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Despatches from Lord Elgin, 1858

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Parkes 43/12

Scope and Contents

Two despatches from Lord Elgin to Po-kuei, dated 7th year, 12th month, 17th day of Xianfeng's reign (31 January 1858), including an English note reading 'Lord Elgin to Pihkwei Prisons. Jan 1858.'

(1) Elgin records that the reason for the visit to the prisons by the Officials of the Bureau of Occupation is to check whether there are any foreign prisoners. He states that Yeh Ming-ch'en would be sent far away under escort and receive proper treatment, and urges Po-kuei to publicised widely his notice of an amnesty for all Chinese who have been employed by foreigners.

(2) Elgin records that the prisoners in Nan-hai and Fan-yü prisons were treated with great cruelty, and that as Canton is now under the British and French flags such a thing cannot be tolerated. If China wants to be on good terms with foreign authorities, the maltreatment must be stopped. A clinic for the sick prisoners is to be established. He requests that Po-kuei order his officers to carry out frequent inspections in order to prevent the misconduct in prisons happening again.


  • 1858

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 They should state specifically on the form that they desire access to the Parkes Papers.


1 sheet(s) (1 sheet)

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

The document was originally kept in the envelope now numbered Parkes 43/6, within the wrapping paper Parkes 43/1.


The despatches can be found in J.Y. Wong, 'Anglo-Chinese Relations, 1839-1860: A Calendar of Chinese Documents in the British Foreign Office Records' (Oxford University Press, 1983), F.O.682/1991/13-15, p. 264. The English version of the second despatch can be found in D. Bonner-Smith and E.W.R. Lumby, eds, 'The Second China War, 1856-1860' (London, 1954), no. 179, p. 288.

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository

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