Wilhelm Gahar GARDNER (aka William) [1834-1875] | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Wilhelm Gahar GARDNER (aka William) [1834-1875]

Wilhelm Gahar
Alias / nickname: 
c.1834-01-01 (Month, Day are approximate)
Birthplace (town, state): 
Birthplace (country): 

Wilhelm is my great-grandfather from my mother side of the family. He first established in Macau and at that point Anglisized his name to "Gardner".

He operated the Oriental Hotel until August 1869 when the hotel burned to the ground.

He moved his family to Hong Kong and obtained a license to operate the Hamburgh Tavern and Boarding House.

(Ref. Page 359, Forgotten Souls: A Social History of the Hong Kong Cemetery by Patricia Lim)



Carl Smith mentions William Gardner in his article, The German Speaking Community In Hong Kong 1846-1918:

Other taverns which would have attracted the German sailor on shore were the City of Hamburg 1861 to 1876, Bremen Tavern 1866, City of Bremen 1866 to 1867 - when the name was changed to Scandanavian Tavern, the Prussian Eagle 1870, and the Hamburg Tavern 1861 to 1878. Several ol the propreitors of these establishments followed a pattern set by Peter Smith in marrying women from Macao families. William Gardner, who was born at Strassburgh in 1834, married, in 1863, Cecilia Libania de Jesus Correa. Her sister Melenia Rita Correa mamed William von den Busche in 1864. Both Gardner and von den Busche were associated with the Hamburg Tavern. John Juster took over the Hamburg Tavern fiom William Gardner in 1871,

Hi Roy,

We've got 1878-08-16 as the date on this page, but over at the Findagrave website it says 1 Feb 1875, taken from a gravestone in the Hong Kong Cemetery.

Please do you have a source for the 1878 date?

I also wonder whether the gravestone in the Hong Kong Cemetery is really for Wilhelm? Its inscription reads:

Sacred to the memory of William Gardner late United States shipping master who departed this life 1st February 1875 aged 41 years. Erected by his sorrowing widow.

Do the family histories have any record that Wilhelm was a United States shipping master? The name "William Gardner" is not uncommon, indeed there's another William Gardner buried in the same cemetery in 1893 (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/62444406/william-gardner), so maybe the 1875 stone is for someone else?

Regards, David


Good observation. I must have entered the incorrect date of death. In the book "Forgotten Souls A Social History of the Hong Kong Cemetery" by Patricia Lim - page 359, she records his death date as 1 Feb 1875. The GWULO page has been corrected.

This book also raises a couple of discrepancies on the history of Wilhelm. According to the book, Wilhelm and his family left Macau after the Oriental Hotel was destroyed by fire in 1869. Going through the Jury List I found the first entries for William Gardner, the Inn-Keeper in 1866. Did he already operated the Hamburg Tavern before the Macau fire? Did he migrate to Hong Kong prior to the fire?

The last reference to this William Gardner in the Jurors List was in 1875.

I will continue my research of the Jurors List in pursue of the William Gardner that may be the "United States shipping master". 

Another suggestion that the family were in Hong Kong before the fire in 1869 is the birth of his two sons William (1862) and Augusto (1867). Your records show that both were born in Hong Kong.

Actually the birth location of both of tyhese sons should be changed to Macau. In her book "Forgotten Souls: A Social History of the Hong Kong Cemetery", Patricia Lim writes:

"Mrs. Gardner and her children were asleep in the upper storey; a rush was at once made for their rescue. On going upstairs the whole place was found under a cloud of smoke and it was with difficulty that the lady and her children were brought to safety."

This clearly indicates that at least two of the boys were born in Macau.


Patricia's note shows that at least two of their children were in Macau on the night of the fire, but if the family moved between Macau and Hong Kong it doesn't tell us for sure where they were born. We'll need more information to be sure - hopefully we'll hear from another family member who can fill in more of the story.

This advert appeared on page 96 of the government bulletin for Macau. He looks to be working with the Macao Hotel at that point.


THE undersigned having established at a great expense, on the West end of the Praia Grande, two BATHING MACHINES, expressly for the convenience of the community and visitors of Macao, and also having made them complete with all necessary appurtenances, and desirous of giving every satisfaction hopes (by paying strict attention and giving every possible help) to meet the patronage of all persons wishing to engage in the healthy and vigorous amusements of sea bathing.

Terms: Cash payable beforehand at the Macao Hotel.
1 Season ticket for a family $20.00
1 Single dito 1 month 5.00
Single bathing ... 0.25
5 Tickets 1.00
Time not to exceed twenty minutes.
Macao, 1st May, 1868.