British Consuls in South Formosa

Joseph Henry Longford

The Takao Club

Joseph Henry Longford


Japan Consular Service

      Joseph Henry Longford was the first Consul from the Japan Consular Service to be appointed to the new Japanese colony of Formosa. Appointed on 4 February 1896, Consul Longford took charge of the Tainan Consulate from Consul Richard Willett Hurst, of the China Consular Service, on 30 April 1896. Longford departed Taiwan in December 1896 to take up a new appointment as Consul at Nagasaki [長崎], leaving the Consulate in the charge of his Assistant, Ernest Alfred Griffiths.

      Joseph Henry Longford was born on 25 June 1849 in Dublin, Ireland, the son of Charles Longford. Joseph Longford was educated at Queen’s University, Ireland, where he obtained a Master’s degree. He was nominated by Queen’s University and, after a competitive examination, entered the Japan Consular Service as a Student Interpreter on 24 May 1869. Longford was very interested in the judicial aspect of consular work. In 1871 Japan had set up a Law School to codify the laws of Japan, which in 1880 resulted in the largely French-based Penal Code of 1880. Although a Provisional Penal Code had been promulgated in 1868 at the start of the Meiji Era [明治時代], there was considerable debate about which Western model to use. Joseph Longford published a book entitled ‘The Penal Code of Japan’ in 1877 to summarize the existing laws. In 1880 Longford took his first Home Leave which he extended to enrol as a student at the Inns of Court in London. Whilst in London he met Maria Lucy Alice Johnson, known as Alice Johnson, the daughter of Walter Johnson, a Land Agent, and his wife Margaret Elizabeth Hester Johnstone.

      Longford returned to Japan in 1882 by himself to take up his post as Acting Vice-Consul at Yedo, but he was soon followed by Alice Johnson, whom he married at Kanagawa. In 1884 he was Acting Vice-Consul at Tokyo [東京], where their first three children were born: Eileen May Longford born in 1884; Margaret Eveleen Nora Longford, known as Nora, born in 1886; and Terence Ackley Fitzmaurice Longford born in 1887. Longford had been promoted to Vice-Consul on 20 May 1886. Their fourth child, Caitilin Amy Longford, was born on 16 June 1889 at Hiogo [兵庫], where Joseph Longford was Acting Consul in 1889 and 1890. In May 1889 Longford had been called to the Bar at the Middle Temple at the Inns of Court in London, thus becoming a Barrister.

      From 1890 to 1892 Longford was Acting Consul at Hakodate [函館], before returning to Tokyo as Vice-Consul, where he and his family lived in the Vice-Consul’s house and were permitted the use of two additional rooms in the Students’ Quarters. On 4 February 1896 Joseph Henry Longford was promoted to Consul and posted to Tainan on Formosa, as the first Japan Consular Service appointment.

      Consul Joseph Henry Longford, accompanied by First Assistant Ernest Alfred Griffiths, arrived at Anping [安平] on 23 April 1896. Prior to his appointment to South Formosa, Longford had asked Francis Julian Marshall, the Surveyor at the Office of Works in Shanghai, to add three extra rooms to the Consular Residence at Takow. Having studied the plans of the Takow Residence, Longford had declared that the building was insufficiently large for his family with four children between the ages of 6 and 12, who, since there were no educational facilities at Takow, also needed a Governess and a School Room. Marshall was singularly unimpressed, considering the building large enough for normal consular use. As a result, Longford came to South Formosa without his family and Governess who all remained in Japan proper. It was probably just as well.

      Prior to taking charge of the Tainan Consular District on 30 April 1896, the outgoing Consul Richard Willett Hurst of the China Consular Service and the incoming Consul Longford of the Japan Consular Service prepared, as required, reports on the state of the Consular properties. Their reports on the Takow Consular Residence were almost identical: they revealed a building which had suffered from sundry severe attacks by white ants, and whose walls and ceilings were all discoloured by damp, having not been whitewashed for three years, though this should have been an annual event. Hurst made no mention of the parlous state of the roof, of which both he and Surveyor Marshall were well aware. Longford was soon to discover the problem.

      A little over a month later, on the evening of 8 June 1896 a strong typhoon struck Takow. By 11 p.m. rainwater was cascading from the roof into every room of the Residence, bringing down large patches of plaster from the ceilings and flooding the house. The hall became literally a river of water, and, as Consul Hurst had experienced in 1894, Longford needed to pass along the hallway barefoot, with his trousers rolled up, and carrying an umbrella. After a sleepless night trying to save his belongings from utter ruin with the help of three servants, Longford had no option but to remain in the drenched Residence as all the other buildings at Takow were crowded with Japanese.

      By July, Consul Longford had returned to live at the Anping Consulate, which at least put him in proximity to the British traders there. The British firms were enjoying a boom in the camphor market in Hongkong, and their practice of advancing money into the rising market for camphor in the areas around Yünlin [雲林], or Unrin in Japanese, led to increased brigandage. The Japanese forces were still endeavouring to suppress insurgents and brigands in the area with ever harsher methods being used on both sides. It was not long before the camphor business and the Japanese suppression collided. On 2 July Longford was reporting to Sir Ernest Satow, the British Minister at Tokyo, that a serious incident had occurred in the Yünlin district and that a British subject had reportedly been killed. The unfortunate victim was Dajibhai Dadabhai Ollia, one of the oldest and most respected foreign residents in South Formosa, the Parsee head of the firm of Dinshaw and Company of Tainan. His remains were eventually located through the good offices of the Prefect of Tainan and re-interred in October at the Takow Foreign Cemetery, where a headstone showed that Ollia was killed on 28 June 1896 at Rim-ki-po [林杞埔] during a riot in the camphor district. During October and November, the typhoon season being over, Consul Longford had returned to live at Takow. Longford departed Taiwan in December 1896 to take up a new appointment as Consul at Nagasaki [長崎], leaving the Consulate in the charge of his Assistant, Ernest Alfred Griffiths.

      On 28 December 1896 Longford was recalled to Japan to serve as Consul at Nagasaki [長崎] until his retirement in August 1902. His last official act was to be in attendance on Prince Komatsu Akihito [小松宮彰仁親王] and his wife Her Imperial Highness Akihito shinnouhi Yoriko [彰仁親王妃 頼子], the representatives of the Japanese Meiji Emperor, at the Coronation of King Edward VII on 9 August 1902, after which Joseph Henry Longford retired from the Japan Consular Service.

      In 1903, the year following his retirement, Longford was appointed Professor of Japanese at King’s College, London. He held this post until 1916, when he was made Emeritus Professor. During his tenure at King’s College he wrote many books on Japan. Longford was also a member of the Japan Society of London, serving as Chairman in 1921 and 1922, and a strong supporter of maintaining sound Anglo-Japanese relations. Joseph Henry Longford, after his return to England, lived at 10 Esmond Road, Acton, Middlesex, where he died on 12 May 1925. Maria Lucy Alice Longford, aged 84, died 1944 in Berkshire.

      Their eldest daughter Eileen May Longford, born in 1884, never married and died at her parents’ home in Esmond Road, aged 38, on 19 June 1922.

      Their second child, Margaret Eveleen Nora Longford, known as Nora, born in 1886, also did not marry and died at the age of 52 on 28 September 1939 at Woodstock Road, Bedford Park, Middlesex.

      Terence Ackley Fitzmaurice Longford, their only son born in 1887, joined the Royal Navy. On 28 October 1920, Lieutenant-Commander Terence Ackley Fitzmaurice Longford, R.N., married Geraldine Norah Geary, a 23-year-old Medical Student, the daughter of James Aloysius Geary, a Shipping Agent, and his wife Geraldine Fitzmaurice Longford, at the Church of the Holy Trinity, Upper Tooting, Surrey. Geraldine Fitzmaurice Longford was the sister of Joseph Henry Longford, so Geraldine Norah Geary, known as Nora, was Terence’s cousin. Nora Longford qualified as a Surgeon and Physician in 1924. Captain Terence Longford died aged 63 at The Westminster Hospital, London S.W.1., on 3 January 1951. His widow, Dr Geraldine Norah Longford, died at the age of 89 on 5 June 1987 in Surrey.

      Their youngest child, Caitilin Amy Longford, born in 1889, married William Craufurd Carstares Dunlop, Second Lieutenant in the Infantry, the son of William Carstares Dunlop, a Clerk at the Bank of England, and his wife Lucy Helen Dunmore Brown, at Bedford Park, Middlesex, on 10 April 1915. William Craufurd Carstares Dunlop died, aged 86, in Surrey in 1874. The widowed Caitilin Amy Dunlop died at the age of 88 in 1977 in Surrey.


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

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

Longford, Michael; The Path that led to Africa; Gracewing Publishing, England, 2003.

Ruxton, Ian; The Semi-Official Letters of British Envoy Sir Ernest Satow from Japan and China (1895-1906); and, Correspondence of Sir Ernest Satow while he was British Minister  in Japan (1895-1900); Lulu Press.