British Consuls in South Formosa

William Massy Royds

The Takao Club

William Massy Royds


 Japan Consular Service

      William Massy Royds was appointed Acting Consul at Tainan from 1 May 1909 until 24 March 1910. Massy Royds took charge of the British Consulate at Tainan from Consul Alfred Ernest Wileman in 1909, and handed over charge of the Consulate to the Acting Consul at Tamsui, Alfred Richard Firth, in 1910.

      William Massy Royds was born on 22 June 1879 at 32 London Street, Reading in Berkshire, the eldest son of William Alexander Slater Royds, a General Practitioner and Surgeon, and Sarah Anne Spicer. Royds was educated at Godolphin School, Hammersmith, and St John’s College, Cambridge University, from where he graduated in 1900. William Massy Royds was appointed a Student Interpreter for Japan in 1902 and left England on 4 November 1902, bound for Yokohama [横浜].

      Massy Royds was a Student-Interpreter at the British Legation at Tokyo [東京] in Japan from 1903 until 1905. On 1 November 1905 Sir Claude Maxwell MacDonald, the British Minister at the Tokyo Legation, was appointed the first British Ambassador to Japan, and in 1906 Royds was appointed private Secretary to the British Ambassador at the Tokyo Embassy. The following year Royds was posted as the British Acting Vice-Consul at Kobé [神戸], and in 1909 he was transferred to Formosa.

      William Massy Royds was appointed Acting Consul at Tainan, taking charge of the British Consulate from Consul Alfred Ernest Wileman on 1 May 1909. After the departure of Consul Wileman the British Foreign Office became inclined to make the Tainan district an unsalaried Vice-Consulate or Consular Agency, and it became one of Acting Consul Massy Royds’ main duties to try to arrange this.

      There had been no Consular Assistant at Tainan since 1900 when Assistant Ernest Alfred Griffiths departed on Home Leave, although Griffiths did subsequently return as Acting Consul from 1902 to 1903. On 28 December 1900 Consul William Joseph Kenny had appointed Allan Weatherhead Bain, the Senior Partner of Bain and Company, to be the British Pro-Consul at Tainan. On 8 November 1905 the British Ambassador to Japan, Sir Claude Maxwell MacDonald, authorised Consul Alfred Ernest Wileman to appoint Allan Bain as the unpaid British Vice-Consul for the district of Tainan, as Consul Wileman had been urgently advised by the Consular medical office, Dr James Laidlaw Maxwell jr., to take two months’ Sick Leave to recover from nervous debility following three months’ chronic dysentery.

      In April 1906 Allan Weatherhead Bain made his final departure from Formosa and resigned his positions as British Vice-Consul and Pro-Consul, whereupon Consul Wileman appointed Harry Walter Arthur, the new Senior Partner at Bain and Company, to be the British Pro-Consul at Tainan. Wileman also sent a despatch through Ambassador MacDonald to the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs requesting authorization for the appointment of Mr Arthur as Mr Bain’s successor to the post of British Vice-Consul. H W Arthur’s appointment to Pro-Consul was confirmed, but that to unpaid Vice-Consul at Tainan was considered ‘inadvisable’.

      In November 1909, with Consul Wileman departed and Acting Consul Royds in charge, Ambassador MacDonald sought to appoint Pro-Consul Harry Walter Arthur as the unpaid Vice-Consul or Consular Agent at Tainan, in accordance with the wishes of the British Foreign Office. Pro-Consul Arthur stated his willingness to accept the position, under certain conditions: that he be allowed the use of the Consulates at Anping [安平] and Takow [打狗]; that the services of the Japanese writer be retained at Government expense; and that he represent only British interests. At that time the Tainan Consulate also represented Austro-Hungary, France, Spain, Norway and Denmark. However, on 1 March 1910 Pro-Consul Arthur withdrew his acceptance of the position as the unpaid Vice-Consul or Consular Agent at Tainan, citing the demands of his company, Bain & Co: for the same reason, Harry Walter Arthur also resigned his post of Pro-Consul.

      Harry Walter Arthur’s resignation from his post as Pro-Consul pretty much sealed the fate of the Tainan Consulate as Bain & Co was by far the largest British firm in South Formosa, and there were no other suitable British candidates for the role of Vice-Consul or Consular Agent. On 21 March 1910 Acting Consul Alfred Richard Firth, concurrently the Acting Consul at Tamsui, arrived at Tainan with instructions to ‘mothball’ the Consulate. Acting Consul Firth took charge of the Tainan Consulate from Acting Consul William Massy Royds on 24 March 1910.

      William Massy Royds left Anping to serve as Acting Vice-Consul at Hakodate [函館] from April 1910 to October 1911; he was then transferred to be Acting Vice-Consul at Seoul, Korea, until 1912 when he was promoted to Vice-Consul to serve in the Philippine Islands.

      William Massy Royds was promoted to be British Vice-Consul at Manila on 20 July 1912. After almost two years at Manila Vice-Consul Royds took Home Leave in April 1914. On 15 October 1914 William Massy Royds, aged 35, married Doris Mary Todd, aged 31, the second daughter of George Nicholas Todd, a Russia Merchant, and Bertha Eardley-Wilmot, at St Bartholomew’s Church, Haslemere, Surrey. On 27 January 1915 Vice-Consul Royds , accompanied by his wife, Doris Mary Royds, was sent on special service at the British Vice-Consulate in Norfolk, Virginia, U.S.A., acting to protect British naval interests in Britain’s war with Germany during the period that the United States was still neutral. The Royds’ first son, John Wilmot Massy Royds, was born on 13 January 1917 at Norfolk, Virginia; and their only daughter, Mary Virginia Royds, was born on 26 September 1915 at Norfolk, Virginia. As the United States entered the Great War on 6 April 1917, Vice-Consul Royds’ work was finished and the Royds family left the United States in May 1917. It seems that William Massy Royds then took 15 months’ leave with his family.

      Massy Royds’ next appointment was as Vice-Consul at Tamsui [淡水] on 30 November 1918, where he remained until he was promoted to British Consul for the Territory of Hawaii, to reside at Honolulu, on 17 August 1919. Consul William Massy Royds arrived at Honolulu on 4 November 1919 and served as Acting Consul-General at Honolulu until 1925. In November 1921 Massy Royds, preceded in August by his pregnant wife and family, took Home Leave as his widowed mother, Sarah Anne Royds, was seriously ill at her home in Sidcup, Kent, where she died on 26 April 1922. The Royds’ second son, George Herbert Alexander Royds, was born on 11 December 1921 at London soon after Doris May Royds’ arrival in England. On 29 July 1922 the enlarged Royds’ family, accompanied by a maid, arrived back in Honolulu to continue Acting Consul-General Royds service there until 1925.

      On 14 January 1926 William Massy Royds was promoted to Consul-General and posted to Kobé, where he remained until 1931. Royds was then appointed the Consul-General for Korea, to reside at Seoul, on 15 March 1931, and remained at Seoul until 1934. In 1934 William Massy Royds took Home Leave arriving at London on 5 June 1934, but retired from the Japan Consular Service on 5 December 1934, aged 55.

      After his retirement William Massy Royds and Doris Mary Royds lived at ‘Dene End’, East Dean, Eastbourne, Sussex. William Massy Royds, aged 71, died on 16 June 1951 at The Leaf Hospital in Eastbourne. His widow Doris Mary Royds n
ée Todd went to live at ‘Esmeralda’, 43 West Common, Haywards Heath, Sussex, and died, aged 91, on 7 May 1974 at Kestrel Grove, Hive Road, Bushey Heath, Hertfordshire.

Sources: St John’s College, Cambridge University, Alumni Records.

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.

Siddall, John William; Men of Hawaii : being a biographical reference library, complete and authentic, of the men of note and achievement in the Hawaiian Islands; Volume 1; Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Ltd., Territory of Hawaii, 1921.

National Probate Calendar; Ships' Passenger Lists; British General Registry Office; London Gazette.