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Despatch from Allied Commanders, Dec. 1857

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Parkes 43/5

Scope and Contents

Copies of two despatches from the Naval and Military Commanders-in-Chief of the Allied Forces to the High authorities at Canton regarding their plan to attack the city:

(1) The final diplomatic despatch from the Allied Commanders to the High Authorities of Kwangtung, dated the 7th year, 11th month, 9th day of Xianfeng's reign (24 December 1857). The note is undersigned by Li (Rigault de Genouilly), the French Commodore; Hsi (Rear-Admiral Michael Seymour), the English Commodore; and Ssu (Charles Van Straubenzee), the Major-General of the British garrisons at Hong Kong. It records that the negotiations of E-er-chin (Lord Elgin) and Ke [Lo] (Baron Gros) with Imperial Commissioner Yeh have lasted a long time but have failed to reach an agreement. As a consequence, the Anglo-French Allied Army have been ordered to attack Canton. They are informing the authorities of their plans, and have postponed the attack for 48 hours, in order to allow the citizens and troops to withdraw. They welcome peace negotiations, but these must begin no later than noon of the next day.

(2) A despatch from the Allied Commanders to the High authorities at Canton stating that because all their demands have been refused force must be used, dated the 7th year, 11th month, 12th day of Xianfeng's reign (27 December 1857).


  • Creation: Dec. 1857


Conditions Governing Access

From the Fonds:

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1 sheet(s) (1 sheet)

Language of Materials



The English version of the document can be found in D. Bonner-Smith and E.W.R. Lumby, eds, 'The Second China War, 1856-1860' (London, 1954), no. 169, p. 265. For references to the two despatches see Ch'i Ssi-ho, et al., eds, 'Ti-er-ts'i ya-p'ien chan-cheng' ['The Second Opium War'] (Shanghai, 1978), vol. 3, pp. 130-132.

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