Timothy MURPHY (aka Tim) [1882-????]

Submitted by Admin on Thu, 09/04/2014 - 17:32
Alias / nickname
Birthplace (town, state)
Newmarket, Co Cork
Birthplace (country)


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Another Newmarket,Co Cork man.B 16.7.1882,enlisted 30.12.1903 as PC 35,Sgt 1914, Temporary Sanitary Inspector 1923 ( to give him certain powers of entry,search and seizure),brother of John Murphy L/Sgt 137, awarded HKP Merit Medal Cl 2 in 1920 of work in tracking dangerous criminals,awarded Kings Police Medal 1924,ADCI 1937,later President of Police Old Comrades Association.

(Collar size 17,waist 42,inside leg 31,boots size 10  tic)

Tim was the first of three brothers from Newmarket, Co. Cork who joined the HK Force.  There were also two Murphy cousins who joined.  Tim and his younger brother John and cousin Michael all rose to senior positions as detectives.  After Tim's brief stint seconded as a sanitary inspector he returned to the Force - he had petitoned to be allowed to rejoin and not lose out in seniority by his secondment.  He was appointed sergeant in 1914, inspector in 1922 and Chief Detective Inspector in 1926.  In 1931 he was gazetted as Assistant Superintendent, one of the first tranch of men who had come through the ranks from constable to hold the position.  He retired, aged 52, in 1938, returning to Cork but to Kinsale, on the coast.  Early in his career he had passed the highest exam  in Cantonese and went on to gain three (of a possible four) merit medals, along with the Kings Police Medal, as mentioned by 1314 above, for his leadership in the 1923 Canton Road shootout, where a heavily armed gang of robbers were foiled in their raid on an apartment by well organized police action.  

He was married twice, his first wife, Mary Shehan, dying of tuberculosis.  She is buried in St Michael's Cemetery, next to Tim's brother James who had lost his life in a fall from an upper floor of the Police Inspectors' quarters in CPS.  He then married May Colbert, the wedding taking place at St Josephs.  The couple (Tim and May) had six children, losing a young daughter, Colleen, to meningitis.  

Tim was fascinated by all things mechanical, especially engines.  In Newmarket he had worked briefly on the engines of the small branch railway, whilst in HK he was soon one of the engine drivers in the Fire Brigade (staffed by European policemen at the time).  He was probably one of the first members of the Force to own a motorcar - there are family photos of Tim standing proudly before his latest acquisition.  Whether on duty or off, he was always seen with his faithful dog, usually a terrier - indeed one such lost its life when it followed its master into the Canton Road apartment and was shot.  

There's further information about Tim's life and that of his brothers and cousins in Policing Hong Kong - an Irish History







Mr. Timothy Murphy was married this morning at St. Joseph’s Church, Kennedy-road, in the presence of a large number of fellow-members of the Hong Kong Police Force and other friends.

The bride was Miss May Colbert, who arrived from Home this week. She is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. P. Colbert, Liverpool.

The groom is Assistant Superintendent of Police, a rank to which he was recently promoted from that of Chief Detective Inspector. He is now Assistant Director of Criminal Intelligence. 

Mr. W. Kent, Assistant Superintendent of Police, gave the bride away and Chief Inspector Peter Grant acted as “best man.” 

The service was performed by the Rt. Rev. H. Valtorta, Vicar Apostolic of Hong Kong, and Father Riganti officiated at the organ.

Large Attendance.

Miss M.A. Lysaught and Miss M. Kent were the bridesmaids. 

The bride wore a white georgette dress trimmed with pearls and gold roses, also a veil of Brussels lace and wreath of orange blossoms. The bridesmaids were in creations of pale pink crepe de chine.

The reception was held in the gymnasium hall at Police Headquarters, where an exceedingly large number assembled to drink the health of Mr. and Mrs. Murphy.

The honeymoon is being spent in Macao. The bride’s travelling dress was of grey georgette trimmed with blue and silver grey fur.”

Source: The China Mail, page 1, 15th September 1928

Also reported on page 16 of The Hong Kong Telegraph, 15th September 1928

Also reported in greater detail on page 6 Hong Kong Daily Press 17th September 1928