From The Group Archives of the HSBC we have the following record:Browne, Thomas McCallagh (nickname "Mister")
* From King, Frank H.H. The History of the Hong Kong and Shanghai
Banking Corporation, VOL I, p. 534, we learn that Browne's "main
contribution was his managership of the Bankok agency". On page
599 there is also a passing reference: "[at the new Bankok agency]
the very successful T. McC. Browne" took over
from J.R.M Smith who had set up the Branch. However that worked, in 1901,
Smith did not think that the "popular and hospitable T.McC Browne
(east in 1882)" was being sufficiently pressing in his attempts to
have overdrafts paid off in a timely manner [p131]. In 1903, Smith sent
Nicholson up to Bangkok to assist in the negotiations with the Siamese
Government relating to issues relating to the valuation of silver. "Browne
was in fact the spokeman for the exchange banks, and the unusual interference
was both resented and ineffective." [p.132]
MISCELLANEOUS NOTES (jotted down for now with absolutely no attention to style):
Barlow's Sept 12, 1955 letter adds more detail: "He established and maintained excellent relations with the Siamese Government, the business community, European and Asiatic. He was very public spirited, a good mixer, keenly interested in all that went on. I think that these qualities combined with a long and successful service in Bangkok, has no doubt led to his name being so closely identified with the Bank in Siam."
It is said (by A.H. Barlow, letter 12 Sept. 1955) that BROWNE was born in Cailingford, Ireland. More recently, I have been wondering if that might be Carlingford instead. There was a landowner in Co.Louth near Carlingford called Ephriam BROWNE and there are records in PRONI under this that I will investigate when I am there in October.
On May 12, 1882, while still in the London Office, BROWNE began Mandarin lessons. This was not the norm for the time - in fact BROWNE was one of six men comprising the first set of such HSBC scholars. Before Sir Charles Addis set these classes up, it was thought that English men could get by in their own tongue simply using the "compradoric" system. As Addis said in a letter to a friend:
One of the assets of Sir Charles Addis's background before he entered the employ of HSBC was that he had a graduate degree in Chinese. This made him somewhat unique. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem that BROWNE and his confreres stayed the course in these pioneering classes. It may have had something to do with their instructor, "a pale nervous looking man" who was a professor of Chinese in King's College, London. Regardless of the real reasons, by the end of the year, only one member of the original class was still pursuing learning the language - in spite of salary incentives offered the men if they gained proficiency - and our BROWNE was not that man. ( Frank H.H. King, History of the Hongkong and Shangkhai Banking Corporation, Cambridge University Press, 1987 pp527-530, Vol 1 ). That being said, it appears that he may have picked up some of the local languages later in her career.
According to W. Nunn, a later British advisor to the Thai Government, T. McC. BROWNE was a name to conjure with, being a man to whom the Thai often went for guidance in their financial affairs. He seemed to have known the leading Thai upon whom he impressed his personality, and he was prominent in sports and social activities. “I do not know whether he spoke Siamese, but certainly none of his successors knew more of the language than allowed them to direct a gharry driver or rickshaw coolie - a lack which was common to all British business men. .... His successors tended to be mere bank managers and nothing more, directed from headquarters and having much fewer friendly contacts with the Siamese." (Source: HSBC Archives. J.4)
It was probably these "mere bank managers" who gave BROWNE grief in his later life at the Bank. When J.R.M. Smith completed in his inspection on the Bangkok branch in 1901, he concluded that BROWNE is described as “not being sufficiently pressing in his attempts to have these accounts (overdrafts) paid off”. [King, Vol II, p. 131].
Certainly, over time, banking processes had become more formalized with a different, albeit not necessarily more successful, style of management. In 1903, J.R.M. Smith - who was now the Chief Manager of Hong Kong - sent the Singapore Manager up to Bangkok to oversee BROWNE in negotiations with the Siamese Government dealing with losses resulting from from monetary changes. This interference, unusual since BROWNE was in fact the spokesman for the exchange banks, was "both resented and ineffective". [King, Vol II, p. 132].
T. McC Browne was described by M.T. Cooke-Collis as “that Prince of hospitality, T. McBrowne, known affectionately as ‘The Laird,’ of immortal memory.” Apparently also, "the mess table in Hong Kong was a grand sight." This is quoted in a memo to G.O.W. Stewart, 3 Sept. 1959.
There is some correspondance between Sir Charles Stewart Addis and Thomas McCullagh BROWNE in the collection of CSA's papers at the London School of Oriental and African Studies. In January 1881 CSA wrote in his diary: "... new man to the Bank, Brown, ... will likely take my place." In 1889, Thomas McCullagh BROWNE wrote letters from Shanghai to CSA about bank news in 1889 and in 1890 from Hankow. [Thanks to this tip from a grandson of Sir CSA received June 10, 2004.]
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