British Consuls in South Formosa

George Jamieson

The Takao Club

George Jamieson


 China Consular Service

      George Jamieson was Acting Consul for Taiwan [臺灣] from 29 February 1868 to 1 July 1868. Jamieson replaced Thomas Adkins, who had departed on 16 February 1868 for Peking, and was relieved by John Gibson on 1 July 1868.

      George Jamieson was born on 5 February 1843, the eldest son of Alexander Jamieson, a Farmer, and his wife Helen Pirie of Crannoch, Grange, Banff-shire, Scotland. He attended Aberdeen University, where he received a Masterís degree in 1864, and joined the China Consular Service through the nomination of the university in the same year. Jamieson travelled out alone to China and arrived at the British Legation at Peking [北京] to take classes in Chinese around November 1864. His journey to Peking was extremely arduous since the sea had frozen over at Tientsin [天津], forcing Jamieson to travel overland through snow and ice from Chefoo. After two yearsí of studying Chinese at Peking Jamieson was posted to Shanghai [上海] as an Acting 3rd Assistant around November 1866. Promoted to 3rd Assistant in 1867, George Jamieson remained at Shanghai until 12 February 1868 when he left to take up his sudden posting to Taiwan.

      George Jamieson travelled to Hongkong [香港] and then to Amoy [廈門], where he met up with Thomas Adkins, who had left Formosa as soon as he had received Alcockís summons to Peking. It was fortuitous that Jamieson met Adkins as Adkins was then able to transfer the Consular funds, which were held by Elles & Co, into Jamiesonís name. It seems extraordinary that Sir Rutherford Alcock, the British Minister at Peking, should put the Taiwan Consulate into the hands of Jamieson, a 3rd Assistant with less than 18 monthsí experience, but that is what happened and Jamieson arrived at Takow [打狗] on 29 February and took charge of the Consulate. By 24 April 1868 Jamieson was reporting to Alcock on disturbances relating to the activities of the missionaries, who, though tolerated at Takow, were receiving a less friendly reception in Tainan where riots had taken place. In May he was receiving pressure from Elles & Co and Tait & Co to allow British ships to dock at West Coast ports; ostensibly to load sugar and rice, but in all probability to load camphor. These issues were still brewing when the unfortunate John Gibson arrived to take over the Taiwan Consulate on 1 July 1868. George Jamieson stayed on for a fortnight to brief Acting Consul Gibson over these matters, but Gibson proved to be the wrong man to deal with them.

      From Taiwan, Jamieson was posted to Foochow [福州] until 1870, when he returned to Shanghai with a promotion to Second Assistant. With the traditional Scots urge to become a Barrister, Jamieson returned to England and enrolled as a student of the Inner Temple, Inns of Court, London, in November 1871, and went to the Middle Temple in June 1873. Before returning to China, George Jamieson returned to his Scottish home where he married Margaret Isabella Inkson, the daughter of Patrick Inkson, a Farmer and JP, and Jane Falconer, at Grange, Banff-shire, on 1 July 1873.

      Jamieson returned to Shanghai with his wife Margaret at the end of 1873, and their first child, Jane Eleanor Jamieson, was born there on 11 September 1874. By now Jamieson was a First Assistant, and was next promoted to Interpreter and transferred to Chefoo [芝罘], where his next two daughters were born: Elsie Kate Jamieson was born 24 October 1875; and Adelaide Mary Jamieson was born 24 June 1877. After moving to Pagoda Island [羅星塔] as Vice Consul in November 1877, he took home leave and was called to the English bar at the Middle Temple on 6 June 1880. He returned to take up the post of Consul at Kiukiang [九江], where his son Edgar George Jamieson was born 9 October 1882, until 1 April 1891, though he was absent from his post after 1 April 1886. During this period he returned to Scotland to place his two youngest children, Adelaide and Edgar, in the care of their uncle Thomas Inkson in Banff-shire for their education.

      On 1 April 1891 George Jamieson was appointed the British Consul at Shanghai and was concurrently appointed an Assistant Judge at the Supreme Court for China and Japan, which was in Shanghai. Jamieson was created a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (C.M.G.) at the time of Queen Victoriaís Diamond Jubilee in June 1897, and appointed Consul-General at Shanghai on 13 November 1897. Jamieson remained an assistant judge at the Supreme Court until 1898, but took early retirement, on the grounds of ill-health, from the China Consular Service on 26 April 1899. After retirement he became a director of the British and and Chinese Corporation.

      Jamiesonís wife Margaret Isabella Jamieson, formerly Inkson, died at Shanghai on 18 May 1896. His eldest daughter, Jane Eleanor Jamieson, married William Bruce Robertson, a wealthy Exchange and Bullion Broker, at Shanghai in 1897; she died on 28 September 1955 in London. His second daughter, Elsie Kate Jamieson, married Ernest Wynne Martelli, a Barrister, the son of Charles Henry Ansley Martelli, at Kensington, London, in 1901; Elsie died on 14 October 1952 in London. Jamiesonís third daughter, Adelaide Mary Jamieson, married Arthur Gaitskell, of the Indian Civil Service, at Kensington, London, in 1898; Adelaide died on 14 October 1956 in Sussex: their third child was Hugh Todd Naylor Gaitskell, the Labour Party politician. Jamiesonís only son, Edgar George Jamieson, followed in his fatherís footsteps, joining the China Consular Service in 1902; he married Mabel Armitage, the daughter of William Henry Armitage and Sarah Ann Blizard, at Kensington, London, in 1910; he died on 12 March 1959 at Painswick, Gloucestershire.

      George Jamieson C.M.G. died, aged 77, at his home, 43 Onslow Square, South Kensington, London, on 30 December 1920.

Sources: Lo Hui-min and Bryant, Helen; British Diplomatic and Consular Establishments in China: 1793-1949, Volume II Consular Establishments 1843-1949; SMC Publishing Inc., Taipei, Taiwan, 1988.

The National Archives, British Foreign Office Files, series FO 228 (China) and series FO 262 (Japan).

Ruxton, Ian [ed]; The Correspondence and Diaries of Sir Ernest Mason Satow; (various titles).

Oakley, David Charles; The Story of the British Consulate at Takow; Privately published, Kaohsiung, Taiwan, 2007.

Coates, P. D.; The China Consuls: British Consular Officers, 1843-1943; Oxford University Press, 1988.