Charles Edward WARREN [1872-1923]

Submitted by Admin on Tue, 02/09/2010 - 18:40
Charles Edward
Birthplace (country)
United Kingdom

Charles Edward Warren was John Olson's son-in-law.

To start, a search for 'warren' in HKGRO returns several entries. I only skimmed a couple of the results, but found the duration of his employment with the Public Works Department:

Next he appears in the Juror lists:

  • 1902: Contractor, Wyndham Street
  • 1904: Contractor, C.E. Warren & Co., 30 Des Voeux Rd Central
  • 1905: ditto
  • 1906: ditto
  • 1907: Architect. &c., C.E. Warren & Co., 30 Des Voeux Rd Central
  • 1908: ditto
  • 1909: Contractor, &c., C.E. Warren & Co., 30 Des Voeux Rd Central
  • 1910: ditto

That's as far as I've got - please add any further information about him in the comments below.


Connections: This person is ...

Photos that show this Person


Thanks David.

This project is new to me and was some time after Warren's death. The company was being run by his son Leslie Warren. He left HK just before the Japanese invasion and the company ceased trading. 

However, according to records I got from the Company's Office the company was not officially dissolved until 1956 though there is no record or family knowledge of it ever trading from 1941 onwards which is perhaps somewhat strange.


A few more odds and ends.


Sean's family history notes that CE Warren was born on 29 Mar, 1872, and died on 9th Jun, 1923.

CE Warren, authorised architect.

The HK Institute of Architects published an article "The 100 years architects in Hong Kong 1841-1941" (click to download). On page 48 there's a mention:

Charles E. Warren (C.E., Authorized Architect 1903-23) came to Hong Kong before 1899. He worked in PWD and then in his own practice until 1928.

Obviously the "until 1928" is wrong, but it's interesting to see he was qualified as an Authorized Architect. The top of page 47 shows that there was only a small group of architect firms:

Authorized Architects in Private Practice 1903-1941

There are 12 firms found in the 1914 directory. They were A. Abdoolrahim; Denison, Ram & Gibbs; E. M. Hazeland; Leigh & Orange; John Lemm; Colbourne Little; Palmer & Turner; L. A. Rose; G. B. Sayer; C. E. Warren and Weaser & Raven.

But the total number of architects was higher. From the bottom of page 46:

Starting from 1903, Hong Kong had a list of Authorized Architect under the Public Health and Building Ordinance. The qualifications of an Authorized Architect were:

1) over 27 years of age
2) has worked exclusively as a Civil Engineer or Architect for at least 8 years, dating from the commencement of his pupilage or professional training
3) has had sufficient training and experience as a Civil Engineer or Architect
With regard to (2), any diploma especially to those issued by the Institute of Civil Engineers or the Royal Institute of British Architects.

There were 33 Authorized Architects in 1903. 11 of them were with architectural background, 14 were engineers and the background of the rest was unknown.

At first glance the numbers given aren't quite right. We can see the 1903 list of authorized architects, it's notification #122 in the 1903 Government Gazette. Charles Warren appears, but he's one of only 20 names listed. However, several notifications later in the year (#160, #354, #592, #871) add names to the list, bringing the total up to the 33 mentioned above.

I wonder if the Institute of Civil Engineers would have any record of his qualification?

Regards, David

Diana Warren, (now Taschereau), reports that her father, Leslie Warren, (1900-1943), eldest son of C.E. Warren, who took over the management of C.E. Warren & Co. after the death of her grandfather, Charles Warren, in 1923, designed the bathroom and the gates to Eucliffe Castle in Repulse Bay, home of the millionnaire, Eu Tong Sween. Looking over his shoulder, as a small child, she drew her own design for the gates at the same time.

There is a sketch from the book "the vanishing city" showing the entrace gate of Eucliffe Castle. I was the architectural student from HKU by that time to do the measure drawings. I've kept some photos of the Castle

Thank you for this information, tonylam. I don't have this book but will get it. Would these be the original gates? C. E. Warren & Co. was wound up in 1941. My previous information from Leslie Warren's daughter is that he designed the gates.  Does that information tally with yours? Do you know the date when the gates were actually built?


The 1922 Dollar Directory (viewable in HKU's Special Collections) lists two people surnamed Warren:

  • Warren, A.H., staff, Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation
  • Warren, C.E., director, C.E. Warren & Co.

It also lists the company:

Warren & Co., C.E.
Telephones 370 (Office) and 269 (Godown).
Merchants, architects and Sanitary Engineers,
Director - C. E. Warren.
Staff - J. Goulart D'Aquino and P.M. Xavier. 


A.H. Warren wasn't related to Charles E. Warren, as far as we know. Charles's son Arthur Cecil Warren was still at school in England in 1922. When Charles died in June 1923, Arthur completed the school year and joined his elder brother, Leslie, in C.E. Warren & Co., aged nearly 17. Thank you though for picking out A.H. Warren. He must be from another Warren family. Worth a query.

Best regards


Thanks Jill, I thought I'd better include it in case it was a miss-spelling of A C Warren, but it's clear that wasn't the case.

Did any of C E Warren's relatives (eg brothers, nephews, etc) come out to Hong Kong? I can imagine tales of a successful brother / uncle being told back in the UK, and the listener being sent out to Hong Kong to try their luck.

Regards, David

My grandfather was the seventh of eight children. His youngest brother was called Albert (no middle name recorded). Two of my cousins have meticulously researched the Northamptonshire branch of the Warren family from which my grandfather, known to them as 'Charlie,' came. As neither has yet found a record of Albert's life or death, I won't totally discount his appearance in Hong Kong, but I think it unlikely that some hint of his being there wouldn't have reached our ears. The only current record of a member of the Warren family coming to Hong Kong is a long letter from Albert Wilson, the fiancé of Charles Warren's niece, Maude, to his potential in-laws, after his ship, the HMS Astrea had called in at Hong Kong between 2nd December 1910 and 20th January, 1911. Albert Wilson refers to Charles as "Uncle Warren." He went to see the two C.E. Warren workshops and found out the family's private address in Kowloon, but admits to having been "too shy" actually to go and knock on the door. If he had had the courage to visit, we would have had a vital picture of the household at that time, when all the children were still at home and my father a toddler. My cousin who has written a detailed record of the Northamptonshire Warrens and who is descended from Charles Warren’s eldest brother, Benjamin, father of Maude, has kindly given permission for me to quote from Albert Wilson’s letter to his future in-laws, the Garnhams. He is happy to provide scans of the full letter: 

Uncle Warren has two shops, very large ones, especially one containing all such as general decorator, in the other granite work and tomb stones etc. I have not paid him a visit yet as I am too shy. I suppose but by the look of things he must be very prosperous, living himself and his family across the water at Kowloon, distance like Harwich and Felixstowe.


As you say, what a pity to have travelled half way around the world, but not to have knocked on the door!

Regards, David

I just noticed this letter to the editor of the SCMP:

Sir, On the removal of the Clock Tower, I suggest that an underground convenience for Europeans be built there. This would not take up much space on the surface of the road, and with a small railing around, it would serve the purpose of regulating the traffic. By charging a small fee, as is done at Home, it would soon pay for itself. - Yours, etc.,

It originally appeared in the May 22, 1913 edition of the newspaper, and was reprinted in the SCMP book "Points of View. A century of Letters to the Editor of the SCMP", which is where I saw it.

For you Jill, I am going to pull a few rabbits out of a hat. This is the first:


"THE FATAL COLLAPSE IN HIGH STREET...Inquiry at Magistracy....

....Yestderday afternoon at the Magistracy, Mr Hazeland.....A plan under the Building Ordinance was submitted on the 4th January by Mr. C.E. Warren as agent for the owner. Mr. Warren described the work as follows...

Read more at: The China Mail, page 5, 29th June 1901 and The Hong Kong Daily Press, page 3, 29th June 1901


“IN the enquiry into the cause of the collapse of certain houses, heard at the Magistracy yesterday afternoon, Mr. C.R. Warren (sic) said he was a contractor, not an architect and contractor as reported.”

Source: The Hong Kong Telegraph, page 2, 29th June 1901

As a bonus there is a C.E. Warren and Co. advertisement with the No. 25 Aberdeen address on page 1 (a copy of which you already have)


Further developments:

“The Collapse in High Street

The inquiry into the cause of the fatal collapse of houses in High Street was resumed this afternoon at the Magistracy. Mr. C.E. Warren was again put in the witness box…”

Source: The China Mail, page 2, 2nd July 1901 and more here Hong Kong Daily Press, page 3, 3rd July 1901

Another one. Considering the date, I don't think you saw this coming: 

"The German Mail, I.G.M. Steamer Prinzess Alice left Singapore on Friday, at 1 p.m., and may be expected here to-day, at 3 p.m"

Source: Hong Kong Daily Press, page 10, 12th October 1904

The ship departed Bremen on 30th August 1904, visited Southampton 6th September 1904...was at Singapore 7th October 1904 and arrived in Hong Kong about 3 pm 12th October 1904

"Arrivals: Prinzess Alice, Ger. s.s., 6,720 , P, Wittin 12th Oct., - Bremen 31st Aug., and Singapore 7th Oct., Mails and (?) – M. & Co."

“Passengers arrived…Per Prinzess Alice, from Bremen…Mr. and Mrs. C.E. Warren…”

Source: The Hong Kong Telegraph, page 7, 12th October 1904 and also China Mail, page 8, 12th October 1904


It raises interesting questions. Like for a start, were their very young children Leslie and Evelyn with them?  

The Victoria Recreation Club Athletic Meeting was held on the 7th April 1906 at the Hong Kong Club’s ground at Happy Valley. In the Boys’ Race 440 yards (Handicap), the First Prize was presented by…Mr. C.E. Warren…

Source: The China Mail, page 3, 7th April 1906


Being ever more socially and civilly minded, your grandfather was mentioned again. On the afternoon of 3rd January  1908, the distribution of prizes in connection with St. Joseph’s College took place at the institution. A Mr. C.E. Warren was amongst those thanked for contributing to the Prize Fund.

Source: The China Mail, page 5, 3rd January 1908

Once again, many thanks for these finds about my grandfather, David. All new to me!

I had just sent you an email to say that the newspaper pages aren't opening for me at the moment. Very frustrating. I hope they will relent if our signal improves.  I do look forward to reading the articles.





Oh there is more...


The funeral of the late 65 year-old Mr William Danby, M.I.C.E., took place at the Happy Valley Cemetery on a beautiful golden sunny morning of 13th February 1908. Amongst those who sent wreaths was a Mr. C.E. Warren....I suspect you will recognise a couple of names mentiioned in those who attended or sent wreaths to the funeral. William Danby was a civil engineer, surveyor, architect and a Freemason.

Source: The China Mail, page 4, 13th February 1908 and also Hong Kong Daily Press, page 2, 14th February 1908

The eleventh annual athletic meeting of the Victoria Recreation Club was held at Happy Valley on the Hong Kong Football Club ground on the afternoon of 25th April 1908. In the Boys Race 100 yards, First Prize was presented by Mr C.E. Warren…

Source: The Hong Kong Telegraph, page 4, 25th April 1908 and The China Mail, page 5, 25th April 1908 and The Hong Kong Weekly Press, page 13, 2nd May 1908


The twelfth annual athletic meeting of the Victoria Recreation Club was held at Happy Valley on the Hong Kong Football Club ground on the afternoon of 10th April 1909.  Mr C.E. Warren was amongst a list of names thanked for presenting prizes.

Source: The China Mail, page 6, 10th April 1909



Here, your grandfather's Catholic and charitable credentials are evident in a public manner. So his conversion seems genuine and sustained.

After a recent Kermesse and an Al Fresco fête, the Committee of the Society of St Vincent de Paul publicly thanked him for his cash donation.


Source: The China Mail, page 4, 16th November 1909 and Hong Kong Daily Press, page 3, 16th November 1909


A letter was read from Mr. C.E. Warren expressing regret for having erected a monument in the Colonial Cemetery which has been the subject of complaint at the previous meeting of the Board, and explaining that it was due to a misunderstanding.

The letter was laid on the table."


Source: The China Mail, page 5, 8th December 1909 and Hong Kong Daily Press, page 3, 8th December 1909

The German steamer Derfflinger departed Hong Kong 19th May 1911 for Shanghai and then went on to Japan...Nagasaki, Kobe and Yokohama. 

"Per Derfflinger, …..for Kobe, Mr. C.E. Warren…"


Any business interests in Japan?

Source: Hong Kong Daily Press, page 6, 22nd May 1911 and The China Mail, page 10, 22nd May 1911 and The Hong Kong Telegraph, page 8, 22nd May 1911

And as an extra bonus for me on the same ship is my greatgranduncle Ahmet Rumjahn (16th May 1863 Hong Kong-30th November 1925 Shanghai) who I knew till now had left Hong Kong in 1912 to Shanghai to commence his business there. Now I have a more accurate evidence of travel date to Shanghai. And as a bonus for Sandy Madar, on the same ship is his granduncle Abdul Kader Arculli (1880 Hong Kong-21st December 1962 Hong Kong)

A lot to digest in the above articles, for which I'm very grateful. I'm still having difficulty with mmis. So far the above China Mail 22/5/11 p. 10 is the only page I've succeeded in opening. So yes, C.E. Warren & Co. did have business interests in Japan. I didn't know about the years as early as 1911, but I knew that my uncle, Leslie Warren visited Japan on business. I  have photos taken in Nagasaki when he also took his family along.

The Cemetery Committee seemed to meet under the auspices of the Sanitary Board. Perhaps a report on the previous meeting of the Board would tell us to whom or what the monument was dedicated. I don't know how often the Board met. Presumably the monument was not pulled down. Perhaps it is still in the cemetery. It would be interesting to know.

That's a sensible line of enquiry. Each of these tidbits would generate a host of questions that will add a more subtle understanding of your grandfather's life.

Ahmet Rumjahn was a member of the Sanitary Board in 1903 (he only served one term) and was listed with the title Esq and JP along with British Board members and several Chinese for the Hong Kong Government Report for the year 1904, and its possible that he and C.E. Warren may have crossed paths professionally. 

Your grandfather, I guess like most HK buisnessmen and ordinary speculators, had a keen interest in investment in various HK companies and took an active interest in their buisness activities. The 27th ordinary annual geneal meeting of Messrs A.S. Watson and Company, Ltd. was held in the Hongkong hotel on the morning of 1st June 1912. Among those present was Mr C.E. Warren...

Source: The Hong Kong Telegraph, page 5, 1st June 1912 and Hong Kong Daily Press, page 3, 3rd June 1912


The 16th ordinary annual meeting of the "Star" Ferry Company Ltd. was held on Thursday 28th May 1914 at the office of Messrs. Jardine Matherson and Co., Those present included Mr C.E. Warren...

Source: The China Mail, page 6, 28th May 1914 and The Hong Kong Telegraph, page 4, 28th May 1914 and Hong Kong Daily Press, page 3, 29th May 1914



Several Chinese Temporarily Buried

A serious landslip occurred early this morning in the Tai Han village at the end of a block of buildings owned and occupied by Mr. C.E. Warren, architect. Four of Mr Warren’s servants were buried for a considerable time, but, fortunately, the stones and earth had fallen in such a manner as to give them good breathing space. The Fire Brigade and Police were summoned, and after some hard work the unfortunate men were extricated from their perilous position. They were nearly suffocated, and were at once removed to the Hospital. One has his arm broken.

The collapse was probably due to the recent heavy rains which rendered the hillside somewhat precarious.

At West Point the retaining wall at Baseley Path collapsed under the pressure of the land, above which had become sodden by the rain. Happily, no one was injured."


Source: The China Mail, page 4, 15th June 1915

This must have been at Warren Street, Tai Hang. The street led to the C.E. Warren & Co. factory. The factory workers' cottages, owned by the company were all down one side of the street. Strange use of the word "servants" here to designate the factory workers. What a blessing there were no fatalities. 

Hi Jill,

Saw your grandfather's name again. He sent a floral tribute to the funeral of Mr Alexander Mackenzie of Dunedin, Barker Road, The Peak. He was an agent for Messrs. Arthur and Co. (Export) Ltd.. I assume Mr A. Makcenzie was one of his numerous business contacts within the colony of Hong Kong. 

Source: The Hong Kong Telegraph, page 2, 3rd November 1921 

And as an extra bonus, on the next page 3, there is another advert for C.E. Warren and Co. & Ltd which I don't think has been documented on gwulo but you might already have it in your private collection. 

Hi David,

Funnily enough I do have the record of my grandfather's floral tribute to Alexander Mackenzie, but the only 1921 CEW ad that I have is of a completely different design back in March. Re the floral tribute, I'm quite surprised it wasn't sent in the name of both Mr and Mrs Warren - but, as you say, it was probably a "business" gesture rather than personal. Regarding the ad, my grandfather sold the 30-32 Des Voeux premises in July 1921, so it's a bit odd that that address was still being used in December. I'm always grateful for your snippets from the newspapers. They all add to the family story .... and the riddles.

I now see that C.E. Warren & Co. Ltd. didn't advertise moving their office from 30-32 Des Voeux Road to 98a Wanchai Road till 1 January 1922, so Warren probably negotiated to rent the premises in Central for the last half of 1921.

Thank you for the link to Rosenstock's Directory, moddsey. That's a wonderful source of addresses. My sources for my family's movements have so far been the birth certificates of my father and his siblings and also the meagre three years of the Ladies' Directories held by the British Library. My uncle, Arthur Warren was born at 2 Observatory Villas, Kowloon in 1906 and my father, known as Reggie, was born at Fairview, Nathan Road in late 1909. My grandparents must therefore have moved to Fairview in early or mid-1909. As far as I know, they remained there until my grandfather's final home, The Towers, Broadwood Road was completed in 1915.

I'd like to mark 9 June 2023 as the centenary of the death of my grandfather, Charles Edward Warren.

Charles Warren was born in the village of Denford, Northhamptonshire, England and was the seventh or eighth of the children born to Samuel and Elizabeth Warren. The 1891 census shows him serving an apprenticeship with a baker and beer seller at the Beer House, Irchester, Northhamptonshire. In 1893 Charles, known as Charley, set sail for East London, South Africa, where he worked in a hotel for two years. Travellers passing through with tales of fortunes to be made in Hong Kong enthused him to set off again to Hong Kong. Arriving in 1895 in the wake of the plague outbreak, he joined the Sanitary Department as an Overseer. He was introduced to Hannah Olson, the seventeen year-old Eurasian daughter of the retired Swedish tavern owner, John Olson, by then a wealthy man but with four younger children still at home. The marriage between Hannah and Charles was apparently likely to have been “arranged” given Hannah’s age. The couple lived first at Morrison Hill Road, then Ladder Street Terrace when the Olson parents moved to Caine Road. Seeing his son-in-law gaining experience in drainage and construction Olson must have decided to invest in sanitaryware. A shop was opened in Aberdeen Street then Wyndham Street. In 1900 C.E. Warren & Co. was formed.  Business flourished rapidly and premises were rented in 30 Des Voeux Road. In 1906 a partnership was formed with John, the elder of Olson’s two sons. By 1910 the company had its own tile factory and was publicised as one of the most successful homegrown companies of Hong Kong. In 1913 Warren bid successfully for two large lots: the first in Tai Hang to expand the tile factory and build an access road with housing for the workers. This would become Warren Street. The second was for the large Inland Lot 1947 on the Ridge accessed by the newly named Broadwood Road, where the company built a dozen European houses. Warren’s own family house, The Towers overlooking the racecourse at no. 20 Broadwood Road was to become a prominent landmark. It was fitting that Warren subsequently took the racing name, Mr Towers. Old John Olson’s death in 1918 brought about a rupture between the two brothers-in-law/partners of C.E. Warren & Co. Olson’s son John decided it was in his best interests to break up the partnership, settle in England and educate his sons there. A settlement was drawn up in 1921 whereby Warren would buy Olson’s share of the company over a period of two years. At his death only HK$7,000 would have been left to pay if the monthly payments had been kept up. But Warren’s health deteriorated. In 1922 he paid a final visit to England to attend the wedding of his eldest son, Leslie, who was to inherit the company and to spend the summer holiday with his young sons. He returned alone in September. Hannah prolonged her stay with her brother’s family in England. All the Warren children were in England too. After finishing his training as an architect at the end of March 1923, Leslie arrived with his new wife in Hong Kong on 7th May, a month and a day before his father’s death. Warren had not been well for some time. Like all the Warren family, he suffered from asthma and had probably not been able to shake off a chest infection picked up in England. Pneumonia was given as the cause of death. William Kearley Reynolds, the new company secretary signed the death certificate. Leslie Warren took over the reins of C.E. Warren & Co. Ltd. immediately, but not the costly Tile Stable. Leslie’s sister, Evelyn had encouraged her father to begin investing in racing ponies when she returned to Hong Kong in 1919, but she only stayed for a couple of years. In an ominous accident on 2nd June, one week before Charles Warren’s death, his newest pony, Ridge Tile, rolled on the well-known jockey, Mr Doyle, injuring him. The upsetting event was reported in the racing press.

 Beset by financial difficulties, Charles Warren had changed his solicitors in 1922, making a new will and appointing Arthur Rylands Lowe, manager of the accountants Lowe, Bingham & Matthews as his executor together with his former solicitor Reginald Mattingly. Mattingly resiled and Lowe died of smallpox in 1924 without having taken any action on Warren’s estate. This task was left to John Fleming, his deputy and successor at Lowe, Bingham & Matthews. Charles Warren’s widow, Hannah survived him for 43 years, outliving her younger step-siblings and all her children except her youngest son. Warren himself was survived by his sons, Leslie, Arthur and Reginald and his daughter, Evelyn. His house, The Towers, survived World War 2 but remained empty during the 1950s. In about 1900, after the accidental death of his first child, Charles Warren had converted to the Roman Catholic faith. As his company flourished, he supported and visited the Catholic missions on the China coast and donated generously to the Catholic Church in Hong Kong. But his most lasting physical legacy in Hong Kong consists not only in the name of Warren Street that led to his tile factory, but in the manhole lids that carry the C.E. Warren & Co. Ltd. inscription and the gravestones in the Colonial and St. Michael’s Cemeteries that bear the imprint CEW & Co.

Charles & Cicely Warren
Charles & Cicely Warren, by jill

I never fail to marvel at your talent in excavating my grandfather's name from the old newspapers, David! Thank you. Coincidentally, Charles and Hannah Warren's youngest child, my father, known as Reggie, was born at 4 Fairview, Nathan Road, on 22 October 1909, the day before the publication of the above article.

By chance came across these two incidents on the same day and probably around the same time that were attended to by Mr. C. E. Warren.

1. Yesterday, a native who failed to clear the tramline as a tram was approaching was knocked down in Des Voeux Road Central and received two serious cuts on the forehead. Mr. C. E. Warren who happened to be on the spot at the time, rendered first aid, and the injured man was then sent on to the hospital.

2. Yesterday, a fire occurred on the verandah of the second floor of 59 (not legible) Des Voeux Road Central, above the offices of Messrs. Bratton & Hett. A quantity of baskets on the verandah ignited and the fire would no doubt have been a serious one but for the timely arrival of Mr. C. E. Warren. Mr. Warren was passing by the place at the time, and when he saw the fire, lost no time in quelling the outbreak.

Source: Hong Kong Daily Press 18 February 1909.


Very many thanks for spotting my grandfather's name in connection with these two 1909 incidents, moddsey. He must have been coming or going from the C.E. Warren showroom at 30 Des Voeux Road Central. Perhaps he was used to dealing with minor accidents at the Warren tile factory. It's good to hear that he stepped in quickly in the case of the injured pedestrian and probably shouted for water and help to douse the fire on the second floor of the building in Des Voeux Road Central, which can't have been very accessible from the road.

Many thanks for this. I don't think I have copies of all the CEW advertisements. Moddsey has previously uploaded the showroom photo, which I believe dates from 1941 just before the company was wound up. I can't find the relevant Gwulo thread, but moddsey mentions that the photo is given on p. 38 of Harrison Forman's photos.