Failure of the bank, Lane, Son and Fraser in 1793

There was a historical report on the 1793 failure of the bank, Lane, Son and Fraser, published in The Leeds Mercury, on 7 April 1894, Saturday, page 20. (This is available per The failure in London of Lane, Son and Fraser had ripple effects causing the failure of some provincial banks which had been corresponding with Lane, Son and Fraser. The bank had earlier been influential in Anglo-American trading affairs but had suffered badly due to the American Revolution. Australians if no others will be interested in Lane, Son and Fraser as the post-1786 Lanes were personal friends of the first governor of New South Wales, Arthur Phillip. For this reason, this blog will soon post more material on the pre-1793 activities of Lane, Son and Fraser. (Information per Peter Dickson, UK)

The lack of mounds in Queensland

The flat lands of Central Queensland? Have I been reading too much archaeology lately, or not?
Archaeology tends to teach its readers that humans tend to build differently in different areas for different reasons. Or sometimes, as in Central Asia, they don’t build much at all, because a lot of them are nomads often on the move.
Australians – and the place has only been settled by Europeans for 230 years – tend not to build mounds. But perhaps they should?
I was watching TV and there appeared piteous pictures of cattle drowned by floods in Queensland, up to 500,000 of them it is estimated. This is out of about 10.5 million cattle in Queensland, so near to 1/20th of them have drowned. The economic costs will be enormous. And well, 500,000 dead cattle is piteous.
But nor in the photographs were there any mounds for the cattle (or any other animals) to use to keep out of water which might drown them? Why not? But you will ask, will it be expensive to build such mounds? I’d have to say, probably, expensive.
But maybe cattle men in Queensland need to consider such measures, instead of relying on carving cattle stations out of flat land that will flood if enough rain arrives. World anthropogenic climate change probably means that climate in Australia will change. Maybe we need more mounds to be built on cattle stations not just in Queensland?
Much as the grown men who are coal miners in Queensland tend to cry when they get too much rain and water floods their coal mines, boo hoo. But what did they expect to happen? They spend part of their adult life digging really big holes and then they cry like children when nature and rain  come along and fill their hole with water! Boo hoo!

Is it time for grown men in Queensland to grow up properly? Too much learned helplessness is bad for the sanity.

The real story? Really?

(See also, Alan Frost, The First Fleet: The Real Story. Collingwood ,Melbourne, Black Inc, June 2011.)

Review of Alan Frost, Botany Bay: The Real Story. Collingwood, Melbourne, Black Inc, January 2011.

By Dan Byrnes

In early 2011, Emeritus Professor Alan Frost of Latrobe University, Melbourne, Australia, took it upon himself to decry most other Australian historians by way of issuing a book titled Botany Bay: The Real Story. Implying of course, that his competitors have other than the real story. Whether we should blame Frost or his publishers for this absurd book title, I really care not. I blame Frost, because it’s easier.

This is Frost´s first sin with this book, to start by downplaying his rivals, who evidently, after so many research years have gone by, have still not yet cottoned onto ¨the real story¨. That today, by 2010 or 2011, any professor of anything, anywhere in the world, could profess to have ¨the real story¨ about anything is simply a juvenile and uncivilized nonsense. The best a historian can do is present a coherent theory about his topic, and/or present some facts, and hope for sales and encouraging reviews. So what on earth is Frost on about here?

Frost is simply a participant in The Great Australian Botany Bay Debate, a notorious academic artefact (just ask anyone in Australia with a convict ancestor). This debate, which finally becomes sterile and futile since so much of its material fails to feed usefully into subsequent (or actual) history in New South Wales, is about how and why Britain decided to both to send convicts as far away from England, as the known ends of the earth, to Botany Bay, ¨Australia¨.

The debate does however become complex, labyrinthine and finally sterile, as we shall see here. Some of the complexity can be re-researched and cast into a variety of perspectives. The final sterility is disappointing but is something Australians have to live with. It is a labyrinth which remains most frustrating and perplexing, but such is the environment into which convicted criminals are cast.

Frost is greatly part of the sterility. The complexities of the arguments, suffused as they are with the virtues or otherwise of transportable convicts, are perhaps the only reason to bother with any of it, if one has a taste for that, and most people do not share this taste. And in this book, Frost reduces the complexities to ¨the real story¨. For the record, the present reviewer sees the British settlement of eastern Australia as, initially, a convict colony, as an aftermath of the American Revolution (following the work of Eris O´Brien, published by 1937).

By Frost´s lights, this puts the present reviewer behind the eight ball, a proponent of the traditional view, and yes, correct, since Frost starts with Blainey (Tyranny of Distance etc, published as long ago as the 1960s).

Frost in Botany Bay however has said little that is new to historians about the colony-planners of the past. What is new is that his academic language is a little more raw, and he credits the work of Blainey and Dallas a little more bluntly. The British historian Harlow is not in his Select Bibliography, a strange omission since Harlow first rather vaguely said, in his Second Founding of the British Empire, what Frost expands on.

Harlow´s view was that after the loss of the American colonies, Britain set about renovating its empire, giving it a second founding. Harlow gave little specific attention though to Britain´s Australian adventure. Frost saw this as an opportunity for an Australian, and took up the cudgel, without being especially interested in the history of convict transportation as a penal-history topic. The Imperial material appealed far more to Frost.

But oddly enough, many of the historians becoming involved with The Botany Bay Debate pay scant attention to the maritime record, which has its own sets of interest. One might have thought that the maritime record would closely accompany, if not assist, the development of theoretical approaches to this Australian history. Australian historians seem not to take this view. My own view is that the maritime record fits very well with the theory of penal colonization, more so if one takes the “Imperial stuff” as mere window dressing, which may or may not be advisable.

It is true as Frost says, that some grand plans were advanced to support ideas that convicts should be transported to Botany Bay. How far these ideas were balloons sent up by politicians to induce the East India Company to co-operate remains a moot point. If grand plans were involved, Frost would be very hard put to explain why when Britain offered British merchants access to the Pacific Ocean by way of shipping out prisoners, so few merchants grasped any such opportunities, whatever resources the Pacific offered in theory or practice. The groups of merchants who were most enthusiastic about shipping felons to eastern Australia are not treated by Frost. In my view, giving London-based shipowners new access to an entire ocean, earlier explored by Cook, would have been a grand enough plan in itself. Frost would not agree, apparently.

Over time from 1788, the actual British shipping which did enter Sydney Harbour took home disillusioning reports which within 20-odd years or so scotched any grand plans that might ever have been mentioned. Before 1800, the whalers had departed the eastern Australian coasts and preferred the West coasts of South America for their industry. There was a trail of disappointment for any grand plans about flax, or naval timber, which faded away till there was left only the apparently traditional view, that the main exercise had been a plan to transport convicts and leave them in Australia once their term expired.

The maritime record more or less tracks this trail of disappointment, which suggests that there are reasons why Frost overlooks the maritime record. But to do so with a book subtitled ¨the real story¨ does seem odd. Could it be that Frost treats these grand plans in too limited a time frame, while he ignores the actual maritime records?

Given his research findings delivered with an earlier and at-first-sight, impressive set of books, any present idea that Frost could ever with his First Fleet (real story) present anything startlingly new on the relevant British maritime history is a nonsense. My own idea is that Australians only enhance the sterility of the Botany Bay Debate when they treat the first three fleets of convict ships (the only ¨fleets¨ to be spoken of anyway), as individual fleets, because the point is missed. The point being that the first three fleets are best regarded as a single burst of shipping, split into three broadsides, as it were. The ships involved were associated, in different ways, with, basically, a set of linked shipping men in London, most of whom were well-known in their day. And by the way, ask almost any Australian why there was no fourth fleet of convict ships, and you will probably get a very blank look.

If there were any merchants in London who could have justified any grand plans, tried to build such plans up, or to deliberately damage them by neglect, it would have been this group of men actually involved. Seen as a group, they are an ideal lens through which to examine the reality, or not, of any grand plans, and inspection of their careers reveals only disappointment as it was realised that any grand plans, if they indeed existed, would probably fail to materialise. Before 1800, and later, there were found no useful flax supplies, no tough naval masts, no interesting naval stores, nor a thriving whaling industry.

Of these ship men, Frost in particular neglects the whalers, who were led by Samuel Enderby Senior of Blackheath, London, where he died in 1797. I have written and published especially on the whalers, but to little avail, it seems. But since whaling in 1786 and later was an important British industry, it only needs to be asked, why would Frost neglect the role that British whalers had in shipping convicts to Australia before 1800?

To discuss ¨grand plans”and to overlook an industry as important to Britain as whaling in the 1780s, 1790s, simply makes no sense. At least, not to a maritime historian who values the integrity of Pacific maritime history. In terms of historian-reputations, The Botany Bay Debate will not be healthier to be involved with until such time as Australians start to delve into convict history seen at least partly as maritime history. That maritime history will link to later minor histories of marine exploration and re-exploration, and more or less prove itself in its own terms. Those terms are not well-shown in Frostś book at all. We await The First Fleet: the real story, with unbated breath, then. (Ends)

Drinking water for Africa?

This weekend (Sat 27-8-2016) one of my newspapers gave me a four-page plea from World Vision about providing more water for Africa.

And I have a policy on this, sorry World Vision, but the project is obviously beyond private charity, I have been seeing these kind of pleas all my life (I was born in 1948) and pleas are still being made to give African countries relevant sets of a decent water distribution systems.

My policy is this: real men don’t let children die from drinking filthy water, so if children are dying, what is wrong with the real men of Africa? What is wrong with the UN which is not ordering the rulers (they hardly deserve the word “governments”) of Africa to provide clean water for their people? And so on.

So I want to know when we are going to see some water-action from the real men of Africa. As a historian once said, many years ago, famines don’t bother well-run, democratic countries. It’s true enough. But famines, droughts and the victimhoods of climate vagaries still recurrently visit Africa more tragically than anywhere else in the world, we need to ask, why is this?

What is so special about Africa that it suffers more than anywhere else in the world from climate and other problems that are thousands of years old? And so, World Vision, the problem you work on won’t be solved by my private charity (it hasn’t yet been solved by private charity in my lifetime), so it’s time for you to work on a broader and presumably different front. World Vision supports bringing clean water to the world? Really? I’d like to see some action on this.

Keegan – A History of Warfare – a much needed historical- philosophical outlook

Dan Byrnes in review of John Keegan, A History of Warfare. London, Hutchinson/ Random House, 1993.

I mostly read social, political and maritime history, and rarely read military history unless I absolutely have to, so why did I bother anyway with Keegan here? Well, for one thing, he has a well-considered, philosophical outlook on the history of warfare that I have never encountered before. He also has useful dates in Ancient History I’d enjoy surveying. And once you get into Keegan’s view of Ancient History, he is a lecturer at Sandhurst military academy in the UK, you are gone as a reader, captured in more ways than one by Keegan’s views on the ugly business of war, about which he makes no bones, violently ugly it is.

Although, Keegan rather sidesteps questions about why humanity conducts war, and has done so for so many thousands of years. What Keegan has done is go into the anthropology of warfare, which he does partly as he thinks that the face-to-face combat we are used to in European theatres of war, came from Ancient Greece. Ancient Greek ways of warfare, best represented by the Spartans, became pathways for humanity’s trajectory out of more primitive ways of warfare, which used more ritual and ceremony than westerners are now used to.

The Greeks influenced the Persians and more so the Romans. The Romans transmitted their views on warfare to the edges of their empire, especially to the Germanic peoples. Earlier on, how and why did humanity adopt the habit of building defensive walls for cities? The development of horse-based warfare also was a factor, and horse-using fighters learned detachment for their fighting methods, perhaps more so than any other kind of fighter.

But how are all these competing views organized by Keegan as he proceeds? His book is less than chronological, and is more devoted to themes, but I found his use of statistics about war scenarios quite riveting.

Keegan begins his book by flatly contradicting the well-known view of Clausewitz that war is the continuation of policy by other means. Keegan sees this view of Clausewitz as arising from specific times and places in European history – where Napoleon’s star shines rather brightly – a Europe of polities, states, state interests,while war in fact long predates strategy, diplomacy, more modern political realities.

Yet today we are still strung between the pacifist and the lawful bearer of arms; we know both will prefer to die rather than give up their creed of life. Primitive man long ago felt and saw things differently, yet finally, the lawful bearer of arms had to heed orders that might mean the end of his life , even in “primitive societies”. Society – and/or civilisation – has always had to live with such dilemmas, but the many different ways humanity has found for dealing with these issues is why Clausewitz is not so much wrong, as severely limited in his outlook.

Keegan buffs his often philosophical prose with clear references to the uglinesses of war (kidnap, looting, pillage, rape, extortion,systematic vandalism) and he tells us (for example) that if there are many kinds of war, there are no simple answers, either. That in western culture there are three major elements to the conduct of war, the moral, the intellectual and the technological. (Keegan seems to want to leave it to his reader to decide if the advent of atomic warfare was highly meaningful for mankind, or otherwise.)

This is a very zoom-in/zoom-out sort of book. Keegan gives us close-ups of theatres of war, or he gives us long historical perspectives to ponder, as with the use of gunpowder, the development of cannon. And he also says things such as: a world without organised armies would be uninhabitable. He is also against “cultural rigidity” in the conduct of warfare. He mentions “military restraint” approvingly, and thinks that military practitioners and/or peacekeepers in the future will still have much to learn (or relearn) from The Orient, or from more primitive cultures. This is why an approach to the anthropology of warfare is to be recommended; it helps to promote cultural adaptiveness where military challenges are involved, or are imposed on us.

And, Clausewitz was wrong. Keegan says, politics must continue, war cannot continue. The two things are separable, they are not necessarily in harness to each other or for each other. (Ends)

On Trump and Google late 2018

About POTUS Donald Trump, true, if you type the word “idiot” into Google, on the first page of matches, you’ll get at least one picture of POTUS Donald Trump, sho nuff.

On one truly memorable occasion I got two pics of Trump! But is this good enough? This blog has just done a survey, and found that if you type into Google the word “cretin” you get zilch of Trump. The same for “fool. But if you type in “buffoon” you get two pictures of Donald Trump. So go google now.

Who links to work by Dan Byrnes?

NB: This blog because it wants to communicate with real people will have a zero tolerance view about unwanted spam, particularly machine-made or automatic spam. Spam will be killed immediately in a no-questions asked sort of way.

See Dan Byrnes’ own websites at his domain at:

See Dan Byrnes as an independent researcher at at:

One of the Findagrave websites. see the entry for Matthew Ridley (1746-1789) a minor diplomat of the American Revolution at:

For Dan Byrnes’ Commentary on the first PhD thesis ever written on convict transportation to Australia, an introduction, see a catalogue item at National Library of Australia:, the thesis written 1933 by Wilfrid Oldham.

Linked at University of Greenwich, London UK, the Maritime History Unit.

A new (2016) PhD thesis well-worth reading on these topics is: Alan Brooks, Prisoners or Servants? A History of the Legal Status of Britain’s Transported Convicts. Phd Thesis, University of Tasmania, 2016. Brooks pays a good deal of attention to information provided by Dan Byrnes, and criticises some of it in a useful way.

For a positive view on research by Dan Byrnes see (re Matthew Ridley of Maryland, and William Bligh of NSW) the history-minded website from USA:

On maritime history, see the Greenwich Maritime Unit, Greenwich University, London. Also,. the increasingly noted and useful website from University College, London, on Legacies of British Slave Ownership, albeit some some mistakes on its part which will be corrected in due course (it is a very large database and website involved):

See also an information depot on convict transportation to Australia at:

More to come. This file will be regularly updated. See   Amy Lupold Bair, Blogging for Dummies. 6th edn. New Jersey USA, John Wiley and Sons, 2016. Blurbs say, Choosing a blogging topic and platform. Using a blog to build a personal brand. Monetizing a blog through advertising. More to come here on blogging.

Candidate Donald Trump vs USA weather

Donald Trump vs USA weather (? [Jan. 2016])

Will the real USA please stand up? We live in times of an early start for the US presidential race and a rich, ignorant buffoon named Donald Trump seems streets ahead of his Republican competitors. But how far ahead really is he of his main Democrat rival, Hillary Clinton?
Fear not dear reader-persons about media coverage of Trump. Look instead at the USA’s weather. And we find that the real USA isn’t Donald Trump. The real USA is on the weather ropes (see if we aren’t correct, watch tornado alley in the USA for more bad news if you don’t believe us). Trump is just a side issue.
In early January 2016, mid-winter US-style, the Mississippi River floods, the state of Missouri is in a state of emergency. Parts of St Louis have met destruction. People are being evacuated. All this is on world TV, yet Donald Trump keeps frothing that he will return the USA to its former “greatness”. This writer wonders if the weather (read, the effects of climate change) will allow Trump his wish?

We find that by 4-1-2016 has an article by a sceptical Larry Olmsted (“When the Levee Doesn’t Break: what’s wrong with the Media’s Weather Coverage?”), where Mr Oldmsted fails to consider cases where the levee does break (such as with New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina). Mr Oldmsted wonders if Memphis Tennessee is really badly flooded or not? And this writer concludes that if US media outlets can’t be trusted to write accurately about the weather, why should they be trusted to write accurately about more subtle matters such as politics and about Trump? It seems a fair enough question.

It gets worse in the USA. We found that runs a web page on “Changing the Media Discussion on Climate and Extreme Weather”, by two writers, Christine Shearer of University of California Santa Barbara and Richard B. Rood, of Dept. of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Science, University of Michigan. And we thought, don’t ask Trump about any of this, ask Shearer and Rood. The Weather Channel of the USA (much maligned we found in some circles) had predicted a colder-than-average-winter for the s/w, s/e and the east coast, while warmer-than-average temperatures were predicted for the west coast, n/w, Upper Mid-West and n/e interior,with the current El Nino set to make its mark on the US 2016.

Well, we finally turned in despair to an article on Trump …  The article by Brad Norington finds that Trump’s remarks are “wild, inflammatory and often extreme”, or “wild and devoid of reason”. Not to put too fine a point on Trump, Norington finds he is by turns remarkable for his rise, confounding the experts, shallow (short on detail for the most complex questions), a big mouth, no experience in public office etc etc. Trump advocates a discriminatory immigration policy (about Muslims). Trump is anti-Mexicans. Trump can be abusive, racist, factually incorrect, not so fond of women having menstrual periods, yet Trump is popular.

But who is Trump popular with? Not, it seems, popular with the men who run the USA’s Republican Party or GOP. (Grand Old Party as it laughingly reviews its own history back to Jefferson.) The men who run the GOP are terrified that Trump might get near to winning a Republican nomination to run for President, that they might ever have to endorse him. It seems Trump speaks for a pretty mean constituency, which consists of remnant Tea Partiers, plus working class men with no great education levels, non-university graduates who yet fancy themselves “straight-talkers”. How strong are Trump’s supporters likely to be? Norington doesn’t think Trump will do well soon where he needs to do well politically, in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. At least one expert Norington talked to thinks Trump’s success is a reflection from USA folks annoyed that a leftie-black-guy (happens to be named Obama), is currently running the US White House.

Norington thinks Trump will finally be left with two options. Stay with the Republicans and be finally inhibited. Or cut loose from them, go Independent, and lose comprehensively to Ms. H. Clinton.

And please don’t ask what happened to those working class US guys with their poorer education levels, or their wives or girlfriends, or their collective destinies, because it will be all too sad. Deplorable, really. Anyone for weather in the USA, then?

(Based partly on an article by Brad Norington on Trump, Weekend Australian, 2-3 January 2016., p. 17 of Inquirer section, “Trump card unplayed as senior Republicans consider shut-out”. The reader will obviously gather that Mr. Byrnes as things happened was not one of those who predicted that Trump would win the US presidency. Which, drat it, becomes another story.)

The Courteen Association to China

The First British Trade Expedition to China, 1637:

Captain Weddell and the Courteen Fleet in Asia and Late Ming Canton

Book Prospectus

By Nicholas D. Jackson, Ph.D.

(Note: Dan Byrnes in his website book online, “The English Business of Slavery”, treats the Courteen Association in Chapters 9, 12, 13. Pls go Google on it.)

As the Ming scholar John Wills wrote in the bibliographical essay appended to his survey of “Relations with Maritime Europeans,1514-1662,” in the Cambridge History of the Ming Dynasty: “There is no fully adequate monograph in any language on any major facet of Ming relations with maritime Europeans. The great stumbling block has been the need to make use of European archival and old printed sources and at the same time to have control of the Chinese sources.” Drawing upon several sets of primary sources in Chinese, Portuguese, and English, I set out to help remedy this historiographical lacuna by constructing a richly-textured narrative and analysis of the first British trade expedition to China in 1637. Not coincidentally, the expeditionary fleet anchored in the Pearl River estuary, the maritime venue that was to host the first battles of the Opium Wars two centuries later. Long before the British “gunboat diplomacy” of the 1830s or Lord Macartney’s famously disappointing embassy to Beijing (1793-1794), a remarkable attempt to establish commercial relations and a permanent trade station in China had been made by a group of Britons authorized and sponsored by the Stuart monarch, King Charles I. In this endeavour of 1637, naval scuffles between British and Chinese ships took place in the same waters that furnished the stage for the opening engagements of the Opium Wars early in the reign of Queen Victoria.

Raids and skirmishes involving the two peoples occurred along the shores of the same waters where the British navy was to carry out Lord Palmerston’s aggressive foreign policy in the Far East. In August 1637, the British stormed a Chinese fort and hoisted the flag of Great Britain to flutter in the breeze above a small island in south China. In September 1637 a fleet of Chinese fire-ships was launched in the middle of the night to annihilate the British fleet. Casualties and deaths were suffered by both Chinese and British in several such engagements. In the autumn of 1637, half a dozen British merchants were detained and imprisoned in the suburbs of Canton for more than three months. Since no comprehensive account of these and other striking episodes in the annals of Sino-British relations has been rendered or published in such detail as they deserve; since no narrative has unveiled and presented all the dramatis personae nor any analysis probed all the events from all the available angles or to such depths as is possible; I will be filling a wide gap in our historical record.

The British venture was undertaken by William Courteen and Associates, an upstart, “interloping,” and formidable rival of the recently (1600) organized and later illustrious East India Company. As L. H Roper, an authority on early British imperial history, recently (2017) noted: “the consistent neglect or dismissal of the Courteen Association in the historiography of the Anglo-British Empire is curious.” All the more odd seems this oversight when the Weddell expedition alone has been described by another scholar, John Appleby, as “an audaciously ambitious attempt to challenge the trading monopoly of the East India Company in Asia.” In the summer of 1637 Captain John Weddell led a Courteen fleet all the way to Macao and then up the Pearl River not far from Canton (Guangzhou). Weddell, a disgruntled ex-employee of the East India Company, was a fierce personality, veteran commander, and an intrepid entrepreneur of the seas. Although he was among the most widely-travelled and battle-hardened of the early EICo sea-captains, he had been treated shabbily and dismissed by the London-based company shortly before he had joined the Courteen Association to command its fleet to the Far East.

 The Weddell expedition of the Courteen Association, in rivalry with and led by several ex-employees of the EICo, was not only authorized but partially funded by the British king, Charles I. The monarch promised to invest £10,000 (or about ‎£2,000,000 in today’s terms). The financing was managed by Sir William Courteen, a London-based merchant magnate. He was a Dutchman who had migrated from Holland, and had become an acquaintance of Endymion Porter, one of the Stuart king’s longest serving courtiers — Porter had been close to Charles since the latter’s years as Prince of Wales, and had even accompanied the heir to the throne on the latter’s failed mission of 1623 to marry the Spanish Infanta. The directors of the Courteen Association hoped that Weddell, blessed with a royal commission, and benefiting from the recent (1635) Anglo-Portuguese accord made at Goa in India, would be able to transact lucrative business in the area stretching in an arc from the west coast of India to the southern islands of Japan. Ideally, he would set up some permanent trading stations (“factories” in seventeenth-century usage) to do a regular and large volume of business. The Weddell expedition of the Courteen Association was animated by an intrepid spirit of exploration, profit-seeking, and conquest. Such lofty, even quixotic, goals as setting up trade stations from the Malabar coast of India to the Malaysian-Indonesian archipelago to the Pearl River Delta of China to the southern islands of Japan; these were not the sum of its aspiration. The prospectus also entertained the notion of launching a contingent to discover the east-Asian outlet of the north-east passage, the route which had been eluding Europeans at least since the time of the anglicized Italian, John Cabot.

My narrative and analysis focuses on the Courteen fleet’s activity in south China, in the province of Guangdong, between Portuguese Macao and the provincial capital, Canton (Guangzhou). The Dragon, Sun, Katherine, and Anne, three large ships and a pinnace, the remnant of the Courteen fleet that had embarked from the Downs in southern England in April 1636, arrived at Macao in July 1637. In revealing and intriguing detail, I relate how CaptainWeddell with his mariners and merchants fared in the next several months spent at Macao and in the Pearl River estuary and its shores and islands, as they endeavoured to forge commercial relations with the Chinese and arrange for a permanent spot from which to conveniently carry out such trade. Besides figuring out what and how things happened as well as what designs and ambitions drove the British, my scholarship aims to explain how and why the Portuguese and Chinese treated the British the way they did. Thus, my story is presented as not only an episode of Sino-British but also one of Anglo-Portuguese relations. Further, it is intended as a contribution to early (or pre-) British imperial history — that is, it provides something along the lines of a record of the British Empire’s birth pangs—or more impishly, and to echo Austin Coates, an earlier student of the British in China: the long and disorderly preamble to British Hong Kong. The series of events sheds unique and fresh light on aspects of Ming China, particularly its imperial and provincial governance, and devices for dealing with foreigners like the British “red-haired barbarians” (红夷). Among other things, the British breakthrough in the Bogue in 1637—marauding and plundering with impunity — exposed the illusory security of the Ming policy (明朝对外政策) of playing off foreigner against foreigner (以夷制夷). Collectively the incidents of the Weddell expedition of the Courteen Association afford us a window through which we can view the workings of the imperial and Guangdong provincial administration in action during the reign of the last Ming emperor, Chongzhen. Much more, and most broadly, this book is a significant contribution to our understanding of the development of Sino-Western relations.

The First British Trade Expedition to China, 1637:

Captain Weddell and the Courteen Fleet in Asia and Late Ming Canton

By Nicholas D. Jackson

Introduction (or Prologue)

1) British in Early Seventeenth-Century Luso-Dutch Asia

2) Enter the Interlopers: The Genesis of the Courteen Association,

Rival of the English East India Company

3) From the Downs to Goa to Malacca:

The Courteen Fleet on the Way to China, May 1636-June 1637


4) Welcome to China, With Portuguese Characteristics:

The Courteen Fleet in Macao Purgatory, July-August 1637

5) The Dragon Enters the Tiger:

The Courteen Fleet at the Bogue and Pearl River Estuary, August 1637

6) Captives at Canton:

The Crisis of the Courteen Fleet in the Boca Tigris and

Retreat to Macao, September-October 1637

7) Negotiation and Liberation:

Restoration and Trade of the Courteens at Macao, October-December 1637

8) Results and Consequences of the First British Trade Expedition to China:

“Anglology” of the Ming and Sinology of the Courteens

Epilogue: Captain Weddell’s Exploits in the Pearl River: Precursor of the Opium Wars? (Ends on Courteen Association)