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Yung Kwai


1. Taken by a Hartford studio, c.1874  2. High school graduation photo 1880  3. c. 1905-1910  4. c. 1936-40


Pinyin & Chinese characters Rong Kui 容揆

Variant Spellings & Other Names

Jung K’uei
Jung Kui
Yung Kwae1
Yung Kwei2

Other Chinese Name(s) Rong Zanyu (zi) 容赞虞(字)
Rong Zhixu (zi) 容知叙 (字)





LaFargue No. 34

Date of Birth 2 March 1861

Place of Birth Xinhui, Guangdong3

Age at Departure for US 13 (Lunar Calendar), 12 (Western Calendar, by birth date)3

Date of Death 17 March 1943

Place of Death Washington, D.C.

Place(s) of Residence in US (1) Springfield, MA;
(2) New Haven, CT; 
(3) Post-CEM: New York City, NY;  Washington D.C.

American Host Family/ies Dr. and Mrs. Henry Robert (Sarah Wilkinson Lewis) Vaille, Springfield, MA.

School(s), with dates Springfield High School, graduated 29 June 1880.

Notable Activities/Awards in School Salutatorian, Springfield High School.
College/University, with dates Yale College, 1880-84;
postgraduate study, Sheffield Scientific School, Yale, 1885-86;
chemistry course, Columbia University School of Mines, 1886-87.

Notable Activities/Awards in College

Freshman Year: Kappa Sigma Epsilon Society;
Junior and Senior Years: “Orations appointments” (ranking among students at top of class);
member of Yale Chess Club and Yale Society of Natural History. 

Degree/Diploma Obtained (date) BA, 1884.

First Assignment in China (Did not return to China in 1881.)

Later Positions 1884 & 1885: Part-time service as instructor of English at Chinese Legation, Washington, DC. and Chinese Consulate, NY City;

1886: Post-graduate course in Sheffield Scientific School;

1887: Course in Chemistry, Columbia College School of Mines;

1888-1890: Freelance reporter, translator, writer, instructor of English, and manager of Chinese Christian club in New York City;

1890-1893: Diplomatic service as Interpreter, Chinese Legation, Washington, D.C.; 

1894-1896: Freelance reporter and writer in New York City;

1897:  Reentered diplomatic service as Interpreter, Chinese Legation. Washington, D.C.; appointed successively Secretary Interpreter, Third Secretary, and Second Secretary;

1907, April 3: Promoted to Counselor, 2nd Class (二等参赞), with responsibility for handling foreign language documents;4

1908: Resigned post, traveled with family to China; returned to U.S. (with family) as a secretary to Special Embassy to U.S. and Europe, headed by Tong Shao Yi (Tang Shaoyi 唐绍仪 III, 61);

1909: Accompanied Special Embassy to European countries; on termination of Embassy commissioned Second Secretary of Legation, Washington, D.C.;

1910: Appointed Superintendent of Boxer Indemnity Scholarship students in America to manage disbursement of funds and oversee students’ discipline and welfare5;

1914: Appointed First Secretary with rank of Counselor, Chinese Legation, Washington, D.C.;

1931 Jun-Oct: Chargé d’Affaires ad interim, Chinese Legation, Washington, D.C.;

1931 Dec:  Appointed Adviser to Chinese Legation;

1933: Appointed Counselor of Chinese Legation; Representative of Republic of China to Chicago World’s Fair;

1936: Appointed Adviser to the Foreign Office, assigned for duty at the Chinese Legation, Washington, D.C.

Employment Sector(s) Government: Diplomatic Service. Journalism: Freelance writer/translator/reporter.

Final Rank, if in Gov't Service Adviser to the Foreign Office.

Father's Name Yung Way Kin (Rong Weiqin) 容惟勤

Mother's Name Li May Su 李氏

Wife/wives Mary Elizabeth Lyon Burnham (1868-1952)
Family Relations w/ other CEM Students

Distant relation of Yung Wing; Young Shang Him (Rong Shangqian 容尚谦 I, 6); Yung Shang Kun (Rong Shangqin 容尚勤 II, 47); and Young Yew Huan (Rong Yaoyuan 容耀垣 III, 66). 

Children's Names

Burnham Yung-Kwai (1897-1979)
Elizabeth (Yung Kwai) Suverkrop (1898-1984)
Gertrude (Yung Kwai) Tong (1900-1979)
Addison [Yung] Kwai Young (1902-1989)
Dana [Yung Kwai] Young (1904-1996)
Marina (Yung Kwai) Sze (1909-2001)
Otis Yung Kwai (1914-1931) 


Third generation: 4 granddaughters, 7 grandsons;
Fourth generation: 8 great granddaughters, 7 great grandsons;
Fifth generation: 20+ great great grandchildren


In July, 1880, Yung was expelled from the CEM for becoming a Christian and refusing to recant.  At the same time, Tan Yew Fun (Tan Yaoxun 谭耀勋 I, 21), then in his sophomore year at Yale, was expelled for similar reasons.  In August, both men were ordered to return to China, but they left the train at Springfield, MA, and went into hiding to evade pursuit.  American friends obtained the aid of a Boston lawyer who appealed on their behalf to U.S. Secretary of State, William Maxwell Evarts, with the result that they were permitted to remain in the U.S., though their connections to the CEM were severed.  Tan died of tuberculosis on November 13, 1883.  Yung chose to remain in the U.S. for the rest of his life.

In September, 1893, Yung accompanied Pung Kwang Yu (彭光譽) First Secretary of the Chinese Legation and China's official delegate to the "World's Parliament of Religions" at the Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago.  Yung had translated Pung's address on "Confucianism" into English for oral presentation to the Parliament.  Since Pung did not speak English it is likely that Yung served as interpreter for the Secretary during his stay in Chicago.  (Pung's paper was read aloud to the delegates on Wednesday, 13 Sept. 1893, by one of the Parliament's staff.)  Yung Kwai is also named as translator of the First Secretary's 50-page pamphlet, An Exposition of Confucius, Prepared for the Parliament of Religions (Chicago: David Oliphant, Printer, 1893).

Yung was twice awarded the “Order of Luxuriant Grain” (Jiahe Zhang) 嘉禾章 by the Republic of China.

Buried in Glenwood Cemetery, Washington, D.C.

Yung’s untitled memoir of the CEM, written ca. 1884-85, was issued in 2001 as a typescript titled "Recollections of the Chinese Educational Mission." This typescript is cited on this web site as Yung Kwai (2001). The original manuscript is included among the Yung Kwai Papers, Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library, New Haven, CT.

Notes and Sources 1. Springfield Daily Republican, 26 July 1873, 3.

2. As “Yung Kwei” he is listed as “Treasurer” among officers of the Societas Condita Causa Augendarum Rerum Chinensium Christiana, a Christian society organized ca. 1878-79 by CEM students.

3. Some sources erroneously give Yung Kwai's age at departure from China as “14 sui” and his place of birth as “Xinning Xian” 新宁县 (modern Taishan Xian 台山县).  Contemporary newspaper lists give true place of birth but incorrect age at departure. His date of birth in the lunar calendar was Xianfeng 11.1.21.

4. Memorial dated Guangxu 33.2.21 from Waiwubu (Bureau of Foreign Affairs); records at sinica.com; copy courtesy Reed Tang.

5. Boundless Learning (2003), 116, item 101.