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Thursday, 20 November 2014

Bombay to Blighty - Arratoon-Crokatt an Unusual Union

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Wills are a great source of untapped family history.

A few years ago I purchased from the National Archives at Kew in London, a number of Wills that I thought had a vague Indian-Armenian connection. In other words I took a bit of an educated guess at them. The writing was cursive and very difficult to read, even with enlarged images on the computer, it was a torturously slow process.

As with any Will I acquire, if it looks interesting I transcribe it. One such Will was that of Taukhui Arratoon. I knew nothing about her and was curious to know and try and find out why an Armenian lady was in London in the early 1800’s. It was most unusual to find a female writing such an early Will outside of India. At first I thought she must have been a widow of an Armenian, as it turned out, that thought couldn’t have been further from the truth.

Taukhui wrote her Will in London on the 14th March 1815, added a codicil on the 2nd April 1829 with a 3rd codicil was added on the 18th October 1835. This indicated to me that she was well and truly established in England. Taukhui’s exact date of death has not been possible to find but she died some time before the 25th January 1837 in Kensington as this was the date that two of her executrixes, Madelina Forbes Mitchell (more of her later) and Mary Mason made an oath stating they had known Taukhui in her life time. The Will was proved and granted to Madelina Mitchell and Mary Mason at London on the 2nd February 1837. It is therefore plausible to suggest that Taukhui died some time between the 18th October 1835 (the date of her last codicil) and the 25th January 1837.

Snapshot view of Taukhui’s Will.

Taukhui Arratoon was an Armenian lady from Bombay, probably born around 1768. She is yet another example of an Armenian female from India who became a companion to a British gentleman, bore his children but in the eyes of the establishment was never quite good enough to marry him. She was however, treated reasonably well compared to some other Armenian females in India who were entangled with men from ‘home’. Taukhui had a sister named Joanna who stayed a life-long spinster and who also ended up in England and living with Taukhui, firstly in London and then after Taukhui’s death in Kelverdon in Essex.

Taukhui had two children with Daniel Crokatt in Bombay. John born around 1783 and Daniel born in 1784, their baptism records both state ‘filius populi’ i.e. they were illegitimate children but they took their father’s name. Daniel Crokatt was from a wealthy Scottish family, his father having made a vast fortune trading in (Charles Town) Charleston South Carolina. Daniel was born May 1744 in Richmond, Surrey and was one of at least six children of James Crokatt and his wife Esther Gaillard.

N3-3-509 states filius populi i.e. illegitimate son
N3-3-314 states filius populi i.e. illegitimate son


To give you an idea of the enormous wealth that Daniel’s father James Crokatt possessed here is an extract from his Will of 1777.

James Crokatt snapshot of Will

“I have given to my daughter Mary Nutt at her marriage about six thousand Pounds, I have also given my son Daniel Crokatt at different times after and since his being in the service of the East India Company about the sum of four thousand Pounds, I also gave my eldest son Charles Crokatt about the sum of ten thousand Pounds at his marriage and settled ten thousand Pounds by marriage contract payable at his or my death which sum I have since paid to his executors and have besides lost a very large sum by his failure. I have also given my wife Esther by a deed dated 19th August 1767 in trust…..a long annuity of four hundred Pounds a year for her life and after her death to my daughter Joan crokatt now Cranford and her children……also to my daughter Joan Crokatt alias Joan Cranford eight thousand Pounds…………….”

Using a useful “measuring worth” website At today’s values £6,000 equates to approximately £670,000. £10,000 equates today at approximately £1,128,000.00 £8,000 equates today at approximately £900,000

An interesting extract from ‘The Papers of Henry Laurens’ states: “James Crokatt, the son of Charles Crokatt of Edinburgh, was a merchant in Charleston, South Carolina for many years before he left for England in 1737. With his Carolina fortune he established himself as the foremost “Carolina merchant” in London. On his arrival in London he was referred to as a “Scotch Jew Lately come from So. Carolina.” He was largely responsible for the bounty that Parliament granted to the Indigo planters of South Carolina in 1748 and was that colony’s agent in London from 1749 until 1756. “

The Henry Lauren papers go on to say that James’s wife, Esther Gaillard was the daughter of John Gaillard. Three of her children with James; Charles, Mary and James were all born in Charleston, South Carolina whilst the remaining three younger children, Daniel, Jane and David were born in England.

Whilst Daniel’s eldest brother Charles was involved with their father’s business as London agents for South Carolina, his uncle (James’s brother) who was also called Daniel Crokatt was trading in Jamaica and involved in the slave trade. In his Will of 1813 Daniel Crokatt ‘late of Jamaica but currently of Fishguard Pembrokeshire’, left bequests to his “grand nephew Sir James Cranford, Baronet” as well as his “grand nephew Daniel Crokatt formerly of Bombay but now supposed to be a prisoner in France and to his legitimate children but in case the said Daniel should die without leaving any legitimate children then I give and bequeath unto Ann Hutton……….” This is a rather pointed remark at Daniel Crokatt of Bombay who had at that stage only the two illegitimate sons by Taukhui.

Besides the side-lining by colonial society in Bombay and London, Taukhui suffered more humiliation because in March 1791 Daniel Crokatt married Jane Seton daughter of Daniel Seton Lieutenant-Governor and Chief of Surat. Taukhui’s boys being only 7 and 8 years of age at the time of their father’s marriage. One can only wonder at the feelings Taukhui must have experienced.

Marriage of Daniel Crokatt and Jane Seton N3-3-381

Sadly, Daniel and Jane’s first born child died in December 1791 shortly after birth. I do not think they had any other children. Jane died in London on the 17th May 1802 after a “deep decline” the newspaper notices stated that her husband was the ‘late Counsel at Bombay’.

Daniel Crokatt ended his days in Paris where it would seem he had created yet another life for himself. He died there on the 12 December 1827. In his Will he left an annuity of twelve hundred Francs per annum that he had executed before a Royal Notary in Paris in favour of Mario Brigot Willior for the term of her natural life, there is nothing in his Will indicating who or what kind of position she held in his life. He further bequeathed the remainder of his estate to be split between his only surviving natural son (by Taukhui) John Crokatt and a female called Miss Flora Eugene Lafond “who for several years past has devoted herself to my service and from whom I have received the most zealous and unremitting care and the kindest attention……..”.
Snapshot of Daniel Crokatt’s will written in France

As already mentioned, Taukhui’s first born son by Daniel Crokatt was named John. Although born and baptised in Bombay it is quite likely he and his brother Daniel would have been educated in England. Daniel may not have married Taukhui or formally recognised her in any way, but the two children took his name and therefore were afforded a certain level of lifestyle and respect by others in their younger years. Once adults, both brothers forged singularly different lives to those they could have had in India. John married on the 14th June 1808 at St. James’s Piccadilly, London to a French woman called Caroline Mary Ann Michele.
Marriage of John Crokatt and Caroline Michele

 Caroline’s family were well known musicians in London. Her grandfather Leopold de Michele was a musician and chief copyist in the Italian Opera at the Kings Theatre London as well as acting at the orchestra librarian there in the late 1790s. Caroline’s aunt Elizabeth Michele (Leopold’s sister) married Joseph Mazzinghi who was apprenticed to Leopold, Joseph becoming a respected musician in his own right. John and Caroline went on to have two children of their own, Ann Matilda Crokatt born in 1817 died a spinster in May 1881 in Nice, France. Her brother Daniel John Edward Crokatt was born in October 1820 in Paris but no further records have so far been found for him. Their mother, Caroline also died in Nice in 1877.

John’s brother Daniel Crokatt Junior married Mary Cartwright in April 1808, Daniel junior was a widower at the time of this marriage but no earlier marriage for him can be found. The marriage to Mary was short-lived because Daniel sought a legal separation and ultimately divorce from her on the grounds of her adultery in 1815, a case that caught the attention in a number of English newspapers.

Taukhui maintained a certain lifestyle in London living with her sister Joanna who had a flair for art. Taukhui, realising that there would be no financial support either from her own far-away family, nor the Crokatt clan, ensured that her sister was well provided for in her Will. Shrewdly, Taukhui was meticulous in the attention to detail of a deed that she and Daniel Crokatt had entered in to in London in 1801. The fact that Taukhui and her boys and Daniel and his wife Jane were all in London at the same time, perhaps shows that there was courtesy and civility amongst all parties. Nonetheless, Taukhui may not have ever married him but she was sufficiently intelligent to secure a large sum of money which would have afforded her some standing and respect in London society and given her family financial security in an otherwise unforgiving city.

“This is the last will and testament of me Taukhui Arratoon heretofore of Bombay in the East Indies and now residing in Rolls Row in the parish of St. Pancras in the county of Middlesex whereas in and by a certain deed poll or testament in writing under the hands and seals of Daniel Crokatt heretofore of Bombay aforesaid but then of St. James’s Street in the county of Middlesex Esquire, John Stutt of the City of London Esquire, Christopher Rolleston of the same city merchant, John Samuel Torrano of Kensington Esquire in the county of Middlesex Esquire and me the said Taukhui Arratoon therein described as residing at Turnham Green in the said County of Middlesex and bearing date on or about the sixteenth day of January in the year of one thousand eight hundred and one after writing that in pursuant and performance of the proposal and agreement therein mentioned the said Daniel Crokatt had that day transferred the sum of three thousand pounds three per cent consolidated Bank Annuities into the names of the said Daniel Crokatt John Stutt Christopher Rolleston and John Torrano……”

She continued

“I the said Taukhui Arratoon do by this my last will and testament and testamentary appointment in writing by me signed by me signed and published in the presence of and attested by the two credible persons whose names are intended to be subscribed hereto as witnesses to the execution hereof give bequeath and appoint the said sum of three thousand pounds consolidated three per cent annuities and the dividends and annual produce thereof unto my said sister Joanna Arratoon who now resides with me her executors administrators and assigns upon trust to cause thereout and pay my funeral expenses debts and the following legatees in Sterling money that is to say……….”

“To the said John Samuel Torrano the sum of fifty pounds for a ring as a small acknowledgement for the trouble and interest which he has kindly taken as out of my said trustees to my dear eldest son John Crokatt Esquire of the India Board Office Whitehall the sum of fifty pounds for a ring to his brother my dear second son Daniel Crokatt Esquire Inspector in the West Indian Commissioners Office No. 10 Spring Gardens the sum of fifty pounds for a ring to my dear friend Mrs. Smith the wife of Nicholas Hankey Smith* of Great Thurlow Hall in Suffolk Esquire the sum of twenty pounds for a ring……”

*Mrs. Smith the wife of Nicholas Hankey Smith was also an Armenian lady from India. Her name was Anni nee Petruse and it is quite likely that Taukhui and Anni’s families were quite familiar with each other back in Surat. Annie had married Hankey Smith in Calcutta in August 1806, she bore him six children, one of whom was Madelina Forbes Mitchell nee Smith who was an executrix to the will of Taukhui in London. This would indicate that the two ladies and their children were close and in regular contact with each other. Anni’s marriage to Hankey Smith also fell by the way-side and they separated in London in October 1822, although never divorced. Hankey Smith had started a relationship with Susan Pierpoint with whom she had seven illegitimate children, all of whom benefitted handsomely from the estate of Hankey Smith. Annie and her children did not fair so well.

Anni Hankey Smith nee Petruse. Photo courtesy of the publically available Green Family Tree on

Nicholas Hankey Smith. Photo courtesy of the publically available Green Family Tree on

Taukhui ensured that after her death her sister Joanna was not left destitute: “I give bequeath direct and appoint all the rest residue and remainder of the said sum of three thousand pounds three per cent consolidated bank annuities unto my said sister Joanna Arratoon her executors administrators and assigns……”

“I give to Captain George Smith [son of Anni and Nicholas Hankey Smith] the sum of five pounds for a ring as a small token of my regard. I give to Mrs Forbes Mitchell [daughter of Annie and Nicholas Hankey Smith] for a ring the sum of five pounds for a ring as a small token of my regard”

Taukhui’s son Daniel Crokatt Junior died in Northamptonshire in July 1820, and although divorced by this time from Mary Cartwright it would appear that Mary was the Administratrix of her ex husband’s intestate estate, the court papers describing her as the “lawful widow and relict”. They did not have any children.

Taukhui’s sister Joanna made her Will in 1850 in favour of her only surviving relative, John Crokatt her nephew.
Snapshot of Joanna's will

Apart from a few small bequests to local friends in Kelvedon John inherited what was left of the three thousand Pounds deed that Taukhui had drawn up with Daniel. Joanna had clearly lived carefully because John inherited approximately two thousand two hundred Pounds from his aunt. An auction notice was placed in the local paper advertising the sale of Joanna’s possessions.
The auction notice of Joanna's possessions

 Daniel’s brother John who had retired as a senior clerk from the Indian Board Commission in London on a pension of £566-13s-4d per annum (the equivalent today of around £44,500) died in Lucca, Italy in September 1855 where he had gone to take the waters. His wife Caroline survived him by 22 years and died in 1877 in Nice, France.

 It is very unlikely that the brothers John or Daniel Crokatt ever met their Indian Armenian family and cousins. Having been acknowledged by their father at birth and thus taken his name, they essentially became English, and India was no doubt a far off land that was only spoken of by their mother and aunt.

Useful links
Armenian graves in India
Families in British India Society
National Archives
British Library
French National Archives
LDS Family History
British Newspapers
National Archives of India
 Details of the Crokatt family can be found in the Papers of Henry Laurens: Sept. 11, 1746-Oct. 31, 1755

Monday, 8 September 2014

Armenians in Rangoon

Elizabeth Carapiet Jacob’s legacy for a new Armenian Church in Rangoon.

Records of how the Armenian Church in Rangoon was funded and built after the disastrous fire of 1850 are all but lost. The original church was a wooden structure and was consumed by the unforgiving flames of that calamitous incident.

My chance finding of this Will and its contents give a unique and precious insight into how one individual of the Armenian community in Rangoon was desperately hopeful that her legacy could help to rebuild a new and better church for the local Armenians to worship at.

Source: British Library L/AG/34/29/86/87
In the name of the Lord God Amen. I Elizabeth Carapiet Jacob who was born in Rangoon and who am a resident thereof and an Armenian by nation and a Christian by faith being in a tranquil and perfect state of mind, make this my last will that the same may continue from after my deceased. I hereby direct that my respectable executors shall cause my body to be interred after my decease in the Armenian Burial Ground in this city [Rangoon] at a moderate expense and then call in and collect my entire estate and receive my dues and pay my debts and give and pay the residue to my heirs and successors in manner following, that is to say.

I give and bequeath the sum of one thousand and five hundred Companys Rupees to the Holy Deiparous Church of Rangoon to this end that they shall purchase a house in Calcutta with the said one thousand and five hundred Rupees and accumulate the net amount of the rents after payment of charges until the same shall have risen to five hundred Rupees when they shall lay out the amount at interest and on the said Holy Deiparious Church of Rangoon being about to be re-erected they shall give the said five hundred Rupees and the interest thereof whatever the same may amount to, to the managers of the Holy Deiparous Church of Rangoon in order that that sum being added to the amount of the national contributions the said church may be re-erected at Rangoon to the pride of my nation and the Glory of God and then afterwards they shall transmit the net produce of the rents minus charges from time to time to the managers of the Holy Deiparous Church of Rangoon for the purpose of supplying the necessaries and expenses of the said church.

Elizabeth made this bequest in her Will because in December 1850 the original Armenian Church was razed to the ground by a catastrophic fire that swept across the whole of the city.

Reports of the fire were carried in Indian newspapers as well as others around the world
Elizabeth's Will was written in the Armenian language by a local community member.
It was then read back to her in the Burmese language before she signed it.
The Will was translated into English in Calcutta by the Court appointed
interpreter George Aviet.

Later on in the Will Elizabeth goes on to say:

If the English Government restore or procure the restoration of our lost properties then I direct that my executors shall obtain my share and portion which will be more than fifty thousand Rupees and invest the same in the purchase of a few houses in Rangoon if that city remain under the Sovereign authority of the English but if it should not then they shall buy houses at Calcutta and with the net produce thereof minus charges establish a school at Rangoon for the purpose of educating the children of indigent Armenians gratuitously and the well regulated management thereof shall be assigned to patriotic and well disposed men to be elected and approved of by the nation.

And after making payments and distributions in this manner should the residue of my estate amount to more than one thousand Companys Rupees then I direct that my executors shall with that amount purchase one or two houses under the Flag of the English Government either at this place or at Calcutta and transmit the net produce minus charges thereof to my the officiating Priests of the Holy Deiparous Church in Rangoon but if it should not be more than one thousand Rupees then I give and bequeath the same subject to the pleasure of my respectable executors to be disposed of as they may think best.

In confirmation I affix my seal and signature to this my will in the presence of three witnesses this day the twenty seventh day of the month of July in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fifty two. Elizabeth [her x mark] Carapiet Jacob

We the undersigned bear testimony that she in our presence sealed and signed this will and acknowledged it to be her last will and testament at Rangoon 27th July 1852. C.P. Catchick J.S. Jordan Carrapiet Zecharia.

A true translation of the annexed Armenian will 8th September 1852. Geo. Aviet.
Elizabeth’s husband, Carapiet Jacob who had been born in Julfa, died in Rangoon in August 1850 leaving his entire estate, valued at around fifty thousand Rupees to Elizabeth. She appointed her nephew Stephen Gabriel Eleazar as power-of-attorney to enable her to obtain probate in the Courts of Calcutta for her husband’s estate. Stephen’s English and native languages (he lived in Calcutta rather than Rangoon) were likely to be more proficient than the two languages she knew which were Armenian and Burmese. It would seem that Carapiet and Elizabeth did not have children as besides the bequests by Elizabeth to the Holy Deiparious Church of Rangoon (the Armenian Church of Rangoon), she left legacies for various nephews; children of her sister Margaret.

Sharman Minus, whose family were very much part of the Armenian community in Rangoon has a very interesting blog that recalls history and a number of personal memoires of this almost forgotten Church, it can be found here Chasing Chinthes.

It is also quite a timely find because there will be an Armenian Pontifical visit to the Far East at the end of September. His Holiness, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians will be in Asia from September 28th to October 5th.

As announced on the respective Facebook pages of the Armenian communities in Hong Kong and Singapore - see links below.

Armenians in Singapore - South East Asia

The following press release by the Henri Arslanian, Chairman of the Armenian Community in China says:

Dear friends,

We are pleased to announce that His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians will be in Asia from September 28th to October 5th.

You will see below the details of 2 important events that will take place in Singapore and Myanmar to celebrate the visit of His Holiness. As the dates coincide with the National Day Golden Week in China, I am sure that many of you will be interested in attending these events.

SINGAPORE - Sunday 28th September 2014 - time tbc - Holy Mass will be celebrated in the Armenian Church of Singapore. His Holiness will also bless two Khachkars recently installed in the Church gardens. Lunch will be served following the Holy Mass. Please rsvp with the community in Singapore if you will be able to attend:

MYANMAR - Saturday 4th October 2014 - time tbc - Holy Mass will be celebrated in the Armenian Church in Yangon. More details will be announced soon.

I know that many of you will be very interested in attending these events due to their historical importance. I will of course attend both the Singapore and Myanmar events to represent the Armenian Community of China.

Look forward to seeing you all soon.

Henri Arslanian
President, Armenian Community of China

It is a very exciting time to have a current Catholicos scheduled to visit the Armenian Church in Myanmar. It has been a back-water for a number of years and has just a handful of Armenians who have chosen to stay in Yangon. It will be a wonderfully historic occasion. I cannot find a reference to a previous Armenian Patriarch visiting the Armenian Church in Rangoon. However, in 1876 there was a visiting Armenian Prelate to Hong Kong, who had already seen the communities in Penang and Singapore. It is likely that he also went on to visit the community in India perhaps he also made the journey to Rangoon.

Extract from the North China Herald and the S.C.&C. Gazette December 1, 1876

Report from Hong Kong

Among the passengers who have arrived and departed by the ‘Arratoon Apcar’, is the name of the Armenian Prelate, Archbishop Gregoris. The Right Reverend gentleman has come on to Hongkong as a traveller, to know and see something more of the Chinese and Chinese cities than he has done in Penang and Singapore. The few Armenian residents at Hongkong possessing no special place of worship, the Prelate was unable to hold any service, but he read prayers (of course, in the Armenian language), over the grave of S.A. Seth at the Protestant Cemetery, as the tombstone was being put up. The Right Reverend Father, in his full robe, and with a hat of a peak shape, presented a sight never before seen in this part of the world. Though an Archbishop, under whose See are the Armenian churches in India and Persia, he is only 42 years old, and has made a favourable impression on his few resident countrymen, to whom he made a pleasant address on Sunday last at the residence [Caine Road] of Mr. C.P. Chater. 

The grave of Seth Aviet Seth in Hong Kong over whose tomb the Archbishop said prayers.

The inscription says:

“Sacred to the memory of Seth Aviet Seth who was one of the earliest merchants of Singapore. He came to China in 1845. Born in Madras and died at Hong Kong on 11th February 1875 aged 65 years. Be ye also ready: for in such as hour as ye think not the son of man cometh. St. Matthew XXIV. 44.” 

For those interested in their Armenian family history roots in Burma, the LDS film number 1356948 [Item 2] contains the records of St. John the Baptist Armenian Apostolic Church in Rangoon. It will have a comprehensive list of the only recorded Armenian births, marriages and deaths in Burma that are still available. The LDS film has more entries than those held at the British Library.

Friday, 11 July 2014

An Armenian Buried in Bombay - 1788

I really like stumbling upon old and completely forgotten Armenian entries in registers. Here we have on the 15th July 1788 the burial of Zachariah Avanzar an Armenian in Bombay. Who was he? I have no idea but it is one of the earliest burials of an Armenian in Bombay that I have found. I know of two other early burials one in 1786 the other in 1777.

Zachariah Avanzar an Armenian buried in Bombay 1788

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Lost And Forgotten: Who Buried The Armenian Bishop?

Parish register transcripts from the Presidency of Bombay, 1709-1948.

Two anonymous Armenian burials and an Armenian Bishop in Bombay in 1810 almost lost amongst the many deaths of soldiers from various regiments.

Extract of a burial register for Bombay 1810
Indian registers hold basic details, no other record exists today for these long forgotten individuals. This is a sanitised return with no further information as to where and what circumstances they were buried.

An unknown Armenian man buried on the 9th October, the next day an Armenian Bishop named Mackertich and later in the month on the 28th another Armenian name unknown.  Were they buried by an Armenian priest, according to Armenian rites? It is impossible to know. There does not seem to be any kind of newspaper report for them and indeed it is difficult to know how “name unknown” could have possibly received an Armenian burial. 

The Armenian Church registers for that period in Bombay have long since gone so there are no original birth, marriage or death records of the old Armenian community save for what can be garnered from papers, documents, newspapers in repositories around the world. 

As for the Bishop Mackertich buried by someone just as anonymous as him, today he lies somewhere in the ground of a bustling Bombay, in an unknown location, long forgotten, no one to remember him but for 4 words in an old register “The Armenian Bishop Mackertich”.

Lest we forget.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

The Prince of Wales in Hong Kong - April 1922

The Prince of Wales visited Hong Kong as part of his world tour. He stopped off for two days and the whole of Hong Kong came to a halt. Sir Paul Chater played no small part.......

 The Prince of Wales was taken in his chair along the specially constructed triumphal way past the Hongkong Hotel and so by Queen’s Road to Garden Road and Government House. H.E. the Governor headed the procession, in a black chair with scarlet satin cushion, borne by eight coolies in white trousers and red coats with white crowns on their sleeves and mandarin hats. There was an escort of eight Indian Police on either side of the chair, Captain Neville, R.M.L.I., the Governor’s A.D.C. and two additional Indian A.D.C., walked behind the chair. The Prince followed in his chair also escorted by Indian Police, with Inspector Garrod and two Indian Inspectors in rear. After the Prince’s chair came three more chairs with four bearers, travelling abreast and containing members of the Prince’s staff. Other members of the Prince’s staff followed in motor cards.

The Prince of Wales in his chair


Sir Paul Chater gave the Welcome Speech on behalf of the British community.

How the British address, read by Sir Paul Chater was reported.

City en Fete

The Day Decorations

A thousand flags flaunting their colours in the breeze, thousands of paper lanterns, swinging gaily to each puff as if desirous of calling attention of their presence, was the city’s gala dress donned in honour of her Royal visitor. The buildings which ordinarily are teeming with men bent on business affairs today are closed, or filled with eager spectators whose only care and desire is to show by the warmth and affection of their welcome to His Royal Highness their loyalty and respect to the throne. Today and tomorrow will be historic in the annals of Hongkong. Her citizens have seen to it that the city’s beauty is worthy of the occasion and shall also remain historic.

The work of decorating has been long in hand.  Its growth to completion has been watched with interest.  It is completed. Hongkong may be satisfied.  To wander through the streets is but to add pleasure on pleasure.  Every thoroughfare in the centre of the city is a picture, each with some distinctive note to hold attention until it is claimed by new beauties which unfold themselves. The feelings of the people here are probably best expressed by the legend above Marble Hall [Sir Paul Chater's residence] which reads “God bless our Prince”. Composed of huge white letters and surmounted by the Prince’s feathers which will be illuminated at night, the decorating stands out in bold relief from the dark background provided by the hillside.  Viewed from the harbour or town it is a very striking piece of work.
 Queen’s Road has been well looked after, especially in the bank district. Here there is a profuse display of flags and lanterns. The International Bank Building seems one red mass, while further on comes Victoria Building almost unrecognisable beneath its coat of greenery and flags. 

A personal note on the back of this photograph by Lilian Bagram wife of Sir Paul's nephew
Theo Bagram, is perfect confirmation that this was the office and centre of
Sir Paul's business empire, decorated for the impending visit of the Prince of Wales . Lilian often referred to Sir Paul and Lady Chater as"the aunt and uncle".

One passes on to the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank with its coloured electric lights, its pillars wreathed in bunting of the national colours, its flags and, over-looking Statue Square its big electric sign representing the hong flag. So by the red-outlined City Hall to the Indian arch.

Naturally a centre of attraction is the corner formed by the junction of Pedder Street, Chater and Des Voeux Roads.  Here stands the fine building of Messrs. Jardine Matheson and Co. The pillars have been covered with blue and white bunting, the house colours the effect being heightened by lavish use of the house flag and the Red Ensign. From the tower to the roof are long strings of flags. Just opposite the Post office stands resplendent in its bunting-wreathed verandahs and flags. Facing over the harbour is a big crown flanked by the letters “G.R.”.  The decoration of the Hongkong Hotel has been carried out in electric light of various colours. The effect should be arresting at night. Alexandra Building has its dressing of flags and also some electric sign of the Prince’s feathers.  From the corner Des Voeux Road looks simply a red and beflagged avenue.  There is not a building but has contributed well to the general scheme.

Queen’s Buildings and Prince’s Buildings are in themselves quite a feature. Decoration on both of them has proceeded along the same lines. The verandahs have been transformed by the use of tri-coloured bunting, the spaces between the verandah pillars are hung with lanterns. On the east side of Prince’s Building facing on Statue Square, is a coloured electric sign depicting the Persian flag -  a lion holding a sword with a rising sun as background. 
A rare image from the 1922 visit of HRH the Prince of Wales.
Prince's Building showing signage that until now, had only
been described in newspapers and not seen. Here it can be
seen the flag as described above, the lion holding a sword.

Special attention has been paid to the adornment of Chater Road. Flanking it on both sides are white pillars connected by strings of greenery from which are suspended coloured lights. Above them rise the red glowing masses of lanterns and the fluttering flags.  It is a wonderful scene on which the eye lingers until it loses itself in the magnificence of Statue Square.

The buildings fronting on the Praya have not been overlooked by any means. On both King’s Building and that in which the Telegraph Companies are housed greenery has been tastefully combined with bunting and lanterns.  Butterfield’s has also a lot of attention paid to it.  Running vertically down the walls are streamers of white and blue, the red being supplied by lanterns. Amidst a profusion of flags the Prince’s crest is displays, the house flag also being prominent. The main feature of the decoration of the neighbouring V.R.C., building is the illuminated flag. The Naval Yard wall is outlined with lanterns and over the main gate is erected an illuminated anchor. The officers’ mess at the foot of Garden Road looks bright with its profuse display of flags.

At the Taikon Dockyard, which provided the Prince’s first glimpse of Hongkong, are two huge frames bearing the word “Welcome” whilst on the China Sugar Refinery, in letters 10 feet high is the legend “Our Prince”. The Tramway Company has its sign of “Welcome to our Prince” raised some 130 feet from the grounds. Messrs Ruttonjee and Son strike a somewhat original note with the sign “Tell father we are all happy”.

In Statue Square

 Lanterns, Lanterns Everywhere

Those who have spoken slightingly of the temporary beauties adorning Statue Square must surely have wished their words unsaid when the full glory of the finished product burst upon them this morning.  Statue Square was really the heart of the whole decorative scheme and, like red corpuscles bobbling about in the arteries that radiated from it, were lanterns, thousand and thousands of them.

Red lanterns were everywhere. They bordered the cornices of the Pavilion; they hung in rows from the garlands of ever-greens festooned between the pillars; one danced merrily in the breeze on the very summit of the Supreme Court dome. The Supreme Court indeed looked very unlike a staid hall of justice – it had the rakish air of an exhibition building in full carnival rig. Strings of bunting fluttered around the symbolical figures on the top of broad bands of red white and blue swathed in colonnade and balconies.

Wisely the decorators had refrained from over-dressing the Pavilion. Save for its effective boarding of lanterns and an odd cluster of flags to relieve the monotony of the walls here and there its chaste lines were left unembellished.  It looked a noble pile and one meet to be the scene of today’s historic function. Back of it the Hongkong Club was hung about, at every available point it seemed, with lanterns and the tall buildings that smiled down upon the square from the Western side too, had decked themselves fittingly to greet the Prince.

The strings of evergreens hung with lanterns, which linked up the pillars were an effective feature which harmonised finely with the contribution to the scheme which had been made by old mother Nature. Her handiwork, the green grass and the flowers and most of all the soft pink bloom of the trees, made a charming setting for the other parts of the charming picture that had been artificially evolved.

 The Pavilion - A Temporary Structure

The build up to the impending visit in April 1922 to Hong Kong by His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales had been going on for months. Committees were formed, duties allocated, buildings were painted, and streets were swept, regimental bands practised, and the military rehearsed their marches and positioning, Chinese coolies were carefully selected as the chosen ones to carry the Prince, uniforms measured for, and several sedan chairs were spruced up. Decorations were planned, purchase and put up all over the city, and a Pavilion specially erected for the occasion of the royal visit was placed in the same location as the current Cenotaph in Statue Square.

The decorations were a spectacle

The Pavilion was built of lathe and plaster and was only a temporary structure. Measuring 180 feet by 150 feet and able to accommodate 3,000 people. For speeches and presentations it had row upon row of centrally placed seating whilst there were also banks of side seating. The cost of the Pavilion was around HK$50,000 approximately £7,000, at today’s values that figure is in excess of around £330,000 or US$559,000. As can be seen from the announcement in the local newspaper, there was meticulous attention to detail with regard to arrangements for the various functions taking place in the Pavilion, starting with the welcome speeches, the addresses by the University, St. Stephen’s Girls’ College, the local Masons, the Ex-Service Men’s reception, and finally the grand ball, they all had their own instructions.

The notice in the newspaper regarding arrangements at the Pavilion

Attending the ball? These are the instructions for guests.

The cloakrooms for the ball were at the Law Courts.

The Pavilion was described in the local papers as follows:

The specially constructed Pavilion had been handsomely decorated for the occasion.  The striking silken lamp shades suspended from the roof lent a pleasant touch of colour. The whiteness of the interior was further relieved by festoons of evergreens and flags and ensigns used for curtains to the windows.  In the Prince’s reception room a delicate colour of greyish blue is the prevailing colour tone.

This unique image of the specially built Royal Pavilion (behind Queen Victoria's Statue) erected for the two day visit of HRH the Prince of Wales to Hong Kong in 1922is rarely seen, there are postcards in circulation [see below] but I haven't seen photographs. However, the wonderful provenance on the back written by Lilian Bagram (wife of Theo Bagram who was a nephew of Sir Paul Chater) gives the only known personal description including its costs.
The note says: "Statue Square and the Pavilion specially built for the
reception and ball. It is of lathe and plaster only and is now being pulled
down before the typhoon season, as it would be blown away if left.
Cost fifty thousand dollars about 7,000£. Fancy!!!"

Another view of the Pavilion

The illuminations at Night.

The great success of the illuminations was the appearance of the warships in port. Ships have been picked out with electric lights before but never in the history of the Colony, probably, has there been such a splendid array of illuminated war vessels in the harbour. Outlined as they were with white electric lights they looked like enormously magnified specimens of the jeweller’s art or, if jewellery so large is inconceivable, then like design sketched in phosphor paint by some superhuman artist, against the dark background of the night. The Renown could not be “picked out” with lights in the time available, but she exhibited a splendid design of the “Feathers”. The only object on land in any way similarly treated to the warships was Queen Victoria’s statue which, also was outlined in white electric lights and had the appearance of a glass model of St. Paul’s Cathedral dome, brilliantly lighted from without. Another departure from the prevailing scheme was at the Hongkong Hotel which was be-jewelled with vari-coloured electric lights.

All else was ruby red. The circular and vase-shaped lanterns used were admirable for effective decorating and the wisdom of deciding upon one type for the night illuminations was clearly apparent. In the streets last night, Hongkong glowed with a strange unearthly radiance and the west macadam reflected the soft light in a way that greatly added to the effect.  From the harbour the scene was one of extraordinary beauty. Solid masonry seems to have completely disappeared and to have been replaced by ethereal palaces.  Where all were so successful it was invidious to mention names but some were worthy of special note.  The severe Grecian lines at Messrs. Butterfield & Swire’s, the delicately outlined tower and fa├žade of Kowloon Railway Station, a kind of ruined Greek temple at Holt’s Wharf, the wealth of detail at the Hongkong Club, the bold design at the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank were amongst those that were generally admired.  Sir Paul Chater’s Prince of Wale’s Feathers design and the lighted inscription “God Bless our Prince” spoke by night, as Sir Paul had spoken by day in the Pavilion, for the whole British Community. The scenes by night it should be added, were greatly enhanced by the magnificent firework display given by the Japanese community.

Racing – The Prince of Wales Stakes

There were five starters but the start of the race was delayed pending the arrival of His Royal highness.  Big crowds were lined up through the enclosure and at 4.25pm the Prince, accompanied by H.E. the Governor motored right into the enclosure to the accompaniment of loud cheering. He was met by Sir Paul Chater and Sir William Rees Davies and other stewards of the Jockey Club and as he appeared at the railing of his special stand he was again given an ovation. The Prince watched the race from the Governors stand but afterwards the Prince honoured Sir Paul Chater by a visit to his stand [private box].

The Prince of Wales at Happy Valley races.

 The Prince also played a game of polo at Happy Valley

The Prince of Wales playing polo at Happy Valley

The Royal Pavilion was demolished at the end of April 1922.
Reported in the Hong Kong Telegraph Friday 21 April 1922