Thursday, July 21, 2016

Henry Swords Meade in Amoy and Shanghai!

Ahoy from Amoy!  I just received an interesting email (below) from a Susan H. of Dublin who is researching her roots in 19th century Amoy (present day Xiamen) and Shanghai.  If you have any information, please contact me and I'll pass it on to her!

Enjoy Amoy!

Dr. Bill

Hi Bill,

I came across your blog when searching online for information on catholic cemeteries on Amoy Island, Shanghai. My grandfather, Henry Swords Meade was born on Amoy in 1885 and his two sisters Norah( in 1887) and Minnie (in 1888) were born in Shanghai. It also seems from looking at an Irish Census for 1901 that there was a half sister called Mary Meade who was also born in China (cannot make out the location) in 1871.

I know that their father was Harbourmaster or Head of the Port of Shanghai at this time (John Meade?). They are all buried in Ireland but Henry Swords Meade and his sisters Minnie and Norah's Mother died of (typhus, we believe) in Amoy and is buried there. When their Mother, Mary, died the children were sent back to be "reared" by family in Ireland and they were in Ireland in 1901 at the date of the Census.

We think that their Mother was called Mary (nee Bourke) Meade.

Is there a Catholic graveyard from this period on Amoy which I could contact to see if I could find her grave? I am planning a trip to Shanghai next year.

Thank you in advance for your help.

Many thanks,
Susan H.
Dublin, Ireland

School of Management, Xiamen University
Amazon eBook
"Discover Xiamen"

Bill Brown
 Xiamen University

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Xinjie Church 50th Anniversary photo by James Carrington U.S. Amoy Consul 1894-2000

Ahoy from Amoy (Xiamen), China!

I was excited to hear from Ben Smith, a descendant of James Carrington, U.S. Amoy Consul 1894-2000. Carrington took this photo in 1898 during the 50th anniversary of Xiamen's Xinjie Church, the oldest Protestant Church in China. Thank you for the photo, Ben!

50th Anniversary Xinjie Church China's Oldest Protestant Church 新街礼拜堂 厦门中国最早的教堂 1848年 The photo is about ten inches long and I can just barely read the faded handwriting at the bottom:

"Amoy, China;--50th anniversary (1848-1898) of the first Christian church ever erected in China. Photo represents a half view of the decorated church. Chinese women occupy seats behind screen [unclear] corner."

Thank you for the photo, Ben! Gulangyu should received UNESCO World Heritage Site Status in 1917, and we hope to have the material we've accumulated displayed in an Amoy Mission exhibit.

A note about Amoy U.S. Consul's and Ben's "Uncle Jimmy" (Amoy Consul James Carrington):

As an Amoy Consul at that time, Ben's "Uncle Jimmy" had quite an influence. In addition to being Consul, the American consuls' also helped with social issues. An American consul started the Tongwen Institute and the chairman of the board was always a U.S. Consul. U.S. consul's were also the ones to fight the coolie trade, and helped stop the U.S. opium trade, though the British continued it for another 80 years. The Viceroy of China at that time said of the U.S., "I've heard much about 'Christian' nations, but this is the first time I've seen a Western country act like a Christian nation."

U.S. Amoy Consul James Carrington was the daughter of Susan P. McDowell, who was the daughter of James McDowell, governor of Virginia.  James McDowell was the daughter of Susanna Smith Preston, who was one of the 15 children of General Francis Smith Preston (1765-1835). He was a lawyer, General in the War of 1812, and a member of the Virginia State Senate.

Enjoy Amoy!

Bill Brown
 Xiamen University

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

South Fukien: Missionary Poems: 1925-1951, William Angus, Amoy

An interesting note today from the Author of "South Fukien: Missionary Poems: 1925-1951, William Angus".  I read some of the poems and they really brought to life the place and the people of Amoy (now Xiamen), of Fujian Province. I even recognized some of the notorious characters--a bandit chief--in one poem, though the name was changed. Insightful, and fun. Below are the author's note and Press Release.
Click Here for "The Three Trees", William Angus' favorite poem. 
Dr. Bill, Xiamen University MBA Center (since 1988); Author of Discover Xiamen &Fujian Adventure.

Note from David Andrews, May 27, 2015
I have enjoyed reading your site while doing research for my book project, South Fukien:Missionary Poems 1925-1951,  by William Angus.

William R. Angus, Jr. was a Reformed Church missionary in Amoy and on the Fukien mainland in the years named, and after expulsion worked in the Philippines.  He wrote over 600 poems on the Fukienese people of his time, 60 of which are collected in a 2015 edition co-published by MerwinAsia Publishing and University of Hawaii Press.

I edited the collection and provided a historical Introduction and Glossary.  David R. Angus of Lansing, MI, the poet's son, wrote the Preface.

I am enclosing a press release for the collection and two files of excerpts.  I hope you will find them interesting and lend us some aid in raising the book's profile among readers, students, and perhaps missionaries.  Some links to web pages about the book are at the bottom of this message.

Best regards,
David Andrews 

                 PRESS  RELEASE

Edited with an Introduction by David Andrews 
Preface by David Angus
Portland, ME: MerwinAsia Publishers, 2015 
China Missionary Poet Published 64 Years after Expulsion
Lansing, MI, April 1, 2015
Through four decades as a Reformed Church missionary in China’s Fukien (today, Fujian) Province, William Angus produced more than 600 narrative poems.  What emerged is pointedly not A Nice Missionary’s Poetry.

In spring of 2015 MerwinAsia Publishers, in association with the University of Hawaii Press, releases 60 of William Angus’s verses under the title South Fukien: Missionary Poems, 1925-1951

Humane but hard-edged, Angus’s verse depicts the Fukienese through successive eras of trial: in China’s struggle toward modern government; through civil wars between Nationalist and Communist forces; under Japanese occupation in World War II; and during the Communist takeover at the end of the 1940s.

Written from actual incidents, in the voices of the storytellers, the poems are as vital as the Chinese people. Angus’s work combines historical reporting with folktale, and a sharp edge of moral ambiguity.  

David Angus, a retired educator in Lansing, MI, has waited decades to see his father’s poetry in print.

“My father traveled long distances in Fukien’s countryside—on foot, by boat, and by ancient, rickety bus.  He knew peasants and merchants, bandits and soldiers.  He heard their stories and he valued their experiences,” David reflects.  “He knew they were together in some of the world’s most troubled times.”

During World War II, Angus’s wife, Joyce and their three children—David Angus among them—were interned by the Japanese before repatriation to America.  In 1951 William and Joyce were forced, like all missionaries, to leave China by the new Peoples’ Republic.
“When my father died in 1984, he left behind a body of remarkable work which he edited and revised several times,” says David.  “These poems represent his personal response to the Chinese he lived and worked among.  The South Fukiencollection’s subtitle, Missionary Poems, offers a hope that his verse will still bear witness to the effect of Western evangelism on the daily lives and values of the Chinese people.”    

South Fukien is edited by independent scholar David Andrews, who provides a historical Introduction and Glossary.  David Angus supplies a Foreword recalling missionary life in China. 

The collection was assembled and annotated from papers in the collections of the New Brunswick Theological Seminary in New Brunswick, NJ, and the Joint Archives of Hope College and Holland, MI.  “The poems were an exciting and historically important discovery, too compelling to remain unpublished,” says David Andrews. 

William Angus’s poems are dispatches from his time to ours, showing the Chinese as a people much like us—hoping to adjust to a world of rapid change, seeking comfort in a Western religion that offers faith, justice, and love. His accounts of spiritual strength and moral failings present unique perspectives into a people’s behavior and mores under crisis, temptation and change.

“Writing with objectivity, sensitivity, compassion, and uncompromising directness, Angus does not pretend,” notes Dr. Paul Vender Meer, Professor Emeritus at California State University-Fresno.  Dr. Ann Kuzdale, Associate Professor of History at Chicago State University, says, “Angus is a keen witness to events that most readers know superficially.  South Fukien is a valuable addition to world history and religious studies courses, and to transnational and Pacific Rim history.

The Amoy Mission Pages

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Anne Averil Mackenzie-Grieves (A Race of Green Ginger)

We are seeking more information about the author of the fascinating book "Race of Green Ginger," by Anne Averil Mackenzie-Grieves, who lived on Gulangyu in the 1920s. If you have any information on her, please share it with us!

Best regards, Dr. Bill
Born in 1903 into a wealthy and distinguished family near Uckfield, Sussex, she grew up mainly in Castle Hill House, Torrington, Devon. Her private tutor, Francis James, was a flower painter and inspired her interest in art, and after the death of her father in 1918 she went to Florence to study at Marfori Savini's studio. 
Accompanied by her mother, she returned to England as Fascism took hold in Italy, settling in St Ives where her interest in book illustration developed into wood engraving. At the 1924 Show Day in St Ives she was noticed for her 'very effective' wood engraving entitled The New Italy, showing Mussolini reviewing his troops. Having hoped to study under Alfred HARTLEY - his health at this time making it impossible - she attended the Walter SIMPSON School for a short time, but afterwards remarked "it was not the tuition I needed". 
Primarily a wood engraver and author, she also exhibited illuminated work with fine lettering and decorative wooden boxes. In 1925 she married Cyril Drummond le Gros Clark in St Ives, and they travelled on postings to China and Sarawak. She exhibited in the 1928 Summer Exhibition at NAG under her married name Le Gros Clark, and showed three works: Rice FieldsThe Poet Chu Yuan and Schloss Tauffers: Tyrol. Returning from the Far East in 1936, she continued to travel extensively, devoting more time to writing than art. Her husband was killed in a Japanese prisoner of war camp in WWII. She later married John Keevil, the medical historian.

l Brown Xiamen University

Monday, March 2, 2015

Rare, Original 1844 Amoy Watercolor for Sale!

Original Amoy Watercolor White Stag Temple 1844Ahoy from old Amoy!  I received an email today about a rare Amoy (present-day Xiamen) original watercolor of the White Stag Temple (which is still standing) for sale by Marani Fine Art, Australia. With their permission, I repost it below; you may email Mr. Bezuijen  at for further details.  Dr. Bill

Original Amoy watercolor 1844 China photo paintingTue, Mar 3, 2015, Robert H. Bezuijen  wrote:
    Dear Dr Brown,
   When researching an early Amoy watercolour I came across your fascinating amoymagic website and read your family history with much interest.  From a 'nomadic lifestyle' point of view our lives have not been dissimilar, in that I lived and worked with shipping groups in Africa and Asia for thirty years, including ten happy years in Hong Kong during the 70s/80s, and after my last posting for the P&O Group in Vietnam from 1993-96 I decided to change course, hopped off the corporate bandwagon and, having always been interested in and collected art throughout my stay in Asia, I decided to deal fulltime in Asian art, with particular focus on historical and topographical images (paintings/photographs/manuscripts).  In this respect I wondered whether the following could be of interest to you:
    I have in my collection a rare, early watercolour of Amoy, titled "Sketch of part of the grounds of the White Stag, a large Joss House in Amoy". Please see images and detailed description attached.
    It is signed indistinctly on verso in a western hand and dated December 1844, barely two years after the signing of the Treaty of Nanking in August 1842, and only a year after Amoy was officially opened to foreign trade in November 1843.  From my research {as attached}, this is one of the earliest known images of the topography of Amoy, over 170 years ago, also pre-dating any photograph of the area, the earliest of which dates to 1849.
    Regarding the artist, I have not been able to decipher/identify the signature, though not for the lack of trying. Eg. the London Missionary Society established its Amoy Mission in July 1844, and its first missionaries were Rev.J.Stronach and William Young. The American Episcopal Church established a mission in Amoy in 1842, and its missionaries in 1844 were Rev.J.C.Hepburn and J.Lloyd. None of the other names match the signature either, such as Jardine's Agent in Amoy in 1844 was a Captain Forbes, and the first British Consul was Captain Henry Gribble.  Also, in July 1844 a severe fever broke out at Gulangyu Islet, from which few of the foreign residents escaped. So the artist might have been a visiting trader/ships crew or other company representative.
    I look forward to hearing from you whether this is of interest.  The price is A$1250 (approx. US$975/CNY6100). Packing/postage to be advised separately, also depending on whether sent framed or unframed, and whether to China or the US.
    Kind regards,
    Robert H. Bezuijen
    Marani Fine Art
    6 Dunn Avenue
    Ferny Creek
    Victoria 3786
    Tel: 61-3-9755 2470
    Mob: 61-408-391164

Mr. Bezuijen's info on the White Stag Temple.

Artist Unknown, c.1844
Chinese figures by a bridge and banyan tree within a hilly and rocky landscape,
the following pen inscription on verso:’
Sketch of part of the grounds of the White Stag
 a large Joss House in Amoy
 indistinctly signed and dated December 1844,
 with further inscription A piece of rock is shaped somewhat
 like a (white) stag …. ….
Watercolour (in sepia tone) on paper
24.3 x 33.9 cm (9.6 x 13.4 in) – image size
35.8 x 43.1 cm (14.1 x 17.0 in) – frame size
Framed under glass in contemporary maple frame

The coastal city of Amoy (Xiamen) in Fujian Province, southern China, was the focus of trade with the West for many years. The Portuguese, Spanish and Dutch traded here intermittently in the 16th and 17th centuries, and the East India Company established a base here in 1676.

The strategic significance of Amoy also led to its involvement in several wars and campaigns. During the First Opium War [1839-42] between Britain and China the British captured the city in the Battle of Amoy on 26 August 1841.   Amoy became one of the  five treaty ports opened by the Treaty of Nanking signed between British and Chinese officials on 29 August 1842 following China’s loss in the First Opium War.  The treaty was ratified by Queen Victoria and the Daoguang Emperor nine months later, in May 1843, and in November 1843 Amoy was officially opened to foreign trade.

European settlements were concentrated on the islet of Gulangyu off the main island of Amoy, and between 1842 and 1845 merchants, officials, consuls and missionaries from some thirteen countries established trading houses, consulates, churches and hospitals. A provisional British Consul by the name of H.Gribble was appointed in November 1843, replaced in November 1844 by Sir Rutherford Alcock as the first official British Consul.  Amoy especially became an early entry point for Protestant missions in China.

White Stag Hill – White Stag Temple {Joss-House}
Several early travel accounts of Amoy mention the distinctive rocky landscape and features of White Stag Hill.  For example, George Smith in his ‘Narrative of an Exploratory Visit etc’ [1847, refer Bibliography] made the following observation:
Among the temples there are some remarkable buildings. The collection of temples situated on the hill commonly called the “White Stag Hill”deserves particular mention. They consist of a cluster of buildings perched on overhanging rocks, and present, from the summit, a most romantic view of the city and its busy population, at the distance of a mile’.

And Henry Charles Sirr in his ‘China and the Chinese’ [1849, refer Bibliography] records:
‘The heathen temples or joss-houses at Amoy are curious and handsome structures, more especially about a mile from the city, upon White Stag Hill; several of these heathen places of worship are built on a most picturesque spot, at the summit of rocks, and appear to be overhanging the city; groves of banyan trees surround the temples, under whose luxuriant umbrageous foliage the priests idle away the greater part of the day’.

John Scarth in his ‘Twelve years in China’ [1860, refer Bibliography] also mentions, among others:
After a hurried sketch of part of the Mam-poo-to temple, we mount again and steer for
the Telegraph Hill and the White Stag temple, in search of views’.  And further:
The temple of the White Stag (the name is derived from a small stone figure of such an
animal in a cave hard by) is approached by a high flight of stone steps. From the temple  there is a fine view of Amoy. A banyan-tree shades the White Stag temple. It is a wonder
how it grows in such a rugged spot.’
On page 15 of his book there is an illustration titled ‘Amoy, from White Stag Temple, Fukien’.

The ‘China Review’ (19thc.,n.d.) also describes the topography of Amoy as illustrated in this early watercolour: ‘The island of Amoy is physically remarkable for the huge granite boulders which lie scattered about: boulders of massive proportions, poised in the most fantastic manner. In the valley beneath the White Stag Grotto is the Hong-tong-chioh (Wind-moved Rock), a block of stone upwards of 40 feet in length, and not much less in girth, commonly known as the Rocking Stones’.

And further: ‘Amoy teems with proofs of the widespread influence of Buddhism. Nestled amongst the rocks, and situated in those picturesque positions which the votaries of this faith seem to select with an inborn instinct, are numerous Buddhist temples and shrines, erected in honor of various popular deities. The sites upon which many of these temples stand have been sacred resorts as far back as the Ming Dynasty, AD 1368-1644.
The proximity of so popular a temple as the last named [Ho Khe Giam or Tiger Stream Temple] is one cause of the usually deserted appearance of the Pek-lok-tong (White Stag Grotto), and except on certain festival days the services of one resident shaven monk are more than enough to perform the various duties attaching to the guardianship of the temple, and the offices of the priesthood’.

G.H.R.Tillotson observes in his ‘Fan Kwae Pictures’[refer Bibliography] “ the more usual views of Shanghai, views of the treaty port of Amoy suffer from standardization, though they are much scarcer because Amoy was taken by the Tai Ping rebels in 1853.
In fact only three paintings of Amoy of the 1840s have sofar been published, namely:
. The Parade Ground in Xiamen, c.1844, Collection HSBC, Hong Kong
. Amoy: The Parade Ground, c.1845, Collection Sze Yuan Tang, Hong Kong
. Trading Junk at Xiamen, c.1840s, Collection HKMA, Hong Kong

This watercolour, dated December 1844, is therefore one of the earliest known images of Amoy following the conclusion of the Treaty of Nanking in August 1842.  It also pre-dates any photograph of Amoy, the earliest of which dates to 1849, attributed to a Chinese photographer Lin Zhen {see Bennett, Terry, History of Photography in China 1842-1860, London, 2009, p.201}.

Auguste Borget (1808-77), before visiting Canton and Macau, joined the French frigate Psyche for a voyage along the Kwangtung and Fukien coast, travelling up to Amoy. And in a letter written on board the Psyche on August 9, 1838 he said: “I am then at last in China. I have taken possesion of the Celestial Empire!” .
Whilst this drawing is not by Borget, it is nevertheless interesting to note a similarity in the treatment of the tree, when comparing it to Borget’s pencil sketches of eg. ‘Burial Scene, China’, ‘Village Scene, China’, and ‘Old temple near the Macau border’, as illustrated in Hutcheon’s ‘Souvenirs of Auguste Borget’ [refer Bibliography].

. Smith, George, A Narrative of an Exploratory Visit to Each of the Consular Cities of
  China, and to the Islands of Hong Kong and Chusan, in Behalf of the Church
  Missionary Society in the Years 1844, 1845, 1846, London, 1847, chapters 25-34
. Sirr, Henry Charles, China and the Chinese: their religion, character, customs, and
  manufacturers, Volume 1, London, 1849, p.141
. Pitcher, Philip Wilson, In and about Amoy: some historical and other facts connected
  with one of the first open ports in China, Shanghai, 1912, p.294
. Scarth, John W., Twelve years in China; the people, the rebels, and the mandarins,
  Edinburgh, 1860, chapter IV, and illustration on p.15 ‘Amoy, from White Stag Temple,
. Goodrich, Joseph King, The Coming China, Chicago, 1911, illustration of the collection
  of temples situated on the hill commonly called the White Stag Hill [Amoy]
. The China Review, Amoy- Physical Features, Monuments, Temples, &c., 19thc., n.d.,
  pp. 690-693
. Hong Kong Museum of Art, Gateways to China – Trading Ports of the 18th and 19th
  Centuries, Hong Kong, 1987, pp. 14-15, 89-91
. Tillotson, G.H.R., Fan Kwae Pictures, London, 1987, pp.86-87, 89 (ill.101)
. Hutcheon, Robin, Souvenirs of Auguste Borget, Hong Kong, 1979, p.41
. The University of Hong Kong Museum and Art Gallery, Picturing Cathy – Maritime
  and Cultural Images of the China Trade, pp.120-121 (ill.61-62)
. Hacker, Arthur, China Illustrated – Western Views of the Middle Kingdom, Singapore,
  2004, pp.118-119
. Conner, Patrick, Chinese Views – Western Perspectives, London, 1996, p.36, ill.25
. Lo, Hui-Min and Bryant, Helen, British Diplomatic and Consular Establishments in
  China: 1793-1949, Volume II, Consular Establishments 1843-1949, Taipei, 1988
. Gregory, Martin, Treaty Port Scenes – Historical Pictures by Chinese and Western
  Artists 1750-1950, exhibition/sale catalogue nr.83, London 2007/8, p.10 item 3

Bill Brown   Xiamen University