George Bonham

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Sir Samuel George Bonham
Sir samuel george bonham.gif
3rd Governor of Hong Kong
In office
21 March 1848 – 13 April 1854
Preceded by Sir John Francis Davis
Succeeded by Sir John Bowring
Personal details
Born (1803-09-07)7 September 1803
London, England, UK
Died 8 October 1863(1863-10-08) (aged 60)
Spouse(s) Ellen Emelia Barnard

Sir Samuel George Bonham, 1st Baronet KCB (Chinese Translated Name 般咸, 文咸 or 文翰) (7 September 1803 – 8 October 1863) was a British colonial governor, who became the 3rd Governor of Hong Kong.


Samuel George Bonham was born in Feversham, Kent on 7 September 1803.[1] He was the son of Captain George Bonham, of the maritime service of the East India Company.[1] His mother, Isabella, the daughter of Robert Woodgate, was his father's second wife.[1]

Straits Settlements[edit]

Bonham became Governor of the Straits Settlements in 1837, a post he held until 1847.[2]

Governor of Hong Kong[edit]

After a period of service with the East India Company, he was appointed Governor of Hong Kong and plenipotentiary and superintendent of trade in China on 21 March 1848. During his tenure Bonham cut government spendings to balance the budget and also stimulated the Real Estate market in order to increase government income. His method of increasing government income eventually became the major source of income for the Hong Kong government a century later.

Bonham was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) in April 1848.[3]

Bonham was known for his calm demeanor and gentle nature. It was due to these qualities that Bonham gained the trust of the British Government and the good relationship of many Hong Kong people.

In 1850, upon his request to the Viceroy, a successful expedition against the pirates, in the neighbourhood of Hong Kong, was conducted and Bonham attempted to open direct communication with the central government at Peking, and in furtherance of this objects sent Mr. Medhurst with a despatch to the Peiho, but the effort proved fruitless.

In November 1850 Bonham was promoted to Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB) as a reward for his services in China,[4] and following his return to England a Baronetcy was conferred upon him on 27 November 1852.[5]

He retired in April 1854.[2]

He died on 8 October 1863.

Personal life[edit]

He had one sister, Isabella, who married Ferdinand, count d’Outhement.[2]

In 1846, Bonham married Ellen Emelia Barnard, the eldest daughter of Thomas Barnard.[1] They had one son, George Francis Bonham (28 August 1847 – 31 July 1927), who succeeded to the Baronetcy. Bonham's wife died in 1859 and he survived her until 8 October 1863, dying aged 60, of undisclosed causes.


The later Malay name for Fort Canning in Singapore was Bukit Tuan Bonham, named after him. Bonham St in Raffles Place, in Singapore. Bonham Road, Bonham Strand, Bonham Strand West, and Bonham Road Public Elementary School on Hong Kong Island, Hong Kong were all named after him.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Dod (1860), p. 124
  2. ^ a b c Douglas 1886.
  3. ^ "No. 20850". The London Gazette. 28 April 1848. p. 1655. 
  4. ^ "No. 21156". The London Gazette. 22 November 1850. p. 3095. 
  5. ^ "No. 21383". The London Gazette. 23 November 1852. p. 3149. 

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainDouglas, Robert Kennaway (1886). "Bonham, Samuel George". In Stephen, Leslie. Dictionary of National Biography. 5. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 


Government offices
Preceded by
Kenneth Murchison
Governor of the Straits Settlements
1837 – 1843
Succeeded by
William John Butterworth
Preceded by
Sir John Francis Davis
3rd Governor of Hong Kong
1848 – 1854
Succeeded by
Sir John Bowring
Baronetage of the United Kingdom
New creation Baronet
(of Malmesbury)
1852 – 1863
Succeeded by
George Francis Bonham