Margary Affair

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The Margary Affair (Chinese: 马嘉理事件; pinyin: Mǎjiālǐ Shìjiàn or 滇案; Diān àn) was a crisis in Sino-British relations, which followed the murder of British official Augustus Raymond Margary in 1875.[1]

As part of efforts to explore overland trade routes between British India and China's provinces, junior British diplomat Augustus Raymond Margary was sent from Shanghai through southwest China to Bhamo in Upper Burma, where he was supposed to meet Colonel Horace Browne.[2][3] It took Margary six months to make the 1,800-mile (2,900 km) journey through the provinces of Sichuan, Guizhou and Yunnan[4] and he met Brown in Bhamo in late 1874. On the journey back to Shanghai, Margary heard rumors that the return route was not safe and changed the route to Tengyue. However, he did not notify local officials of their arrivals and confronted native people. In a following conflict on 21 February 1875, he and his four Chinese personal staff were killed.[5]

The incident created a diplomatic crisis and gave British authorities an excuse to put pressure on the Qing government. The crisis was only resolved in 1876 when Thomas Wade and Li Hongzhang signed the Chefoo Convention, which covered a number of items unrelated to the incident.


  • Mandalay and Momien. A Narrative of the Two Expeditions to Western China of 1868 and 1875, under Colonel Edward Sladen and Colonel Horace Browne. By Joun Anderson, M.D. With Maps and Illustrations. Macmillan and Co.[6]

"The Journal of the Royal Geographical Society" said [Bead, February 14th, 1876.] [The Government of India having signified a desire to send a small Mission into Yun-Nan, a passport was obtained in the summer of 1874 by the British Legation from the Chinese Government, to enable four officers and gentlemen, with their followers, to cross the frontier from the Burmese side. Mr. Margary, a young member of the China Consular Service, of great promise, was sent with a separate passport from China to meet the above Mission, which had been placed under the leadership of Colonel Horace Browne. Having joined Colonel Browne at Bhamo, the Mission had entered China, and was but a short distance from Manwyne, when Mr. Margary pushed on to that town. He had passed a week in it on his journey southward. At Manwyne he was murdered on the 21st of February. An attack was made on the following morning on Colonel Browne's party, which, however, after a sharp struggle, was enabled to draw off without serious loss. Mr. Margary, in compliance with his instructions, kept a journal; but the following portion of it, recording his experiences as far as Ta-li Fu, is all that was saved. There are various gaps in it, to be explained probably by the fact that he suffered from time to time seriously in health. The remainder was probably with him when he was murdered.][7]

"Notes of a Journey from Hankow to Ta-li Fu" said The Government of India having signified a desire to send a small Mission into Yiin Nan, a passport was obtained last summer by the British Legation from the Chinese Government, to enable four officers and gentlemen, with their followers, to cross the frontier from the Burmese side. Mr. Margary, a young member of the China Consular Service, of great promise, was sent with a separate passport to meet the above Mission, which had been placed under the leadership of Colonel Horace Browne. Having joined Colonel Browne at Bhamo, the Mission had entered China, and was but a short distance from Manwyne, when Mr. Margary pushed on to that town. He had passed a week in it on his journey southward. At Manwyne, according to testimony too strong to be doubted, he was murdered on the 21st February. An attack was made on the following morning on Colonel Browne's party, which, however, after a sharp struggle, was enabled to draw off without serious loss.[8]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Correspondence Respecting the Attack on the Indian Expedition to Western China, and the Murder of Mr. Margary. Chinese Materials Center. 1876. pp. 46–. 
  2. ^ Great Britain. Parliament. House of Commons (1876). Parliamentary Papers, House of Commons and Command. H.M. Stationery Office. pp. 4–. 
  3. ^ Great Britain. Parliament. House of Commons (1877). Accounts and Papers of the House of Commons. Ordered to be printed. pp. 1–. 
  4. ^ John Anderson (1876). Mandalay to Momien: A Narrative of the Two Expeditions to Western China of 1868 and 1875, Under Colonel Edward B. Sladen and Colonel Horace Browne. Macmillan. pp. 417–. 
  5. ^ Thomas Humphry Ward (1885). Men of the Reign: A Biographical Dictionary of Eminent Persons of British and Colonial Birth who Have Died During the Reign of Queen Victoria; Ed. by Thomas Humphry Ward. G. Routledge and sons. pp. 600–. The British Quarterly Review. L. Scott Publishing Company. 1876. pp. 261–. 
  6. ^ Henry Allon (1876). The British Quarterly Review. Hodder and Stoughton. pp. 261–. 
  7. ^ The Journal of the Royal Geographical Society. 1876. pp. 172–. The Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London. J. Murray. 1876. pp. 172–. 
  8. ^ Augustus Raymond Margary (1875). Notes of a Journey from Hankow to Ta-li Fu. F. & C. Walsh. pp. 3–. 

References[edit]