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Chow Chang Ling


Pinyin & Chinese characters Zhou Changling 周长龄

Variant Spellings & Other Names Cheung Ling Chow
Chow Cheong Ling
Sir Shouson Chow

Other Chinese Name(s) Zhou Shouchen 周寿臣

Detachment 3

LaFargue No. 63

Date of Birth 13 March 18611

Place of Birth Xin’an Xian, Guangdong; 香港黄竹坑 (or alternatively, Hong Kong)2

Age at Departure for US 14 (Lunar Calendar), 13 (Western Calendar, by birth date)

Date of Death 23 January 19591

Place of Death Hong Kong

Place(s) of Residence in US (1) Winsted, CT;
(2) Andover, MA;
American Host Family/ies (1) Mrs. W. S. Phillips, Winsted, CT
(2) Caroline F. Jackson, Andover, MA.3

School(s), with dates Winsted Grammar School, Winsted, CT;
Phillips Academy, Andover, MA, Class of 1881 ("English" Department).4

Notable Activities/Awards in School  
College/University, with dates (Columbia College ?)5

Notable Activities/Awards in College  
Degree/Diploma Obtained (date) 1933: Hon. LL.D., University of Hong Kong

First Assignment in China In Tianjin Customs working on excise matters

Later Positions

1883 October: Assigned to Korea to serve on staff of P. G. von Möllendorff (1847-1901), Viceroy Li Hung Chang's chosen advisor to the Korean government; Möllendorff sought to create an independent Korean Customs Service but was unsuccessful6;

1885: After Möllendorff's resignation, served with Yuan Shikai 袁世凯 in Korea until outbreak of Sino-Japanese War;

1894: Consul at Renchuan (Inchon 仁川); according to Chinese official records, there was only a trade commission at Renchuan which was upgraded to a consulate in 18997;

1897-1903: Managing Director of China Merchants Steam Navigation Company, at Tianjin;

1903: Managing Director of Peking-Mukden (Beijing-Shenyang) Railway;

1907: Customs Commissioner (Daotai 道台) at Newchwang 牛庄 (modern Yingkou 营口, Liaoning 辽宁); handled foreign relations in region west of Liao River;

1910: Recalled to Beijing, appointed Councillor to Board of Foreign Affairs;

1911: Offered post of Minister to Great Britain, but did not accept8; after Wuchang 武昌 revolt of 10 October, retired from official life and went to live in Hong Kong; 

Distinguished later career in Hong Kong as a leading representative of the local Chinese community; involved with many commercial and industrial interests, including Hong Kong Electric Co., Hong Kong Telephone Co., Hong Kong Tramways, A. S. Watson & Co., the Bank of East Asia, the China Entertainment and Land Investment Co., the China Emporium, the Nanyang Brothers Tobacco Co., and the Hong Kong Yaumati Ferry Co. 

1917: Justice of the Peace in Hong Kong;

1921: Appointed unofficial member of Legislative and Executive Councils of Hong Kong government; elected to Council and Court of the University of Hong Kong;

1922-1931: Held seat on Legislative Council8;

1924: Associate commissioner of the Hong Kong section of the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley.  Served on many public welfare and philanthropic organizations, including Tung Wah Group of Hospitals, Po Leung Kuk (for protection of women and children), and Town Planning Committee;

1926: Appointed Chinese representative on Hong Kong Executive Council (first Chinese so honored); held seat until 19368;

1928: Knighted by King George V; thereafter known as Sir Shouson Chow;

1929: Founding chairman of the Hong Kong Society for the Protection of Children;

1942-45: During the Japanese occupation, Chow was appointed vice-chairman of the Rehabilitation Advisory Committee, composed of prominent local Chinese.9

Employment Sector(s) Government; Railways; Business

Final Rank, if in Gov't Service Qing era: Councilor to Board of Foreign Affairs;
Hong Kong Government: Chinese Representative on Hong Kong Executive Council

Father's Name Zhou Baoxing 周保兴
Mother's Name  

1886 Chow had a common-law female partner of Japanese nationality;

1887 Miss Ye 叶氏;

1912 with wife's agreement, took a concubine named Chen Yongzhen 陈永箴;

1921 with wife's agreement, took second concubine named Guan Shuyi 关淑仪 

Family Relations w/ other CEM Students  
Children's Names

In total, 8 daughters and 2 sons; list below incomplete;

by common-law partner: d, Rixin 日新;

by wife: d, Qiuyue 秋月; s, Riguang 日光; d, Lizhu 丽珠; s, Richang 日昌;

by 1st concubine: d, Shuzhen 淑珍.

In 1946 a daughter of Sir Shouson Chow married Wang Zhengting 王正廷 (a.k.a. "C. T. Wang," 1882-1961), Ambassador to the U.S., 1936-1938.10

Descendants GS: 振文, Charlie Wai Chow 振威, 振方, Wing Chow 振荣, 振鸿, 振桀;
GD: 宝壁

Honors and decorations:

Qing era: Button of the 2nd Rank Mandarin with plumed cap 花翎二品顶戴;

1907: Order of the Rising Sun (Kyokujitsu Shō) 旭日章, 4th Class, from Japan for mediation services at treaty negotiations after Russo-Japanese War;

Republican era: 1912: Third Class Order of Luxuriant Grain (Jiahe Zhang) 嘉禾章;

1918: Second Class (Jiahe Zhang), Second Grade;

1919: 二等大绶宝光嘉禾章 Dashao Baoguang Jiahe Zhang,  Second Class, First Grade;

Hong Kong era: 1926: Knight Commander of St. Michael and St. George (K.C.M.G.);

1935: Order of the Silver Jubilee by King George V.

1937: King George VI Coronation Medal.

1939: Third Class "Brilliant Jade."11

“He was a product of the educational system of the United States, was brought up in an American home, and never lost the effects of that upbringing.  To it he added great native ability which enabled him to bring to China’s westernized commercial enterprises an administrative efficiency and business acumen of which China stood in great need.”8

Notes and Sources

NB: An important source from which this profile drew much information is the biography entitled《香港大佬─周寿臣》[Shouson Chow: Hong Kong Big Shot], jointly authored by 郑宏泰 Zheng Hongtai and 周振威 Charlie Wai Chow, and published by Joint Publishing (Hong Kong), 2006.

1. Dates of birth and death as in obituary article, “Sir Shouson Chow Dies,” South China Morning Post, Saturday, 24 January 1959. 

2. Since 1842, the village in Hong Kong where Chow was born, became a British colony.  Formerly, his native County (Xian 县) was Xin’an Xian 新安县.  In 1898 about one-third of this county was leased to Great Britain, and the remaining two-thirds were renamed Baoan Xian 宝安县.  However, sticking with historical usage, Chinese sources contemporary with the CEM give his home district as Xin’an; later sources give Baoan Xian.

3. U.S. Census 1880

4. Information courtesy David Chase, Phillips Academy Andover.

5. Although Chow's presence at Columbia in 1881 has been widely asserted in Western sources (e.g., Boorman and Howard (1968), Vol. I, p. 388; Rhoads (2011), p. 118, Table 8.1), his attendance cannot be substantiated or documented.  (Information courtesy David Chase, Phillips Academy Andover.)  Chow is known to have returned to China with the third and last group of repatriated students which left Hartford 26 September 1881, arriving at Shanghai on 10 November 1881.  See Rhoads (2011), pp. 175; 180; 193, Table 11.1.

6. Rhoads (2011), p. 200.

7. Diplomatic Postings (1985), p. 79.

8. G. B. Endacott, “Sir Shouson Chow Believed in Stability, Freedom, Need for Ability in Business,” The China Mail, Saturday, 9 April 1966.  (Originally broadcast over Radio Hong Kong on 16 September 1963.)

9. Snow (2003), p. 107.

10. Boorman and Howard (1968), Vol. 3 (1970), p. 364.

11. For more honors and decorations, cf. obituary article cited in note 1 above.