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Sit Yau Fu

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Pinyin & Chinese characters Xue Youfu 薛有福1

Variant Spellings & Other Names

Yan Fuk Sik
Sik Yau Foke
Sik Yan Fook
Sik Yu Pu
See Ewe Hock

Other Chinese Name(s)  
Detachment 3

LaFargue No. 75

Date of Birth 1863

Place of Birth Zhangpu District 漳浦县, Fujian Province 福建省2

Age at Departure for US 12

Date of Death 23 August 1884

Place of Death Fuzhou (Sino-French War, “Battle of Pagoda Anchorage”)

Place(s) of Residence in US (1) Springfield, MA
(2) Holyoke, MA3

American Host Family/ies

(1) ____ Miller (?)
(2) Angelina Worswick, Holyoke, MA3

School(s), with dates Holyoke High School, Holyoke, MA, ? -18804

Notable Activities/Awards in School At school in Holyoke, Sit Yau Fu was known for his baseball skills.5

Sit Yau Fu’s two letters to a female friend named "Kate" in Holyoke, written shortly after he left the U.S. at the recall of the CEM in 1881, are preserved in typescript in LaFargue (Pullman).  Passages from the letters are quoted in Rhoads (2011), pp. 179, 180, and 186.

College/University, with dates M.I.T., 1880-18816

Notable Activities/Awards in College  
Degree/Diploma Obtained (date)  
First Assignment in China Assigned to Fuzhou Naval School

Later Positions Navy Officer: trained aboard the wooden corvette Yang Wu 杨武; killed in action during the “Battle of Pagoda Anchorage.”7

Employment Sector(s) Navy

Final Rank, if in Gov't Service “Sixth Rank of Naval Merit” 练生六品軍功 conferred on passing entrance examination to Fuzhou Naval School.8

Father's Name

Xue Rongyue 薛荣樾, 4th-generation descendant of a wealthy Malayan Chinese (Hokkien) family that had migrated to the southern Malay Peninsula in the 18th century. He was one of the first Chinese merchants in Amoy (Xiamen 厦门, a treaty port from 1842) who were British subjects. In 1854, with three of his brothers he established  a shipping business in Singapore, "Jinxing [Kam Hing] Shipping Co." 錦兴洋行, with a branch office in Amoy.  He contributed money for the founding of the famous Cuiying Shuyuan 萃英书院, one of the earliest Chinese schools in Singapore.  The family was well known among the Chinese of Singapore: his son Xue Youwen 薛有文 was a comprador in the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank in Singapore; another son, Xue Youli 薛有礼 founded Lebao 叻报 (in Singapore: “Lat Pau”), the first Chinese daily newspaper in Singapore.  Xue Youfu was his third son.  Xue Rongyue died in Amoy in 1884.9 

Mother's Name

Wang Ruyi 王如意 (1843-1918)10

Wife/wives  
Family Relations w/ other CEM Students  
Children's Names  
Descendants  
Other Six ex-CEM students served aboard Chinese ships during the French naval bombardment of Mawei 馬尾 Dockyard (“The Pagoda Anchorage”) near Fuzhou, on 23 August, 1884: Young Shang Him (Rong Shangqian 容尚谦 I, 6), Kwong Wing Chung (Kuang Yongzhong 邝咏钟 II, 56), Sit Yau Fu, Yang Sew Nan (Yang Zhaonan 杨兆南 III, 85), Wong Kwei Liang (Huang Jiliang 黄季良 III, 86), and Woo Kee Tsao (Wu Qizao 吴其藻 IV, 100). Of the six, Young Shang Him and Woo Kee Tsao survived the battle, but four lost their lives: Kwong Wing Chung, Second Detachment, aboard the wooden gunboat Chen Wei 振威11; and three others, all Third Detachment men, aboard the Yang Wu 杨武: Sit Yau Fu, Yang Sew Nan, and Wong Kwei Liang.12

Following the destruction by the French navy of the Chinese squadron anchored at Fuzhou (“Battle of Pagoda Anchorage,” 23 August 1884), the Governor General of Guangdong issued an advisory to coastal citizens, including overseas Chinese in Singapore and Penang. They were urged to avenge the nation by taking such actions as stranding the French vessels and poisoning their provisions. When news of Xue Youfu’s death at the Sino-French battle reached Singapore in September, 1884, his older brother, Xue Youli, was so enraged that he carried the controversial advisory in his newspaper, Lat Pau (Lebao), of which he was founder and publisher. On 18 September the British Minister in Beijing, Sir Harry Parkes, protested to the Zongli Yamen, declaring that fomenting acts of aggression against the French by Chinese residents in the British colonial territories was a violation of international law and ethics. On the 29th, the Chinese Government issued an order controverting the Governor General’s advisory, and distanced itself from his incitement of overseas Chinese. Meanwhile, in view of its low circulation, the Singapore authorities decided not to prosecute Lat Pau, fearing that such a lawsuit might in fact publicize the advisory more broadly. They issued a warning to its editor, Xue, who apologized and vowed not to publish such incendiary notices from the Chinese authorities.13

Notes and Sources

1. Personal name written 佑福 in Yung Shang Him (1939), p. 28; Yung Shang Him (10/1939), p. 252, and Robyn (1996), pp. 167, 170.

2. Chinese records regularly give “Zhangpu, Fujian” as birthplace.  Father’s presence in Singapore from 1859 suggests possibility that Xue Youfu was born there, though he evidently grew up in Xiamen.  Information courtesy Edward J.M. Rhoads, email 5 June 2012.

3. Residences and hosts: Rhoads (2011), p. 53, Table 5.1 (Springfield, MA; ___ Miller); 1880 U.S. Census, Rhoads (2011), p. 141, Table 9.2 (Holyoke, MA; Angelina Worswick).

4. Rhoads (2011), p. 98, Table 7.2.

5. “…There was a bitter rivalry in 1880 between the baseball nine known as the “Pine streets,” (for which a local mill magnate of to-day was the scorer) and the “Manchester Grounds” as the district now called the Highlands was then known.  Sik Yu Pu [sic], one of the Chinese students, was the Pine-street pitcher, and a cracker-jack he is said to have been, having good speed and curves and fine control.  It saddened old associates to learn…that Sik died gallantly in the…war with the French…. He was a spirited courageous youth, and very popular with his Yankee confreres.”  "Holyoke's Lively Corpse…", Springfield Sunday Republican, 19 July 1908, p. 16. (Source courtesy Reed Tang.)

6. Rhoads (2011), p. 117, Table 8.1.

7. “…the most impressive ship to be built [at Fuzhou] during the 1870s was Yang-wu, a fully rigged steam corvette of 1393 tons…. Completed at the end of 1872, she was taken over as the Foochow training ship…. Flagship of the Fukien squadron, she was a prime target for the French at Foochow in 1884, where she was quickly destroyed.”  Wright (2000), p. 40; Yung Shang Him (1939), p. 44; LaFargue (1987), pp. 73-75.

8. Yung Shang Him (1939), p. 43; Qian & Hu (2003), p. 167.

9. Recently published information on Xue (Sit/See/Seet) family history kindly transmitted by Ms. Khoo Eee Hoon, email 4, 8 July 2014.  See also: Chen Mong Hock, The Early Chinese Newspapers of Singapore, 1881- 1912 (Singapore: University of Malaya Press, 1967), pp. 24-27 (cited in Edward J.M. Rhoads, email 5 June 2012).

10. Source: David K Y Chng 庄钦永, Xin Jia huarenshi shiliao kaoshi 新甲华人史史料考释 (新加坡: 青年书局, 2007) 231-233, 237).

11. The Chen Wei, built and launched at Fuzhou in 1872, was completely destroyed by a single shell fired from the French cruiser, TriomphanteWright (2000), pp. 38, 39, 61-63.

12. Qian & Hu (2003), p. 167; Yung Shang Him (1939), p. 44.

13. Information based on article “ 薛有福与马江海战之研究” by 庄钦永 (David K Y Chng): http://www.sim.edu.sg/News/NewsClippings/Documents/05102013%20ZB%20Pg22.pdf (accessed 07/10/2014).