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Woo Chung Yen


1. 1878: Member, "Orientals" baseball team (LaFargue Collection)  2. c. 1878-80 (LaFargue Collection)  3. 1936 CEM Reunion (LaFargue Collection)


Pinyin & Chinese characters Wu Zhongxian 吴仲贤

Variant Spellings & Other Names W. Chung Yen1
Woo Yen Chung
American nickname: “Big Nose”2

Other Chinese Name(s) Wu Huiqing 吴惠卿
Wu Weiqing 吴伟卿

Detachment 2

LaFargue No. 33

Date of Birth 1860

Place of Birth Sihui, Guangdong

Age at Departure for US 14 (Lunar Calendar)

Date of Death Not before 1939

Place of Death Probably Shanghai, where he retired.

Place(s) of Residence in US (1) North Amherst and Gardner, MA  
(2) Windsor, CT
(3) Norwich, CT

American Host Family/ies (1) Rev. William D. & Josephine H. (Barton) Herrick, N. Amherst and Gardner, MA3
(2) John B. Woodforth, Windsor, CT4
(3) Patrick Burke, Norwich, CT

School(s), with dates Norwich Free Academy, Norwich, CT

Notable Activities/Awards in School Member “Orientals” baseball team.

College/University, with dates Yale College (?)5
Notable Activities/Awards in College  
Degree/Diploma Obtained (date)  
First Assignment in China


Assigned to Customs Service at Tianjin6
Later Positions

Nov. 1882: together with Tong Shao Yi (Tang Shaoyi 唐绍仪 III, 61), sent by Li Hongzhang 李鸿章 to Seoul for trade talks with foreign powers under leadership of P. G. von Möllendorff;

1883: assisted in organizing Korean Customs and opening three Korean ports to trade with foreign powers; served as assistant director of Seoul Customs Office6

1884-94: Consular Service in Korea: Vice Consul at Renchuan (Inchon) 仁川; later, Consul at Yuanshan (Wonsan) 元山 until outbreak of Sino-Japanese War6 ; but according to Chinese official records, there was only a trade commission at Renchuan, which was upgraded to a consulate in 1899; responsibility for Yuanshan fell under the Consul General at Seoul 京城 until a separate consulate was created in Nov. 1902.7

1895: served Yuan Shikai 袁世凯 as chief of munitions in his new army unit and also as his foreign relations officer.6

1901: Accompanied the second Prince Chun 醇亲王 (Zaifeng 载灃) to Germany on special mission of apology for murder of German Minister during Boxer uprising;

1904 January - September: Chargé d'Affaires at Kobe and Osaka (joint posting)7;

1904 September - 1911 September: Consul General at Yokohama;

1909 October - 1910 April: returned to China on bereavement leave7;

1911 September:  Assigned to assist a diplomatic mission, headed by Chang Yin Tang 张荫堂, Chinese Minister at Washington, together with Ouyang King (Ouyang Geng 欧阳庚 1, 5), then Consul General to Panama, in efforts to settle and arrange collection of an indemnity of approximately 3.1 million Mexican dollars demanded from the Mexican government for the deaths of a large number of Chinese killed and for properties destroyed in an attack by rebel militia on the town of Torreón, Mexico, on 15 May 1911.8  However, due to Mexico's financial problems and political turmoil, the money was never paid.

1911 September: Appointed Consul General to Mexico (not known for how long).9

1919 Feb. 4: Following the end of World War I, Woo was appointed Director of Hubei Province's Bureau for Repatriation of Enemies and the Sequestration of Enemy Property 湖北管理敌国人民财产事务分局局长; Woo “was noted for the mild way he handled the Germans” who were being expelled.10

1924–1928: Director of Bureau of Emigration.6

Appointed special negotiator for Government at Hankou 汉口. Superintendent of Customs, Hankou.

Employment Sector(s) Diplomatic Service; Customs Service


Final Rank, if in Gov't Service  
Father's Name Wu Jishi 吴済时

Mother's Name  
Family Relations w/ other CEM Students  
Children's Names  
Other Twice awarded the Order of Luxuriant Grain (Jiahe Zhang) 嘉禾章 by the Republic of China: 3rd class; later 2nd class.6

Notes and Sources

1. Signature: “Respectfully / W. Chung Yen / Z. Wai / Conton P. China”, in one of two autograph books of Yung Kwai (Rong Kui 容揆 II, 34). Signature in second autograph book: “True friend yours / W. Chung Yen / Canton Pro. / Shen Hang Co. / District of Z. Woy. / China / Dec. 2nd  1[8]75”.  In Yung Kwai Papers, Archives and Manuscripts, Yale University Library, New Haven, CT.

2. LaFargue (1987), 136; Qian & Hu (2003), 81, Qian & Hu (2004), 93.

3. Edward J.M. Rhoads, emails, 4 and 9 December 2004; Rhoads (2011), Table 5.1, p. 52.

4. Residences and names of hosts in Norwich and Windsor, CT: Leung (1988b), 404.  U.S. Census 1880 names Patrick Burke, Norwich, CT.

5. Robyn (1996), 156.  In America Woo Chung Yen was sometimes reported as having been a member of the Yale Class of 1884, e.g., San Francisco Call, 9 Sept. 1911, p. 12, "Persons in the News: …Woo is a graduate of Yale, '84", etc.  But Woo's presence at Yale cannot be confirmed in contemporary Yale campus publications, or in records of subsequent reunions of the Class of '84, e.g. Daggett (1914).

6. Shi (2000), 255.  Shi’s data is almost identical to material in Woo’s autobiographical essay, dated 10 September 1939, Shanghai. For Chinese text, "Wu Zhungxian Shengping Zishu" 吴仲贤生平自述, see Kao (1986), 118-120.

7. Diplomatic Postings (1985), 76-80.

8. Oakland Tribune, 8 Sept. 1911, p. 2; San Antonio Express, 19 Dec. 1911, p. 16.  For an account of the massacre and its aftermath, see Leo M.D. Jacques, "The Chinese Massacre in Torreón (Coahuila) in 1911," Arizona and the West, 16:3 (Autumn, 1974), 233-246 [pub. by Journal of the Southwest]. Cf. Yung Shang Him (1939), 23: "While Chargé d'Affaires in Mexico under President Madero, in the 2nd year of the Republic of China, Woo Chung Yen was instrumental in obtaining an indemnity of $3,100,000 (Mexican currency) due to the death of 108 Chinese citizens killed, and properties lost during riots in different parts of Mexico."

9. El Paso Herald, 19 Sept. 1911, p. 4:3, “Chinese Minister To Mexico Here ”.

10. LaFargue (1987), 137.