William Thomas Mercer

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The Hong Kong Executive Council in 1860, showing William Mercer (first on left) and Governor Hercules Robinson (in tophat)

William Thomas Mercer (Chinese: 孖沙; Sidney Lau: Ma1 Sa1) (17 October 1821 – 23 May 1879) was a British colonial administrator who served in Hong Kong from 1844 to 1866.

Early life[edit]

Mercer was the third son of George Dempster Mercer, a trader born in India, and Frances Charlotte Reid, then of Edinburgh, Scotland.[1] His parents emigrated to Tasmania and purchased land there in 1835, leaving the young Mercer behind in England. He matriculated from Exeter College, Oxford, on 30 May 1839. He became a student at the Inner Temple in 1842 and went on to earn BA and MA degrees from the University of Oxford in 1843 and 1851, respectively.[2]

Colonial service[edit]

William Thomas Mercer in Hong Kong Government Gazette

Mercer arrived in Hong Kong in 1844 as Private Secretary to Sir John Davis, the second Governor of Hong Kong (1844–1848). Davis, his uncle, then appointed the 23-year-old Mercer acting colonial secretary.[3]:176 On 24 February 1847, he was appointed Chief Magistrate of Police.[4]

Mercer rose through the administration, becoming Colonial Treasurer (1845–1854), Auditor General (1854–1858),[5] Colonial Secretary (1854–1868),[6] and, ultimately, Administrator, during a hiatus between Governors from 15 March 1865 to 11 March 1866. He was succeeded by Sir Richard Graves MacDonnell, who became the 6th Governor of Hong Kong.

Personal life[edit]

Mercer married Mary Phillips Nind, born in Hargrave, Berkshire, in September 1862.[1]

Published works[edit]

In 1869, Mercer's Under the Peak; or, Jottings in Verse was published.[7]


Mercer Street, a short and narrow road in Sheung Wan running from Jervois Street to Bonham Strand, is named after him.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Mercer Millions, About Mercer Families of Scotland". Mercer Millions. Retrieved 23 September 2016.
  2. ^ Alumni Oxoniensis, The Members of the University of Oxford. London: James Parker & Co. 1891. Retrieved 23 September 2016.
  3. ^ Bowring, Philip (2014). Free Trade's First Missionary: Sir John Bowring in Europe and Asia. Hong Kong University Press. ISBN 9789888208722.
  4. ^ "The Gazette" (PDF) (20709). United Kingdom Government. 1847: 834. Retrieved 23 September 2016. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  5. ^ Audit Commission: Directors of Audit to date
  6. ^ "No. 21635". The London Gazette. 1 December 1854. p. 3909.
  7. ^ Mercer, William T (1869). Under the Peak; Or, Jottings in Verse, Written During a Lengthened Residence in the Colony of HongKong. John Camden Hotten.

Further reading[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by
William Caine
Auditor-General of Hong Kong
Succeeded by
William Hepburn Rennie
Colonial Secretary of Hong Kong
Succeeded by
John Cardiner Austin
Preceded by
Sir Hercules Lord Robinson, Bt
Administrator of Hong Kong
March 1865 – March 1866
Succeeded by
Sir Richard Graves MacDonnell