Henry ELGAR [c.1816-1852] | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Henry ELGAR [c.1816-1852]

c.1816-04-16 (Year, Month, Day are approximate)
Birthplace (town, state): 
Maidstone, Kent
Birthplace (country): 
c.1852-08-01 (Day is approximate)
Cause of death: 
At sea, unknown

I'm researching the life of Henry Elgar.  (See below for background summary.)

The following advertisment appeared in the Melbourne, Australia newspaper The Argus, Thursday 20 Jan 1853:

 "NOTICE is hereby given, that Henry Elgar, of Victoria, in the colony of Hong-Kong, Esquire, claims the equity of redemption of all those portions of the Elgar Special Survey, situated in the parishes of Boroondara and Nunawading, in the county of Bourke, and colony of Victoria, which he mortgaged several year's since, to the late Alexander Dyce, of Manila, in the island of Luconia, Merchant.


Duly appointed Attorney for the said Henry Elgar. "

Documents from a court case in Melbourne in 1872, inform us Elgar died August 1852 in the Chinese (sic) Sea.

From Melbourne, Australia, what means do I have available to me to search for Henry Elgar in Hong Kong in the period 1845 - 1852?

Thanks for your time, I look forward to a response.

King Regards

Bob Kerr

Background summary - Henry Elgar

Elgar was a British Merchant who came to Australia in late 1840.  In mid 1841, in his name he purchased a 5120 acre Special Survey.  He left Sydney in early January 1842, returning to Manila via New Zealand.  During the latter months of 1841 he and others became involved in the the Sandalwood trade in the islands.  And, in late 1842 he was involved with the trade in Greenstone from New Zealand to Manila, then China. 

Evidence is availabe to locate Elgar in Manila in late 1842, then during 1844.  Beyond 1844 until his death is a blank. He could have continued to work out of Manila or moved to Hong Kong, we just don't know.

In 1842 one of Elgar's sisters married the US Vice-Consul - Josiah Moore, in Manila.  Another of Elgar's sisters married Alexander Dyce (mentioned above) in Manila in 1844. 

The earliest reference I've found for a Henry Elgar in Asia is the name on a list of Foreign Residents in China, in The Chinese Repository, VOL. V, From May, 1836 to April 1837.  If it's my man he is around 20 years old.  This clearly opens further discussion on how and when he arrived in the China, and for who was he working.  



Most of the resources listed at https://gwulo.com/node/9376 are online, and so can be accessed from outside Hong Kong. Please let us know if you manage to find him in Hong Kong.

Elgar died at sea near Macao, in August 1852. He was onboard the "Lorcha" No 50, returning from the port of "Yom-pu" (?) in the company of Senhor Agostinho de Sacramento.  Depending who you want to believe the death took place on the 7th, 9th or 19th.  I'm going with the 19th, the date used in the Macao created douments recording his death. 

This information was found last Wednesday at the Victorian Public Records Office in Melbourne.

We have a copy of part of a letter written to Elgar in Hong Kong in ealy 1852.  This was included in a letter written by one of Elgar's sisters in 1870.

More to follow once we have a record of the events and the sources, which will require making sense of some of the poor handwriting.  English translations of letters and statements from Manila and Macao, are a help.

A few steps on the journey.


Thanks for the update. Reading Wikipedia's notes about the special surveys, they offered the owner a good profit. Have you found out whether Elgar continued to own the land at the time he died, or had he sold it earlier and taken the profits?

His death would likely have been reported in the newspapers, though unfortunately 1852's issues are only viewable in person on microfilm, not online.

Possibly a romanisation of Whampoa (i.e. Huangpu) in nearby Canton/Guangzhou?

(The following is my interpretation of the english translation of the document created in Macao, in guess in Portuguese)

" We the undersigned declare that as we were coming from the Port of Yom-pu towards Macao with the 'Lorcha' no. 50 in company with Mr Elgar and Senhor Agostingo de Sacramento and their eleven Chinese and when we came in sight of Oitar (?) he fell sick on board of the Lorcha: we arrived at Nampain (?) (?) Tai-vock when Mr Elgar died at 3 o,clock in the afternoon of Thursday the nineteenth of August we therefore determined on bringing the corpe for in order to obtain our ceretificate.  In witness thereof we sign

Antonio Manuel dos Santos.

A A de Sacramento

Conrado Francisco dos Santos

Joaquim Pedro de Siquiera "

What geographical sense can be made of the above material?


A report of Elgar's death had been found by relatives in the London newpaper: "The Indian News and Chronicle of Eastern Affairs",  16 Nov 1852, - "On board a Chinese junk returning from the west coast, Aug. 7 (sic), Henry Algar (sic), aged about 36 years."  [Note, age is close.]   A copy of this newpaper was found among records at the Public Records Office Victoria, in Melbourne.

All his land holding had been signed away by about 1846 to pay off debits.