Sir Chaloner Alabaster

Sir Chaloner Alabaster

Birth
Death 28 Jun 1898 (aged 59)
Burial Bournemouth, Bournemouth Unitary Authority, Dorset, England
Memorial ID 56807366 · View Source
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Consul General. He was educated at King's College, London, and matriculated at London University in 1852. He was appointed a student interpreter in China in 1855, being attached to the Superintendency of Trade at Hongkong. He was present at the first bombardment of Canton, and was attached to Admiral Sir M Seymour until the capture of Canton, for which service he received the China medal with Canton clasp. When it was determined to send the bloodthirsty Commissioner Yeh in exile to Calcutta, he was chosen to accompany him, and remained with the prisoner until Yeh's death. Much of his peculiar and recondite knowledge of Chinese philosophy was gained from his conversations with Yeh during his captivity. On his return to China he was first attached to Sir Frederick Bruce's mission, and was successively interpreter at Canton, Amoy, and Swatow, having plenty of experience of fighting against piratical villages while he was attached to the Swatow Consulate. He was appointed interpreter at Shanghai in 1861, and accompanied the Ever Victorious Army under Gordon and his predecessors in several of its engagements with the rebels. In August 1862 he was lent to the Chinese Government to assist in the reorganisation of the Sungkiangforce. He was one of the organisers of the Mixed Court here, and was successively in charge of the Consulates at Chefoo, Swatow, Shanghai, Ningpo, Amoy, Ichang, and Hankow. In 1885 he was acting Consul-General at Shanghai, and was then transferred to Canton, where he was made Consul ­General. In the distribution of Birthday Honours in 1892 he was made a K.C.M.G., and in November 1892 he retired on a pension after more than thirty-seven years' invaluable service. His wife was a very well-known and very amiable and popular Shanghai lady, Miss Laura Macgowan. He was one of the cleverest and ablest men in the Consular service; with strong opinions of his own, and absolutely ignorant of fear. He was much too original, too decided, too anti-Chinese, to please Sir Thomas Wade, and he would have got on better if he had been more ready to fall in with his chief`s views; but his experience generally, and especially his long and intimate companionship with Yeh, had shown him what the Chinese mandarin is in his heart; and he could not be imposed upon by them as his simpler and more soft-hearted chief was. His friends knew that with all his occasional bitterness he had a heart of pure gold, and would take any amount of trouble to help people who were really in trouble. He had no patience with shams and pretensions; he saw through them directly, and the man had to get up early who proposed to get round "the Buster," as he was affectionately termed It was worth a great deal to spend an evening with "the Buster," who would be smoking two cheroots at once, and the Dean, and hear them discuss men and things, with an incessant flow of wit and humour. It was Alabaster who turned Trinity Church here into a Cathedral and his friend the Chaplain, Mr. Butcher, into a Dean. He had no authority to do it beyond the public approval, but he did it. Socially, he was very popular, and this popularity was enhanced by the respect that even those who were not his personal friends had for his spirited performance of his Consular duties. He was one of the founders and leading spirits of the Beefsteak Club and the original Debating Society, and one of the founders and warmest supporters of the Amateur Dramatic Club.

- Extract from the North-China Herald, July 11, 1898.


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  • Created by: julia&keld
  • Added: 8 Aug 2010
  • Find A Grave Memorial 56807366
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Sir Chaloner Alabaster (14 Sep 1838–28 Jun 1898), Find A Grave Memorial no. 56807366, citing East Cemetery, Bournemouth, Bournemouth Unitary Authority, Dorset, England ; Maintained by julia&keld (contributor 46812479) .