Charles Herbert Whiteley KEW [1867-1934] | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Charles Herbert Whiteley KEW [1867-1934]

Charles Herbert Whiteley

His obituary appeared on page 5 of the The Hong Kong Telegraph, 1934-10-01:



Hongkong has lost an old and valued resident in Mr. C. H. W. Kew, who died on Saturday at the age of 68, at his residence at Castle Terrace, Caine Road, after a long illness, from kidney trouble.

The fourth son of the late Mr. and Mrs. William Kew, and brother of Drs. Chadwick, Fred and Irvin Kew, Mr. George Kew, and the late Mr. Joe Kew, Charles Kew was a member of an Australian family, which settled in Hongkong more than half a century ago and have seen the Colony develop into a modern cosmopolis. He received his early education at Queen’s College, then known as the Central Government School. One of a family of clever boys, who have since come to prominence in the careers each chose for himself young Charles made his mark early in life. At the tender age of 14, he was sufficiently well instructed to embark upon his work, and, entering the Chartered Bank of India, Australia and China, he soon rose to a position of responsibility. When only 20 years of ago he acted as Secretary and Confidential Clerk to the late Mr. Thomas Whitehead, Manager of the Bank, who in public affairs is remembered by the part he played as a member of the Legislative Council. Mr. Whitehead passed away in England only half a year ago, but such was the regard which he had at all times for his former Secretary that after a lapse of 40 years he still held the latter in close remembrance and left him a legacy when he died.

At Kowloon.

Charles Kew left the Chartered Bank to join the Hongkong and Kowloon Wharf and Godown Company, then in the early stage of its development. His quick capacity for details which, with a retentive memory, was a characteristic, brought early recognition and a position of trust. He served successively under three different Managers, the late Mr. J. Osborne, Mr. J. McGowan and Mr. A. Brown.

In 1913, Mr. Kew left the Godown Company to start business on his own account, and founded the private limited liability firm of Rudolf Wolff and Kew, Limited, Metal Merchants, Importers and Exporters, and General Commission Agents, of which he was Managing Director until his death.

As principal in a leading firm handling a large share of the metal trade of South China, Mr. Kew’s reports could always be relied upon for the true conditions and activities of the trade. It is said that before the slump set in, he had handled as much as £30,000 worth of Yunnan tin in a day—no mean volume.

Keen Sportsman.

In private life. the late Mr. Charles Kew was of a reserved and retiring disposition, but very well liked and highly regarded by all who had the privilege of his friendship. In his early days he was a keen oarsman, and in yachting, which was his other chief recreation, he excelled. He was one of tho oldest members of the Victoria Recreation Club as well as of the Royal Hongkong Yacht Club, had coxed many a boat to victory at regattas and appeared regularly at races by the latter Club, being the owner of two vessels, the Meteor and Elphin. His brothers are old stalwarts of the Hongkong Football Club.

During the War, when the Hongkong Police Reserve came into existence, Mr. Kew was a Sergeant in the Mounted Section.

A man of much versatility, at one time he had thoughts of becoming an optician. He profited from a holiday spent in the United States in his younger days to study, and had actually qualified as a member of Dr. Klein’s School of Optics, but did not take up practice here. He prescribed for himself at least, an excellent pair of glasses.

Old Hongkong.

Forty-five years of residence in Hongkong produced in the late Mr. Kew a historian with a rare fund of reminiscence. The retentivc-ness of memory mentioned earlier was also applied to public affairs and his association with the late Mr. Whitehead brought him into contact with an interesting phase in the Colony’s history which he had set down in writing. As “Town-dweller’’ he wrote interesting and well in contributions to our “Old Hongkong" and to our Correspondence column, and it was hoped that he would proceed further and produce a book which would have been a valuable contribution of little known facts to bridge gaps in the Colony’s written story. This and other plans he had formulated during' his long illness, for, optimistic in business affairs, he was also optimistic as to his recovery, and had looked forward to a now period of resumed usefulness. His passing will be keenly regretted by many friends.

Mr. Kew leaves a large family, comprising the widow and nine children, amongst them being Arthur (Andersen Meyer and Co.), Henry and Teddie (Rudolf Wolff and Kew), and Cecil (American Express). A daughter, Maud, is the wife of Mr. Henry Ahwee.

The family is also well-known in Shanghai where Dr. Chadwick Kew is in practice as a dentist besides being the proprietor of the largest florist shop there.

The Funeral.

Many friends were present to pay their last respects at the funeral held yesterday at the Protestant Cemetery. The late Mr. Charles Kew was buried in the plot reserved for Old Residents, near the spot where his brother Joseph was interred a few years ago. The Rev. Mr. J. R. Higgs officiated.

The principal mourners were Messrs. Arthur James, Albert Edward, Cecil and Henry Kew (sons) ; Drs. Fred H. and Irvin W. Kew (brothers); Mr. Henry Ahwee (son-in-law); and Messrs. Harry and Allen Kew (nephews) ; 

Others of the large gathering were: Dr, E. Law, Dr. S. C. Ho, Miss Rita Randall and Messrs. Joseph Gould, H. A. Lammert, E. Abraham, J. D. Bush, Hin-shing Lo, Ho Kee, F. Mow Fung, E. Mow Fung, U. Rumjahn, Starling Jex, A. Urquhart, Shi Yu-man, J. Lan-dolt, George Lynn, C. E. Wong, R. H. Wong, F. V. Wong, A. Rosario W. H. Choy, K. F. Li, Choa sien, Choa Po-min, Lau Tak-po, R. Abraham, W. Zimmern, G. Zimmern, Pat White, H. M. H. Ismail, J. Way,  O. Madar, S. R, Ismail, A Landolt, P. V. Botelho, Walters, C, Botelho, F. Collaco, G. da Rocha, G. Kotewall, F. Rapp, W. Gittens, G. Ford and G. P. Lammert.


Siblings of Charles Herbert Whiteley KEW [1867-1934]


Another obituary on page 12 of the Hong Kong Daily Press is broadly similar, but also adds some more names:

Mr. Charles H.W. Kew

The death occurred on Saturday at his residence No. 10 Castle Terrace, of Charles H. W. Kew, an old resident of the Colony.

The late Mr. Kew who sixty-seven years of age comes from a well-known and respected family in Hong Kong. He was, in his youth, a prominent sportsman, and will be remembered by his friends as a very good “cox” for the V. R. C. crews. He also took a great interest in sailing owning a yacht which he raced with moderate success.

As a young man, Mr. Kew was a member of the staff of the Chartered Bank of India Australia and China and later he Joined the staff of the Hong Kong and Kowloon Wharf and Godown Company. More recently he went into business of his own, being managing proprietor of Messrs. Rudolf Wolfe, Kew and Company.

Mr. Kew is survived by a widow, four sons, and three daughters, are Edith, Helen and Mrs. Ah Wee. His brothers are Messrs. Fred, Irving, Chadwick and George Kew.

During the War, Mr. Kew took a big interest in Police Reserve work, of which contingent he was a very prominent officer.

Of a retiring disposition, Mr. Kew enjoyed the friendship and esteem of a large circle of friends, many of whom attended the funeral yesterday. The service was conducted by the Rev. J. R. Higgs, and besides the principal mourners, (his brothers Fred and Irving, and his sons Edward, James Henry and Cecil) there were present the following:— Messrs. Hin Shing L, G.P. Lam-mert, Ho Ki, S. Jex, J.D. Bush, K. F. Li, Sze Iu-Man, U. Rumjahn, Choa Po Min, Choa Po Sin, Lau Tak Po, E. Abraham, R. Abraham, G. Zimmern, W. Zimmern, E. Ford, Choa Po Iu, P. White, H. M. H. Esmail, E. Mow Fung, F. Mow Fung, J. May, J. Gould, A. Randall, S. R. Ismail, A. Landolt. P. V. Botelho, A. Walters, F. Collaco,. G. da Rocha, Ho Ki, G. Kotewall, F. Rapp F. Mow Fung, W. Gittins, H. Lammert, G. Ford, E. Urquhart, M. Sequiera, G. A. V. Hall, Dr. E. Law and Dr. S. C. Ho.

The Wreaths

A bouquet from the Sorrowing Wife Lena was lowered into the grave with the coffin. Other family wreaths were from Jimmy and Rose, Maud and Henry, Teddy and Nancy, Henry and Grace; Cecil, Helen, Winnie, Edith, Norah and Muriel, George, Fred, Clad and Irvin; Rose; Lily and Peter; Irene and Harry.

Flowers were also sent by Nick; Tsiya, Aggie and Ruby; Daisy and Paul; Miss Grace Ablong, Mr. and Mrs. Leo D’Almada e Castro, Snr; Mr. and Mrs Leo D’Almada e Castro. Jnr.; Miss G. d’Assumpcao and sisters.

Messrs. A Baker and A. A. Aziz, F. A. Broadbridge, Mr. and Mrs. J. F. Bishop; Mr. and Mrs. J. D. Bush, Mr. and Mrs C. G. Anderson, Mr. and Mrs. F. H. de Carvalho, Mr. and Mrs. F. C. Collaco, Mr. and Mrs. H. Ching, Mrs. A. M. de Sa Collaco and family, Messrs. A L. Cunningham, Choa Po-sen and Cheung Kwok-choi.

Mr. and Mrs. P. O’Neil Dunn, Mr. and Mrs. Ho Kom Tong, Mr. and Mrs. H. M. Hajes Esmail.

Mr. and Mrs. C. J. Ferguson, Mr. and Mrs G. S. Ford, Mr. and Mrs. E. C. Fincher, Mrs. W. J. L. Ford, Ford, Mr. Ernest F. Fincher Mr. Edward S. Ford, Mrs. Gardiner.

Sir Robert and Lady Ho Tung, Mrs. Ho Iu, Mrs. Ho Fook, Miss L. E. Heang, Mr. A. H. Harvey. Mr. and Mrs. G. A V. Hall, Mr. F. M. Hale, Messrs. H. C. Hunt, W. C. Hung, H. A Hunt, Hon. Mr. and Mrs. R. H. Kotewall.

Mr. and Mrs. J. F. Grose, Mr. and Mrs. H. Gitens, Mr. and Mrs. W. M. Gittens, Mr. and Mrs. S. R. Ismail

Mr. and Mrs. Starling Jex, Mr. and Mrs. P. H. Kim.

Dr. and Mrs. Edward Lo, Mr. and Mrs. J. H. Law, Mr. and Mrs. Hin Shing Lo Mr. and Mrs. V. T. Law, Wesley, Sarah, Albert, Harold, and Maurice Leong, Mr. and Mrs. C. F. Li, Mr. and Mrs. D. E. Leonard, Mr. and Mrs. J. Landolt, Harry and Doris Landolt, Mrs. E. Lin and George, Mrs. Bessie Lee, Mrs. K. F. Lay, Mrs. F. T. Lee, Mrs. Leung Tsze-leung.

Mr. and Mrs. S. Madar, Miss R. Mowfung. Mr. C. M. Manners, Messrs. N. and J. MacKay.

Mr. and. Mrs. C. E. Rocha, Mr. and Mrs. M. N. Rakusen, Mr. and Mrs. P. H. Rathsam, Miss M. Mooney, Mr. O. A. Madar and Miss M. Madar, Mr. and Mrs. F. J. Tavares.

Mr. R. Nazarain, Miss T. Prata, Mr. J. Pestonje, Mr. and Mrs. B. C. Randall, Mr. and Mrs. U. Rumjahn Mrs J. A. Swanson, Mr. and Mrs. F. W. Stapleton, Mr. H. Stainfield, Ah Sam, Mr. and Mrs. E. K Seyer, Mr. and Mrs. A. G. Suffiad, Mr. Arthur Samy, Mrs. Tye and Mrs. Wong, Mr. and Mrs. J. P. Way, Mr. W. G. Williams and Miss Williams, Mr. E. C. Wong, Charlie Wong, Mr. and Mrs, R. Whitmore, Mrs. F. Wong and family, Mr. A. J. Walters, Mrs. A. White and family, Mrs. Zimmern and Family, Mr. and Mrs. H. R. Sequeira,.

Staff of the Hong Kong and Kowloon Wharf and Godown. Co., Ltd., Anderson Meyer and .Co. Ltd. Chinese Staff of Anderson Meyer and Co. Ltd.; Staff of Rudolf Wolff, Kew and Co. Ltd., St. Andrew's Club. Sin Chau-kan. and Chinese Staff of Rudolf Wolff, Kew  and Co. Ltd.. Po Kee Flower.

In an interesting message from Henry Ching, he wonders if CHW really had three wives, or just two:

It is intriguing to compare  what is given in the various posts on Charles Herbert Whiteley Kew with the family tree in Pedigree Chart No.23 in Peter Hall’s very informative book “In the Web” (referred to hereinafter as “the Tree”).
According to the first newspaper report on CHW’s funeral, his widow and nine children were in attendance.  The Tree does indeed show nine children. Actually, it shows ten children of CHW and his two wives Kathleen and Helena, but one predeceased CHW (Harold George Kew).  However, the Tree also shows an eleventh child named Edith Violet Kew, the daughter of an unnamed third wife, who presumably was not present at the funeral.  I have also previously referred to a Thomas Kew who served in the HK Volunteer Company in the Chindits in WW2 and who I understood to be a half-brother of CHW’s other children – Thomas may perhaps have been a brother of Edith Violet?
The Tree indicates that CHW’s three wives were Kathleen Madar, Helena Madar and a third unnamed.  But according to a post on Gwulo, his three wives were first, Ma Ling, second Kathleen and third Helena.  The Tree gives Kathleen’s Chinese name as Ma Lai-hing.  This seems sufficiently close to Ma Ling to suggest that Ma Ling and Ma Lai-hing were one and the same.  And Ma is also  suggestive of a phonetic rendition of Madar.  So one wonders if in fact Ma Ling/Ma Lai-hing was Kathleen Madar, and the third wife remains unnamed. One also wonders at the relationship between Kathleen and Helena, both surnamed Madar according to the Tree – were they sisters?
Interesting also are the birth dates of the children.  According to the Tree, Kathleen’s four children were born between 1896 and 1901, while Helena’s six children were born between 1906 and 1923.  The daughter (Edith Violet) of the unnamed wife was born in 1910.  It seems therefore that the Tree’s unnamed wife could not have been the first, whether named Ma Ling or not.  Kathleen died in 1905, while Helena died in 1965.  So one also wonders if there were, indeed, three wives?

I was wondering how much you know about the (Chung)Mow Fung Family?

I've put the little amount of information we have on

If you can add more information about what you know and what you're looking for to that page, it will help attract people searching the internet who can give you more information.

Regards, David

From Patricia Lim's list

12A--/06/03- Sacred to the memory of / CHARLES HERBERT WHITELY KEW / Born in Maryborough Australia / 2nd August 1867 / Died in Hong Kong / 29th September 1934 / aged 67 years.And to his wife / HELENA KEW / Born 15th Apr. 1887 / Died 7th Dec. 1965.