Henry Pottinger

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Lt. Gen.
Sir Henry Pottinger, Bt
GCB, PC
Henry Pottinger.jpg
Administrator of Hong Kong
In office
1841–1843
Monarch Queen Victoria
Preceded by Sir Charles Elliot
Governor of Hong Kong
In office
26 June 1843 – 8 May 1844
Monarch Queen Victoria
Succeeded by Sir John Francis Davis
Governor of the Cape Colony
In office
1847–1847
Monarch Queen Victoria
Preceded by Sir Peregrine Maitland
Succeeded by Sir Harry Smith, 1st Bt.
Governor of Madras
In office
1848–1854
Monarch Queen Victoria
Preceded by The Marquess of Tweeddale
Succeeded by The Lord Harris
Personal details
Born (1789-10-03)3 October 1789
County Down, Kingdom of Ireland
Died 18 March 1856(1856-03-18) (aged 66)
British Malta
Spouse(s) Susanna Maria Cooke
Alma mater Belfast Academy
Signature
Military service
Allegiance United Kingdom United Kingdom
Service/branch Bombay Army
Years of service 1804-1856
Rank Lieutenant General
Battles/wars Third Anglo-Maratha War
First Opium War

Lieutenant General Sir Henry Pottinger, 1st Baronet, GCB, PC (Chinese: 砵甸乍; 3 October 1789 – 18 March 1856), was an Anglo-Irish soldier and colonial administrator who became the first Governor of Hong Kong.

Early career[edit]

Pottinger's travel map of 1816 Beloo-Chistan on his way to Asia

Henry Pottinger was born in County Down, Ireland, in 1789. He was the fifth son of Eldred Curwen Pottinger, Esq., of Mount Pottinger, County Down, and his wife Anne, who was the daughter of Robert Gordon, Esq., of Florida House in the same county. They had three daughters and eight sons.[1][2][3] Eldred Pottinger was his nephew.[4] Henry studied at the Belfast Academy, today known as Belfast Royal Academy.

In 1804, he went to India to serve in the army and explored the lands between the Indus and Persia, travelling in disguise as a Muslim merchant and studying local languages, under the orders of Sir John Malcolm. In 1806, he joined the British East India Company and in 1809, he fought in the Mahratta war as a lieutenant then rising to the rank of colonel after his dangerous 1810 expedition from Nushki (Balochistan) to Isfahan (Central Persia). It would be 100 years before another European took this route. This expedition was funded by the West-Indian Company to map and research hitherto unstudied regions of Beloochistan (Balochistan) and Persia because of concerns about India being invaded by French forces. Pottinger later became Resident Administrator of Sindh in 1820. He later held the same post in Hyderabad.

In 1820, he married Susanna Maria Cooke who in 1831 gave birth to their son, William Frederick who would go on to become notorious for his run-ins with bushrangers as Inspector of Police in New South Wales in Australia. Their second son, Henry, was born on 10 June 1834 and died on 18 October 1909.

He was created a baronet when he returned to England in 1839.

Governor of Hong Kong[edit]

HenryPottinger.jpg

Pottinger accepted Foreign Secretary Lord Palmerston's offer of the post of envoy and plenipotentiary in China and superintendent of British trade, thus replacing Charles Elliot.[5] In 1841, when Pottinger was sent to China, Palmerston instructed him to "examine with care the natural capacities of Hong Kong, and you will not agree to give up that Island unless you should find that you can exchange it for another in the neighbourhood of Canton, better adapted for the purposes in view; equally defensible; and affording sufficient shelter for Ships of War and Commerce".[6] On 4 November 1841, Palmerston's successor Lord Aberdeen wrote to Pottinger that he had doubts over Hong Kong's acquisition since it would incur administrative expenses, and complicate relations with China and other nations.[6]

Pottinger's house in Victoria, Hong Kong, 1845

After Pottinger led a navy to defeat Yishan at Humen, he negotiated the terms of the Treaty of Nanking (1842), which ended the First Opium War and ceded Hong Kong Island to the United Kingdom. Pottinger became the second administrator of Hong Kong (1841–1843) and the first Governor of Hong Kong (1843–1844). When he forwarded the treaty to Aberdeen, Pottinger remarked, "the retention of Hong Kong is the only point in which I have intentionally exceeded my modified instructions, but every single hour I have passed in this superb country has convinced me of the necessity and desirability of our possessing such a settlement as an emporium for our trade and a place from which Her Majesty's subjects in China may be alike protected and controlled."[7]

On 26 April 1843, the Governor's residence (Former French Mission Building) was robbed.[citation needed]

On 26 June 1843, he was appointed to become the Chief Commander of the British troops stationed in Hong Kong.

During his very short tenure, Pottinger established executive and legislative chambers, with one discussing political affairs and one designing legal codes. However, the chambers did not convene often, and this gave Pottinger wide-ranging powers to decide on policy.

Towards the end of his tenure, Pottinger lost the support of the local British merchants and was isolated. He left on 7 May 1844.

During his governorship, Hong Kong became the major port for trading opium in China.

Post-governorship[edit]

Pottinger became a member of the Privy Council in 1844, and became Governor of the Cape Colony in 1847 and also of Madras in the same year. In 1851, he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant-general.

He died in retirement in Malta in 1856.

Legacy[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Our Portrait Gallery—No. XL.". The Dublin University Magazine 28: 426.
  2. ^ Walford, Edward (1857). "Right Hon. Sir H. Pottinger, G.C.B.". Hardwicke's Annual Biography for 1857. p. 20.
  3. ^ Urban, Sylvanus (January–June 1856). "Obituary.—Right Hon. Sir H. Pottinger.". The Gentleman's Magazine 45 (new series): 517.
  4. ^ Pottinger, Henry (2 November 1846). "Letter from Sir Henry Pottinger". The Dublin University Magazine 28: 768.
  5. ^ Broadfoot, William. "Pottinger, Sir Henry, first baronet (1789–1856)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004 ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/22626. Accessed 20 July 2010.
  6. ^ a b Tsang, Steve (2004). A Modern History of Hong Kong. I.B. Tauris. p. 17. ISBN 1-84511-419-1.
  7. ^ Pottinger, George (1997). Sir Henry Pottinger: First Governor of Hong Kong. Sutton Publishing. p. 106. ISBN 0-312-16506-4.

External links[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by
Charles Elliot
Administrator of Hong Kong
1841–1843
Recreated
Title next held by
William Staveley
New office Governor of Hong Kong
1843–1844
Succeeded by
Sir John Francis Davis
Preceded by
Sir Peregrine Maitland
Governor of the Cape Colony
1847
Succeeded by
Sir Harry Smith, Bt
Preceded by
The Marquess of Tweeddale
Governor of Madras
1848–1854
Succeeded by
The Lord Harris