Ronald Owen HALL [1895-1975]

Submitted by brian edgar on Wed, 06/17/2015 - 19:10
Ronald Owen
Birthplace (town, state)

Bishop of Victoria and then the Diocese of Hong Kong and Macau 1932-1966.

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Ronald Hall was born in Newcastle, England in 1895.

When World War I started he enlisted in the army, and by the end of the war had risen to the rank of major.

He then had a shortened university education at Brasenose College, Oxford, and theological college, was ordained in 1921 and married Nora Suckling-Baron in 1923.  They had 3 children.

He was a leading light in the Student Christian Movement, and made visits to China and close contacts with young Chinese Christian leaders. 

After serving as a parish priest in his home town Newcastle from 1926-32, he became Bishop of Victoria, Hong Kong, at the age of 37.

He had a particular concern for the wellbeing of individuals through justice and social welfare and proved himself to be to be a far-sighted man deeply committed to building up a vigorous Chinese church. He was ahead of his time in ordaining worker-priests (the first in 1938).

A controversial figure with a ‘burning compassion for the less privileged’, he resigned from the Hong Kong Club for not being allowed to take a Chinese friend there and he was the first bishop to open the main entrance of Bishop’s House to the Chinese. 

In 1935, Bishop Hall set up an orphanage near Taipo NT, which later on took on the name St Christopher's Home

Also during this time, St John's (Cathedral) actively secured clothing and medical supplies for the lepers in Beihai and other pastoral areas in China.

He was in the United States in 1941 when the Japanese attacked Hong Kong, and he spent most of the war years in China.  His efforts on behalf of the Chinese people were recognized by both Mao Tse-tung and Chiang Kai-shek. Song Ching-ling invited him to be the Vice-chairman of the Industrial Co-op during this time.

In 1944, he very controversially ordained a Chinese deaconess, Lei Tim Oi, in southern China, to serve the Anglican congregation in Macao, who were isolated by the Japanese occupation of south China.   

In the post-war reconstruction of Hong Kong, with its rapidly growing population, he played a prominent part, founding 30 churches, 65 schools, and innumerable charitable works, eg schemes to provide school meals, housing associations, night shelters, accessible health clinics and so on.

In 1966 he and his wife retired to Oxfordshire, England.

Bishop Hall died at the age of eighty in 1975Nora Hall died in 1982.

The Wordpress Hanson Huang website has this pic of Ronald Hall at a younger age.

The National Portrait Gallery has this picture of him in clerical robes.




Hong Kong Bill

Lord Beaumont of Whitley

"My Lords, this is an historic moment in the history of the Commonwealth, and particularly of Hong Kong. So far, we are extremely grateful to the noble Baroness (Young) for her lucid exposition of the Bill; …..

"As with all our colonies, our record in Hong Kong is extremely mixed. Greed and the infamous history of the opium trade mingles with our, on the whole, not ignoble efforts to deal with the refugee problem, with the relative uprightness of our administration, and with the saintliness of men like the iconoclastic Bishop R.O. Hall and women like Mildred Dibden with her orphanage, which took in the poor and helpless and turned out so many of them as sterling citizens. If I may say so, Bishop Hall in particular has had a long way to tread from the time he first arrived in the colony and had to take the revolutionary step of asking that Chinese archdeacons should come to the front door when they called on him and not to the back, as had previously happened."

This is the beginning of the message delivered by Bishop Hall in St John's Cathedral, Hong Kong. He gives testimony of a personal healing he received following wartime loss (WW1). 

'Five weeks ago I left England to come to this place, leaving the city I was born in and where I have lived and worked for the greater part of my life.

For the past six years my life has been in the homes of Newcastle people with the sick, with the bereaved, with the countless unemployed, for whom life has little hope and no meaning, and with the boys and girls, who as they grew to manhood and womanhood gave me so generously their confidence and their friendship.

My heart is still sore for my beloved Tyneside, for my fellow townsmen, for the pits and shipyards and heather hills of the north country. But in a strange way God has tied my life to China. In my schooldays I had three friends. We were very close, but in the stern days of the war they were all taken and I was left alone. Something was dead in me. I had lost the capacity for intimate friendship with my fellows.

In 1922 I was sent to the Student Conference in Peking. At that Conference the capacity for friendship was restored to me. As a gift from God there came into my life a friendship as deep and as strong as those the war had taken from me. It was friendship for and with a Chinese Christian. His friendship has done two things for me. It has given me back my capacity for friendship with my fellows. And it has given me a love for the people of China second only to my love of my own people.

You can imagine then the deep joy which is mine, because I can now combine the two great loves of my life, my own countrymen and the Chinese people. I am proud and grateful to God that I am allowed to serve you here in this vigorous and beautiful colony, and also the great Chinese people, through whom God opened my heart again to friendship after the bereavement of the war.'

For the rest of the message please see:


Ronald Hall married Nora Kathleen Suckling-Baron, born 20th November 1897, in Minchinhampton, Glos; died 1982, in Essex.  She was repatriated to England before the war.

I was just wondering if the Rev. Ronald Hall take up temporary vice-consul duties at Chungking in 1943 as I have seen a signature of a Ronald Hall or resembling his name in the inside cover of a British passport issued in the same year ?

Well spotted, Moddsey.

According to his biographer he was travelling in south China in 1943 and was in Chungking in February and at various times later in the year. I think it’s highly likely the signature was his