George Thomas BRAINE [1807-1888] | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

George Thomas BRAINE [1807-1888]

George Thomas
c.1807-01-01 (Month, Day are approximate)
c.1888-12-31 (Month, Day are approximate)

His name was mentioned in a talk last week about the Hong Club. He owned the land at the bottom of Wyndham and D'Aguilar Streets that the first club building was built on.

Here are other mentions I've found of him:

  • 1841, 12th June. Mr George T. Braine was present at the first land sale in Hong Kong. Page 269, History of the laws and courts of Hongkong.
  • 1843. He is one of the first 44 Justices of the Peace appointed in Hong Kong. Friend of China 30.6.43 extraordinary edition, via
  • 1846: He's listed as a member of Dent & Co.:
       Dent & Co., Hongkong.
          Lancelot Dent England.
          George T. Braine.
          William Leslie, Canton.
          Wilkinson Dent.
          F. C. Drummond, absent.
    John Dent, absent.
    Edward Pereira.
             Henry Dickinson.
             M. W. Pitcher.
             J. Caldecott Smith, Can.
             G. H. Schumacher.
             J. Bowman.
             James Trabshaw.
             Joaquim Caldas, Canton.
    Page 4 of The Chinese Repository, Vol. XV. - January 1846 - No.1
  • 1846. He is mentioned in a divorce case: "The divorce suit of Matthyssons v. Matthyssons, came before the House of Lords on the 2nd July, before Lord Cottenham and other Peers with the learned Judges. The petitioner, a British merchant at Macao, left that place for a voyage to Australia leaving his wife behind under the protection of her brother, Mr. Adam Wallace Elmslie, the then Secretary to Sir Henry Pottinger, the British Plenipotentiary in China and Governor of Hongkong, and during his absence she carried on an adulterous intercourse with a merchant of the name of George Thomas Braine." Page 99, History of the laws and courts of Hongkong.
  • 1846: On 17th August, he married the woman mentioned in the divorce case above: "In Paris, George Thomas Braine, esq. to Joanna-Frances, dau. of Adam W. Elmslie, esq." Page 529, Gentleman's Magazine, Or Monthly Intelligencer, Volume 57.
  • 1851: On 16 January 1851 Eastern Steam Navigation Co. was established, with secretary John Yates, chairman being Robert Wigram Crawford, with George Thomas Braine of Dent and Co., the rivals of Mathesons who led P&O, and Robert Brooks also.
    (Broeze, Robert Brooks, p. 246.) via
  • 1860: A George Thomas Braine appears in the Orders of the Court For Relief Of Insolvent Debtors on 17th Nov 1860: "George Thomas Braine, late of Rue du Chemin de Versailles, Paris, France, Merchant and Agent.—In the Debtors' Prison for London and Middlesex." 
    Page 4400, The London Gazette, November 20, 1860.

That's the last mention I found of him. It's not 100% sure that the insolvent G T Braine in 1860 is the same G T Braine in Dent's in the 1840s, but given his 1860 description as a Merchant and Agent, and a Paris address when he was married in Paris in 1846, it is likely. If you have any more information about him, please let us know in the comments below.


G.T. Braine's life dates are 1807-1888

Thanks Alice, I've updated the dates above from my original guess of 1811-1860. Please could you give your sources for the 1807-1888 range?

He went on to have a long life, despite a spell in the debtors' prison.

His birthdate (18 May 1807) is recorded on his baptismal record (Devon Baptisms, Plymouth & West Devon Record Office). He was baptised in 1811, hence the persistant confusion. His deathdate (22 Dec 1888) is given in the [London] Morning Post, 28 Dec 1888, pg. 1 (among other papers).

George Thomas Braine was the older brother of Charles Joseph Braine (1814-1890), better known as C.J. Braine in old Hong Kong records. He was my great, great grandfather. C.J. Braine came to Hong Kong around 1841 from Canton, where he had worked for Dent & Co. He appears in records as a partner of Dent's, a JP, and a member of the Asiatic Society. C.J. owned Green Bank (where Lan Kwai Fong is now) which is richly described in Robert Fortune's A Journey to the Tea Countries of China (1852).  C.J. married Eudora Marriott and had 10 children. At least two were born in Hong Kong in 1848 and 1849. Their first child, Eudora, was born in Madras in 1846, so the Braines may have spent some time there before coming to China.

C.J. appears to have left Hong Kong for the UK around 1850, when he buys a house in Devon.  By 1862, he appears in Ceylon, as the manager of Ceylon Co. Later, he is recorded as a coffee and tea planter, owning a plantataion named Abbotsleigh, about 1000 acres in extent. His children, grandchilden, and great grandcildren in Ceylon became tea, rubber, and coconut planters.

C.J. was passionate about ferns, and one, Brainea, is named after him. 

George Thomas and Charles Joseph were in Hong Kong at the same time, were partner's of Dent & Co, were JPs, but not sure how well they got along. 

Hello, George! Are you the person running ? I'm working on your great, great grandfather and great, great grand uncle's botanical legacy, among other things. I would love to be in touch--I have a very good timeline for their movements in and out of Hong Kong (they only overlapped for about a year), but am looking for more information about C.J.'s activities in Devon and Ceylon.



Yes, I am running the teddybraine blogsopt. Would like to get in touch.