good health and enjoy your change of
surroundings. When this A/cs job is done with, - but see it completely
through, and no mistake. - you can wend your way back to the delights of
the Model Settlement.
With kind regards.
(Signed) Robert Hart
Farewell to China
Sir Robert often joked, "When the Time comes I would rather go to
Heaven via London than Peking". More specifically it was his failing
health and later the death of Campbell his London agent and confident on
3rd December 1907, which really convinced him he must retire. On the 29th
September 1907 in his final letter to Campbell he wrote,
"........My own health is not at all satisfactory and I do not consider
it quite fair to those who have to work to remain on here doing nothing -
in fact I am rather in the way, causing delays of various kinds and unable
to carry through any serious business now that I have let go so many
threads..... China is going in for new methods, new measures, and new men,
and it would be interesting to remain provided, one was fit to take an
acting part in the doings of the day: that, however, is not my case and I
ought to step aside. So far I am told the Government will not hear of my
departure, but when serious application is made I do not expect there will
be any refusal...."
On 20th April 1908, he passed his post on to his successor, Francis
On his retirement he was presented with a grand silver dinner set and
this has subsequently been donated by his great-grandson to Queen's
Juliet Bredon, his niece gave him a copy of her photograph as a memento
together with a poem as follows:
With a Picture from Juliet
There is a road called Memory Way
Which leads straight back to Yesterday
And if you read the signs aright
And brush the trimmings out of sight,
Straight forward to To-morrow.
The path is difficult to find
For passing trifles tease the mind
So please accept a loving guide
To lead your steps and brush aside
The thorny ledge of sorrow.
Come walk with her towards the goal
The way is short when heart and soul
Can walk together;
And though a storm that passes by
Obscures the brightness of the sky,
We'll know the winds of sympathy
Will blow us merry weather.
Juliet Bredon, was present when Sir Robert left China for the last time
and tells how on the morning of his going the sky was beautifully blue,
like an inverted turquoise bowl. The railway station was where the
semi-official goodbyes were made, There was a company of Highlanders with
pipers and stretching away down the platform were the American marines,
Italian sailors, Dutch marines and Japanese soldiers with three
detachments of Chinese. Two detachments had brought their own bands and
the I.G.'s band had come to play, "Auld Lang Syne".
The I.G. stepped from his sedan chair and saying, "I am ready," walked
down the lines of saluting troops while all the bands played "Home, Sweet
Home." He said goodbye to the Chinese officials with whom he had done so
many kindnesses and after stepping on board e train bowed many times in a
He left with no regrets. He had fulfilled all his ambitions including
buying back, "Kilmoriarty" and getting a title. He had received an
unprecedented number of honours from all nations in the civilised world.
He had worked hard. His normal working hours were from 6.30a.m to midnight
and he was a strict disciplinarian. He filled his lifetime twice as full
as other people's. He often joked about his success.
Above his office desk written by himself were the dates 1854-1908 followed
|"If thou hast yesterday thy duty done,
And thereby cleared firm footing for to-day,
Whatever clouds may dark to-morrow's sun,
Thou shalt not miss thy solitary way."
A letter previously written to Campbell on the 29th Oct. 1883 outlines
"Unless I get through the day's work each day, and the week's work each
week- two days' English dispatches, two days' Chinese work, two days'
semi-official correspondence, and one day for odds and ends - the time
that comes after is very trying; with so many irons in the fire, and so
many looms working simultaneously, and the public at one door waiting for
results, and the Yamen at the other waiting for reports and advice, my
only safety lies in sticking closely to my method. Method is a wonderful
thing. It enabled me last year to read Lucan's Pharsalia, while waiting
for my afternoon tea, and this year I am well on with Lucretius. It gives
me an hour each day for 'cello and another for violin; and it enables me
to keep work well up to date."
Sir Robert Hart was a hero and one to whom his whole household of
servants looked up to with the greatest of respect and admiration. "We
have found you a very satisfactory master," they would tell him. Most of
the servants stayed with him for 20 or 30 years. He often asked too much
from them and then was very lenient to them for any shortcomings in their
When their relatives died, and they had an infamous army of them
ranging from great grandfathers to close friends of third and fourth
cousins, they invariably asked to "borrow" money for urgent expenses. He
was very generous to their demands but never did one of them make a
repayment.' Such as the nature of things then in China.
All his servants deeply regretted his retirement and his chief butler
Ah Fong, who had been with him for a lifetime often reminisced on the
Grand Tour of Europe he made with Sir Robert in 1878. Stories would be
told of how he kissed the hands of the French chambermaids and bid them
good evening, "Allewalla. Allewalla." Also when he came to Ravarnette and
Lisburn the ladies of the area would ask him about his duties and he would
reply, "Morning time my brush master's clothes, night time my bring he
refreshment to drink."
Such was the devotion and loyalty Sir Robert received from his
servants, a quality now as dead as the Dodo.
The nature of his post was that he was essentially answerable to
no-one. He had to become an autocrat. It was one of the essential
conditions of his appointment. He often wished it was otherwise: "I wish
to Heaven I were under an office or a board and had nothing of this
personal responsibility," he said. He always maintained that he owed his
success to his staff. There was never any of the braggart's -"Alone I did
Throughout his life he always saw the hand of God guiding him and he
took a pride in the work that He had helped him to accomplish.
"It is amusing to have in my time planted the Customs at Hong Kong,
Chungking, Macao, Mengtzu, Lungchow, Seoul (Korea) and Tatung (Tibet) etc.
We have helped to keep China quiet and the dynasty on its legs, and I hope
this is something; for, otherwise I don't see much in return for all the
work done and thought expended on it - except that the thought produced
the work and the work has succeeded as work. Our forty years of existence
is now part of history, and our doings are woven into the web of the
Universe -'but as far as simple facts go, I suppose the same can be said
of that "Ta-ra-ra-boomde-ay' girl, Lottie Collins."
|"There is one way for thee; but one; inform
Thyself of it; pursue it; one way each
Soul hath by which the infinite in reach
Lieth before him; seek and ye shall find;...
Go thy way, all things say,
Thou hast thy way to go, thou hast thy day
To live; thou hast thy need of_ thee to make
In the hearts of others; do thy thing; yea slake
The world's great thirst for yet another man.
And be thou sure of this; no other can
Do for thee appointed thee of God."
Great Britain honoured him with the G.C.M.G. as well as a Knighthood.
China showered distinction after distinction upon him, including such rare
honours as the Red Button of the First Class, First Class of the Second
Division of the Order of the Double Dragon, Ancestral Rank of the First
Class for Three Generations of the Peacock's Feather, and rarest of all,
posthumously, the title of the Senior Guardian of the Heir Apparent.
Belgium, Sweden, France, Austria, Italy, Vatican, Portugal,, Holland,
Prussia, Denmark, Norway, Russia, and Japan all' conferred decorations on
him, of which no fewer than eleven were Grand Crosses.
His son Sir Edgar Bruce Hart together with the help of the Municipal
Council of Shanghai erected a statue designed by Charles Guernier of
Paris. On one of the bronze plaques there was an epitaph written by
President Eliot of Harvard
"Inspector-General of the Chinese Maritime Customs.
Founder of the Chinese Lighthouse Service.
Organiser and Administrator of the National Post Office.
Trusted Counsellor of the Chinese Government.
True friend of the Chinese People.
Modest, Patient, Sagacious and Resolute.
He overcame Formidable Obstacles, and
Accomplished a work of Great Beneficence for China and the World."
Home for the Last Time
When he came home in 1908 he was welcomed everywhere he went. He
received the freedom of the Borough of Taunton, as well as that of the
cities of London and Belfast. Lady Hart accompanied him.
He arrived by train from Dublin at the Great Victoria Street Station,
Belfast accompanied by Lady Hart on the Wednesday 7th October 1908. He was
met by his old friend and family relation the Rev. Wesley Guard, a highly
respected minister of the Methodist Church and stayed at the Grand Central
Hotel where he engaged a suite of apartments.
The following day he and Lady Hart were introduced to a round of
engagements including visiting the Central Library, Royal Avenue, and the
Municipal Technical Institute. Subsequently Lady Hart, accompanied by the
Lady Mayoress, opened a sale of work at the Girls` Friendly Society Lodge
at Donegall Pass. He delivered memorable speeches at the inauguration of
the local centenary of the Hibernian Bible Society, the Belfast Chamber of
Commerce, Queen's College, and Queen's Island Shipyards.
On the 26th November 1908 he was entertained to dinner by the Old Boys
of Wesley College Dublin in the Sherbourne Hotel, Dublin.
On the 4th December 1908 he distributed the prizes at the Methodist
In October 1908 he was presented with a handsome gold key on the
occasion of the opening of the new lecture hall at Jennymount Methodist
Church, Belfast. The key bore the following inscription:
"Presented to Sir Robert Hart, K.C.M.G. on the occasion of the opening
of Jennymount Hall. W.D.R.Taggart, architect; Jas. Kidd, contractor.
He told the crowded congregation assembled, "There is nothing more
noble than work and nothing more necessary that work should be well done.
In a building every brick is necessary, but the bricks most important are
those lowest down and unseen. If they were not well laid the building
would not stand but fall to pieces. So it was in life. Each one of them
who had a task to perform, from the lowest to the highest, and each must
see that he did his best."
Triumphal Return to
On the 31st November 1908 Sir Robert Hart was welcomed to a dinner
given in his honour by the Lisburn Town Council in the Town Hall Lisburn,
by the members of the urban council. They recognised his early
associations with the town, took an early opportunity of honouring the
distinguished Ulsterman by presenting him with an address in recognition
of the fact for over half a century his name has been associated with the
commercial development of the Chinese Empire. The address was enclosed in
a finely engraved cylindrical silver casket, which bore at one end Sir
Robert Hart's monogram, and at the other extremity the arms of the town of
Lisburn. Sir Robert Hart motored from Belfast, and on arrival at the Town
Hall was received by the Council, to whom he was introduced by the
chairman Mr. J.E. Pelan, who afterwards presided at the luncheon.
The chairman said as representing the town of Lisburn he had great
pleasure in welcoming Sir Robert Hart after his long absence in the Far
East. They all appreciated the good work he had done, and admired him for
it, more particularly as he was an Ulsterman.
Mr. G. B. Wilkins, said he rose with much pleasure to propose the
health of Sir Robert Hart, than whose name there was not one better in the
whole world. There were reasons why that should be so, and the principal
of those was that they all had admiration of the Englishman for the man
had carved his own way in the world. The land where Sir Robert Hart's
lifework was wrought was a mystery; it was a land of seclusion, and one
with regard to which few people had any idea of its possibilities or
potentialities. It was a land where at one time foreigners were detested;
yet Sir Robert Hart had risen to be one of the most influential people in
that empire, trusted more highly than one of their own princes.
The Chinese had a civilization dating long prior to those of Greece and
Rome; they were a people of marvellous ability self-contained, and with no
mean powers as regarded knowledge and intellect, yet their guest had made
his influence felt in that country. When China would waken, as it
unquestioningly would, the impression he had left upon that country, would
go down through the ages. Having regard to the difficulties that China had
experienced in recent years the speaker alluded to their guest's great
success as an administrator, and the marvellous growth of trade in the
east under his wise and fostering care. He was a sterling friend of China,
but he was none the less a sterling friend of his own country whose
commercial interests he had not forgotten. Not a claim had been made on
any friend of his boyhood, and not an opportunity of befriending one of
their relatives had been overlooked. Rememberances of his kindly thought
and assistance would be for ever gratefully recollected, and he had the
best wishes of everyone in the North of Ireland for his continued
happiness and prosperity. The toast was enthusiastically honoured.
The Town Clerk then read the address, which was as follows:
"Sir- We, the Lisburn Urban District Council, as representing the
inhabitants of the town of Lisburn, desire to extend to you a hearty
welcome, on the occasion of your return to the land of your birth after so
many years of responsible labour in China. During your long period of
valuable service in the Orient, your career - has been watched with pride
and admiration by nations other than your own, but nowhere has a warmer
feeling existed towards you than in the old and ancient town of Lisburn,
with which you were so closely connected in your earlier years. The value
of your work in China has been such that we feel certain its influence
will tend to develop commerce and promote harmonious relationship between
two great branches of the human race. We feel justly proud of the fact
that your name is to-day inscribed on the roll of honour of every
civilised country under the sun.
On another score you have placed your fellow countrymen of this
district under a heavy debt of gratitude to you whilst never tempting our
rising young men to leave their native land, yet when they have gone to
you for assistance you have always found time to listen to their claims
upon you, and it has been through no fault of yours if our fellow
countrymen from this district have now prospered in the land which has
been so greatly benefited by your labours. Our earnest prayer is that you
and Lady Hart may enjoy many years of health and happiness- (signed on
behalf of Lisburn Urban District Council) James Pelan-- Chairman, H.
Barbour (Vice-Chairman) T. Wilson, Town Clerk."
Sir Robert Hart, who was cordially received, said before reading his
written reply he wished to say how pleased he was to meet them all there
that day, and how surprised he was to find that such an interest should
have been taken in himself while so far away and in the affairs of China.
Although they were Northerners they were Irishmen, and he was afraid that
the Blarney Stone had to some extent affected that part of the country. He
would not say he was unaccustomed to the flattering terms in which their
address had been couched, for unfortunately he had for some time been
suffering from the same complaint ever since his return from China. It
was, however, more than his modest nature as
Irishman could bear in silence. The success which had attended the
development of China had really not been dependent upon himself. He
had had a great deal to do with many affairs, and success had attended his
efforts in many directions, but the work had been done by the merchants
not merely of England and of other countries, and by officials, the
British Consuls and Consuls of other nations, by the British Minister at
Peking and the various Legations. He had been present when nearly
everything had been going on, and had been able to give useful assistance,
but he could not claim to be much more than the grease which helped to
make the wheel revolve more easily. Sir Robert then read the following
reply to the address:
"Gentlemen it is most kind of you to take the trouble to come together
in this way, and more than kind to greet my return so cordially. Almost
seventy years ago I first became acquainted with your town, and now its
more than thirty years since I walked through its streets, but I have
always had a vivid recollection of it and its vicinity, and have cherished
an affectionate remembrance of both people and occurrences. It was here at
Timothy O'Laughlin's my first pony saddle was made in the early forties,
and it was here in the early fifties that I read my last Latin with Mr.
Patterson, before entering the Queen's College, Belfast, and learned to
appreciate what Cicero had written about old-age and friendship. These
names will sound strange to most, if not all of you, but in the long ago
they were well known here, and if I recall them now, and the stirring
scenes of the Tuesday market and fair days, it is to let you see that
Lisburn has always had a warm place in my heart and memory. Fifty four
years ago I began my career in China, and as I chanced to be on the right
spot at the right moment and ready, good fortune has treated me with
favour, and I hope without spoiling me. I have had very serious business
to handle in my day, and its success must be largely attributed to the
support I always received from the excellent cosmopolitan staff at the
Chinese Customs, as well as the reasonableness of the officials, Chinese
and foreign, with whom I had to deal. On the Chinese Customs staff are
still two men from this neighbourhood - Sir John McLeavy Brown, a highly
distinguished official who is for the moment detached and occupies the
important post of adviser at the Chinese Legation in London, and young Mr.
Ritchie, a very promising youth, who has already done some excellent work
in the Chinese Postal Department - each of them in his way a first class
man, and I have always felt proud to think that the banks of the Lagan had
supplied such talent for the world's work in so far off an Empire. My
homecoming has not been a day too soon, for after so many years some rest
was necessary, and the reception I have everywhere been honoured with,
though somewhat fatiguing has given me real gratification, revealing to me
that my far away work has been watched and appreciated, and that my long
absence has not faded from memory and been forgotten. I have not yet had
time to study the changes and improvements time and development have
wrought in your locality, and its industries, but I trust all goes well
and to your satisfaction. I thank you for the address you have so kindly
presented, and for the friendly welcome you have accorded me, and with its
good wishes for Lady Hart and myself, and in so doing allow me to offer
you one and all my sincere desire for the realisation of your best hopes
for success in your various enterprises, and for the happiness in your
domestic and social life.
Proceeding. Sir Robert Hart said he would like to say something about
China. It was a most interesting country, and would have, he was sure, a
wonderful future before it. It covered four million square miles of the
earth's surface and had a population of 400 million people. Those people
all lived, thought, and acted in the same way, because they had been
brought up in the ethics of a very great teacher, who lived 500 years B.C.
They had all heard of the name Confucius, who did not profess to have
inspiration or any celestial mandate, but merely set himself forward as a
transmitter of the wisdom of the past, and he taught the people morality
first and morality ought to be practised as between man and man, and he
taught them the duty of man to his neighbour. This teaching had been
followed, and as a result the rich man was not ashamed of his poor friend,
the neighbour was kind to his neighbour, old age and superior position
were reverenced to an extent they would not find in any other country in
the world; and in connection with the longetivity of the Chinese Empire he
had always been inclined to think that the words, "Honour thy father and
mother that the days may be long in the land" seemed to have been worked
out as practical proof in that country. They were a very intelligent
people, they could learn anything and do anything. They had studied under
official examination rules for the last thousands of years chiefly the
ethics of Confucius. They were now going to study science, and science
they were going to have in all its branches.
They had done away with the old system of examination which existed for
so many years and which was simply in ethics, because the idea was to get
the best men for the official government of the country. The only way in
which the official position could be attained was through examinations.
The several provinces were divided into so many prefectories, and every
prefectory into districts. Candidates could obtain by examination a degree
equivalent to Batchelor of Arts, of couse in limited numbers, and this
also applied in a degree equivalent to M.A. Then they went forward to the
Capital and obtained a degree in equivalent to LL.D., after which they
entered official life. Generally about 300 were selected for official life
every two or three years, and the way in which those 300 were disposed of
was rather amusing. The first hundred on the list were appointed to the
colleges in Pekin, where, as fellows of colleges and tutors, they attended
to literature and books during the rest of their lives. The second hundred
were appointed to ministerial boards of education to attend to the affairs
of the capital and the affairs that came up from the provinces to the
ministers. The third hundred are sent out of the capital as district
magistrates, the idea being that the greater the book worm the better he
would be fit for practical life and the less the book worm the better
fitted he would be for the active work to be done in the provinces. That
system had worked very well.
No man, however low, might not attain the highest position; thus
officials were appointed and had gained the highest positions in China for
success at literary examinations. That had the greatest effect for making
them admire talent, and therefore their aristocracy was solely an
aristocracy of intellect. Land had its value, money its value, but mind
was what they praised and looked forward to most of all. They were a
strangely reasonable people, but they hated the idea of having to become
soldiers, and said, "If it is right it ought to be recognised by
everybody", and that they ought to be required to fight to support it.
Circumstances, however required that they should be able to stand on
their own legs and hold their own ground against the strong foreign
competition which was coming nearer and nearer, and in view of the labour
saving appliances which were being invented and the improvement of the
means of communication and transport. Now, in addition to ethics, they
were to study Western Sciences in order to cope with it and acquire the
appliances which were in daily use here.
Thus they proposed to strengthen themselves. They could imagine how
great numbers of soldiers could be produced from a population of four
hundred millions of people. At first they would not be good soldiers
because of their hatred of the idea of fighting, but circumstances would
force it upon them, and, although he did not exactly take upon himself the
mantle of Elijah, he ventured to prophesy that they could look forward to
a day when China would do something extraordinary. They might have a great
deal of fighting to do, and generation after generation would see some
trouble arising between them and the foreign countries, which would enable
them to use their arms and sharpen their instruments and fit themselves
for the future; but possibly one hundred, two hundred or three hundred
years hence those four hundred millions of people would be as strong
in arms individually and nationally as, for instance, a great Continental
Power like Germany was at the present moment. And then what would happen?
China would turn round to the rest of the world and say:
-"Gentlemen, there must be no more war. They would throw in the force
of their arms with the country that was attacked and against the country
that made war., and he believed that in that way the millenium would come.
That was a curious statement to make, and he was amused at it himself,
speaking of it in Lisburn, where he used to ride about as a boy so many
years ago. He knew something of the Chinese, and he knew their reasonable
character, and he therefore knew that they would act in a reasonable way.
One of the reasons why he got on so well in China was because he
recognised the reasonableness on the part of the Chinese.
Amongst the high officials whom he knew, was the Prime Minister of
China in the sixties. He was a very intelligent man, and used to tell him,
"We approve very much of the many things you tell us we ought to do; but
don't you think you are going a little too fast? Would it not be better to
let us remain keeping in our way?" He (Sir Robert Hart) said, in reply,
there were difficulties, and difficulties of every kind. How they had
arisen, and why could they not be settled or prevented? The old gentleman
said to him, "I can give you a prescription for preventing difficulties.
Go back to your own country and mind your business, and leave us alone to
mind ours. He used to speak about missionaries, and he said, "Your
Missionaries are excellent people; the work they are doing in the medical
hospital especially is very good, and the aim they set before them to make
our people better is also an excellent aim. If they can make our people
better, we officials and governors of the country ought to be much obliged
to them; but there is one thing I cannot understand.
Instead of consorting with the good and the virtuous, they are always
seeking out the wicked and the low. What is the meaning of this? Why do
they not act properly? How can we esteem them when they act in this way?"
All he could say in reply was, "He called not the
righteous but sinners to repentance." In conclusion, he desired to thank
them very much in the way they had received him, for the kind address, and
for the patient hearing they had given him.
Mr. Wellington Young, the town solicitor, expressed the pleasure it had
given everyone present to listen to Sir Robert Hart's speech. Not to
mention Ravarnette without the name of Hart was the same as mentioning
Hilden without the name of Barbour. The honours conferred upon Sir Robert
Hart were not obtained through political influence. He was a self made man
who, by his own energy, integrity, and honesty, had won an imperishable
name, and they all united in the hope that he would live long to enjoy the
distinctions he so richly merited. Sir Robert Hart, who on again rising
was warmly applauded, said in China instead of making a distinguished
public servant a Viscount, Earl, Marquis, they enobled his father, his
grandfather and his great grandfather. His ancestors had been enobled for
three generations. His success, he owed to his teachers under whom he had
studied, and to a father who had set such an excellent example in all that
he did during his lifetime.
The proceedings ended with the toast of, "The Town and Trade of
Sir Robert Hart Guest at the Methodist Church in Lisburn
Sir Robert Hart was accorded a very warm welcome at the annual meeting
of the Methodist Home Missions held in the Methodist Church, Seymour
Street, Lisburn. The interior of the church was decorated with flags,
prominent amongst them was the Chinese ensign which covered the wall at
the rear of the pulpit. The standard, which was sent to the Rev. Egan by
the Chinese Ambassador in London, was hung as a tribute of respect to the
guest of the evening, and the remainder of the decorations, which were
displayed with admirable taste by Mr. Thompson Allen were wholly in
keeping with the nature of the meeting. The address which was presented to
Sir Robert Hart during the course of the proceedings was one of great
beauty. It was artistically executed and bore Sir Robert's Coat of Arms,
surrounded with a floral border. On opposite sides were pictures of
Ravarnette House and the old Methodist Church, Lisburn. As a work of art
the address was a choice specimen of the skill and finish with which
Messrs. W. & G. Baird, Belfast, prepare public addresses. The musical
portion of the service was under the direction of Miss. Maud Hunter, the
official organist of the church. There was also a good representation of
the various Protestant denominations of the town which included the Revs.
Dr. Nicholas; Wesley Guard, S.T. Brownless, W.T.Cairns, G.W.Thornpson and
SIR ROBERT HART, CHAIRMAN
After the meeting opened with prayer and praise, Sir Robert Hart, the
chairman said it was with infinite pleasure he revisited the town with
which he had been connected with so many years ago. But a lot of things
had changed. He missed the faces he used to see in olden days. He used to
worship at the meeting house near the Shambles. Amongst those were the
benevolent face of Mr. Neill, and the faces of Mr. and Mrs. McCall. He
missed the splendid baritone of Mr. Heron and the bass of Mr. Thompson
that used to come from the gallery. He could recollect the names of the
ministers of those bygone times - the Masaroons, the Ballards, the
Wallaces, and the Hoeys.
Speaking about the need for men of ability required for the work of
evangelisation of China, he remarked that it. would take a long
time because the peo ple of China were difficult to convert. Among other
missionaries he had a good word for the Roman Catholics. In Ulster it
might not be orthodox for him to refer to them on terms of praise, but
they taught the essential elements of knowledge of the true God, arid he
must say that they went about their work with wonderful self-sacrifice.
The work which the Roman Catholic missionaries did amongst the Chinese
poor was admirable. It was a pity in regard to the Protestant missions
that there was so much difference in their tenets, because when the
Chinese saw this difference they became puzzled in finding out where the
He spoke highly of the successful missions conference in Shanghai the
previous year. He also mentioned the growing number of Y.M.C.A.'s in China
and the good work being done in connection with them by Mr. Moffett, of
the American Mission.
The Rev. Wesley Guard in the course of an interesting speech, recalled
the fact that the first time that he met the chairman was in the town of
Lisburn - or rather the district of Ravarnette.
There were three or four men that he ( the speaker) personally put on
the highest. piano in his estimation and respect. One of these was the
father of their chairman, Mr. Henry Hart, a true Christian gentleman whom
they could all honour and love. They were glad to have amongst them that
evening the worthy son of a worthy father.
Ulster was famous for distinguished men and in making reference he did
not wish to put on any blarney- but when a man was worthy of honour,
surely there was no place where he should be more heartily received than
amongst his own people, with whom he spent his early years. Ireland has
given birth to many distinguished soldiers and men who had won renown as
governors of the Empire's great dependencies; she had sent out some of the
greatest of the world's diplomatists, amongst whom he would mention the
Marquis of Dufferin and Ava - but he might say that Sir Robert Hart stood
second to none of these on account of his wonderful career and the
wondrous changes he had worked in the public life of China.
Their welcome was a very homely one compared with others Sir Robert had
received, yet they could assure him that in no place had he been greeted
with warmer hearts than those who bade him welcome to the old town of
The Honourable Alexander Egan read a letter as follows;
"To Sir Robert Hart, Bart. C.C.M.G., Inspector-General of Imperial
Maritime Customs, China
On behalf of the Methodists of this circuit, which includes the
congregations of Lisburn, Magheragall, Broomhedge, and Priesthill, we
unite in offering you a very hearty welcome on your return from China.
Among our members are a few who knew your father, the late Henry Hart, of
Ravarnette, who served this circuit faithfully in various important
offices, and they all recall your early days as a fellow-worshipper in the
Old Methodist Church, Market Street, Lisburn; the Methodist Church,
Priesthill; and in other places. The majority of us, however, do not share
in such pleasant memories, yet we are one with our older members in their
appreciation of your character and in their admiration of your
world-renowned work in the great Empire of China. In the dark days through
which that country passed in 1900 We united in intercession with all
sections of the Christian Church for you, and the joy, of this welcome is
all the deeper because your deliverance from great danger has taught us
fresh lessons of the power of prayer. We shall continue to pray that upon
you, Lady Hart, and family may ever rest our Heavenly Father's smile. We
are, dear Sir Robert, with great respect and esteem your faithful
servants, Alexander Egan, Lisburn; V.T. Cairns, Broomhedge; W.T. Brownlee,
Magheragall circuit ministers George Thompson, James Jefferson, Lisburn;
John Neill, Richard Belshaw, Magheragall; Wm. Megarry, J.A.Richer,
Broomhedge; R.H.Hinds and A. Phoenix, Priesthill. Circuit stewards."
Sir Robert thanked them all. He was glad to be sitting in the chair at
so representative a meeting of the people of Lisburn. He appreciated very
highly not only the reference to himself but also to his father whom he
had loved and honoured through his life. He hoped that things would go
well with them and that God would bestow upon them all the blessings which
He gave to His earthly servants. Having referred to some of his amusing
experiences in boyhood days and thrilling incidents during the Boxer
outbreak in China, Sir Robert thanked them all that evening and promised
to send a written reply later on.
His Personal Tastes &
His desire: It is my desire to live to God.... I must make the Bible my
His favourite hymn: "God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to
His favourite novelist: Lever.
His Ulster Lands: Kilmoriarty in Co. Armagh, and also Bentra and
Aldfresh in Co. Antrim He purchased each of the three lands for approx.
£11,000 in 1869 and 1870. These, he subsequently sold.
His London Agent and Confident: James D. Campbell. Robert Hart wrote
weekly or fortnightly to Campbell, for nearly 40 years (1868 - 1907) and
there was never any evidence of a rift between the two. These letters were
kept at the Customs Office, London and then were transferred to the School
of Oriental and African Studies in London. The letters from Campbell to
Hart were destroyed at the Boxer Lootings in 1900. However copies were
kept at Campbell's end and these the Foreign office have transferred to
the London University who have deposited them with the School of Oriental
and African Studies for safe keeping.
Nationality disliked: The Japanese, because of their territorial
expansion into China.
His Diaries: Consist of 77 volumes. He wrote it regularly and was very
reluctant to stop. "Having kept it so long I do not like to abandon the
diary yet." His last entries in Vol. 77 were as follows:
"Easter Sunday 19th April 1908 : Christ is risen.
Easter Monday 20th April 1908 : Slept badly." (Sir Robert Hart suffered a
lot from insomnia)
He uses the diary also to post-date past events such as the death of
Beauclerk (His daughter Evey's husband) in Lima on Thurs. 5th March 1908
as well as his thoughts on the day such as "31st December 1879 : This is
Evey's birthday. She's eleven to-day." and "Saturday 21st June 1879: This
is Hessie's 32nd birthday. I wish. you many more, and I also wish you
hadn't as many."
The diaries were his only possessions saved from his burning house by a
friend during the Boxer Riots. On one occasion he regretted its rescue.
"The only thing that gives me worry - unfinished work and family griefs
apart - is the existence of so many volumes of my journal: I now wish it
had gone to the flames with my other belongings, for, first of all, it may
get into the wrong hands and possibly its pages contain some things that
would be better let fall into oblivion, and, in second place, after the
way the newspapers etc., have referred to the "precious" thing, I fear
that not only would examination find it worthless, but indiscreet people
might make a wrong use of what they could understand of its contents,
while even the discreet would fail to fully comprehend its brief
references to various affairs, or, worse, would fail to make out or even
misread my hastily written hieroglyphics. If I die out here and have time
to do so, I'll tell people to send it to you, and you can make it over to
Bruce (Hart's Son) to keep as a family curio - and not to be either
published or lent to writers of any kind: note this please - 'R.I.P.'" -
letter to Campbell on 6th April 1902. The diaries were bequeathed by his
great grandson to Queen's University, Belfast.
His wages: he started at 170 pounds per year in 1844 and had 4,000
pounds per year as Inspector-General in 1854.
His tailor: Poole of London.
Favourite poems: "A Shropshire Lad" by A.E.Houseman 1896
"A Burglar Quixote"
The Advanced Guard" by Stanley C.Grier 1903
"Ottavia" by Garrett Mill 1903
"The Circle" Katherine Cecil Thurston 1903
"Crumbs of Pity" by Rudolph C. Lehman 1903
"Christian Science" by William Lefoy, Dean of Norwich
"The Rubaiyat of Omar Kayyam" by E. Fitzgerald
Band Pieces: Nuit d'amour - Valse
When the lights are low
Boggetti's La Pompadour
Vale Lane's Gnomes' Polka
American Barn Dance
Saint George's Reveil du printemps
Sans Souci Gavotte
"Merry Songs" & "Jolly Boys" by Boosey & Hawkes or Champion Journal Smith
The Waltz "Gitana" (Also Evey's favourite)
Nocturne for cello and piano by Field
Nocturne for violin and piano by Chopin
La Mattchicko 1905
Books: Amongst many, a selection of his favourite books is given
Smith's Dictionary of Antiquities
The Ambassador's Adventure - Campbell and Co.
Yorke the Adventurer - Fisher Unwin
The House with the Green Shutters - MacQueen Black's Medical Dictionary
The Heart of a Continent by Patrick Donan
The National Review - a monthly edited by L.J.Maxse, London "I like its
good, Imperial, British, tone, and its precis of occurrences is good."
Sir Robert died of pneumonia at 10 pm on the 20th September 1911 in his
home in Great Marlow, Bucks. He was buried not far away, in the church
graveyard of Bisham opposite the River Thames. The words engraved at the
foot of the Celtic Cross on his grave in the Churchyard at Bisham also
bear testimony to his lifetime work
"After he had served his own generation by the will of God he fell
"After he had served his own generation by the will of God he fell
Let the last words be given to the Right Reverend Charles Perry, Bishop
of North China who preached at the Memorial Service to Sir Robert Hart at
the Church of Our Saviour, Peking on the 25th September 1911
"Those who value the Christian faith, in whatever form, can thank God
that here in this great metropolis there has been for so many years a man
in high position and of commanding influence who kept his faith in the
Christian Revelation, and who, above all, set a high tone of
administrative purity and devotion to duty, while leading an exemplary and
a blameless life.
............ We speak of one whom many of us know to have been, all
unostentatious as was his religious life, a humble servant of his Master
in Heaven. .................
There the tears of earth are dried;
There its hidden things are clear;
There the work of life is tried
By a juster Judge than here.
Father, in Thy gracious keeping
Leave we now Thy servant sleeping."
Other Ulstermen in the
A considerable number of Ulstermen especially from Ravarnette and
Lisburn were brought to China to work in the Chinese Customs and Maritime
Service. Many helped to make the Service a great success under Sir Robert
Hart. While some lived and died whilst in China many retired and returned
home. There are many gravestones in the Lisburn area referring to
someone's past labours in the Chinese Customs Service. For example the
Armour family who live opposite our school in Ravarnette have a family
grave in the Lisburn Cemetery whose headstone reads,
"In Loving Memory of Magdalene Armour, died 17th September 1900. Her
husband James Henry Armour, Chinese Maritime Customs, died 12th January
1901. Their daughter Mabel Anna, died 4th November 1964."
Not far from that grave is one of Mrs. A.M.Hampson, Szechwan, China
28th Dec. 1932, no doubt therein lies another great story.
Sir John McLeavy Brown was born on the 27th November 1835, at
Magheragall, Lisburn, Co. Antrim and was educated at Queens' College,
Belfast and Trinity College, Dublin. He graduated from the old Queen's
University. In April 1873 he joined the Customs Service as a First Class
Clerk, and in the following year was appointed Deputy Commissioner at
Canton. After having been in charge at Takow in Formosa, he was promoted
Commissioner in February 1877, and as such served in Chinkiang, Canton and
Shanghai, at which latter port he acted for a time as Statistical
Secretary. He was later detached to succeed the late Mr. J. F. Schoenicke
as Chief Commissioner of the Korean Customs and Financial Adviser to the
King of Korea. After his retirement in December 1913, Brown was appointed
Counsellor to the Chinese Legation in London, a post which he held to his
death on the 6th April 1926. He was created C.M.G. in 1898 and Knight
Batchelor in 1906.
Although coming from a strictly orthodox evangelical home Sir Robert
Hart was in no way biased against anyone because of their religion or
views on life. It is said that he learned to be like this whilst at
Queen's University. Half a dozen students looked at a case and each
described the case in his own way. All the students' descriptions were
different yet it was the same case described by them.
Dr. Augustine Henry, a Roman Catholic, was educated at Cookstown
Academy, Queen's College Galway & Belfast and brought over to China by Sir
Robert Hart in 1881 having previously met him at the Paris Exhibition. He
rose to become Acting Chief Commissioner of Customs at Szemao. He had a
great interest in botany and spent long hours collecting and classifying
specimens. He published many articles and books on Chinese plants. Sheila
Pim recently wrote his biography entitled, "The Wood and the Trees." He
died on the 23rd March 1930 and was buried at the Roman Catholic Church at
Dean's Grange, Dublin.
Sir Robert Bredon from Ballintaggart House, Portadown was Sir Robert
Hart's brother-in -law. He was born on the 4th February 1846 and educated
at the Royal School Dungannon and Trinity College, Dublin. Shortly after
his sister's marriage to Sir Robert Hart he joined the Chinese Customs
Service in 1873 and became Deputy Inspector General from 1898 to 1908.
From 1908 to 1910 he was Acting Inspector-General. He obtained a War Medal
in the defence of the Legations during the Boxer Siege in 1900. He married
Lily Virginia Banks of San Francisco, U.S.A. and died on the 3rd July
Dr. Stanley F. Wright M.A., LL.D., from Belfast became the official
chronicler (under the aegis of Queen's University) of Sir Robert. Hart's
work and life in the Chinese Customs. It was he who wrote extensively and
in great detail on the subject, spending years of research. He also became
a Commissioner in the Chinese Customs Service. We were pleased to receive
a letter showing great interest in the project from his grand-daughter
Hannah E. Wright who now lives in Glasgow.
Robert Beatty De Courcy who was born in Ballyclare on 4th October 1875
was educated at Methodist College and Wesley College received a nomination
from Sir Robert Hart and left for China on the 22nd February 1899. He was
appointed Professor of English in the Imperial College, Peking and also
bravely assisted in the defence of the Legations during the Siege of the
It is also interesting to discover when on a visit to the Ulster
Museum, I learned that it was an Ulsterman who was the private Doctor to
the Empress of China during part of the Sir Robert Hart period. As a
farewell gift she gave him a finely embroidered Royal Chinese Costume
which he in turn donated to the Ulster Museum.
The Hart Family of
Much information about his brothers, sisters and family is to be found
on the three inscriptions on the two stone slab memorials at the family
grave just over a mile from the family residence of Ravarnette House. The
family grave is at Blaris Old Cemetery in the Borough of Lisburn. Other
information came directly from living relatives.
Mary 1836 - 1916, married James Maze, a linen merchant of Belfast.
James Maze and Robert Hart's Father formed a business partnership and when
Robert came home to Ravarnette in 1866 he had a long discussion with his
father to try and patch up some differences of opinion between the two
partners. Mary and James Maze had a son whom Robert befriended with a bit
of help in China. This son was to become Sir Frederick Maze and he was
destined also to become the Inspector-General of Chinese Customs. The son
also had great memories of Ravarnette and Ravarnette House. Eventually he
retired to Victoria Island in Canada, a favourite location for ex British
Patriots. He named his house Ravarnette Lodge and died on the 25th March
1956 in Victoria, Canada and brought the Hart-Maze-Chinese Customs link to
James Maze her husband died in London whilst she died in Portrush. As
well as Frederick Maze she had three others:
Marion Maze died in England in 1944.
Charlotte Houghton died in Portstewart on the 29th June 1944.
Robert Hart Maze died at Portrush on the 10th October 1954.
Sarah Jane 1841-1927, married John Miller a tobacco manufacturer of
Belfast. Later after he had passed away she married the Rev. R. J. Robb
who became the vicar of Tirley, Gloucestershire, England.
Charlotte 1842-1868 married one of the greatest preachers of his day in
the Methodist Ministry. He became a great friend of the family. He died in
1914 and became a great loss to the Methodist Church. He was often with
Sir Robert Hart on his return to his homeland in 1908. Charlotte died
suddenly during childbirth in Belfast on the 26th September 1868. Her son
Geoffrey, survives only until the 10th June 1869.
James Henry 1846-1902 was reputed to be the black sheep of the family.
He was a hard drinker and Robert often referred to him as, "That Evergreen
Sinner." He eventually became crippled by gout and moved to Brighton. He
was subject to fits of violence when he would order everyone out of the
house. He died on the 13th Nov. 1902 of gastric ulcers and cirrhosis of
the liver brought on by chronic alcoholism. His wife Phoebe was left with
a daughter Nini, born 1895 and a son, Geoffrey born 1902. He was Robert
Hart's favourite brother and he served in the Chinese Customs from
1866-1902 and became Commissioner. The Tsungli Yamen appointed him as
successor to his brother, but he declined the honour. He was buried in
His son Geoffrey became a very successful stockbroker in London and was
married but had no children.
His daughter Nini, sometimes referred to as Irene at the age of 18
wrote a novel which was 'Indexed' by the Vatican. About 1928 she married
Carlo Alberto Straneo, son of an Italian general from Piedmont. Carlo
Alberto was in the Italian Embassy in London as Third Secretary. Alexander
Brodie (son of Mabel Milburne) was an usher at the wedding which was held
at St. James's, Spanish Place, and the Guard of Honour was formed by the
Soho Branch of the Ballilla which was the Fascist Youth organization
comprising of little Italian cockneys in black shirts. Carlo Albert
survived the fall of Mussolini and of King Emmanuel and was known to the
British Foreign Office as "The Vicar of Bray." They did not have any
Ann Maria Catherine 1848-1922 married Brigade Surgeon Lt. Colonel W.
Price, Indian medical Service. She is buried in Torquay in the south of
Emma Elizabeth 1853-1922. Robert often referred to her as Lizzy and was
known as Amy. In Peking he thinks about her as Aime. She married the Rev.
S. Osborne, a Presbyterian Minister, a brother of C.T.Osborne. They
emigrated to New Zealand and founded a great Presbyterian Church. They
died in Taranaki, N.Z.
Geoffrey Milburne 1856-1884 became a linen merchant and lived near the
Holywood Arches. His house, "Laburnum Terrace" still stands with the name
engraved in stone. It is interesting to note that just a few hundred yards
away is Hart Street. Did the local residents wish to honour his name? He
was the only member of the family not to get married.
When the Hart parents retired after living for 18 years in Ravarnette
House they moved to Springville on the Belmont Road. Henry Hart died on
the 13th January 1875 aged 68, and his Hart died on the 18th June 1874,
wife Annie aged 65.
When Sir Robert Hart died his title passed to his son Edgar who became
Sir Edgar Bruce Hart. Father had high expectations for his son but Edgar
failed at Oxford and his father was against him marrying so young. It may
have been the case that Edgar was a bit spoiled by his mother and provided
with too much money by his father who was greatly perturbed that Edgar did
not take either the advantages or opportunities given to him.
In 1894 he had married Caroline Mocre the only daughter of the late
William Moore Gillison of Hove, Sussex against his wishes on the grounds
that he was too young to marry and had not the means of providing for a
wife, having no job. When they came to China Sir Robert changed his mind
and appreciated his son's good choice.
It was Edgar who gave the instructions in 1912 to Charles Guernier in
Paris to design a statue of his father in bronze to be erected in China.
It was placed on the Bund near the waterfront in Shanghai but was
subsequently destroyed during the Cultural Revolution. Edgar was educated
in Harrow and at the University College, Oxford.
He became a Commissioner of Chinese Customs in England and also
received some honours from the Chinese government. He died on the 4th
February 1963 and his body was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium,
London. His ashes were subsequently buried at Ilsington Cemetery near
Newton Abbot in Devon. It was here that he had previously spent his last
years. From 1943 for 20 years he lived with the Carpenter sisters at,"The
Sanctuary." Mrs. Beatrice Carpenter tells us that he was a quiet and
reserved gentleman and made no friends. He never talked about his family
and only had a rare occasional visit from his son, Robert. The inscription
on his grave reads
"In loving memory of
Edgar Bruce Hart Bt. son of
Sir Robert Hart G.C.M.G.
Born Peking 8th July 1873 Died 4th February 1963
Also his Grandson, Robert Died 15th October 1970."
He was survived by his only son Robert, who was born on the 4th August
This son, Robert Bruce died in 1933 having been married to Annie Irene
Matthews and also leaving an only son Robert.
The title passed on to this son Robert who became the 3rd Baronet. It
is said that he lived the life of a recluse and died in October 1970
without having been married and consequently, no heir succeeded the title.
Thus the male heir line of the family died out.
Sir Robert Hart's first daughter Evelyn Amy, "Evey" married William
Nelthorpe Beauclerk on the 5th September 1892. She was educated at first
by mademoiselle de Mailly in Bournemouth. When that school closed she was
then sent to a small school run by Miss. Reilly in Bray, near Dublin in
1880. In a letter to Campbell on the 27th October 1880, Hart records, "We
have good letters from Evey: she likes her new school and is very happy
there. Please send her £2 for Christmas and New.Year's pocket money." She
was then looked after by her aunt, Juliet Bredon.
He did not at first approve of her marrying so old a man. She died on
the 10th June 1933. She was his second wife. :ze Was the eighth Duke o f
St. Albans, a descendant of Charles 11. He was appointed the British
Consul to Peru.
There were two children by this marriage. Vera Louise was born on the
21st September 1893 and Hilda De Vere on the 21st January 1895.
Vera Louise married George Ramsey Ackland Mills on the 24.4. 1925, (son
of the Rev. Barton Reginald Mills, assistant chaplain of the Royal Chapel
of the Savoy), a prep schoolmaster and writer of school stories, from
Greyfriars, Budleigh Salterton, Devon. Both are now dead and had no
Hilda De Vere married Miles Malcolm Acheson on the 21.6.33 from Ganges,
British Columbia, Canada, who also worked for the Chinese Maritime
Customs. Both at one time were in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp. Hilda
worked in the kitchens and did a lot to help her fellow prisoners but in
doing so lost a finger. She was admired by all in the camp for her
bravery. She died on the 16th September 1964.
They had two children, Elizabeth Anne (b. 22.3.1936), and Hilda Etain
(b.9.10.1937). Elizabeth Anne married John Viaou in 1957, lives in
California, U.S.A. and has a little boy called Christopher.
Hilda Etain married Sir Claud Hagart-Alexander of Ballochmyle on the
16.4.1959. He is a great nephew or close relation to the "Lass of
Ballochmyle," in the song by Robert Burns, who was a Ballochmyle tenant
and a bit behind with the rent. They have 2 sons and 2 daughters: Claud
(b.5.11.1963), Boyd John (b.11.4.1966), Anna Joanna Elizabeth
(b.18.11.1961) and Helenora Etain (b.22.5.1960). Claud is at present
studying electronic engineering at university whilst Boyd is about to join
the civil service.
Anna Joanna who is an accomplished fashion designer was recently
married on the 14th January 1984 to Michael Adam, who is in the computer
business. Helenora Etain, an occupational therapist also recently married
on the 27th August 1983 to Carl Christom Smith who is in the Metropolitan
His second daughter, Mabel Milburne , "Nollie" married Major Cunningham
Brodie on the 20th November 1909. When Sir Robert Hart was asked by the
Major for the hand of his younger daughter in marriage he replied, "So you
want to marry that great lump of a girl, do you?" Her husband was a
Liberal Member of Parliament for Richmond. She died on the 20th November
1951. Robert at first did not approve of his eldest daughter coming to
China as the wife of a subordinate. He originally did not approve of any
of the three marriages of his children.
"I expected great things from my children and spared no money to
procure them educational advantage; it has all been wasted"... was what he
wrote in one of his letters to Campbell.
She had 2 sons. Alexander and Patrick. Alexander Brodie, her son,
remained single and is now a retired Lieutenant Colonel. He tells us that
she was very much loved by her relations and although she was rather big
and heavy, she was very light on her feet, a good dancer and could walk
most women off their feet. Although not particularly beautiful she had a
good skin complexion, an irresistible smile and a beautiful speaking
voice. She was a good enough violinist to be recommended to become
professional. Although not exceptionally clever she could talk sensibly
and enchantingly to anyone. At times she was outspoken but did not upset
people. She used to go on long trips with sisters-in-law and their remote
cousins godmother to many of her in-laws-children well as Alexander's
cousins. She was quite eminent in the Adoption Society of London and
did much for unhappy and unwanted children.
Patrick, her other son, married Pauline Helene Thotte from South
Africa. They have 3 children:
1. Margaret Victoria Louise and she is now married to Henry Coke. They
have 2 daughters, Georgine and Camille.
2. James Alexander Cunningham who is single, lives in San Francisco,
3. Andrew Mark Cunningham who is married with 2 sons, Alexander and
Robert. They live in Carshalton, Surrey.
|1853 B.A. and Senior Scholar, Queens's College, Belfast
|1869 Commandeur of the Order of Leopold, Belgium
|1870 Chevalier of the Order of Wasa, Sweden 1870 Commandeur of
the Order of Francis Joseph, Austria
|1870 Commandeur of the Order of Francis Joseph, Austria
|1873 Grand Cross of the Order of Francis Joseph, Austria
|1875 M.A., (Honorary) Queen's University, Belfast
|1878 Commandeur of the Legion of Honour, France
|1878 Forderer of the Museum fur Volkerkunde, Leipzig
|1879 Companion of the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael
and St. George, Great Britain
|1881 Red Button of the First Class, China
|1882 Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of St.
Michael and St. George, Great Britain
|1882 LL.D. (Honorary) Queen's University, Belfast
|1884 Grand Officer of the Order of the Crown, Italy
|1885 Grand Officer of the Legion of Honour, France
|1885 The Order of the Double Dragon, Second Division, First
|1885 The Peacock's Feather, China
|1885 Commandeur of the Order of Pius IX, Vatican
|1886 LL.D. (Honorary) Mitchigan University, U.S.A.
|1888 The Grand Cross of the Order of Christ, Portugal
|1889 Knight Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of St.
Michael and St. George, Great Britain
|1889 Ancestral rank of the First Class of the First order for
three generations, with letters patent, China
|1893 Baronet, United Kingdom
|1893 Grand Officer of the Order of Leopold, Belgium
|1894 Grand Cross of the Order of the Polar Star, Sweden
|1897 Grand Cross of the Order of Orange Nassau. Holland
|1900 Order of the Crown, First Class, Prussia
|1901 Brevet Title of Junior Guardian of the Heir Apparent (Kung
|1906 Grand Cross Of the Order of the Crown, Italy
|1906 Order of the Rising Sun, First Class, Japan
|1906 Grand Cordon of the order of Leopold, Belgium
|1907 Grand Cross of the Order of Ste. Anne, Russia
|1907 Grand Cross of the Order of the Dragon, Annam, France
|1907 Grand Cross of the Order of Olaf, Norway
|1908 Brevet Title of Shang Shu, China
|1908 Freeman of Belfast, London and the Borough of Taunton.
The Chinese Customs Service Chronology
|1861 - 1862 H. N. Lay
|1863 - 1911 Sir Robert Hart
|1911 - 1928 Sir Francis Aglen, son of Stoker Aglen, Robert
Hart's old schoolfriend at Taunton
|1928 - 1943 Sir Frederick Maze, a nephew of Robert Hart, who had
joined the Service in 1891
|1943 - 1950 L. K. Little, an American who had joined the service
in 1914. With the Communist revolution, the Nationalist Government
of Taiwan gave all staff a golden handshake and repatriated them to
|1960 Fang Tu & Lo Ching-Hsiang
|1960 - 1963 Chang Shen - Fu
|1963 - 1971 Chu Shu Cheng
|Sir Robert Hart: These from the land of Sinim.
Chapman & Hall, London 1901.
|Marina Warner: The Dragon Empress. London 1972.
|Sheila Pim: The Wood and the Trees. MacDonald & Co.,
|Rt. Rev. Dr.Charles Perry Scott In Memoriam of Sir
Robert Hart, Peking 1911..
|Dr. Stanley Wright: Hart and the Chinese Customs.
Wm. Mullan & Son, Belfast 1950.
|Rt. Hon. Douglas Hurd M.P. : The Arrow War. Collins,
|W.T. Pike : Ulster Contempory Biographies. Pike &
Co. Brighton, 1910.
|John King Fairbank: The I.G. in Peking. Vol. 1 & 2,
Belknap Press of Harvard University, Massachusetts, U.S.A. 1975.
|Sir Robert Hart: Personal Diaries. 1854 - 20th April
1908 Unpublished but kept at the Queen's University, Belfast. It is
understood that these diaries are being published by Harvard
|Bernard Allen: Gordon in China. London 1933.
|Sir Frederick Maze: Documents Illustrative of the
Origin, Development, and Activities of the Chinese Customs Service.
|Hosea B. Morse: International Relations of the
|Hosea B. Morse: Collections of letters from himself,
Drew, Hannen, Kopsch, Merrill and Wilzers to Hart. (unpublished)
Houghton Library, Harvard University.
|Paul King: In the Chinese Customs Service. (A
personal record of 47 years) London, 1930.
|Stanley Lane-Poole: The Life of Sir Harry Parkes,
K.C.B., G.C.M.G. Vol. 1 & 2. London 1894.
|Juliet Bredon: Sir Robert Hart, The Romance of a
Great Career. Hutchinson & Co. London 1909.
|Who's Who & Who was Who : continually being updated.
|J. P. Bland: China under the Empress Dowager. London
|Lancelot Giles: Diary of the Boxer Riots and the
Siege of the Legations in Peking. Christ's College Magazine
(Cambridge), Lent Term, 1901.
|H.E.Wortham: Gordon, An intimate portrait. London
|Augustus Stapelton: The Hostilities at Canton.
|Marco Polo: The Book of Marco Polo the Venetian.
Vol. 1. & 2. London 1903.
|C.P. Fitzgerald: China, A Short Cultural History.
|Cambridge History of British Foreign Policy. 3 Vols.
|The Shanghai Mercury: The Boxer Rising. (Series of
articles). Shanghai 1900.