William ROBINSON [1836-1912]
Sir William Robinson - Governor of HK 1891-1898
At a time when Sir Paul Chater was at the pinnacle of his career and was as fully focused on the development of, and the continuation of the growth process that Hong Kong was undergoing, due, in no small part to both of these men. Sir William, perhaps not as popular as previous Governors of the Colony, nor indeed as Sir Paul himself, but nonetheless his time and presence in Hong Kong was clearly appreciated by the Chinese community.
They presented to Sir William Robinson a beautiful 12ft high silk embroidered tribute made of the most exquisite and intricate needlework that the Chinese are renowned for. (A tribute to another Governor, Sir Frederick Lugard in 1912 is currently on display with the Hong Kong University Museum and Art Gallery, to read about it please click this link: http://sunzi1.lib.hku.hk/hkjo/view/44/4400886.pdf). As far as can be ascertained, these are the only two Chinese community tributes presented to Governors of Hong Kong that are in existence today.
I have been extremely fortunate to have made the acquaintance of some of Sir William Robinson's descendants, and the pictures below are presented with full acknowledgement to them for letting me see and photograph their private collection of memorabilia. Unlike the Lugard Tribute, which is permanently held at the Hong Kong University Museum, the Robinson Tribute is held by the family in the UK and passes from generation to generation, along with other fine items of Sir William's time as Governor in Hong Kong and other parts of the world. Presented here for the first time and never before has it been seen in public, is the Robinson Tribute as well as the privately held collection of Sir William's medals and honours which are lovingly kept and displayed by the family.
In the Hongkong Daily Press of 2nd February 1898, an article on the departure of Sir William from the Colony said of the Tribute that it was presented by the Honourable Dr. Ho Kai (an eminent member of the Chinese community at the time and a contemporary of Sir William’s on various councils). Part of the speech by Dr. Ho Kai said……”the only regret is that Colonial regulations prevents us from presenting a more valuable gift, one more worthy of your acceptance……” He then went on to read an English version of the address which is fully reported in the article and which will be transcribed (eventually) here and can therefore be relied upon as being exact and true of what is on the silk tribute scroll below Dr Ho Kai …..”then handed the address to His Excellency and said “the original has been sent on board (the ship he was departing on), being of a very bulky nature. This is the bill of lading and the key of the box and photograph of the address” “
The album containing the Chinese address is of green plush silver mounted covers, four of the corners being of dragon design and the other four of bamboo design. The following inscription is engraved on a silver plate “Presented to H.E. Sir William Robinson, G.C.M.G. from the Chinese community of Hongkong January 1898. The address is printed in three colours, chocolate, green and gold.