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Parkes, Sir Harry Smith, 1828-1885 (Knight, diplomat)

 Person

Biography

Sir Harry Smith Parkes (1828-1885) was born on 24 February 1828 at Bloxwich, near Walsall. He was the youngest of three children, and the only son, of an ironmaster and his wife. Following an education at the King Edward the Sixth school in Birmingham, he proceeded to China in 1841 through the influence of a family connection. After a short period studying Chinese, he joined the suite of Sir Henry Pottinger in the Yangtze campaign of 1842, which brought the First China War to a conclusion, and as a fourteen-year-old he witnessed the signing of the Treaty of Nanking. In September 1843 he commenced work for the British consular service in Canton, and in the next few years served as interpreter at posts in Amoy, Foochow, Shanghai and Canton. In 1854 he was appointed consul in Amoy, and the following year he travelled to Siam to assist Sir John Bowring in the negotiations for a British treaty with that kingdom.

From 1856 to 1858 Parkes was acting consul at Canton. Shortly after taking up this post, he assumed direct superintendence, under Bowring's guidance, of the case concerning the Chinese boarding of the lorcha 'Arrow'. His inflexible conduct of the case was approved by his superiors, but became a source of controversy. Following the outbreak of the Second China War and the resulting capture of Canton, Parkes was appointed one of the city's three allied commissioners. He was made a C.B. in 1859.

After the allied forces returned to China in 1860 to enforce the ratification of the Treaty of Tientsin, Parkes was instrumental in acquiring the Kowloon Peninsula in Hong Kong harbour as British territory, intended primarily as a depot for troops in transit. Parkes accompanied the expedition made to the Peiho in the role of Joint Chinese Secretary of Lord Elgin's Special Embassy, and had leading roles in the reduction of the Taku forts and in the negotiations with the imperial commissioners at Tientsin and Tungchow. When fighting was renewed during the course of the talks, Parkes and his entourage were arrested and transported to Peking. During his three-week captivity he narrowly escaped execution before being freed through the agency of Prince Kung. Parkes' steadfast behaviour throughout this ordeal met with general praise in Britain, and he was appointed a K.C.B. after his return to England in 1862, by which time he had established consulates on the Yangtze at Chinkiang, Kiukiang and Hankow.

Parkes returned to China in 1864 to take up the consulship at Shanghai, and in March 1865 he was appointed envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary to Japan. In the course of his eighteen years as minister in Japan, Parkes played an important part in the transition of the country from feudalism to industrial modernity, exerting a influence particularly in the spheres of currency, finance, and railway construction. In 1872 he accompanied the 'Iwakura Mission' on its visit to Great Britain. He returned to England for the period from November 1879 to January 1882, and in 1881 was made a G.C.M.G. In his later years in Japan he attracted further controversy, largely on account of his attitude towards treaty revision.

In July 1883 Parkes was appointed minister plenipotentiary to China. One of his first actions was to travel to Seoul to conclude a treaty with Korea. In 1884 he was made minister plenipotentiary to Korea, and he returned to the country to ratify the treaty. Parkes' tenure of the Peking legation coincided with the Franco-Chinese War, and the disruptions caused by this episode added to his workload. He died in Peking after a brief illness on 22 March 1885.

Found in 9 Collections and/or Records:

 File

Business letters: America, 1821-1898

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS JM/B6/2
Scope and Contents Letters from the United States, comprised of 4,296 principal letters and 176 supplementary letters. The correspondents include the following names:Alexander G. Abell; F. Alger; Allan and Hogg; Richard Alsop; Alsop and Co.; American Guano Co.; American Watch Co.; Ammon, Caspari and Co.; Dr Alexander Anderson; J.E. Anderson; Anderson and Co.; Anderson, Weller and Co.; G.S. de Angelini (Captain of the 'Marinus'); John T. Archer; F. Argenti and Co.; Arkell, Tufts and Co.; Nicolas Tanco...
Dates: 1821-1898
Conditions Governing Access: The original letters are not available to readers, but microfilm copies may be ordered in the Manuscripts Reading Room - Reels 477 (letters nos 1-347), 478 (347*-725), 479 (726-1145), 480 (1146-1513), 481 (1514-1892), 482 (1893-2169), 483 (2170-2324), 484 (2325-2531), 485 (2532-2687), 486 (2688-3061), 487 (3062-3339), 488 (3340-3450), 489 (3451-3783), 490 (3784-4149), 491 (4150-4496), 492 (4497-4926 and S1-118) and 493 (S119-176).
 File

Business letters: Australasia, 1894-1898

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS JM/B6/3
Scope and Contents There are 4,827 principal letters and 47 supplementary letters. The correspondents include the following names:G.F. Agnew; Agra & Masterman's Bank Ltd; Alcock & Co.; C.J. Aldridge; John Alexander (of Gilchrist, Alexander & Co.); J. Allport; Allport & Roberts; Captain George Cobham Anderson (Marine Superintendent, Jardine Matheson, Hong Kong); Thomas Andrew; T.E. Angel; Australian Agricutural Co.J. Badcock; Henry C. Bailie; J. Baillie; A.B. Bain (of Cargill...
Dates: 1894-1898
Conditions Governing Access: The original letters are not available to readers, but microfilm copies may be ordered in the Manuscripts Reading Room - Reels 370 (letters nos 1-322), 371 (324-671), 372 (672-1056), 453 (1057-1507), 454 (1508-1847), 455 (1848-2231), 456 (2232-2559), 457 (2561-3000), 458 (3001-3393), 459 (3394-3771), 460 (3772-4410), 461 (4111-4564) and 462 (4565-4827 and S1-47). Letter no. 323 has not been microfilmed.
 File

Business letters: Canton, 1814-1904

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS JM/B7/2
Scope and Contents There are 12,706 principal letters and 218 supplementary letters. The correspondents include the following names:Abdollally Ebrahim Co. (also Abdolally Ebrahim & Co.; Abdoolally, Ebrahim & Co.; and A. Ebrahim & Co.); Acow & Co. (also Akoe & Co. and Akow & Co.); Aga Ahmed; A. and G.L. Agabeg; G.L. Agabeg & Co.; Arthur Agassiz; Aga Mahomed Ally; Agra & United Service Bank Ltd; Ahmedbhoy Rahamtoolla; William Ainslie (Shaw, Ainslie & Co. and Colvin,...
Dates: 1814-1904
Conditions Governing Access: The original letters are not available to readers, but microfilm copies may be ordered in the Manuscripts Reading Room - Reels 2 (letters nos 1-321), 3 (322-563), 4 (564-844), 5 (845-946), 6 (947-1318), 7 (1319-1678), 207 (1678-2023), 208 (2024-2319), 209 (2320-2549), 210 (2550-2897), 211 (2897-3294), 212 (3296-3619), 213 (3620-3989), 214 (3989-4233), 215 (4234-4565), 216 (4566-4745), 217 (4746-5110), 218 (5111-5311), 219 (5312-5651), 220 (5652-5943), 221 (5944-6209), 222 (6210-6511), 223 (6512-6798), 224 (6796-7087), 225 (7088-7410), 226 (7410-7759), 227 (7760-8051), 228 (8052-8359), 229 (8360-8625), 230 (8626-8952), 231 (8953-8971), 232 (8971-9075), 233 (9076-9229), 234 (9230-9413), 235 (9414-9570), 236 (9571-10018), 237 (10019-10234), 238 (10235-10396), 239 (10397-10760), 240 (10761-11176), 241 (11176-11518), 242 (11519-11624), 243 (11625-11919), 244 (11920-12012), 245 (12013-12187), 246 (12188-12362), 247 (12363-12706) and 248 (S1-218). Letter no. 3295 has not been microfilmed.
 File

Business letters: Great Britain, 1822-1898

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS JM/B6/8
Scope and Contents Letters from places in Great Britain (excluding London), comprised of 8,130 principal letters and 62 secondary letters. The correspondents include the following names:Edwin Morton Abbott; J.W. Abraham; Ponsonby Adair; John Adam; Daniel D. Adamson; Henry Adamson; J.L. Adamson; J.H. Agnew; James Aikin; John Aikin; Thomas Aitken; J. Aikin, Son & Co.; William Aitchison (of Jardine, Matheson & Co.); James Akroyd & Son; James Akroyd & Son Ltd; Albion Shipping Company;...
Dates: 1822-1898
Conditions Governing Access: The original letters are not available to readers, but microfilm copies may be ordered in the Manuscripts Reading Room - Reels 249 (letters nos 1-260), 250 (260-436), 251 (437-666), 252 (667-914), 253 (914-1054), 254 (1055-1333), 255 (1334-1526), 256 (1527-1853), 257 (1854-2102), 258 (2103-2331), 259 (2332-2555), 260 (2556-2867), 261 (2868-3122*), 262 (3123-3377), 263 (3378-3704*), 264 (3705-3960), 265 (3961-4145), 266 (4146-4401), 267 (4402-4534), 268 (4534*-4840), 269 (4841-5073), 270 (5074-5345), 271 (5346-5642), 272 (5643-5920), 273 (5921-6166), 274 (6167-6386), 275 (6387-6614), 276 (6615-6922), 277 (6923-7158), 278 (7159-7455), 279 (7456-7708), 280 (7709-7950) and 281 (7949-8130 and S1-62).
 File

Business letters: London, 1814-1898

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS JM/B6/10
Scope and Contents There are 20,751 principal letters and 63 supplementary letters. The correspondents include the following names:Edwin Morton Abbott; R.B. Abbott; Aberdare Patent Steam Fuel Company Ltd; Acclimatisation Society of Great Britain; William Edward Acraman; Acraman & Co.; Acraman, Thorne & Co.; Adam, Skinner & Co.; E.L. Adams; Henry Adams; Alexander Adamson; J.L. Adamson; William Adamson; Adamson & Ronaldson; Henry Unwin Addington; Aders & Hogg; Agie & Insinger,...
Dates: 1814-1898
Conditions Governing Access: The original letters are not available to readers, but microfilm copies may be ordered in the Manuscripts Reading Room - Reels 287 (letters nos 1-173), 288 (174-304), 289 (305-413), 290 (414-590), 291 (591-845), 292 (846-1162), 293 (1163-1482), 294 (1483-1738), 295 (1739-1936), 296 (1937-2155), 297 (2156-2458), 298 (2459-2756), 299 (2756-3049), 300 (3050-3336), 301 (3337-3624), 302 (3625-4014), 303 (4015-4410), 304 (4411-4695), 305 (4696-4943), 306 (4944-5153), 307 (5154-5356), 308 (5357-5529), 309 (5530-5700), 310 (5701-5954), 311 (5955-6179), 312 (6180-6370), 313 (6371-6622), 314 (6623-6884), 315 (6885-7230), 316 (7231-7455), 317 (7456-7757), 318 (7759-8016), 319 (8016-8269), 320 (8270-8504), 321 (8505-8736), 322 (8737-9032), 323 (9033-9350), 324 (9350*-9661), 325 (9662-10027), 326 (10028-10408), 327 (10409-10802), 328 (10803-11098), 329 (11099-11424), 330 (11425-11682), 331 (11683-11925), 332 (11925*-12209), 333 (12210-12501), 334 (12502-12817), 335 (12818-13147), 336 (13148-13393), 337 (13394-13636), 338 (13637-13923), 339 (13924-14181), 340 (14182-14395), 341 (14396-14594*), 342 (14595-14797), 343 (14798-15004), 344 (15005-15211), 345 (15212-15437), 346 (15438-15668), 347 (15669-15881), 348 (15882-16078), 349 (16079-16266), 350 (16267-16456), 351 (16457-16672), 352 (16673-16880), 353 (16881-17099), 354 (17100-17321), 355 (17322-17551), 356 (17552-17786), 357 (17787-18030), 358 (18031-18271), 359 (18272-18499), 360 (18501-18761), 361 (18762-18996), 362 (18997-19259), 363 (19260-19514), 364 (19515-19747), 365 (19748-19774), 366 (19975-20208), 367 (20209-20443), 368 (20444-20664), and 369 (20665-20751 and S1-63). Letters nos 7758 and 18500 have not been microfilmed.
 File

Business letters: Tokyo, 1870-1886

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS JM/B10/7
Scope and Contents

Letters from Tokyo (Yedo). The correspondents include Victor Faga; Minister for Foreign Affairs, Japan; [ ] Keswick; Kenneth Macrae; Charles Maries; Terashima Numenori; Harry Smith Parkes; John Pitman; and Herbert Smith (partner, Jardine, Matheson & Co.).

Dates: 1870-1886
Conditions Governing Access: The original letters are not available to readers, but microfilm copies may be ordered in the Manuscripts Reading Room - Reel 437.
 File

Business letters: unplaced, 1813-1900

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS JM/B11
Scope and Contents Business letters sent from unknown places, comprised of 5,690 principal letters and 33 supplementary letters. The correspondents include the following names:Abdool; H.H. Abercrombie; Edward James Ackroyd (Register, Supreme Court); A.E. Abraham; Achim; Acow & Co. (Akoe & Co. or Akow & Co.); James Adams (Chief Mate, 'Equestrian'); William Stanley Adams M.D. (of Glasgow); C. Murray Adamson; William Adamson; R.F. Addyman; Aderjee Sapoorjee; Afong; A.L. Agabeg Jnr; A.V. de...
Dates: 1813-1900
Conditions Governing Access: The original letters are not available to readers, but microfilm copies may be ordered in the Manuscripts Reading Room - Reels 571 (letters nos 1-440), 572 (441-1141), 573 (1142-1930), 574 (1931-2607), 575 (2608-3172), 576 (3173-3902), 577 (3903-4542), 578 (4543-5197) and 579 (5198-5690 and S1-33).
 File

Business letters: Yokohama, 1859-1892

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS JM/B10/9
Scope and Contents Letters from Yokohama, including some from Kanagawa. There are 3,661 principal letters and 7 supplementary letters. The correspondents include the following names:H.J. Adair; James Aitchaison (Captain of the 'Mountain Ash'); William Aitchison (of Jardine, Matheson & Co.); Rutherford Alcock; Alsop & Co.; Charles Godfrey Ancel (of H.M.S. 'Scylla' and Assistant Paymaster, Royal Navy); Captain George Cobham Anderson (Marine Superintendent, Jardine Matheson, Hong Kong); Robert...
Dates: 1859-1892
Conditions Governing Access: The original letters are not available to readers, but microfilm copies may be ordered in the Manuscripts Reading Room - Reels 437 (letters nos 1-200), 438 (201-479), 439 (480-794), 440 (795-958), 441 (959-1158), 442 (1159-1367), 443 (1368-1598), 444 (1599-1835), 445 (1836-2067), 446 (2068-2256), 447 (2257-2505), 448 (2506-2705), 449 (2706-2942), 450 (2943-3187), 451 (3188-3431) and 452 (3432-3661 and S1-11).
 Fonds

Papers of Sir Harry Parkes

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Parkes
Scope and Contents The collection contains a wide range of professional and personal papers. There is an extensive selection of printed and manuscript material collected in Hong Kong, China and Japan throughout Parkes' career. There are also around 750 letters, including correspondence with Sir Rutherford Alcock, Major-General Charles George Gordon, Lord John Russell and Sir Ernest Satow. Most of the personal correspondence addressed to Parkes dates from the last two years of his life, with much of the...
Dates: circa 1380-1898 (mainly 1850s-1880s); circa 1380-1898 (mainly 1850s-1880s)
Conditions Governing Access: Any person wishing to consult the collection must obtain written permission from Matheson and Co. Ltd, 3 Lombard Street, London, EC3V 9AQ. Applicants may submit their request using the standard Jardine Matheson letter of application, which is available from the Manuscripts Reading Room and via the University Library web pages at https://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/files/jm_permission_form.pdf. They should state specifically on the form that they desire access to the Parkes Papers.

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