Portrait by George Chinnery, 1830
|Died||4 September 1843 (age 75)
|Known for||Founder of Cohong - Ewo (怡和)|
|Net worth||Over $8 billion|
Portrait by Lam Qua
Howqua (Chinese: 伍秉鑒; Mandarin Pinyin: Wǔ Bǐngjiàn; Jyutping: Ng5 Bing2 Gaam3; 1769 – 4 September 1843) was the most important of the Hong merchants in the Thirteen Factories, head of the E-wo hong and leader of the Canton Cohong–Gong1 hong2 (公行). He was once one of the richest men in the world.
Born in Fujian, China, he was known to the West as Howqua (the second). His father, Wu Guorong was also Howqua (the first) and was founder of the family company. Because his Chinese name was too difficult for western traders to pronounce, the name Howqua comes from his Chinese Business Name "浩官" (Mandarin Pinyin: Haoguan; Jyutping: Hou6 Gun1), very similar to a DBA. He became rich on the trade between China and the British Empire in the middle of the 19th century during the First Opium War. Perhaps the wealthiest man in China during the nineteenth century, Howqua was the senior of the Hong merchants in Canton, one of the few authorized to trade silk and porcelain with foreigners. According to historic records, there was a fire in 1822 and many of the cohongs were burned down. The melted silver allegedly formed a little stream almost two miles in length. Of the 3 million dollars of compensation that was required to pay the British from the Treaty of Nanking, he single-handedly contributed one million, one third of the total sum. He later died in Canton the same year.
During his time as one of the Hong merchants in the Thirteen Factories, under the Canton System, the Qing Dynasty saw a short period of trade prosperity. Canton also became one of the most populated cities in the world.
The founders of then world-renowned firms including James Matheson, William Jardine, Samuel Russell and Abiel Abbot Low all had a close relationship with Howqua. Following the 1842 Treaty of Nanking, which spelled the end of the Thirteen Factories, Jardine Matheson & Co continued to use "Ewo" as their Chinese name.
- Houqua, 1844 clipper ship
- Hunt, Freeman; Dana, William B. (1844). The Merchants' Magazine and Commercial Review. Volume 10. p. 459.
- Amazon.ca: The Rich and How They Got That Way: How the Wealthiest People of All Time - From Genghis Khan to Bill Gates - Made Their Fortunes: Books
- The Rich And How They Got That Way By Cynthia Crossen Publisher: Crown Publishing Group Pub. Date: 2000 ISBN 0-8129-3267-6
- <<觸藩始末>> The Start and End of Upsetting The Foreigners, Chapter 3
- Cheong, W.E. (1997). The Hong merchants of Canton: Chinese merchants in Sino-Western trade. Routledge. ISBN 0-7007-0361-6. p.122 Online version at Google books