Thursday, August 14, 2014

Rickett, John

Updated October 2, 2014

John Rickett, master mariner, club secretary, marine surveyor was listed as a resident of Hong Kong from 1846 to 1860. Gough Street was listed as his address in 1850.

Selected Bibliography: Tarrent, William, The Hong Kong Almanack and Directory for the Year 1846, 1848, 1850, Hong Kong: China Mail, resp. 1846,1848 and 1850.

The following is what I wrote about Rickett in November 2011 in my other blog: Hong Kong's First, with some updates:

John Rickett (b.1801 – d. May 11, 1878, Croydon, London) was the fifth son of Joseph Rickett (b.1722- d.1819) and Rebecca Lacy (b.1768-d.1812). He went to Canton (Guangzhou) from Manila in 1831 to work for the English East India Company and was given the command of the barque Austin in 1834. [There was, however, an entry in the Janus: Jardine Matheson Archive that listed him as “John Rickett, owner and commander of the barque Austin”.] Rickett moved to Macau in 1837 where he landed a job to survey the harbor. He was made a justice of the peace on June 30, 1843, being one of the first forty four JPs ever to be appointed in Hong Kong (in addition to Hong Kong residents, certain civilian and government/military personnel, etc. residing in major ports in China were appointed). On July 22 the same year, he was appointed British Consular Agent in Macau, after the Chief Superintendent's Office's removal to Hong Kong. In 1846 the new Hong Kong Club (1846- ) offered Rickett the position of Club Secretary and so he moved to Hong Kong. A year later he picked up a new profession of a ship surveyor, which afforded him the opportunity to, from time to time, inspect ships on behalf of the government, the Canton Insurance Office, the Underwriters of Boston, New York, and Philadelphia as well as Lloyd's. He joined the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company (P&O) in 1851 as the Surveyor of Shipping. Rickett was one of the ninety nine Europeans who formed the original Hong Kong Volunteers in 1854.

Ricektt married Grace Eleanor Lathrop (b.1813-d.1887) in Calcutta[1] either in January or February 1832. The newly wedded left Calcutta on February 26 traveling on the Austin, the barque Rickett commanded, for Penang and Singapore and thence to Canton. Grace gave birth to their first child, Ellen, in China in 1833. Altogether they had six children. Four were born in Macau, they were John, Jr. (b.1834-d.1925), Sara Ann (b.1836 – d.1857, Hong Kong), Caroline (b.1839) and Elizabeth (b.1845). Their youngest son Charles was born in Hong Kong in 1851. Sara Ann died in 1857 at the young age of just twenty. Three years later Rickett retired from P&O and returned to England with part of the family[2]. Whilst retired, Rickett kept meteorology as a hobby; he became an ardent meteorologist. He regularly published his recordings of weather in the Croydon Advertiser until ill health prevented his taking a complete register. He was a Fellow of the Royal Microscopical Society. He resided on the Wellesley Road for some time, but moved to Dingwall Road before his death. He died on May 11, 1878 at the age of seventy six.

[1] Although I was unable to trace the parents of Grace Eleanor, I feel it is fair to say that the Lathrops were residents of Calcutta. There was a record of a Mr. Rickett, and a child and a Mrs. Lathrop who arrived Calcutta on May 24, 1834, traveling on the Austin that left China on March 31. John Rickett, of course, was in command of the Austin. I believe this Mrs. Lathrop to be Grace's mother, who probably came to China to help out her daughter's childbirth.

[2] John Rickett Jr., who had been working for P&O as a clerk since c.1856, probably only returned to England in the early 1860s. He married Anna Cooper (b.1848-d.1934) in 1866 in Croydon. John Jr. was listed as the Yokohama agent of the London and Oriental Steam Transit Insurance Company in 1877. It was also in that year that Anna gave birth to their seventh daughter, Alice. They had eleven children in total.

Selected Bibliography: [online]. The Asiatic Journal and Monthly Miscellany, Volume 8, by East India Company. The Calcutta Christian Observer, Volume 3.  le Pichon, Alain, China Trade and Empire - Jardine, Matheson & Co. and the Origins of British Rule in Hong Kong 1827-1843. The Chinese Repository, 1846. Capper, Henry, Colonial Calendar for 1851, by Henry Capper. Streane, William, Croydon in the Past. Lim, Patricia, Forgotten Souls - A Social History of the Hong Kong Cemetery, Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press. Hong Kong Directory with List of Foreign Residents in China 1859. Janus: Jardine Matheson Archive [online]. Rootsweb [online].


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