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Extracts from the Lockhart Report on the New Territory, 8 October, 1898, from Great Britain

Extracts from the Lockhart Report on the New Territory, 8 October, 1898, from Great Britain

Extracts from the Lockhart Report on the New Territory, 8 October, 1898, from Great Britain

Colonial Office, series 129/ 289

POPULATION

There are no reliable statistics possessed by the Chinese Government of the present population of the San On district. No census appears to have been taken for many years. It has, therefore, been necessary to base an estimate of the population on inquiries made from the inhabitants of the villages and on personal inspection of the villages themselves. With these as guides it is estimated that the population of the new territory including the Sham Chun and Sha Tau Kok divisions and allowing 5,000 for that portion of the Sha Tau Kok division, which will most probably be included in the new area, amounts in round figures to one hundred thousand (100,000).

Map 6, giving the population and divisions of the area to be leased, shows how this population is spread over the mainland and islands.

The population is contained in six main divisions, inhabiting 423 villages. These villages vary in population from 10 to 5000 persons.

The eastern portion of the district, being more mountainous and less fertile, is not as thickly populated as the western portion. The Un Long Tung, or the fertile valleys and plains of Pat Heung and Shap Pat Heung, is the more populous, its population, amounting to 23020, being distributed among 59 villages. The Shung U Tung division, though much larger in area than the Un Long division, contains a population of only 20,870 distributed among no fewer than 182 villages.

The total area of the territory to be leased being 376 sq. miles, the population is about 266 persons to the square mile. Though by no means at present thickly populated it is anticipated that when the new territory comes under British occupation its population will rapidly increase.

 

VILLAGES

The total number of villages amounts to 423. The houses in these villages are as a rule well and solidly built. The foundations and lower courses of their walls are in many cases of granite masonry, the upper courses being made of blue or of sun dried bricks. The door posts and lintels are of dressed granite slabs with tiled roofs on rafters made of China fir. The floors are generally concreted and frequently paved with red brick or with granite. Well built and handsomely decorated temples exist in all the important villages and in many places large and expensively constructed buildings in which the ancestral tablets are kept were seen.

As usual in China the streets are narrow and paved with large slabs of stone. Such drainage as exists is on the surface, underground drains never being used in Chinese villages.

There are walled villages in the territory which are invariably inhabited by members of one clan only. They are rectangular or square in shape and are enclosed within brick walls

underground drains never being used in Chinese villages.

There are several walled villages in the territory which are invariably inhabited by members of one clan only. They are rectangular or square in shape and are enclosed within brick walls about 16 ft. in height, flanked by square towers and surrounded by a moat some 40 ft. in width. They have one entrance protected with iron gates. Within the walls, houses of the usual type are found, built with great regularity. There is one main street from either side of which small lanes branch off in parallel rows. The object of these villages being walled is to afford the inhabitants greater security in case of attack and to place them in a stronger position of defence in the event of clan feuds, which were formerly very common and are still not infrequent. In one of the villages visited was found a temple specially dedicated to the memory of those members of the clan who had fallen in the fights against a neighbouring village. The feud between the inhabitants of these two villages, the inhabitants of which are descended from a common ancestor and possess the same surname, extended over many years, during which great numbers were killed. Peace has now been restored and we had the pleasure of being entertained at the same table by the heads of the two villages, which were so long at enmity with each other.

Those who are able to express an opinion on the subject state that the villages in the territory compare favourably with those of southern India and Ceylon.

Appendix 5 contains a list of the names and populations of each village in the area to be leased.

 

INHABITANTS

The inhabitants are composed of three races of the Chinese, the Puntis, the Hakkas and the Tankas.

The Puntis, or Cantonese, as they are termed by Europeans belong to the race which is supposed to have come from the provinces bordering on the south of the Yang-tsz river. The term Punti means "Natives of the Soil" but the existence of aborigines in many parts of the Kwang-tung province shows that the Puntis were not the aboriginal inhabitants.

It is not improbable that they commenced to find their way to the south of China during the early periods of Chinese history. At any rate they were firmly established in the south during the time of the Southern Sung Dynasty from A.D. 1127 to A.D. 1278. Most of the Punti inhabitants easily trace their descent from ancestors who were settled in the San On district in that period. The Puntis speak the dialect commonly known as Cantonese. The population amounts to 64,130 and is contained in 161 villages. They chiefly inhabit the valleys, especially those drained by the Sham Chun and Un Long rivers. Their main pursuit is that of agriculture; but they are also excellent traders and full of that enterprise for which as a race the Cantonese are so justly famous.

The Hakkas, or "Strangers" as the term signifies, are supposed to be descended from the Mongols and to have reached the southern provinces of China when the Mongol dynasty was overthrown, about the middle of the 14th. century. They are regarded by the Puntis as aliens and speak a dialect quite distinct from Cantonese. The villages occupied by the Hakkas are 255 in number and contain a population of 36,070. As a rule their villages are inhabited solely by members of their own race just as the Punti villages are inhabited only by Cantonese: though there are a few villages in which both races are represented. The Hakkas are a hardy and frugal race and are generally found in the hill districts. Their chief pursuits being agriculture and quarrying.

The Tankas or boat people form the floating population of which it has not been possible to obtain even an estimate except in the case of the islands where they have been included in the general population. They form a class by themselves and are looked down upon by the land population. They inhabit the creeks, harbours, waterways and islands, and make excellent sailors, being very clever in the handling of junks and small craft. They are largely engaged in fishing.

Taken as a whole the inhabitants may be regarded as an industrious, frugal and well-behaved people. During the inspection of the territory they gave us an excellent reception except in two instances one of which was so marked that it was necessary to being the conduct of the villagers concerned to the notice of the Viceroy of the Two Kwang who will, it is hoped, deal with the matter in a proper manner. There are of course bad characters and rowdies to be found among the population and one or two villages have caused an unenviable notoriety for lawlessness, but there ought to be no difficulty in bringing such characters and places under proper control and putting an end to the present state of affairs.

The inhabitants, though by no means wealthy, seem to be as a rule comfortably well-off and able to earn an honest livelihood without difficulty. Few signs of anything approaching destitution were seen and only a few beggars were met. From information received it appears that there are only 1600 beggars throughout the whole of the San on district, the majority of whom are said to be outside the new territory.

 

INDUSTRIES

The population is chiefly occupied in the cultivation of the soil with the various crops produced. But in addition to agricultural pursuits there are large fisheries in which many persons are engaged, in the bays surrounding the territory on the east, south and west, fishing being carried out chiefly by means of stake-nets. The fish are sorted, salted and sun-dried and exported to various markets. The trade in salt fish is one of the most important and employs a large number of persons.

Pearl fisheries exist in Tolo harbour where pearls of value are sometimes said to be found.

In addition to salt water fish the rearing of fresh water fish in ponds for the Hongkong market and elsewhere occupies the attention of the villagers of the Un Long division.

The cultivation of oysters is also carried on to a large extent, especially in Deep Bay.

Lime burning is an important industry, coral and oyster shells being burnt in the place of limestone. The largest limeburning works seen were near Castle Peak Bay where coal obtained from Hongkong was being used as fuel. Lime was also being burnt at Taipo hoi, Sha-Tau-Kok, Sha-Tin, Ts'un Wan, Ping Shan and other places visited. It is understood that a great deal of the lime used in Hongkong is imported from the San On district.

The manufacture of bricks and the quarrying of stones enable the inhabitants to obtain building materials at a cheap rate.

Salt is manufactured in several places. Salt pans were seen at Sha-Tau-Kok and Castle Peak Bay.

The indigo grown in the district is used for dying cloth, both men and women being employed in the work of dyeing.

Boat-building is carried on. A boat-building shed was seen on the shores of Mirs Bay.

A large establishment exists near Ts'un Wan for the manufacture of joss-powder, out of which joss-sticks used in the worship of idols are made. The powder is made from fragrant wood, which is pounded into dust by means of water-wheels, six of which were seen at work.

Although there is a large source of water throughout the territory available for water power, this is the only instance in which we saw water utilised for manufacturing purposes.

Ropes and nets are manufactured out of the hemp which was observed growing in various places. One village we visited was engaged entirely in the manufacture of pottery, the clay for which is found in the mountain immediately above the village. The villagers are said to have learned the art of manufacturing pottery from an Italian missionary who formerly resided among them.

In almost every village is carried on the rearing of pigs, large numbers of which are exported annually.

Pine trees are grown and cut down for firewood which is an important article of export.

Poultry breeding and fruit growing for the Hongkong market form lucrative occupations for many villages.

With the introduction of capital, which is sure to follow when the territory comes under British occupation, and with that feeling of greater security which just government is bound to inspire, the present industries will be greatly developed and new industries will be created.

 

CIVIL OFFICERS

The district of San On, in which the area about to be leased is situated, is included in the jurisdiction of the Viceroy of the Two Kwangs, who lives at Canton.

The chief civil officer of the district is the Magistrate, who resides at Nam Tau, and who is responsible to the Viceroy for the good government of the whole district and whose duties are both judicial and executive.

Under the Magistrate are an Assistant Magistrate and two Deputy Magistrates.

The Assistant Magistrate resides at Tai P'ang. The Deputy Magistrate is stationed at Fuk Wing, north-west of Nam Tau, the other within the city of Kowloon.

The Assistant and Deputy Magistrates have the power to make arrests and conduct preliminary enquiries, but should refer most cases to the Magistrate for final decision.

The magistrate is aided in his duties by Secretaries or Shih-yi, who are placed in charge of the departments dealing with crimes, revenue and official correspondence, and by a staff of police or runners whose duties are referred to in detail under the Head of Police.

The Magistrate may inflict corporal punishment and possesses the power of imprisonment, but is not empowered to sentence prisoners to death.

 

MILITARY OFFICERS

In addition to the civil officers there are several military officers in the district. The highest of these is the Taip'ang Hop or Colonel Commanding at Taip'ang, a town to the north-east of Mirs Bay. This officer also has quarters in Kowloon and for this reason is commonly known as the Kowloon Mandarin. He is under the of the General or Fi Tu of the Kwang-tung province and has under his command several officers and some troops.

 

Map 7 shows where the various officials are stationed. It will be observed that from this map that as a rule the petty military officers who control the islands do not reside on them, but have their headquarters at Taip'ang on the mainland.

 

PRISONS

There is one main prison situated at Nam Tau and under the control of an officer entitled Tien Shih. The prison is built to accommodate 120 persons, but is seldom occupied by more than 30 or 40. In addition to there are six lockups, one for each of the four Tung or divisions into which the district is divided, and two under the control of the Deputy Magistrate, for detaining persons pending trial.

 

POLICE

There are two classes of police in the district. One class called ch'ai or runners is stationed in the district city under the control of the Magistrate. There are about 60 in number and are sent, as occasion requires throughout the district for a variety of purposes, including the making of arrests, the collecting of the land tax, and acting generally as the eyes and ears of the Magistrate. They receive no pay from the Government but manage to earn a fair livelihood by illicit squeezes.

In addition to this class of police there are in each village throughout the district at least two Kang Fu or village constables who are appointed by the village and paid out of contributions made by the villagers according to the extent of their holdings in land. Large villages have five or six constables the head constable being styles Ti-p'o. Their duty is to keep watch especially at night. They have the power of arrest which is deputed to them by the gentry and elders of the village.

 

LOCAL GOVERNMENT IN THE VILLAGES

If a person is arrested by a village constable he is taken before the gentry and elders of the village who assemble in a place especially appointed for the purpose. The gentry and elders who are the representatives of the clans inhabiting the villages are selected by the inhabitants to deal with cases in the village council. The usual cases are those of theft, disputes about land, domestic squabbles, and cases of debt. Most of these cases are summarily dealt with by the village council and as a rule the decision of these councils is accepted as final. But if either of the parties to a case are dissatisfied he can appeal to a council of the Tung, or to a general council made up of representatives of the different Tungs. A reference to Map 6 will show how the newly leased territory is divided into Tung or Divisions. Each council of a Tung contains representatives of the villages which make up the Tung. In addition to a council of the Tung there is a general council for the whole of the Tung-Lo or Eastern section which is practically that section of the district of San On contained in the map attached to the Convention. (Map 1). This general council is styled the Tung Ping Kuk or Council of Peace for the Eastern section. It has its council chambers at the nearest town of Sham Chun which is regarded as the centre of the eastern section.

If the decision of the council of the Tung or of the Tung Ping Kuk is not regarded as satisfactory, an appeal has to be sent to the Magistrate for his approval.

 

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