Group portrait of student interpreters, British Legation, Beijing (北京)

Group portrait of student interpreters, British Legation, Beijing (北京)




University of Bristol - Historical Photographs of China reference number: NA11-02. From the Papers of Sir Ernest Satow at The National Archives: Satow’s diary/journal (PRO 30/33/15/1). Left to right, standing: G.P. Thompson and Herbert J. Allen. Left to right, sitting: Robert Alexander Jamieson and John McLeavy Brown. Photograph taken at the British Legation in Beijing (note the distinctive hexagonal tiles in the background, as in, for example, EH01-264). Crown copyright image reproduced by permission of The National Archives, London, England. The National Archives give no warranty as to the accuracy, completeness or fitness for purpose of the information provided. This image may be used only for purposes of research, private study or education. Applications for any other use should be made to The National Archives Image Library, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 4DU, UK. Telephone: 020 8392 5225. Fax: 020 8392 5266. Infringement of the above condition may result in legal action. In his memoir 'A Diplomat in Japan', Ernest Satow writes of some of these men: ‘Owing to the prevalence of a belief among those who then had the direction of our affairs in Japan that a knowledge of Chinese was a necessary preliminary to the study of Japanese, my fellow student, R. A. Jamieson, and myself were at first stationed for a few months at Peking, where we were joined early in 1862 by Russell Robertson, who also belonged to the Japan establishment. […] Of the eight students belonging to the China establishment then at Peking, three only are still (1885) in the service H. J. Allen, C. T. Gardner, and W. G. Stronach, each of whom attained the rank of consul in 1877. They had all passed the examination at the same time as myself. The man who came out second was “allowed to resign” in 1867, three are dead, and one, the best man of the whole set, and who oddly enough was the last or last but one in the examination list, passed in 1872 into the Chinese Customs Service, in which he now holds one of the highest appointments.’ (Ernst Satow, 'A Diplomat in Japan: The Inner History of the Critical Years in the Evolution of Japan when the Ports were Opened and the Monarchy Restored'. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015, 1st ed. 1921, p. 18). In the 'China Directory for 1874', H.J. Allen is listed as first assistant and packet agent at the British consulate in Fuzhou. R. A. Jamieson worked as a medical practitioner in Shanghai since 1868 and joined the Chinese Customs Service in 1869 as consulting surgeon and was later editor of the North China Herald (Frank Dikötter et al., 'Narcotic Culture: A History of Drugs in China'. London: Hurst & Company, 2004, pp. 121-122; John King Fairbank et al, eds., 'The I.G. in Peking: Letters of Robert Hart Chinese Maritime Customs 1868-1907'. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 1975, p. 191). In 1867, J. McL. Brown was first secretary at the British Legation in Beijing. See NA11-03 (another photograph of student interpreters).

Caption in album or on mount

Student Interpreters at Peking. / in the summer of 1862. / G.P. Thompson / H.J. Allen. / R.A. Jamieson / J. McL. Brown








Black and white photograph


The National Archives, London

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