British Consuls in South Formosa

Pierre Frederick Hausser

The Takao Club

Pierre Frederick Hausser


 China Consular Service

      Pierre Frederick Hausser was born on 23 October 1856 in St George’s Parish, Pimlico, London, the son of Frederick Hausser, a Professor of Music from Alsace in France. Hausser’s mother is unknown and he was brought up by his aunt Mary Ann Hausser in Brighton, Sussex. In 1878 P F Hausser took the Civil Service Entrance Examination for the China, Japan, and Siam Consular Services, and was appointed a Student Interpreter in the China Consular Service on 15 April 1878. After two years’ official Mandarin Chinese language training at the British Legation, P Frederick Hausser was posted at Taiwan Consular District as a Student Interpreter in 1880.

      Pierre Frederick Hausser arrived at Taiwan-fu [臺灣府] on 19 October 1880 to take up his post as Student Interpreter under Acting Consul Pelham Laird Warren. Hausser’s duties were Acting Third Assistant and Acting Interpreter at his new posting. The new Consul, George Phillips, had arrived on 13 February 1881, but a renal infection induced Dr William Wykeham Myers, the Consular Medical Officer, to advise Sir Thomas Francis Wade, the British Minister at Peking, that Consul Phillips should be transferred to a cooler port and given a short period of leave as an alternative to sending him back to England for treatment. Accordingly Consul Phillips left the island 2 July 1882, handing over charge of the Consulate to Acting Third Assistant Pierre Frederick Hausser. Hausser therefore became Acting Consul at Taiwan until the arrival on 21 July 1882 of the Tamsui [淡水] Consul Thomas Watters, who was sent to officiate at Taiwan. On 1 April 1883 Consul Watters handed over charge of the Consulate to Acting Consul Warren, but before leaving he wrote a glowing testimonial on Pierre Frederick Hausser, writing to Thomas George Grosvenor, the British Chargé d’Affaires at Peking, as follows: “It gives me much pleasure on the eve of my departure from Taiwan to bring to your notice the able and cordial manner in which Mr Hausser has assisted in all the work of the Consulate during my whole term of office here.”

      Acting Consul Pelham Laird Warren had his wife and new baby with him and preferred to reside at the Consul’s house at Takow after his arrival on 31 March 1883 and Acting Assistant Pierre Frederick Hausser was duly sent up to live in the old Consulate at Taiwan-fu. However, with the onset of the rainy season problems soon emerged with Hausser’s health, and by 28 July 1883 Acting Consul Warren was reporting to Grosvenor in Peking that Hausser was rapidly succumbing to the ‘malarial influences of the Taiwanfoo climate’, despite making short recuperative visits to Takow. As Warren could not offer Hausser hospitality at the Takow Consular Residence since only three of the five rooms were habitable during the rainy season due to the defective state of the roof, and he was obliged to rent quarters from Bain & Co for Hausser at the urging of Dr Myers. Dr Myers had a very poor impression of the Taiwan-fu Consulate, stating that every occupant of the building had suffered from severe attacks of fever with general debility, and noted that all the merchants had moved out of the city itself to Anping. Dr Myers stated that the “building is so placed that the rainfall collected in the courtyards without must soak under and remain beneath the dwelling rooms keeping them in a continual condition of damp”. He had therefore advised Frederick Hausser’s immediate removal from Taiwan-fu. Unfortunately Bain & Co required their house, where P F Hausser was stationed, to be returned on 1 January 1884. Dr Myers thought that Acting Assistant Hausser was sufficiently recovered to return to Taiwan-fu but cautioned that Hausser should not stay there later than the end of March, when the rainy season began.

      In a tragedy for the foreign community in South Formosa, Mary Donnithorne Warren, the wife of Acting Consul Warren, died on 14 January 1884 at the Takow consular residence. After arranging for his wife’s burial at the Takow Foreign Cemetery and his infant daughter’s return to England, the widowed Pelham Laird Warren handed over charge of the Taiwan Consulate to Consul William Gregory on 15 February 1884 and left Formosa to take up his new posting as the Vice-Consul at Pagoda Island [羅星塔]. Even in his hour of grief, the departing Warren took time to praise Acting Assistant Pierre Frederick Hausser to Sir Harry Smith Parkes, the British Minister at Peking, writing that “I commend to your notice the very efficient manner in which Mr Hausser has for a long period discharged the duties of Assistant and Interpreter at this Consulate. His conduct of the ordinary office work of the Consulate leaves nothing to be desired, whilst his proficiency in Chinese, both the written and spoken official language, and the local dialect spoken here, has rendered his services at all times most valuable.”

      In 1883 a dispute had arisen between China and France over the control of northern Vietnam that involved the Black Flag Army [黑旗軍] of the Chinese soldier of fortune Liu Yung-fu [劉永福], who was later to become the de facto President of Taiwan in 1895. The dispute escalated to become the Sino-French War from August 1884, when the French Far East Squadron under Admiral Amédée Courbet virtually annihilated the Chinese Fuchien [福建] Fleet, to 15 June 1885, when a peace treaty was finally signed at Tientsin [天津]. Admiral Courbet sought to put pressure on the Chinese government first by attacking North Formosa, and then, having been repulsed at Tamsui [淡水] and bogged down at Keelung [雞籠], imposed a blockade of Formosa from 23 October 1884 which officially lasted until 15 June 1885, though it was largely ineffective in the South after December 1884. As the situation became more grave the officiating Consul William Gregory stationed himself at the Taiwan-fu Consulate from July 1884 to maintain a sound relationship with the Taiwan Tao-t’ai [道臺], or Circuit Intendant, Liu Ao [劉璈].

      Pierre Frederick Hausser was duly stationed from July to December 1884 at Takow [打狗], where he was practically in charge especially when the Formosan ports were blockaded in October. Time after time a French bombardment seemed imminent, Chinese soldiers got out of hand, general suspicions of the British being in league with French arose, danger was provoked by the repeated foolhardiness of one of the Takow residents (believed to be Dr Myers), and other events happened where action had to be taken at once by P F Hausser, without reference to Consul Gregory 30 miles away, to prevent or to anticipate disaster. Hausser proved himself, on all occasions, during 6 months of anxiety, excitement and responsibility, a cool, courageous and able officer.

      By the end of the year the situation in South Formosa had abated, and the French blockade, though still in force, was no longer threatening. The officiating Consul William Gregory was able to leave for Ichang [宜昌] and hand over the Taiwan Consulate to First Assistant William Donald Spence, the new Acting Consul sent from Shanghai, on 22 December 1884.

      Upon the day of his departure, William Gregory wrote to Sir Harry Smith Parkes, the British Minister in Peking, as follows:

“Before giving over charge I desire to draw attention to Hausser’s position and services at Takow, which for the past 5 months has had considerable resemblance to that of a Vice-Consul. I came up from Takow on the 23 July arriving here on the 24th and have not returned there since then, the outlook having been such that I did not choose to leave Taiwanfoo and Anping without the presence of a Consular Officer.”
“Mr Hausser has therefore held a position amounting (it may fairly be said) to a separate though subordinate charge during a troublous and most anxious time; and I think he has acquitted himself exceedingly well therein. Yet his permanent or substantive rank is that of a Student Interpreter.”

      At the time of Consul Gregory’s departure in December 1884, Pierre Frederick Hausser had already spent over 4 years in South Formosa as a Student Interpreter, with an annual salary of £200 that allowed him to save not a penny. The problem lay really in a blockage in the promotion system within the China Consular Service that was causing many good men to leave; amongst the frustrated good officers who would leave was Acting Consul William Donald Spence.

      Sir Harry Parkes had died in Peking on 21 March 1885 of malarial fever without any action being taken on Hausser’s rank. Acting Consul William Donald Spence therefore tried a different approach. On 20 April 1885 Spence, having already tendered his own resignation on 1 March 1885 in order to join Jardine Matheson & Co yet been persuaded to stay on for one more year, wrote to Nicholas Robert O’Conor, the British Chargé d’Affaires at Peking, highly praising Hausser and asking O’Conor to persuade the Secretary of State to apply to the Treasury for a £100 gratuity or grant in recognition of his services. Spence also reported that Hausser’s health had been undermined by his lengthy residence in Formosa and really needed a Home Leave to recuperate, but as this was beyond his means on his meagre salary, a hundred pounds would at least allow him to reinvigorate in Japan. Spence finished with the powerful statement that he was urging the grant not just for all the good work Hausser had done but also “from a conviction that as he has lost his health in H M Service, H M Government should, by a gratuity, put it in his power to regain it.”

      In his April 1885 Acting Consul Spence had told the British Chargé d’Affaires, O’Conor, that Hausser’s health was then so bad that he “could not take the responsibility of stationing him at Taiwanfoo” during the summer, enclosing a letter from Dr Myers to support this position. In May Spence sent an application from Hausser to transfer to another port, again supported by a letter from Dr Myers, to O’Conor, but again O’Conor took no action. Finally the hammer fell in July 1885 and Hausser’s health broke down completely. Upon the advice of Dr Myers, Acting Consul Spence took it upon himself to send Acting Assistant Pierre Frederick Hausser away on 11 July 1885 to Yokohama, Japan, granting him three months’ sick leave.

      Acting Consul Spence asked for another officer to support him, O’Conor duly did so, sending Michie Forbes Anderson, who arrived on 20 August 1885, though he too was to suffer from typho-malarial fever and needed to be invalided away from Taiwan-fu. On 25 August 1885 O’Conor wrote to say that the Secretary of State, Earl Granville, had referred Spence’s request for a gratuity for Hausser to the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury for their favourable consideration. Much slower were the plans for an Anping Consulate to come to fruition; they inched forward and it took another 4 years before the lease on the old Taiwan-fu Consulate was discontinued.

      Pierre Frederick Hausser returned from his three months’ sick leave in September 1885 and took up a new post as Student Interpreter at Amoy [廈門] on 26 September, but was almost immediately sent back to Japan to make a fuller recovery. Hausser returned to Amoy on 5 December 1885 and on 1 October 1886 was finally promoted to Second Assistant. Hausser also served as Acting Consul at Amoy from July to 24 December 1886. Frederick Hausser remained at Amoy until 12 March 1887, when he was granted 12 months’ Home Leave.

      With the financial security of his new rank of Second Assistant, Hausser was now ready to bear the responsibility of marriage. On 2 May 1888 Pierre Frederick Hausser, describing himself as an Interpreter in the China Consular Service aged 31, married Louisa Helen Brandon, the 23-year-old daughter of Percy Brandon, a British South American Merchant, and Javiera Amalia Cheyne Fajardo at St Jude’s Church, South Kensington, London. Javiera Amalia Cheyne Fajardo was born in Bogota, Colombia, as was Louisa Helen Brandon, and was the daughter of Ninian Richard Cheyne, a Scottish physician, and Paula Fajardo Barona.

      Upon his return to China, Frederick Hausser was posted as Second Assistant to Tientsin [天津] where he arrived on 4 July 1888. In 1889 Hausser also served as Pro-Consul from 1 May to 28 October 1890, when he took 3 months’ leave. Upon his return in February 1891 and posted to Swatow [汕頭] where he served as Pro-Consul from 16 February 1891 to 30 April 1892, with a short stint as Acting Consul at Pagoda Island [羅星塔] from 27 May to 30 September 1891. At Pagoda Island Frederick Hausser suffered from what appeared to be an attack of paranoia, believing that parties of disbanded soldiers were arriving on the island to seize Chinese war vessels and that “the numbers so arriving being indicated by secret signals which I heard and found placed in the vice-consulate garden during the night and saw removed at earliest daybreak” by the Consulate servants. The British Legation authorized the Foochow [福州] Consul George Phillips, previously of South Formosa, to investigate and arrange his immediate transfer.

      Hausser was promoted to First Class Assistant on 20 August 1892, and on 1 November 1892 he took charge of the Ningpo [寧波] Consulate from Consul Herbert Allen Giles. The Haussers’ first child, a daughter named Esmé Gwendolen Brandon Hausser, was born at Ningpo in about 1893. Their second child, a son named Eric Cheyne Greenwood Hausser, was born on 5 May 1894 also at Ningpo. The Haussers remained at Ningpo until 31 August 1894. After a new posting to Swatow, where Frederick Hausser served as Acting Consul from June 1895 until early 1896, the Hausser family took Home Leave to England. Eric Cheyne Greenwood Hausser was baptised on 6 July 1896 at St Peter’s Church in Cranley Gardens, London. The whole family, plus a nurse who was the young cook, Annie Gordon, at Louisa’s sister’s home, then returned to China, leaving London on 4 June 1897 on board the S.S. Glenogle and bound for Hong Kong.

      Upon their return to China, Pierre Frederick Hausser was posted to Soochow [蘇州] as Acting Consul where he arrived on 8 August 1897 and remained until 24 October the same year. Frederic Hausser was then promoted to Consul on 27 September 1897 and posted to Momein (Tengyueh [騰越]), which lay on a high plateau in the west of Yünnan [雲南] Province. It was very rugged country right on the ill-defined border between Burma and China and Frederick Hausser was the first Consul to be appointed there. This was certainly no place for a young family and Louisa Helen Hausser decided to return with her two young children, Esmé Gwendolen Brandon Hausser, aged 4, and Eric Cheyne Greenwood Hausser, aged 3, together with the nurse, Annie Gordon, to London.

      Pierre Frederick Hausser never in fact reached Tengyueh, but was instead diverted for Special Service with the Burma-China Frontier Delimitation Commission, which was established to define the precise frontier between China and the British colony of Burma. Once again, as before at Pagoda Island, Hausser began to suffer from paranoia and became convinced in 1898 that there was a plot against his life to the extent of firing two shots at a Burmese sentry who was there precisely to protect him. At the end of 1898 a doctor on the Burmese side of the frontier wrote to Louisa Hausser to inform her of her husband’s condition and advising her that Consul Hausser should be transferred forthwith. The British Minister at Peking, Sir Claude Maxwell MacDonald, laconically replied to Mrs Hausser worried query that her husband would be given leave or transferred to a ‘civilized’ treaty port when the Commission’s work was completed. Louisa Hausser remained deeply concerned and, leaving Esmé and Eric at the house of her sister, Frances Maude Brandon, at 13 Collingham Place in Kensington, London, returned once more to China. In 1899 the Lieutenant-Governor of Burma, Sir Frederick Fryer, ran out of patience with the delusions of Consul Frederick Hausser and demanded his immediate replacement by Peking. Peking acted immediately and transferred Pierre Frederick Hausser to Wuchow [梧州] in 1899.

      Wuchow was not by any means ‘ a civilized Treaty Port’, but it was quiet and only some 200 miles upstream from Canton. Wuchow lay at the confluence of the West River [西江] and the Kuei River [桂江] and was considered a gateway to Tengyueh and Yünnan [雲南] Province and had just been opened in 1897. The British Consular Residence and Offices were housed on two houseboats. Yet Frederick Hausser, who arrived there on 26 July 1899 with his wife Louisa Hausser, was to remain there until 10 March 1902. It was at Wuchow that the Hausser’s younger son, Percy Charles Greenwood Hausser, was born on 2 August 1900. Frederick Hausser was next posted to the pleasant port of Amoy, where he arrived as officiating Consul on 23 March 1902, and stayed, residing with his wife and son Percy at the British Consulate on Kulangsu [鼓浪嶼], until June 1905.

      At Amoy Frederick and Louisa Hausser had been joined by Miss Gordon and their two elder children, Esmé and Eric, and in June 1905 the whole family departed for England where they arrived in July 1905. Eric Cheyne Greenwood Hausser was then 11 years old and entered St Peter’s College, Radley (Radley College) in Abingdon, Berkshire. The rest of the Hausser family returned to China and Frederick Hausser took up his posting as Consul at Swatow on 1 October 1906, to which he had originally been appointed on 4 November 1902, but had then been diverted to serve as officiating Consul at Amoy. Hausser remained at Swatow until 1910 when he was obliged to return to England to seek medical attentions for the cataracts from which he suffered. Whilst in England Pierre Frederick Hausser was promoted on 20 January 1911 to the rank of Consul-General and posted to Mukden [瀋陽]; however, he was unable to proceed and retired from the China Consular Service on 1 April 1911.

      Upon retirement Frederick and Louisa Hausser went to live at 76 Kimbolton Road in Bedford, Bedfordshire, with their three children and their much-travelled servant Anne Gordon. As Eric left to try his luck in Africa, Frederick and Louisa Hausser moved down after the end of World War I to Farquhar Road in Dulwich, London, to take care of their youngest child, Percy Charles Greenwood Hausser, who had won a place at London University to study Engineering. After Percy’s graduation in 1921, Frederick and Louisa Hausser moved down to ‘Albourne’, Cross Road, Southwick, Sussex, where Louisa Helen Hausser died, aged 58, on 16 July 1923. Pierre Frederick Hausser moved to 22 Florence Road, Brighton, Sussex, where he died, aged 70, on 11 October 1926.

      Regarding their children, the first born, Esmé Gwendolen Brandon Hausser, who was born at Ningpo, China, about 1893, never married and appears to have always lived with her parents. Esmé Gwendolen Brandon Hausser was living with her parents at ‘Albourne’, Cross Road, Southwick, Sussex, when she took a vacation in Switzerland where she died, aged about 30, on 3 November 1923 at Montana, Switzerland.

      The Haussers’ second child and elder son, Eric Cheyne Greenwood Hausser, who was born on 5 May 1894 at Ningpo, was educated at St Peters College, Radley (Radley College), Abingdon, Berkshire. Eric Hausser served as an acting Captain in the Royal Tank Corps in the last year of World War I, but probably saw no action. After the Great War Eric Hausser, aged 24, went out to Nigeria as Trader and later a Planter. During the Second World War he worked for Abercorn Trading Company in Northern Nigeria. There is no record of Eric Cheyne Greenwood Hausser having married, and he is believed to have died in 1958.

      The Haussers’ youngest child and second son, Percy Charles Greenwood Hausser, who was born on 2 August 1900 at Wuchow, was educated at London University, where he studied Engineering and obtained a B. Sc. with Honours in 1921. Percy Charles Greenwood Hausser became a Civil Engineer and in 1925 married Eileen Elsie Lawman, the daughter of Arthur John Lawman, a Solicitor, and Frances Pring, at Brighton, Sussex. They had two children: Michael Cheyne Hausser, born on 8 January 1930; and Nicola Greenwood Hausser, born 20 May 1944. Percy Charles Greenwood Hausser, B.Sc., M.I.C.E., died on 19 January 1972 at his home ‘Overhanger’, Hindhead Road, Haslemere in Surrey. His widow, Eileen Elsie Hausser, died the following year.

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).

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.

Restrepo, José Marfa & Rivas, Raimundo; Genealogias de Santafé de Bogota; Editorial Gente Nueva, Bogota, 1992.

U.K. Probate Records; U.K. General Registry Office; The London Gazette.