1857 Lorcha Chinese Boat | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

1857 Lorcha Chinese Boat

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1857 Lorcha Chinese Boat

I read that Andrew was looking for a picture of a Lorcha Boat.

Chinese Merchant Lorchas on the Canton River 1857.

From the original description:



Chinese Shipping.


We have engraved a Lorcha, the description of vessel which has led to so much dispute in the debates in parliament upon the war with China.  the lorca is used in the coasting trade of China by the English and  Portuguese.  Its position in the dispute is well explained in the following passage from a letter to the Times, with the signature of A Voice from Hong Kong.


  As to the lorcha question a great point was made, if I recollect rightly on the idea that the Chinese authorities had no knowledge of our practice of granting sailing letters to colonial craft (for they are essentially colonial, and not British craft).  Now it is notorious that one of the most lucrative sources of employment for these craft,  and in many instances the principal inducement for obtaining the sailing letter,  is the large sums paid, not alone by Chinese merchants, but by Chinese Mandarins themselves, for the services of these craft in convoying trading and fishing junks along the coast, large fleets of such craft often being afraid to venture out of harbour until the services of a vessel possessing this much decried colonial sailing letter can be obtained to protect them from piratical attacks.


  These vessels rarely carry more than one European as master, but are generally heavily armed, and could no more be mistaken for Chinese craft that could a Deal lugger.  In addition to this however, every colonial craft has her name and port painted on the stern, and as the Chinese always speak of a lorcha as  a Foreign Vessel.  it seems rather begging the question.so suppose that the Mandarin boat boarded  the Arrow under the idea that she was a Chinese vessel, even if the flag was not flying .   It will be remembered that all tee information so glibly given by Yeh about the antecedents of the vessel was obtained by examination of the men taken from on board her.  As to the expiry of the sailing letter to the point is hardly worth mentioning, were it not to put a case actually once happening under my own knowledge.   


  A coasting- schooner carrying the British flag under a sailing letter, did not return to Hong Kong until more that two months after the expiry of the sailing letter, and had been engaged in coasting all the time, lying for some time also at one of the five consular ports. and bringing specie on board to the extent of upward of 50,000 dollars a day.  Do the opponents of Lord Wensleydale's law mean to say that this vessel was not entitled to the protection of the British flag, or that the Consul at the port she was lying at could not or should not protect her from Chinese interference ?  And what national character or name had she in the mean time ?  I fancy if any of them had committed a crime on board the Arrow , even after expiry  of the sailing letter, he would have stood but a poor chance, if he had no better defence than that the supreme court of Hong kong had no jurisdiction because the offence had been committed within China, on bard a vessel not being a British one.


Date picture taken (may be approximate): 
Saturday, March 14, 1857


Just the job! And the text is very pertinent, too!

Thank you!