Thomas Sutherland (banker)

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Sir Thomas Sutherland
Thomas Sutherland, Vanity Fair, 1887-10-22.jpg
1887 Caricature of Mr. T Sutherland MP. Caption reads: "P and O". Published in Vanity Fair 22 October 1887.
Born(1834-08-16)16 August 1834[1]
Died1 January 1922(1922-01-01) (aged 87)
Alma materUniversity of Aberdeen
Known forFounder of The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (aka HSBC Holdings PLC)
Spouse(s)Alice Macnaught (m. 1880, died 1920)
Helen Sutherland (daughter)
Eric Macnaught Sutherland

Sir Thomas Sutherland, GCMG (Chinese: 蘇石蘭 16 August 1834 – 1 January 1922) was a British banker and politician, initially elected to represent the Liberal Party and then as a Liberal Unionist. He founded The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation which was the founder member of HSBC Group and directed the P&O Company.

Early life[edit]

Sutherland was the son of Robert Sutherland and Christian Webster of Aberdeen. He was educated at Aberdeen University.


Sutherland got his start clerking in the London office of the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company (P&O). Soon after, P&O promoted Sutherland to superintendent, assigning him to British Hong Kong to manage the firm's Asian operation.[2] In 1863 he became the first chairman of the Hong Kong and Whampoa Dock. In order to help finance the burgeoning trade between China and Europe, and explore the potential for China—United States trade, Sutherland established The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation in 1865[3] and became its first vice-chairman.

He was appointed member of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong from 1865 to 1866. In 1872 he was appointed Managing Director of P & O.[4]

In November 1884, Sutherland was elected at a by-election as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Greenock.[5] A Liberal, he was re-elected in 1885, but when the Liberals split over Irish Home Rule he joined the breakaway Liberal Unionist Party. He was re-elected as a Liberal Unionist in 1886, but lost the seat at the 1892 general election. However, he was reinstated when his opponent was unseated on petition,[6] and held the seat until he stood down at the 1900 general election.[6]

Personal life[edit]

In 1880, Sutherland married Alice Macnaught. She was the daughter of Rev. John Macnaught of Holy Trinity Church, Conduit Street, London, England. The couple had two sons, and a daughter, Helen Christian Sutherland (1881–1965), known as an art patron; one of the sons, Eric Macnaught Sutherland, died in the Second Boer War, the other son, Thomas Leslie Macnaught Sutherland, died during World War I. In 1920, His wife Alice died.[7][8]

Death and legacy[edit]

In 1922, Sutherland died in London, England. Sutherland Street in Sheung Wan, Hong Kong was named after him.


  1. ^ Burke, Bernard; Ashworth Peter, Burke (1910). A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage and Baronetage, the Privy Council, Knightage and Companionage. Harrison. p. 2367.
  2. ^ Winn, Christopher (2012). I Never Knew That About the Scottish. Random House. ISBN 1407028936.
  3. ^ Finel-Honigman, Irene (2009). A Cultural History of Finance. Routledge. p. 116. ISBN 1135238510.
  4. ^ Debretts Guide to the House of Commons 1886
  5. ^ Craig, F. W. S. (1989) [1977]. British parliamentary election results 1832–1885 (2nd ed.). Chichester: Parliamentary Research Services. p. 548. ISBN 0-900178-26-4.
  6. ^ a b Craig, F. W. S. (1989) [1974]. British parliamentary election results 1885–1918 (2nd ed.). Chichester: Parliamentary Research Services. p. 510. ISBN 0-900178-27-2.
  7. ^ Harcourt, Freda. "Sutherland, Sir Thomas". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/36373. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  8. ^ Bill Peschel, ed. (19 November 2014). The Early Punch Parodies of Sherlock Holmes. Peschel Press. p. 282. GGKEY:F7G5E4WJ95H.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
James Stewart
Member of Parliament for Greenock
Succeeded by
John Bruce
(unseated on petition)
Preceded by
John Bruce
Member of Parliament for Greenock
Succeeded by
James Reid
Legislative Council of Hong Kong
Preceded by
Charles Wilson Murray
Unofficial Member
Served alongside: Francis Chomley, James Whittall
Succeeded by
Hugh Bold Gibb