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A statue was erected to honour Sir Thomas Jackson in 1906. This is the account by The Hong Kong Telegraph, March 3, 1906. SEE ALSO: A Blog: TJ and the Story of his Statue as well as Photos of the event.
Sharon Oddie Brown. January 31, 2011

 

SIR THOMAS JACKSON

THE STATUE

UNVEILING CEREMONY

SPEECH BY HIS EXCELLENCY GOVERNOR

24th ult.

The statue of Sir Thomas Jackson, who for nearly three decades ruled the destinies of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation was unveiled this afternoon by his Excellency Sir Matthew Nathan. There was a great gathering of shareholders in the corporation and the general public at the ceremony. The statue, which stands immediately in front of the bank, was encircled with flags; in the centre was the flag of the Colony supported by Union Jacks, and the flag of the "Wayfoong". The flags of all nations were at the side, even the crescent and star being displayed. There was a railed in area for those invited to attend the function. Punctually at a quarter to one his Excellency, accompanied by Captain Arbuthnot- Leslie, A.D.C. appeared in his chair, and mounted the rostrum which had been erected immediately under the statute. Among those present were; --

 

Messrs. H.A. W. Slade, A. Haupt, Hon C.W. Dickson, E. Goetz, C.R. Lenzmann, G.H. Medhurst, F. Salinger, Hon. Mr. R. Shewan, E. Shellim, N.A. Siebs (Directors), J. R. M. Smith (Chief Manager), Colonel Chater (of the Argylyl and Sutherland Highlanders formerly stationed in Hongkong, an old friend of Sir Thomas Jackson’s who happened to be passing through the Colony). His Hon. Francis Piggott, Sr. C. Paul Chater, C.M.G., T. Arnold, G. Murray Bain, [?]. Berindoague,  J.W. Bolles, Hone Mr. A.W. Brewin, G de Champauex,

Hon Mr. W. Chatham, J.A. Chinoy, T.P. Cockrane, Chan Tong, T. CHristiani, W.A. Cruikshank, W. Danby, E. Freyvogel, W.H. Gaskell, H.J. Gedge, E. Georg, A. Hancock, S. Hancock, F.A. Hazeland, E. A. Hewett, Ho Fook, T.F. Hough, Hon Dr. Ho Kai, H. Humphreys, W.G. Humphries, H.U. Jeffries, Dr. J.P. Jordan, J.A. Jupp, E.S. Kadoorie, J.T. Lauts, D.R. Law, B. Layton, A.R. Linton, W. Lysaught, J.R. Michael, A.S. Mihara, M. T. Minami, E.W. Mitchell, H.N. Mody, A.G. Moris, G.C. Moxon, Dr. J.W. Noble, J. Orange, E. Pabaney, H. Pinckney, G.W.F. Playfair, Hon. Mr. H.E. Pollock, W.H. Potts, E.A. Ram, A.H. Rennie, E.W. Rutter, W.J. Saunders, M.W. Slade,  Hon. Mr. T. Sercombe Smith, Dr. Hardston, Hon. Mr. Gershom Stewat, M. Stewart, A.G. Stokes, H. Suter, T. Takamichi, Hon. Mr. A.M. Thomson, C.H. Thompson, A. Turner, G.F.Veitch, J.V.Y. Vernon, J. WHittall, His Hon. Mr. A.G. Wise, A.G. Wood, H.P. White, F.B. Deacon, M.S. Northcote, J.C. Peter, H.E.R. Hunter, C.W. May, N.A. Stabb, A. Forbes, Capt. Pillet,  N.M.H. Nemazee, H.W. Fraser, Capt Goddard, A.R. Lowe, C.H. Rogge, A. Rodger, W.H. Wickham, W.H. Purcell, J.J. Leira, W.S. Jackson,  S.H. Michael, D. Forbes, I.M.S. Alvez, H. Schroeter, S.A. Levy, A.V. Apcar, J. Barton, C.E. Anton, R.R. Hynd, F.A. Gomes, G.H. Piercy, T. Owen, W.H. Potts, A. Gubbay, C.H. Grace, Capt. W.E. Clarke, Ho Kom Tong, Lo Cheung Shui, B.A. Hale, Shigmaga (of the Taiwan Bank), F.J.V. Jorge, E. Jones Hughes, S.A. Joseph, C.E.A. Beavis, R. Mitchell, A.G. Gordon, D.E. Brown, C.D. Wilinson, A. Sheldon Hooper, J.B. Heemskirk, and others.

 

Mr. H.A.W. Slade, the chairman of directors, said -- Your Excellency and gentlemen, - By way of introduction to the ceremony which we are about to take part in, I will briefly recapitulate the circumstances which have led up to it. Sir Thomas Jackson took over the chief managership of a Hong Kong Bank in 1876 when its fortunes were not very flourishing, when indeed the circumstances were somewhat humble. He laid down the burden in 1902, leading the institution proudly and as we think, firmly established as the premier Bank in the Far East. He was always the first to claim that these results were in a large measure due to the splendid services rendered by the men who were associated with it in his life's work; but they, on the other hand, have always been ready to attribute them to his able leadership. A born leader he was - everyone who has known him on his serious side knows that - but he was more than a leader. There are leaders who command admiration by the brilliancy of their intellectual achievements, but who otherwise fail to command our respect. A successful banker must have more than intellect. He must have character. Character has more to do a successful banking even than brilliant intellectual gifts; for, after all, the great thing is to inspire confidence. Your Excellency and gentlemen, Sir Thomas Jackson had both combined, and when he left the colony although happily still to be connected with us as chairman of our London committee, the shareholders of the bank decided that it was only fitting that some monument should be erected to remind those who shall come after us of the man and of his work. They decided that it should take the form of a statute, to be set up in the vicinity of the head office, so that it might come to be regarded as part and parcel of, and be permanently identified with, the institution in the building of which he, for so long, took the leading part. Gentlemen, H. E. Sir Matthew Nathan has kindly consented to unveil the statue and I now on behalf of all the shareholders have the honour of asking him to perform the ceremony. (Loud applause)

 

His Excellency said: - Mr. Slade and gentlemen - in the three months that I spent in England in 1904 between my return from the Gold Coast and my departure for Hong Kong, I had the good fortune to make the acquaintance of three men whose powers of mind, strength of character, and attractiveness of personality far transcended those which fall to the common law. And I recognized in these three men the type that had maintained, during the last quarter of the 19th century, the greatness of the British Empire outside the metropolitan country. The first of the three was Sir George Dashwood Taubman Goldie, who while guiding the affairs of the Royal Niger Company, had secured the months [sic.] of the Niger for Great Britain. The second was Sir Frank Swettenham, who in a long connection with the Malay states, raised them to their present prosperous condition. The third was the man who, for 26 years, steered the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank through difficulties and dangers to opulence and security, who tempered wise caution with equally wise boldness, British earnestness with Irish joyfulness, and necessary strictness with genuine kindness, whose features - well done - in bronze by Mr. Raggi, you are able to look up on today, with the admiration and esteem and respect Sir Thomas Jackson has so well deserved — (loud applause).

 

Sir Matthew Nathan then unveiled the statute amid the loud and continued cheering of the spectators.

 

Mr. J. R.M. Smith, chief manager of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank, moved a vote of thanks to his Excellency Sir Matthew Nathan for his kindness and coming to perform the ceremony of unveiling the statue of Sir Thomas Jackson. I also on behalf of the staff, he went on, would like to take this opportunity of thanking the shareholders and directors for the signal mark of appreciation of the services of our old chief. The bank staff will ever look upon Sir Thomas Jackson as a personal friend, for he was always full of kindly consideration for those under him. We are all proud to have worked with him and all gratified to think that he has been so greatly honoured. I'm sure you all join me in the earnest hope that he may live long to wear his laurels (loud applause). And now I ask

you to give three cheers for his Excellency the Governor (loud applause). After the cheers and the “tiger” had been given, His Excellency returned thanks and the proceedings ended.

 

A HISTORICAL RETROSPECT.

SIR THOMAS JACKSON AND HARD WORK.

 

The ceremony of unveiling a statue to Sir Thomas Jackson which took place today marks very fittingly the work of a financier whose ability and energy have left their imprint on the Colony. His memory is indelibly enshrined in the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corp. which is itself one of the leading features of this island - a potent factor in its prosperity. The distinguishing trait about Sir Thomas Jackson's character while Chief Manager of the Bank, was his absolute devotion to duty. What struck those who had to deal with him in Hong Kong was his observant nature. He saw everything and he saw around corners -- probably that was a secret of his success; but it is at least certain that the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank would not be what it is today had there been no Sir Thomas Jackson. As a result of his efforts, aided and assisted by numerous capable, efficient and willing coadjutors, the Bank is not merely a factor in the progress of the Colony, it is almost a name to conjure with, and it is now entering into international obligations which will further improve its standing and confer greater honour on the Colony.

 

Sir Thomas Jackson is an Irishman, born in a district with a fine Irish name, Crossmaglen. It was the Irish blood in his nature, probably, which made him such a companionable man. He was educated at an academy known as Morgan School at Castle Knock and by private tutors. Deciding to enter the banking profession, he entered he joined the Bank of Ireland at Belfast when he was 19 years of age. Four years later in 1864 he came to the East, where all his successes were to be won. He entered the Agra Bank, but in 1876 he came to Hong Kong and became chief manager of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank. Meanwhile he had married a sister of Mr. G. M. Dare, of Hong Kong. Altogether Sir Thomas Jackson was for more than a quarter-century in Hong Kong and during that period the Bank with which he was associated rose from a comparatively humble origin to become one of the recognized financial media in the world, and by far the most influential banking institution in the Far East. Within recent days we have seen the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank through the foresight of the government, extending its scope by negotiating loans for the development of China's internal economy. The name of the bank is far better known in London than that of some of the many city institutions and its bond is accepted everywhere. During the long period that Sir Thomas Jackson was connected with the bank in Hong Kong, he had to guide his craft through many troubled waters; that he did so successfully is evidenced by the position of the Bank at the present time.

 

THE BANK STARTED.

 

The histories of the Hong Kong and Shanghai banking Corp. and Sir Thomas Jackson are so inseparably intertwined that the story of one is a life story of the other. When the bank was started in 1864 – twelve [sic] years before Mr. Jackson joined it - there was much dubiety as to its ultimate success. A mushroom grown in a night could scarcely compare with such banks as the Chartered, the Mercantile, the Commercial, the Oriental, the Agra and United Service, or the Central Bank of Western India. These were then firmly established, enjoying the confidence of investors and depositors alike. But in July, 1864, the firm of Dent & Co. one of the princely houses of the period, issued the prospectus of the newly formed Corporation which started with a capital of five million dollars in 20,000 shares of $250 each. What contributed to the success of the bank more than anything else was the broad spirit which animated its directorate. There was no question of party or state about the institution in any shape or form. A glance at the names of those who were the provisional committee, practically the founders will indicate this at once. There was Mr. A.F. Heard, of the established house of Heard & Co., Thomas Sutherland, whom everybody knows is the great head of the P. & O. Co., the head of the Suez canal, and the patron of half a hundred institutions, D. Lapraik, the founder of Douglas and Co., W. Schmidt, A. Sassoon, Pallanjee Framjee., W. Adamson, Prestonjee Dhunjeeshaw, and others. The first manager was Mr. V. Kresser, who entered upon his duties on the first day of January, 1865. Whether he did actually work on New Year's Day is matter for doubt; in fact it is a shrewd guess to hazard the opinion that the familiar notice, “The Exchange Banks will be closed” was operative then as now on festive occasions.

 

THE FLUCTUATING DOLLAR.

 

It is interesting to note here how the money market stood. It had been recommended by Sir J. Bowering, that there should be established at Hong Kong a Mint for the issue of British dollars. At that time, in 1850 to 1860, there were constant complaints as to the embarrassing fluctuations in the value of the Mexican dollar and the insufficiency of the small silver coins procured from England. In July, 1861, clean silver dollars (Mexican) bore a premium of 7%, above their intrinsic value as compared to bar and sycee silver, and subsequently reached a premium at nearly 12%, which however fell to 8% in the early part of 1863. It was felt that these excessive fluctuations of the common medium of exchange in China and Japan must tend to embarrass the operations of commerce. In 1862 Sir Hercules Robinson obtained the sanction of the Colonial Office for the principle on which he proposed to base a reform of the currency of the Colony, the official reestablishment of a silver standard based on the Mexican dollar. By a proclamation dated January 9, 1863, it was determined that Mexican and other silver dollars of equal value should, together with those silver coins of Mexican standard and bronze coins and cash being hundredth or thousandth parts of the Mexican dollar, be the only legal tender of payment in the colony. The date however was not fixed until the Mint was established in 1865. But Sir Hercules Robinson obtained the sanction for the Mint and a large stock of subsidiary coins. These consisted of silver ten-cent pieces, bronze cents and bronze mils (cash). The intrinsic value of the silver ten cent pieces was such as to make three dollar face value equal to $2.987 intrinsic value.

 

MEXICAN DOLLARS

 

Sir Hercules represented to H.M.'s government that Mexican dollars now passed current in a large quantities even in Shanghai; that the dollar had already been declared the only legal tender of payment in Hong Kong; that the supply of Mexican dollars had become quite insufficient in consequence of the new demand for Japan; that even in the silk districts of central China payments, formerly settled in sycee, now had to be made in defaced Mexican dollars which were at a high premium; that consequently a British dollar on the equal value to that of the Mexican was urgently required. In consequence of these representations the Lord's commissioners of H. M.'s treasury approved April 10, 1863 of the proposal of Sir Hercules and suggested that the proposed Mint should be established in Hong Kong by local enactment to be approved by the Queen, and that it should be placed under the control and supervision of the Master of the Royal Mint, with a view to assay and verification of the coins to be issued from it. Arrangements were accordingly made by Sir Hercules, the site now occupied by the East point sugar refinery was appropriated for the purposes of the mint, additional land reclaimed from the sea, at a cost of £9000, a water supply secured at a cost of $3550 buildings commenced which cost $25,000, and a staff ordered from home. Several ordinances were also issued providing for the conversion of British currency in all payments by or to the government (of 1864) and for the organization of the Mint service ([?] 1864). The former of these two ordinances; ordained with reference to the above-mentioned proclamation of January 9, 1863, that as soon as the date referred to could be fixed, all payments due in British sterling to or by the government should be made in dollars, cents or cash, to be issued from H.M. Mint at the rate of 4s. 2d. to the dollar.

 

TRADE IN 1866

 

It was just at this period that the Suez canal was opened. Prior to that, vessels to Hong Kong had to undergo the terribly long and monotonous voyage around the Cape. It was only the other day that we were speaking of the new Delhi, an 8000 tonner, and the Dongola, a sister ship which the P. & O. Company have put on the run to the East. Now we are complaining about the length of the passage to Europe. The probability is, however, that until we get aerial or rail-less railways we can hardly expect to get home much under a month. However, the opening of the Suez Canal gave an extraordinary impetus to trade in the Far East. The godowns of Hong Kong were crammed, the treaty ports were overflowing, the volume of commerce increased tenfold, the methods of trade were revolutionized, and in 1866 the foreign trade with China amounted to nearly £95,000,000. Of that trade Great Britain had £71,518 723 or nearly 63 percent of the whole, and for the distribution of that traffic Hong Kong was a central emporium. It was under it these favourable conditions that the Hong Kong Bank was started. In 1866, the shareholders of the bank felt confident of coming prosperity and the bank was incorporated by charter.

 

THE BANK'S DIVIDEND.

 

Now the bank had become the financial pulse of the Colony. In February, 1872, the bank declared a dividend equal to 12% upon the paid-up capital. In February 1873 it did the same, after, we are told some hesitation on the part of the directors, but in August 1874, the directors declared themselves unable to pay any dividend at all, complaining of heavy losses and failure all round. In 1875 the bank was still a non-dividend paying concern and a Commission of Inquiry was suggested. However, in 1876, the bank had recovered its former position, changed the manager, rid itself of encumbered states and paid £1 dividend per share. The very next year, in 1877, after Sir Thomas Jackson had been manager for a year, while continuing to pay the same dividend the bank increased its reserve fund to half a million dollars “which called forth, in favour of the Chairman of the Company (the late Mr. E.R. Belilios) and the new manager (Mr. Thomas Jackson) votes of thanks, with acclamation by the very men who stated at the time, eighteen months previous, they had thought very hard things about the prospects of the Bank”. Thus Sir Thomas Jackson had rehabilitated its standing, and was now a power in the land.

 

BANK NOTES.

 

Between 1864 and 1872 the annual circulation of banknotes in Hong Kong averaged two and a half million dollars. The Agra and Commercial banks had collapsed, and there had been a run on the Oriental and Chartered banks, when the circulation of notes fell to one and a half millions. In June, 1872, the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank obtained the

permission of the governor, Sir Arthur Kennedy, to issue $1 notes, whereby a much-felt want was supplied. Twelve months after the issue of these notes there were $17,500 in circulation. The total number of notes in circulation, all denominations, in 1874 had reached three and half million dollars. Then of course the fatuous heads of departments at St. Stephen's took it into their noble and distinguished minds, or what they were pleased to term minds, and said that the circulation of $1 notes was a serious evil, because, forsooth these notes would be largely in the hands of the poorest Chinese who might be even more subject to panics than the mercantile classes. The Governor, acting under instructions, asked the bank to show cause why the $1 notes should not be called in.

Then the Colony rose en masse. A memorial was signed by everybody who is anybody; the Chamber of Commerce roused itself from its usual lethargy and passed a special resolution in favour of the retention of the $1 notes.

 

WANTED -- A BRITISH DOLLAR.

 

At this time there were three silver dollars in circulation. There were a New Mexican dollar, an American trade dollar and a Japanese dollar or yen. When a New Mexican dollar came out it was boycotted by the shroffs and traders in Hong Kong. The Viceroy of Canton had it assayed, when it was officially announced that to pay 1.0 taels worth of pure sycee it would be necessary to pay 111.11 in New Mexican dollars, that 100 New Mexican dollars were equal to $101.41 old Mexican dollars. As a result of that, and the published assay of the American trade dollar, the Mexican dollar came into favour again. The English community were anxious to have a British dollar which should not be defaced by stamping. At a meeting of the Chamber of Commerce in 1874 the feeling was expressed that chopped dollars should be done away with altogether, and an almost unanimous opinion was voiced against the introduction of the American trade dollar or the Japanese yen. Then the English authorities were communicated with, but they replied that the proposal to coin a special dollar for Hong Kong was impracticable, as it would cost 2%, for coinage and 1% for freight. Thus the movement for Hong Kong dollar came

 

 

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