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Colonial Cases

Newspaper commentary China 1847-1859

Newspaper Commentary 1847-1859, China

The Morning Post (London, England), 27 August 1847

An Ordinance for her Majesty's subjects within the dominions of the Emperor of China, or within any ship or vessel at distance of not more than one hundred miles from the coast of China.

Power of deportation after sentence in Consular Courts.


The North-China Herald, Shanghai, 13 November 1852


Shanghae, Nov. 8, 1852.

Ten of the crew of the British ship Rosamund, were committed this day for two months' imprisonment for insubordination and refusal to do duty.  They had been before the Court on the 6th and were advised and directed to turn to, but still refusing without assigning any good cause, they were again brought up to-day and committed.


Sydney Morning Herald, 11 September 1854

Hong Kong.

Collection of arrears of duties; Supreme Court or Consular Court.


The Times, 18 September 1854

The Consular Court, with no appeal but to his Excellency, seems a very unfair tribunal for the merchants, to whom his Excellency seems opposed on this question.


(From the North-China Herald, July 15.]

Shanghai, July 8.

Sir, - Understanding it to be intended to enforce payment of the old duties, claimed by the Chinese Government, by some summary process in the Consular Court, which will deprive those interested of the right of appeal, where they may think themselves aggrieved, to the legal tribunals of the country, we, the undersigned, respectfully submit to tour Excellency the following considerations:-

   That in our opinion, Her Majesty's Consul acted illegally in extorting the documents upon which we presume action is not to be taken, either from the British of Chinese Government, and that, consequently, no legal use can be made of such documents wrongfully obtained.

   That many of us formally protested against these measures of the consul, and continued to do so until their protests were refused or returned.

   That we are ready to prove by unexceptionable testimony that the late Plenipotentiary, Sir George Bonham, expressed his disapprobation of Mr. Consul Alcock's acts, and his opinion that they would be nullified by the British Government, - citing the occurrence at Amoy where, in his mind and ours, in precisely parallel circumstances, a diametrically opposite course had been pursued, which course, it is since understood, received the entire sanction of Her Majesty's Government.


As regards Mr. Alcock's conduct, his Excellency instructs me to state, that Her Britannic majesty's Government have already pronounced their judgment.  They have sanctioned and approved the measures he adopted in the extremely embarrassing position in which he was placed. ...


The Times, 29 November 1854


In the 11th instant a notice was issued by Her Britannic Majesty's Consul at Shanghai, to the effect that the bonds given for arrears of duty by importers and shippers of goods between the date of the capture of the city of Shanghai (Sept. 7, 1853) and the 9th February, 1854, would be returned to them on application.  These were accordingly given up, but not the declarations which accompanied them, and it is understood that Her Majesty's Plenipotentiary, Sir John Bowring, in opposition to the decision of the home Government, is still urging the Chinese authorities to enforce their claims through the Consular Court. [Correspondence follows.]


The Times, 26 January 1856


The Osterreichische Correspondenz contains a long article in defence of the conduct of the captain of the Austrian Lloyd steamer Imperatrice, which some time since ran down the French steamer Cygne, in the port of Constantinople.  The case is to be examined into by the "competent Austrian Consular Court" at Constantinople, and not, as has been stated, by a commission composed of Austrian, English, and French naval officers.  The Ministerial organ considers it necessary to add that the Consular Court will be strictly impartial.



The Times, 27 February 1857

Parliamentary Intelligence.

...The first cause of all these misfortunes was the appointment of Dr., now Sir John Bowing, to the position which he now held. ... This was the practical question for them to decide, ought Sir John Bowing to be left in this position? ...

   [Customs duties arrears] Sir John Bowing then went to Shanghai, and said that he was authorized to settle the whole business; that certain dues must be paid; that he would open what he called a consular court to decide disputes.  That proposal not being satisfactory, he then made an offer, which was accepted, that he himself should be arbitrator.  ...


   A Chinese was accidentally killed by a seaman on board one of our ships, and the Chinese authorities demanded that the man who had caused his death should be delivered up to them.  This was evaded, knowing that the certain consequences would be death to the unfortunate man.  Trade was stopped as usual, and the supercargoes were at their wit's end, when, luckily, the butcher of the Duke of York East Indiaman out an end to himself, and the English sent the dead body of the butcher to do duty for the supposed murderer.

   There was another case in point on board an American vessel: - A Chinese seaman was attempting to smuggle ardent spirits into the ship, when a seaman did something which caused him accidentally to tumble overboard.  The Chinese autjorities demanded that the man should be given up, and the Americans, on the express assurance that it was a mere form, sent him ashore.  They strangled him immediately, and sent his dead body back to the ship.

    These were the sort of people we had to deal with, but he submitted to the House whether British subjects should be liable for accidental homicide to pay the penalty for the commission of deliberate murder?


The Times, 9 March 1857


[Sir John Bowring.] As an instance, moreover, of the careful avoidance on his part of any possible cause of offence to the Chinese on the ground of international polity, I may mention that on my applying once for the process of the Consular Court at canton to compel a British subject to refund passage money to some 600 Chinese emigrants, Sir John (the Dr.) Bowring refused to grant the aid of the Consular Court on the ground that, as emigration was forbidden to Chinamen by their own law, he could not enter upon a question which might involve us in unpleasantness with the Chinese authorities, as supporting their subjects in infraction of their laws.   A VOICE FROM HONGKONG.


The Sydney Morning Herald, 17 December 1858


The Moniteur of 22nd September contains the outline of the Treaty with China, ... The Moniteur concludes by saying that such happy results may be attributed to the good understanding between England and France, and the bravery of their sailors and soldiers.

Published by Centre for Comparative Law, History and Governance at Macquarie Law School