John Bowring

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Sir John Bowring
Sir John Bowring by John King.jpg
John Bowring in 1826
4th Governor of Hong Kong
In office
13 April 1854 – 9 September 1859
Preceded by Sir George Bonham
Succeeded by Hercules Robinson, 1st Baron Rosmead
Member of Parliament
In office
1835–1837
Preceded by John Dunlop
Succeeded by John Campbell Colquhoun
Constituency Kilmarnock Burghs
In office
1841–1849
Preceded by Peter Ainsworth
William Bolling
Succeeded by Stephen Blair
Joshua Walmsley
Constituency Bolton[note 1]
Personal details
Born (1792-10-17)17 October 1792
Exeter, England
Died 23 November 1872(1872-11-23) (aged 80)
Claremont, England
Political party Radical
Spouse(s) Maria Lewin (m. 1816 – d. 1858)
Deborah Castle (m. 1860, survived)
Children John Charles Bowring,
Lewin Bentham Bowring,
Edgar Alfred Bowring
Profession Member of Parliament (UK)

Sir John Bowring, KCB (Chinese translated name: 寶寧, 寶靈 (for Putonghua speakers) or 包令 (for Cantonese)) (17 October 1792 – 23 November 1872) was an English political economist, traveller, writer, literary translator, polyglot, and the fourth Governor of Hong Kong.

Early life[edit]

Bowring was born in Exeter of Charles Bowring (1769–1856[1]:381), a wool merchant whose main market was China,[1]:596 from an old Unitarian family, and Sarah Jane Anne (d. 1828), the daughter of Thomas Lane, vicar of St Ives, Cornwall.[2] His last formal education was at a Unitarian school in Moretonhampstead and he started work in his father's business at age 13.[2] Bowring at one stage wished to become a Unitarian minister.[3] Espousal of Unitarian faith was illegal in Britain until Bowring had turned 21.[4]:17

Bowring cut his teeth in trade as a contract provender to the British army during the Peninsular War in the early 1810s, initially for four years from 1811 as a clerk at Milford & Co. where he began picking up a variety of languages.[1]:597 His experiences in Spain fed a healthy skepticism for the might of the British military-colonial machine.[4]:15 He travelled extensively and was imprisoned in Boulogne-sur-Mer for six weeks in 1822[1]:597 for suspected spying (though merely carrying papers for the Portuguese envoy to Paris).[4]:29-30

He incorporated Bowring & Co. with a partner in 1818 to sell herrings to Spain (including Gibraltar by a subsidiary) and France and buying wine from Spain. It was during this period that he came to know Jeremy Bentham,[4]:23,28 and later became his friend. He did not, however, share Bentham's contempt for belles lettres. He was a diligent student of literature and foreign languages, especially those of Eastern Europe. He somehow found time to write 88 hymns during this time, most published between 1823 and 1825.[4]:43

Failure of his business in 1827, amidst his Greek revolution financing adventure, left him reliant on Bentham's charity and seeking a new, literary direction.[4]:35-40

Political economist career[edit]

Bowring had begun contributing to the newly founded Westminster Review and had been appointed its editor by Bentham in 1825.[5] By his contributions to the Review he attained considerable repute as a political economist and parliamentary reformer. He advocated in its pages the cause of free trade long before it was popularized by Richard Cobden and John Bright, co-founders of the Anti-Corn Law League in Manchester in 1838.[4]:46,66

He pleaded earnestly on behalf of parliamentary reform, Catholic emancipation, and popular education. Bentham failed in an attempt to have Bowring appointed professor of English or History at University College London in 1827 but, after Bowring visited the Netherlands in 1828, the University of Groningen conferred on him the degree of doctor of laws in February the next year for his Sketches of the Language and Literature of Holland.[1]:598 In 1830, he was in Denmark, preparing for the publication of a collection of Scandinavian poetry.[6] As a member of the 1831 Royal Commission, he advocated strict parliamentary control on public expenditure, and considered the ensuing reform one of his main achievements.[4]:102 Till 1832, he was Foreign Secretary of the British and Foreign Unitarian Association.

Bowring was appointed Jeremy Bentham's literary executor a week before the latter's 1832 death in his arms, and was charged with the task of preparing a collected edition of his works. The appointment was challenged by a nephew but Bowring prevailed in court.[4]:41 The work appeared in eleven volumes in 1843,[6] notably omitting Bentham's most controversial works on female sexuality and homosexuality.[4]:61

Free trade took on the dimensions of faith to Bowring who, in 1841, quipped, "Jesus Christ is free trade and free trade is Jesus Christ", adding, in response to consternation at the proposition, that it was "intimitely associated with religious truth and the exercise of religious principles."[4]:19

Politician industrialist[edit]

Through Bentham connections and in spite of his radicalism, Bowring was appointed to carry out investigations of the national accounting systems of the Netherlands and France in 1832 by the government and House of Commons, respectively. The mark left by his work in France was not welcomed by all; as one commentator remarked,

Of all men, high or low, that I ever met in society, this Dr Bowring is the most presuming and the most conceited. He is a fit charlatan, for Whig employment; pushing and overbearing in his manner, and, like other parvenus, assuming an official importance which is highly ridiculous.[1]:387-8

Yet his work was so highly regarded by the Whig government that he was then appointed secretary of the Royal Commission on the Public Accounts. He had made his name as something of an expert on government accounting.[4]:53-55 He stood the same year for the newly created industrial constituency of Blackburn but was unsuccessful.[4]:59

In 1835, Bowring entered parliament as member for Kilmarnock Burghs;[4]:63 and in the following year he was appointed head of a government commission to be sent to France to inquire into the actual state of commerce between the two countries. After losing his seat in 1837, he was busied in further economic investigations in Egypt, Syria, Switzerland, Italy, and some of the states in Imperial Germany. The results of these missions appeared in a series of reports laid before the House of Commons and even a paper delivered to the British Association of Science with his observations on containment of the plague in the Levant.[4]:73,81 He also spoke out passionately for equal rights for women and the abolition of slavery.[4]:97-98

Isaac Crewdson (Beaconite) writer Samuel Jackman Prescod - Barbadian Journalist William Morgan from Birmingham William Forster - Quaker leader George Stacey - Quaker leader William Forster - Anti-Slavery ambassador John Burnet -Abolitionist Speaker William Knibb -Missionary to Jamaica Joseph Ketley from Guyana George Thompson - UK & US abolitionist J. Harfield Tredgold - British South African (secretary) Josiah Forster - Quaker leader Samuel Gurney - the Banker's Banker Sir John Eardley-Wilmot Dr Stephen Lushington - MP and Judge Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton James Gillespie Birney - American John Beaumont George Bradburn - Massachusetts politician George William Alexander - Banker and Treasurer Benjamin Godwin - Baptist activist Vice Admiral Moorson William Taylor William Taylor John Morrison GK Prince Josiah Conder Joseph Soul James Dean (abolitionist) John Keep - Ohio fund raiser Joseph Eaton Joseph Sturge - Organiser from Birmingham James Whitehorne Joseph Marriage George Bennett Richard Allen Stafford Allen William Leatham, banker William Beaumont Sir Edward Baines - Journalist Samuel Lucas Francis August Cox Abraham Beaumont Samuel Fox, Nottingham grocer Louis Celeste Lecesne Jonathan Backhouse Samuel Bowly William Dawes - Ohio fund raiser Robert Kaye Greville - Botanist Joseph Pease, railway pioneer W.T.Blair M.M. Isambert (sic) Mary Clarkson -Thomas Clarkson's daughter in law William Tatum Saxe Bannister - Pamphleteer Richard Davis Webb - Irish Nathaniel Colver - American not known John Cropper - Most generous Liverpudlian Thomas Scales William James William Wilson Thomas Swan Edward Steane from Camberwell William Brock Edward Baldwin Jonathon Miller Capt. Charles Stuart from Jamaica Sir John Jeremie - Judge Charles Stovel - Baptist Richard Peek, ex-Sheriff of London John Sturge Elon Galusha Cyrus Pitt Grosvenor Rev. Isaac Bass Henry Sterry Peter Clare -; sec. of Literary & Phil. Soc. Manchester J.H. Johnson Thomas Price Joseph Reynolds Samuel Wheeler William Boultbee Daniel O'Connell - "The Liberator" William Fairbank John Woodmark William Smeal from Glasgow James Carlile - Irish Minister and educationalist Rev. Dr. Thomas Binney Edward Barrett - Freed slave John Howard Hinton - Baptist minister John Angell James - clergyman Joseph Cooper Dr. Richard Robert Madden - Irish Thomas Bulley Isaac Hodgson Edward Smith Sir John Bowring - diplomat and linguist John Ellis C. Edwards Lester - American writer Tapper Cadbury - Businessman not known Thomas Pinches David Turnbull - Cuban link Edward Adey Richard Barrett John Steer Henry Tuckett James Mott - American on honeymoon Robert Forster (brother of William and Josiah) Richard Rathbone John Birt Wendell Phillips - American M. L'Instant from Haiti Henry Stanton - American Prof William Adam Mrs Elizabeth Tredgold - British South African T.M. McDonnell Mrs John Beaumont Anne Knight - Feminist Elizabeth Pease - Suffragist Jacob Post - Religious writer Anne Isabella, Lady Byron - mathematician and estranged wife Amelia Opie - Novelist and poet Mrs Rawson - Sheffield campaigner Thomas Clarkson's grandson Thomas Clarkson Thomas Morgan Thomas Clarkson - main speaker George Head Head - Banker from Carlisle William Allen John Scoble Henry Beckford - emancipated slave and abolitionist Use your cursor to explore (or Click "i" to enlarge)
Bowring appears in this painting of the 1840 World's Anti-Slavery Convention.[7] Move your cursor to identify him on the second row to the right or click the icon to enlarge

On a still narrow, landed constituency, Bowring, campaigning on a radical and, to Marx and Engels, inconsistent platform of free trade and Chartism, secured a seat in parliament in 1841, as member for Bolton, perhaps England's constituency most affected by industrial upheaval and riven by deep social unrest bordering on revolution.[4]:85 In the House, he campaigned for free trade, adoption of the Charter, repeal of the Corn Laws, improved administration of the Poor Law, open borders, abolition of the death penalty, and an end to flogging in the Army and payments to Church of England prelates.[4]:88-91

During this busy period he found leisure for literature, and published in 1843 a translation of the Manuscript of the Queen's Court, a collection of Czech medieval poetry,[6] later considered as falses by Czech poet Václav Hanka. In 1846 he became President of the Mazzinian People's International League.

Without inherited wealth, or salary as MP for Bolton,[8] Bowring sought to sustain his political career by investing heavily in the south Wales iron industry from 1843. On huge demand for iron rails brought about by parliament's approval of massive railway newbuildings from 1844 to 1846,[4]:112 Bowring led a small group of wealthy London merchants and bankers as Chairman of the Llynvi Iron Company and established a large integrated ironworks at Maesteg in Glamorgan during 1845–6. He installed his brother, Charles, as Resident Director and lost no time in naming the district around his ironworks, Bowrington. He gained a reputation in the Maesteg district as an enlightened employer, one contemporary commenting that 'he gave the poor their rights and carried away their blessing'.[4]:113

In 1845 he became Chairman of the London and Blackwall Railway, the world's first steam-powered urban passenger railway and the precursor of the whole London Rail system.[4]:107

Marble bust of Sir John Bowring (1792–1872) by Edward Bowring Stephens (1815-1882) of Exeter. Collection of Devon and Exeter Institution, Exeter, of which he was president 1860-1

Bowring distinguished himself as an advocate of decimal currency. On 27 April 1847, he addressed the House of Commons on the merits of decimalisation.[9] He agreed to a compromise that directly led to the issue of the florin (one-tenth of a pound sterling), introduced as a first step in 1848 and more generally in 1849.[10] He lost his seat in 1849 but went on to publish a work entitled The Decimal System in Numbers, Coins and Accounts in 1854.[6]

The trade depression of the late 1840s caused the failure of his venture in south Wales in 1848 and wiped out his capital[4]:126, forcing Bowring into paid employment. His business failure led directly to his acceptance of Palmerston's offer of the consulship at Canton.

Canton[edit]

By 1847, Bowring had assembled an impressive array of credentials: honorary diplomas from universities in Holland and Italy, fellowships of the Linnaean Society of London and Paris, the Historical Institute of the Scandinavian and Icelandic Societies, the Royal Institute of the Netherlands, the Royal Society of Hungary, the Royal Society of Copenhagen, and of the Frisian and Athenian Societies. Numerous translations and works on foreign languages, politics and economy had been published. His zeal in Parliament and standing as a literary man were well known.[1]:227

In 1849, he was appointed British consul at Canton (today's Guangzhou), and superintendent of trade in China. Arriving on the HMS Medea on 12 April 1849, he took up the post in which he was to remain for four years the next day.[1]:236 His son John Charles had preceded him to China, arriving in Hong Kong in 1842,[4]:116[11] had been appointed Justice of the Peace[1]:322 and was at one point a partner in Jardines.[5]

Bowring was quickly appalled by endemic corruption and frustrated by finding himself powerless in the face of Chinese breaches of the Treaty of Nanking and refusal to receive him at the diplomatic level or permit him to travel to Peking, and by his being subordinate to the Governor of Hong Kong who knew nothing of his difficulties.[4]:128-130

For almost a year from 1852 to 1853, he acted as Britain's Plenipotentiary and Superintendent of Trade and Governor of Hong Kong in the absence on leave of Sir George Bonham, who he was later to succeed.[5]

Bowring was instrumental in the formation in 1855 of the Board of Inspectors established under the Qing Customs House, operated by the British to gather statistics on trade on behalf of the Qing government and, later, as the Chinese Imperial Maritime Customs Service, to collect all customs duties, a vital reform which brought an end to the corruption of government officials and led modernisation of China's international trade.[4]:135-137 Concerned for the welfare of coolies being exported to Australia, California, Cuba and the West Indies, and disturbed by the coolie revolt in Amoy in May 1852, Bowring tightened enforcement of the Passenger Act so as to improve coolie transportation conditions and ensure their voluntariness.[4]:138-139

Governor of Hong Kong[edit]

Sir John Bowring, 4th Governor of Hong Kong

The newly beknighted Bowring received his appointment as Governor of Hong Kong and her Majesty's Plenipotentiary and Chief Superintendent of British Trade in China on 10 January 1854. He arrived in Hong Kong and was sworn in on 13 April 1854,[1]:339-340 in the midst of the Taiping Rebellion occupying the attentions of his primary protagonists and the Crimean War distracting his masters.[4]:143-146 He was appointed over strong objections from opponents in London. Fellow Unitarian Harriet Martineau[12] had warned that Bowring was "no fit representative of Government, and no safe guardian of British interests", that he was dangerous and would lead Britain into war with China, and that he should be recalled. Her pleas went unheeded.[13]

Bowring was an extremely industrious reformist governor. He allowed the Chinese citizens in Hong Kong to serve as jurors in trials and become lawyers. He is credited with establishing Hong Kong's first commercial public water supply system. He developed the eastern Wan Chai area at a river mouth near Happy Valley and Victoria Harbour by elongating the river as a canal, the area being named Bowring City (Bowrington). By instituting the Buildings and Nuisances Ordinance, No. 8 of 1856, in the face of stiff opposition,[1]:398 Bowring ensured the safer design of all future construction projects in the colony. He sought to abolish monopolies.[5]

Bowring was impressed by the yawning gulf of misunderstanding between the expatriate and Chinese communities, writing, "We rule them in ignorance and they submit in blindness."[4]:170 Notwithstanding, in 1856, Bowring went so far as to attempt democratic reform. He proposed that the constitution of the Legislative Council be changed to increase membership to 13 members, of whom five be elected by landowners enjoying rents exceeding 10 pounds, but this was rejected by Henry Labouchère of the Colonial Office on the basis that Chinese residents were "deficient in the essential elements of morality on which social order rests." The constituency would only have amounted to 141 qualified electors, in any event.[4]:164

He was equally impressed by the dearth of expenditure on education, noting that 70 times more was provided for policing than for instruction of the populace, so he rapidly brought in an inspectorate of schools, training for teachers and opening of schools. Student number increased nearly ten-fold.[4]:173

He became embroiled in numerous conflicts and disputes, not least of which was a struggle for dominance with Lieutenant Governor William Caine, which went all the way back to the Colonial Office for resolution. He won.[5] He was faulted for failing to prevent a scandalous action in slander, in 1856, by the assistant magistrate W H Mitchell against his attorney-general T Chisolm Anstey over what was essentially a misapprehension of fact but which was thought "unique in all the scandals of modern government of the Colonies or of English Course of Justice."[1]:405

A Qing-sponsored campaign of civil disruption threatening the very survival of the British administration culminated in the arsenic poisoning incident of 15 January 1857 in which 10 pounds of arsenic was mixed in the flour of the colony's principal bakery, poisoning many hundreds, killing Bowring's wife and deblitating him for at least a year. This was a turning point for Bowring who, cornered, all but abandoned his liberality in favour of sharply curtailed civil liberties. He bemoaned:

It is a perplexing position to know that a price is set on our heads, that our servants cannot be trusted, that a premium is offered to any incendiary who will set fire to our dwellings, to any murderer who will poison or destroy us. ... We have many grievances to redress, and I will try to redress them; many securities to obtain, and I mean to obtain them. ... many unfortunate wretches of all nations (as the hatred of the Chinese is indiscriminating) have been seized, decaptitated; and their heads have been exposed on the walls of Canton, their assailants having been largely rewarded; ... All this is sufficiently horrible ... we shall exact indemnities for the past, and obtain securities for the future. We shall not crouch before assassination and incendiarism ... I did all that depended upon me to promote conciliation and establish peace. ... but every effort I made was treated with scorn and repulsion. The forbearance with which the Chinese have been treated has been wholly misunderstood by them, and attributed to our apprehensions of their great power, and awe of the majesty of the 'Son of Heaven'. So they have disregarded the most solemn engagements of treaties, and looked upon us as 'barbarians,' ... I doubt not that Government, Parliament, and public opinion will go with us in this great struggle, ...[1]:423-4

Diplomacy[edit]

In 1855, Bowring experienced a reception in Siam that could not have stood in starker contrast to Peking's constant intransigence. He was welcomed like foreign royalty, showered with pomp (including a 21-gun salute), and his determination to forge a trade accord was met with the open-minded and intelligent interest of King Mongkut.[4]:192[5]:43 Negotiations were buoyed by the cordiality between Mongkut and Bowring and an agreement was reached on 17 April 1855,[4]:194 now commonly referred to as the Bowring Treaty. Bowring held Mongkut in high regard and that the feeling was mutual and enduring was confirmed by his 1867 appointment as Siam's ambassador to the courts of Europe. Bowring's delight in this "remarkable" monarch has been seen by at least one commentator as a possible encouragement to his frustration with Peking and rash handling of the Arrow affair.[4]:197

War and late career[edit]

In October 1856, a dispute broke out with the Canton vice-consul Ye over the Chinese crew of a small British-flagged trading vessel, the Arrow. Bowring saw the argument as an opportunity to wring from the Chinese the free access to Canton which had been promised in the Treaty of Nanking but so far denied. The irritation caused by his "spirited" or high-handed policy led to the Second Opium War (1856–1860).[6] Martineau put the war down to the "incompetence and self-seeking rashness of one vain man".[13]:173-4

It was under Bowring that the colony's first ever bilingual English-Chinese law, "An Ordinance for licensing and regulating the sale of prepared opium" (Ordinance No. 2 of 1858), appeared on its statute books.[1]:467

In April the same year, Bowring was the subject of scandal when the case of criminal libel against the editor of the Daily Press, Yorick J Murrow, came to trial. Murrow had written of Bowring's having taken numerous steps to favour the trade of his son's firm, Messrs Jardine, Matheson & Co., enriching it as a result. Murrow, having been found guilty by the jury, emerged from six months' imprisonment to take up precisely where he left off, vilifying Bowring from his press.[1]:469-470 The scandal was rekindled in December when Murrow brought an ultimately unsuccessful suit in damages against Bowring in connection with his imprisonment.[1]:568-9

A commission of inquiry into accusations of corruption, operating brothels and associating with leading underworld figures laid by Attorney-General Anstey against Registrar-General Daniel R Caldwell scandalised the administration. During the course of its proceedings Anstey had opportunity to viciously accuse William Thomas Bridges, one-time acting Attorney-General and constant favourite of Bowring, for receiving stolen goods under the guise of running a money-lending operation from the ground floor of his residence, collecting debts at extortionate rates. The charges found unproved, Caldwell was exonerated and Anstey suspended, and Bridges later to be appointed acting Colonial Secretary by Bowring, but suspicions remained and Bowring's administration had been ruined.[1]:502-536

In mourning for the recent loss of his wife to the arsenic poisoning, Bowring made an official tour of the Philippines, sailing on the steam-powered paddle frigate Magicienne[14]:5 on 29 November 1858, returning seven weeks later.[1]:564

Stripped of his diplomatic and trade powers,[1]:594-5, weakened by the effects of the arsenic, and seeing his administration torn apart by anti-corruption inquiries in a campaign launched by him, Bowring's work in Hong Kong ended in May 1859.[5]:43-44 His parting sentiment was that "a year of great embarrassment ... unhappy misunderstandings among officials, fomented by passionate partisanship and by a reckless and slanderous press, made the conduct of public affairs one of extreme difficulty."[4]:183 He plunged into writing a 434-page account of his Philippines sojourn which was published the same year.[14]

His last employment by the British government was as a commissioner to Italy in 1861, to report on British commercial relations with the new kingdom. Bowring subsequently accepted the appointment of minister plenipotentiary and envoy extraordinary from the Hawaiian government to the courts of Europe, and in this capacity negotiated treaties with Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain and Switzerland.[6]

Linguist and author[edit]

Bowring was an accomplished polyglot and claimed he knew 200 languages of which he could speak 100.[15] Many of his contemporaries and subsequent biographers thought otherwise.[4]:50-52 His chief literary work was the translation of the folk-songs of most European nations, although he also wrote original poems and hymns, as well as works on political and economic subjects.[15] The first fruits of his study of foreign literature appeared in Specimens of the Russian Poets (1821–1823). These were followed by Batavian Anthology (1824), Ancient Poetry and Romances of Spain (1824), Specimens of the Polish Poets, and Serbian Popular Poetry, both in 1827,[6] and Poetry of the Magyars (1830). In addition to his 88 hymns, including "God is love : his mercy brightens", "In the Cross of Christ I glory", and "Watchman, tell us of the night",[16] his works include:

  • Specimens of the Russian Poets (1821–1823)
  • Peter Schlemihl, a German Story (Translation, 1824)
  • Batavian Anthology (1824)
  • Ancient Poetry and Romances of Spain (1824)
  • Hymns (Privately published, 1825) This includes the hymns In the cross of Christ I Glory, and Watchman, Tell Us of the Night, both still used in many churches. The American composer Charles Ives used part of Watchman, Tell Us of the Night in the opening movement of his Fourth Symphony.
  • Matins and Vespers with Hymns and Occasional Devotional Pieces (1827)[4]:44
  • Specimens of the Polish Poets (1827)
  • Serbian Popular Poetry (1827)
  • Poetry of the Magyars (1830)
  • Cheskian Anthology (1832)
  • Bentham's Deontology (Editor, 1834). Volume I, Volume II
  • Minor Morals for Young People (1834)
  • Manuscript of the Queen's Court (1843)
  • The Decimal System in Numbers, Coins and Accounts (1854)
  • The Kingdom and People of Siam (1857), with foreword by King Mongkut
  • A visit to the Philippine Islands (1859) [1]
  • Translations from Alexander Petőfi (1866). [2]
  • Various other pamphlets

Personal life[edit]

Bowring married twice. By his first wife, Maria (1793/4–1858), whom he married in 1818 after moving to London, he had five sons and four daughters (Maria, John, Frederick, Lewin, Edgar, Charles, Edith, Emily, and Gertrude). She died in September 1858, a victim of the arsenic poisoning of the bread supply in Hong Kong[1]:471 during the Second Opium War sparked by her husband.[2][5]

  • His son John Charles was a keen amateur entomologist, ultimately amassing a collection of some 230,000 specimens of coleoptera which he gifted to the British Museum in 1866.[17]
  • His fourth son, Edgar Alfred Bowring, was a Member of Parliament for Exeter from 1868 to 1874. E.A. Bowring is also known as an able translator in the literary circles of the time.
  • Lewin Bentham Bowring was a member of the Bengal Civil Service. He served as private secretary in India to Lord Canning and Lord Elgin,[18] and later as commissioner of Mysore.
  • His daughter, Emily, became a Roman Catholic nun and was known as Sister Emily Aloysia Bowring. She was the first headmistress of the Italian Convent School (now known as the Sacred Heart Canossian College) in Hong Kong, serving from 1860 until her death in 1870.[1]:596

Bowring married his second wife, Deborah Castle (1816-1902), in 1860; they had no children. Deborah, Lady Bowring died in Exeter in July 1902.[19] She was a prominent Unitarian Christian and supporter of the women's suffrage movement.[20]

John Bowring died on 23 November 1872, aged 80.[4]:216

He is the great-great grandfather of actress Susannah York.[citation needed]

Honours[edit]

Legacy[edit]

Bowring is credited with popularising Samuel Taylor Coleridge's Kubla Khan or a Vision in a Dream which had been disparaged by the critics and discarded soon after first publication.[4]:47-48

Bowrington Canal in 1920

In the mid-19th century a district of the Llynfi Valley, Glamorgan, south Wales was known as Bowrington as it was built up when John Bowring was chairman of the local iron company. Bowring's ironworks community later became part of the Maesteg Urban District. The name was revived in the 1980s when a shopping development in Maesteg was called the Bowrington Arcade.

Bowring Road, Ramsey, Isle of Man, was named for him in appreciation of his support of universal suffrage for the House of Keys and his efforts to liberalise trade with the island.[4]:92-93

As the 4th Governor, several places in Hong Kong came to be named after him:[4]:173

  • Bowring Praya West and Bowring Praya Central were two roads built on reclaimed land during his tenure, but were respectively renamed Des Voeux Road West and Des Voeux Road Central in 1890 after the Praya Reclamation Scheme.
  • Bowrington, or Bowring City, is an area Bowring originally built around the estuary of the Wong Nai Chung river, and is the site of the Bowrington Market. He built an extension named the Bowrington Canal, over which the original Bowrington Road (now called Canal Road) and the Bowrington Bridge passed.[4]:173 A road running parallel to and one block to the west of Canal Road retains the name Bowrington Road and houses the street market which serves the district.
Bowrington Road, Hong Kong, in 2017

He was also responsible for the establishment of the Botanic Gardens in Hong Kong, the most indelible mark he made on the colony.[4]:173

Two species of lizards, Hemidactylus bowringii and Lygosoma bowringii, are named in honour of either John Bowring or his son John Charles Bowring.[22]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Jumsai, M L Manich (1970). King Mongkut and Sir John Bowring. Great Britain: Chalermnit. 

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Served alongside Peter Ainsworth (1841–1847), William Bolling (1847–1848), and Stephen Blair (1848–1849)

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u Norton-Kyshe, James William (1898). History of the Laws and Courts of Hong Kong. London: T Fisher Unwin. 
  2. ^ a b c Stone, Gerald (2009) [2004]. "Bowring, Sir John (1792–1872)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/3087.  (subscription required)
  3. ^ Ruston, Alan. "Sir John Bowring". Unitarian Universalist Historical Society. Archived from the original on 31 December 2002. Retrieved 9 October 2017. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap Bowring, Philip (2014). Free Trade's First Missionary: Sir John Bowring in Europe and Asia. Hong Kong University Press. ISBN 9789888208722. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h Munn, Christopher Munn (2012). May Holdsworth & Christopher Munn, eds. Dictionary of Hong Kong Biography. Hong Kong University Press. ISBN 9789888083664. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Bowring, Sir John". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 
  7. ^ Anti-Slavery Society Convention 1840, National Portrait Gallery, London
  8. ^ MPs in the UK Parliament received no salary until early in the following century.
  9. ^ "ENGLISH NEWS, Parliamentary Intelligence". The Australian (Sydney, NSW : 1824 - 1848). Sydney, NSW: National Library of Australia. 3 September 1847. p. 3. Retrieved 13 October 2013. 
  10. ^ "The Florin". Royal Mint Museum. Royal Mint, Llantrisant, Wales. Retrieved 13 October 2013. 
  11. ^ White, Adam (1844). "Descriptions of some new species of coleoptera and Homoptera from China". Annals and Magazine of Natural History. Series 1, Volume 14, Issue 93. 
  12. ^ Haakonssen, Knud (2006). Enlightenment and Religion: Rational Dissent in Eighteenth-Century Britain. Cambridge University Press. p. 307. ISBN 9780521029872. 
  13. ^ a b Logan, Deborah A (2016). Harriet Martineau, Victorian Imperialism, and the Civilizing Mission. Routledge. ISBN 9781317123644. :173-4
  14. ^ a b Bowring, Sir John (1859). A Visit to the Philippine Islands. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 
  15. ^ a b  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainCousin, John William (1910). "Bowring, Sir John". A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature. London: J. M. Dent & Sons. Wikisource 
  16. ^ "John Bowring". Hymnary.org. Retrieved 12 June 2016. 
  17. ^ Fan, Fa-ti (2004). British Naturalists in Qing China. Harvard University Press. p. 203. ISBN 9780674011434. 
  18. ^ "Sir John Bowring". The Times. 25 Nov 1872. p. 12. 
  19. ^ "Obituary". The Times (36833). London. 30 July 1902. p. 10. 
  20. ^ Reynolds, K.D. (2004). "Bowring [née Castle], Deborah, Lady Bowring (1816–1902)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/56282.  (subscription required)
  21. ^ "Members". American Antiquarian Society. Retrieved 9 October 2017. 
  22. ^ Beolens, Bo; Watkins, Michael; Grayson, Michael (2011). The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. xiii + 296 pp. ISBN 978-1-4214-0135-5. ("Bowring", p. 36).

Further reading[edit]

  • Bartle, G.F. (1963). "Jeremy Bentham and John Bowring: a study of the relationship between Bentham and the editor of his Collected Works". Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research. 36: 27–35. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2281.1963.tb00620.x. 
  • Bartle, George Frederick (1994). An old radical and his brood: a portrait of Sir John Bowring and his family based mainly on the correspondence of Bowring and his son, Frederick Bowring. London: Janus. 
  • Bowring, Philip (2011). "Sir John Bowring: the imperial role of a lifelong radical". Asian Affairs. 42: 419–29. doi:10.1080/03068374.2011.605604. 
  • Bowring, Philip (2014). Free Trade's First Missionary: Sir John Bowring in Europe and Asia. Hong Kong University Press. ISBN 9789888208722. 
  • Endacott, G. B. (2005) [1962]. A Biographical Sketch-Book of Early Hong Kong. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press. pp. 36–44. ISBN 978-962-209-742-1. 
  • Ringmar, Erik (2013). Liberal Barbarism: The European Destruction of the Palace of the Emperor of China. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 9781137268907. 
  • Stone, Gerald (2009) [2004]. "Bowring, Sir John (1792–1872)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/3087.  (subscription required)
  • Todd, David (2008). "John Bowring and the global dissemination of free trade". Historical Journal. 51: 373–97. doi:10.1017/s0018246x08006754. 
  • Youings, Joyce Alice, ed. (1993). Sir John Bowring, 1792-1872: aspects of his life and career. Plymouth: Devonshire Association. 

External links[edit]

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