Hiram Shaw Wilkinson
Sir Hiram Shaw Wilkinson, JP, DL (1840–1926) was a leading British judge and diplomat, serving in China and Japan. His last position before retirement was as Chief Justice of the British Supreme Court for China and Corea.
Hiram Shaw Wilkinson was born in 1840, the son of John Wilkinson Esq., of Belfast and Annabella Shaw, daughter of William Shaw, Esq., of Holden's Valley, County Down. In 1864 he married Prudie Gaffikin, the daughter of Thomas Gaffikin, Esq., of Belfast. He had two sons, Hiram Parkes Wilkinson, and the Reverend Thomas Gaffkin Wilkinson., both of whom were born in Yokohama, Japan. His wife died in 1870 in Yokohama. Wilkinson never remarried.
Wilkinson entered Her Majesty's Consular Service in Japan in 1864, as a student interpreter. Wilkinson spoke fluent Japanese as a result of this time in consular service. By 1876 Wilkinson was serving as 1st Assistant and interpreter at the British Consulate in Yedo (now Tokyo) as well as a Visiting Judge of the British Consular Court in Kanagawa. In 1877, he was appointed acting law secretary of the same court.
Wilkinson served in the consular service in Japan at the same time as Ernest Satow, the first British student interpreter in Japan and later British Minister in Japan and then China. In later years, Satow described his advice as excellent and pushed for his appointment as Judge of the British Court for Japan and Chief Justice of the British Supreme Court for China and Japan.
In 1882, he was appointed Crown Advocate of the Supreme Court based in Shanghai. In his position as Crown Advocate, Wilkinson, was requested to take on the responsibility of being the lead prosecutor of Edith Carew for the murder of her husband in 1896 in Yokohama. Soon after, he was appointed Judge of the British Court for Japan to succeed Robert Mowat. He was the final judge of that court which was wound down in 1900 after extraterritorial rights came to an end in Japan. He then, in 1900, was appointed Chief Justice of the British Supreme Court for China and Corea succeeding Sir Nicholas Hannen who died that year.
Hiram Shaw Wilkinson was knighted for his services in 1903. In 1905, Sir Hiram Wilkinson retired from the bench in Shanghai, and moved to the townland of Moneyshanere, outside Tobermore, modern-day Northern Ireland.
During his career in the Far East, Wilkinson held the following positions.
- Vice consul at Neegata, Japan (1877 -1881)
- Acting Law Secretary of the British Supreme Court for China and Japan based in Kanagawa (1877-1878)
- Acting Assistant Judge (1879-1880) of the British Supreme Court for China and Japan
- Crown Advocate (1882–1897) of the British Supreme Court for China and Japan
- British Commissioner for the settlement of claims after the Canton riots (1883)
- Acting Judge of the British Court for Japan (1894–1895)
- Judge of the British Court for Japan (1897–1900)
- Chief Justice of the British Supreme Court for China and Corea (1900–1905)
Hiram Shaw Wilkinson served as Pro-Chancellor of Queen's College, Belfast from 1914 until his death in 1926. In 1917, he was invited by Lloyd George to join the Irish Convention. On 18 November 1918, The Belfast Telegraph records Hiram Shaw Wilkinson donating money towards a field of battle monument dedicated to those of the 36th Ulster Division that had sacrificed their lives in World War I. In March 1922 he would receive threats from the IRA. He was also a Justice of the Peace (J.P.) and Deputy Lieutenant (D.L.) for County Londonderry.
- Edward Walford. "The county families of the United Kingdom; or, Royal manual of the titled and untitled aristocracy of England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland .. (Volume edition 59, year 1919), page 381". Retrieved 3 September 2011.
- Edward Walford. "The county families of the United Kingdom; or, Royal manual of the titled and untitled aristocracy of England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland .. (Volume edition 59, year 1919), page 382". Retrieved 3 September 2011.
- See Hansard HL Deb 27 September 1909 vol 3 cc361-83 at 364-5 on the role of student interpreter and their expected proficiency in the language they learn
- The Japan Gazette Offiicial Directory for 1876 and 1877
- The Semi-official Letters of British Envoy Sir Ernest Satow from Japan and China (1895-1906), Edited by Ian Ruxton, 1997, p175
- "Public Record Office of Northern Ireland - Wilkinson Papers". Research and Special Collections Available Locally. Retrieved 20 June 2010.
- Obituary, Times 29 September 1926, p14 which sets out details of his positions held
- Evening Post 16 July 1917, p9,
- "Belfast Telegraph, 18 November 1918 edition". Eddies News Extracts. Retrieved 20 June 2010.