Henry Arthur Blake

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Sir Henry Arthur Blake
Henry Arthur Blake.jpg
46th Governor of The Bahamas
In office
4 January 1884 – 1887
Monarch Queen Victoria
Preceded by Sir Charles Cameron Lees
Succeeded by Sir Ambrose Shea
55th Governor of Newfoundland
In office
1887 – December 1888
Monarch Queen Victoria
Preceded by Sir G W Des Voeux
Succeeded by Sir John T N O'Brien
65th Governor of Jamaica
In office
23 December 1888 – 1898
Monarch Queen Victoria
Preceded by William Clive Justice (Ag)
Succeeded by Henry Jardine Hallowes (Ag)
12th Governor of Hong Kong
In office
25 November 1898 – 21 November 1903
Monarch Queen Victoria
Edward VII
Preceded by Sir William Robinson
Succeeded by Sir Matthew Nathan
19th Governor of British Ceylon
In office
3 December 1903 – 11 July 1907
Monarch Edward VII
Preceded by Sir Everard im Thurn (Ag)
Succeeded by Hugh Clifford (Ag)
Personal details
Born (1840-01-08)8 January 1840
Limerick, Ireland
Died 13 February 1918(1918-02-13) (aged 78)
Spouse(s) Jeannie Irwin
Edith Bernal Osborne
Profession Draper's assistant, constable, magistrate, colonial administrator

Sir Henry Arthur Blake GCMG DL[1] (Chinese: 卜力; Sidney Lau: Buk1 Lik6; 8 January 1840 – 23 February 1918) was a British colonial administrator and Governor of Hong Kong from 1898 to 1903.

Early life, family and career[edit]

Blake was born in Limerick, Ireland. He was the son of Peter Blake of Corbally Castle (c. 1805 – bur. St. Ann's, Dublin, 19 November 1850), a Galway-born county Inspector of the Irish Constabulary, and wife (m. Mobarnan, County Tipperary) Jane Lane (Lanespark, County Tipperary, 5 March 1819 – ?), daughter of John Lane of Lanespark, County Tipperary, and paternal grandson of Peter Blake of Corbally Castle, County Galway (? – 1842, bur. Peter’s Well, County Galway) and wife (m. 14 May 1800) Mary Browne, daughter of The Hon. John Browne and wife Mary Cocks and paternal granddaughter of John Browne, 1st Earl of Altamont, and wife Anne Gore. He was included among the descendants the Blakes of Corbally Castle, Kilmoylan, County Galway, the descendants of Peter Blake (? – 1712), who was granted the lands of Corbally, Kilmoylan, County Galway, on 20 December 1697, and wife Magdeline Martin, the Blakes. Peter Blake was a son of Sir Richard Blake and wife Gyles Kirwan.[2]

Blake started out as a clerk in the Bank of Ireland but lasted only 18 months before resigning and commencing a cadetship in the Irish Constabulary in 1857. He became a special inspector two years later. In 1876, he was appointed Resident Magistrate to Tuam, an especially disturbed district in the west of Ireland, where he was noted as judicious and active. In 1882, he was promoted to Special Resident Magistrate.[3]

Early colonial services[edit]

In 1884, Blake was made Governor of Bahamas, a position he held until 1887. He was appointed to Queensland in 1886 but resigned without entering the administration. In 1887, he moved to Newfoundland, where he was governor until the end of 1888, being knighted on 7 November that year.[4] In 1889 he became the Captain-General and Governor of Jamaica. His term was extended in 1894 and 1896, at the request of Legislature and public bodies of the island, until 1897.

Governor of Hong Kong[edit]

On 25 November 1898, Blake was appointed Governor of Hong Kong, a position he held until November 1903.[3] Five months before he arrived in Hong Kong, the British Government negotiated an agreement with the Imperial Chinese Government allowing the Hong Kong Government to lease the New Territories for 99 years. During Blake's tenure, he sent in administrators to the New Territories to assert control. The residents of the area organised a tough resistance movement, which was subdued with the use of British troops under Commander Gascoigne.

Blake left Hong Kong immediately after he attended the laying of the foundation stone of the Supreme Court building (Legislative Council of Hong Kong from 1985 to 2011) on 12 November 1903.[5]

Post-Hong Kong[edit]

Blake was appointed Governor of Ceylon at the end of his tenure in Hong Kong in 1903, and he served in that capacity until 1907. This was his last post in the Colonial Service. The Blakes retired to Myrtle Grove in Youghal, County Cork, where they both died and were buried.[6]

Personal life[edit]

Blake married twice: Jeannie Irwin in 1862 (she died in 1866), and Edith Bernal Osborne in Ireland, on 7 February 1874 (she was the daughter of MP Ralph Bernal Osborne). He had two sons, and one daughter Olive, who married John Bernard Arbuthnot. During his period as Governor of The Bahamas, a watercolour of his three children, Children Under a Palm, was painted by Winslow Homer. The painting was subsequently featured on the BBC TV programme, Fake or Fortune?[7]



The community of Blaketown in Canada was named in his honour when he was the governor of Newfoundland. Blake Garden, Blake Pier (卜公碼頭) and Blake Block (now within the People's Liberation Army Hong Kong Headquarters) are named after him.

The Bauhinia blakeana, discovered in Hong Kong around 1880, was named after him (Blake shared his wife's interest in botany). It became an emblem of Hong Kong in 1965 and has been the official emblem from 1 July 1997. It appears on the flag of Hong Kong and its currency.[3]

The John Crow Mountains in Jamaica were renamed the Blake Mountains in 1890 but the name did not stick.[8]

See also[edit]


  • MCGRATH, Terence, pseud. [i.e. Sir Henry Arthur Blake.] 1880, Pictures from Ireland. Kegan Paul & Co.: London, 1880. Available from archive.org


  1. ^ Charles Mosley, editor, Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage, 107th edition, 3 volumes (Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.A.: Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd, 2003), volume 1, page 120.
  2. ^ Hugh Montgomery-Massingberd, editor, Burke's Irish Family Records (London, U.K.: Burkes Peerage Ltd, 1976), Blake, page 120.
  3. ^ a b c Airlie, Shiona M (2012). Dictionary of Hong Kong Biography. Hong Kong University Press. p. 32. ISBN 9789888083664. 
  4. ^ Shaw, William Arthur (1971). The Knights of England: A Complete Record from the Earliest Time to the Present Day of the Knights of All the Orders of Chivalry in England, Scotland, and Ireland, and of Knights Bachelors. Incorporating a Complete List of Knights Bachelors Dubbed in Ireland, Volume 1. Genealogical Publishing Com. p. 373. Retrieved 16 September 2016. 
  5. ^ "The Old Supreme Court Building - Brief History". Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal. Retrieved 16 September 2016. 
  6. ^ Independent article by Patrick Cockburn
  7. ^ "Homer". Fake or Fortune?. Episode 2. 2011-06-26. BBC. Retrieved 2011-08-04. 
  8. ^ Higman, B W; Hudson (2009). Jamaican Place Names. B J (1st ed.). Mona, Jamaica: University of the West Indies Press. pp. 89–90. ISBN 978-976-640-217-4. 

External links[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by
Sir Charles Cameron Lees
Governor of the Bahamas
Succeeded by
Ambrose Shea
Preceded by
Sir William Des Vœux
Colonial Governor of Newfoundland
Succeeded by
Sir John Terence Nicholls O'Brien
Preceded by
Sir Henry Wylie Norman
Governor of Jamaica
Succeeded by
Augustus William Lawson Hemming
Preceded by
Major-General Wilsone Black, Acting Administrator
Governor of Hong Kong
Succeeded by
Sir Francis Henry May, Acting Administrator
Preceded by
Sir Everard im Thurn
acting governor
Governor of Ceylon
Succeeded by
Hugh Clifford
acting governor