John Pope Hennessy
Sir John Pope Hennessy, KCMG (8 August 1834 – 7 October 1891), was an Irish and British politician and colonial administrator who served as the eighth Governor of Hong Kong and the fifteenth Governor of Mauritius.
John Pope Hennessy was born in County Cork, the son of John Hennessy (originally Ó hAonghusa) of Ballyhennessy and educated at Queen's College, Cork. He completed his medical training at Queen's University of Ireland.
He started his Public Service career as the Supplemental Clerk at the Privy Council, and eventually became a minor Conservative member of the British Parliament, representing King's County from 1859 to 1865. Whilst an MP he studied law at the Inner Temple, being called to the bar in 1861. In 1890, as MP for North Kilkenny he joined the Irish National Federation. He died the following year.
Early colonial service
Hennessy eventually joined the Colonial Office and became colonial Governor of Labuan in 1867 where he put the Crown Colony into solvency by introducing convict labour from the Straits Settlements. He went on to become the Governor of Sierra Leone from 1872 to 1873, when he moved to the governorship of the Bahamas. He became Governor-in-Chief of the Windward Islands, from 1873 until 1877, with primary authority over Barbados, and executive oversight over the various British Lt. Governors and Administrators charged with running day-to-day affairs on the various islands.
Although Hennessy was born into the Anglo-Irish landowning gentry, his status as a Roman Catholic made him something of an outsider, particularly in his dealings with Protestant British colonial elites, whether in Barbados, Hong Kong, or Mauritius. Indeed, his earliest contributions as a Member of Parliament in 1860 pertained to the temporal power of the Pope, and unfolding events in Italy. Coming into colonial administration, he was among a cohort of "new thinkers" whose ideas gained ground following the Sepoy Mutiny in India in 1857. Speaking at length in the House of Commons on 26 July 1860 about British civil and military forces in India, Hennessy urged a shift in policies so that "the military administration of India would be conducted with greater skill, with more economy, and, as a natural result of a higher educational standard, with a greater regard for the feelings and interests of the Native population. Indeed, recent events furnished us with the most conclusive evidence that many of the British officers, entrusted with grave authority in India, had, from an ignorance of popular customs and a disregard of national habits and traditions, given great cause of complaint and encouragement to disaffection. As long as we send out officers to India who seem inclined to treat the Natives as slaves, who seem unable or unwilling to appreciate the noble qualities, of that unfortunate people, and who add the grossest military outrages and insults to the civil misgovernment and financial burdens we have imposed upon them, so long will our rule in India be a blot upon civilization".
Governor of Hong Kong
Immediately after his tenure in Barbados, Hennessy was appointed as Governor of Hong Kong, a position from which he served until 1882.
During his tenure, Hennessy realised that the Chinese people, who were treated as second-class citizens up to that time, had developed an increasingly important influence on the Hong Kong economy. With that in mind, he lifted the ban that forbade Chinese people from buying lands, constructing buildings, and operate businesses in the Central District. This caused a development boom in the Central District. Also, he allowed Chinese immigrants in Hong Kong to naturalise as British subjects. He appointed the first Chinese member (Ng Choy, who would later become the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of China) to the Legislative Council.
Also, during his rule, he established the first Grant-in-Aid system, a milestone in the educational history of Hong Kong.
Soon after arriving in Hong Kong, in April 1877, Hennessy set out to implement the "separate system" in Victoria Gaol, meaning separate cells for prisoners, during the night if not also during the day. This plan hinged upon sending long-term prisoners to Labuan, for convict labour.
Governor of Mauritius
After his tenure as Governor of Hong Kong was over, Hennessy went on to become the 15th Governor of Mauritius from 1 June 1883 to 11 December 1889. Upon his arrival on 1 June 1883 on the island, Hennessy undertook to mauricianise the local administration by reducing the powers of the English officials, appointing Mauritians to positions of responsibility and proposing a new constitution based on the principle "Mauritius for Mauritians". It was therefore natural that he moved closer to the Mauritian lawyer William Newton, leader of the reform movement who demanded a more direct involvement of settlers in the administration of their affairs. It was under Hennessy that Mauritius as known it first shudder of democracy. This was his last post in the Colonial Service.
On 4 February 1868, Hennessy married Katherine Elizabeth (1850–1923), daughter of Hugh Low. They had three sons, including Richard Pope-Hennessy. He earlier had two illegitimate daughters with his mistress, Miss A. M. Conyngham.
His personal motto was "Three Grand Qualifications to Success", which he described as "The first is audacity, the second is audacity, and the third is audacity".
Hennessy died of heart failure on 7 October 1891 at his residence, Rostellan Castle, near Cork, Ireland. A statue of him by M. Loumeau was erected in Port Louis, Mauritius, in 1908. His grandson James Pope-Hennessy published a biography in 1964.
- KCMG (1880)
As he was not popular among the European community of Hong Kong, there was no construction named after him until much later. On 14 June 1929, Hennessy Road, which is a main road located on the new reclamation, present-day a crowded commercial and shopping area at Wan Chai and Causeway Bay on Hong Kong Island was named after him. A major street, Pope Hennessy Street, in Port Louis, capital of Mauritius is named after him. Hennessy Road is a street in civil lines, Nagpur, Maharashtra state, India is also named after him.
- Leigh Rayment's House of Commons pages: K
- "Hansard 1803–2005".
- House of Commons debate, 26 July 1860, Hansards, Vol. 160, cc. 231-59, 235
- Hong Kong Government Gazette, 23 February 1878
- Stearn, Roger T. (2007). "Hennessy, Sir John Pope (1834–1891)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/22537. Accessed 2 August 2018.
- "Sir John Pope Hennessy dead" (PDF). New York Times. Retrieved 2012-08-21.
- Pope-Hennessy, James (1964). Verandah: Some Episodes in the Crown Colonies: 1867–1889. London: George Allen and Unwin.
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- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by John Pope Hennessy