British Foreign Office correspondence from China on commercial, political, diplomatic, military and legal matters in nineteenth century Anglo-Chinese relations
In this, the first of two parts of British Foreign Office correspondence from China, scholars will find material relating to the internal politics of China and Britain, their relationship, and the relationships between other Western powers keen to benefit from the growing trading ports of the Far East.
From Lord Amherst’s mission at the start of the nineteenth century, through the trading monopoly of the Canton System, and the Opium Wars of 1839–1842 and 1856–1860, Britain and other foreign powers gradually gained commercial, legal and territorial rights in China. These files provide correspondence from the Factories of Canton (modern Guangzhou) and from the missionaries and interpreters who entered China in the early nineteenth century, as well as from the later Consulates and Legation and from the envoys and missions sent to China from Britain.
After 1842, when the Treaty of Nanking was signed, the precedence of Canton declined as the treaty ports of Shanghai, Ningpo (Ningbo), Foochow (Fuzhou) and Amoy (Xiamen) were established. These were later joined by more trading posts, with British merchants and Consuls established at Swatow (Shantou), Chefoo (Yantai), Formosa (Taiwan) and more.
As well as matters of trade and commerce, the correspondence in this archive covers local uprisings including anti-foreign riots and the Tientsin Massacre of 1870, piracy, judicial and legal matters, and the activities of Russia, the US, France and other Western powers in the region. It also covers British interests and ambition in Japan, Thailand, Burma (Myanmar), Malaya (Malaysia) and Korea (particularly Seoul).
These hand-written documents have been opened up to scholars with the use of Handwritten Text Recognition (HTR) technology, as well as item-level information drawn from the Foreign Office Indexes in series FO 605.