Any advice or tips on researching life in HK in 1895 please?
Sorry, bit of a long introduction.
I am trying to piece together the early life of my grandfather and great aunt who were both born in Hong Kong in 1895 and 1898 respectively. I wonder if any forum members may have any tips for my search. Research I have done so far:-
HKPRO could not find any birth certificates when I paid for searches. However, recently I had news in the form of one of the cards from the Carl Smith Collection which informed me that my grandfather (HTW Wade) was actually the illegitimate child of Rowland Henry Rochfort Wade and a Chinese woman called Qui Fook, and he was baptised at the Canossian Convent Chapel in July 1895. The illegitimacy angle was always expected after several years of research (Government papers with help of Bernard Hui of HKPRO) although my aunt, now 87, has very little recollection of her grandfather (she thought he was a brother of Thomas Francis Wade - of romanisation of chinese language fame) or that he actually had a separate family, as she only saw him once during her childhood in China before escaping to Europe in 1937.
My great grandfather RHR Wade arrived in Hong Kong in June 1889 (found in the China Daily newspaper online from HKPL) and joined the Chinese Maritime Customs as a 4th Assistant ( Bristol University Project on Chinese Customs Service & records at School of Oriental and African Studies, London) and worked his way up to Commissioner of Customs serving in Shanghai, Tsingtoa, Tientsin and in Hong Kong circa 1924 before retirement in 1927 from Tsingtoa. I know from research (National Archives Dublin and UK) that RHR went back to Ireland in 1899 and married and returned to China and had 4 children (1 died in infancy).
I have also found (WW1 call up papers for my grandfather - Captain of Chinese Labour Corps in France 1917) that my grandfather was living in Shanghai in 1917.
It is clear that he and his sister were cared for, and obviously at some stage registered as British subjects, although no records exist from any returns from any embassy in HK or China - National Archives UK to support this.
I have written to the Catholic Diocesan Archives of Hong Kong for any information they may hold about my grandfather possibly boarding or being educated by the Canossians or whether there is any information about Qui Fook. Interestingly RHR was Anglican and my grandfather through to us are Roman Catholics and I am aware that children taken in by the Convent had to be brought up in the Catholic faith. I have also written to a couple of Catholic colleges in HK to see if my grandfather may have been educated there in his early days. Still awaiting a reply.
It is obvious that my great grandfather kept this line a secret from his own family but also that he must have ensured that the illegitimate children were cared for and given his name. I am also aware that it must have been difficult for Eurasian children at that time. However, I am desperate to piece together their lives after birth to 1917 and when they moved to Shanghai.
Has anyone had a similar story or suggestions for further investigation? My brother may be able to fly out if there are any archives that might have such information and require public access.