Monday, September 15, 2014

Hoe Chin-seen 何進善

Updated September 17, 2014

Hoe Chin-seen. Credit:
Hoe Chin-seen 何進善, school teacher, was listed as a resident of Hong Kong in 1850. He was the preceptor of the Theological Seminary of the London Missionary Society 倫敦會中國神學院 in 1850. He was the Chinese Minister of the Hong Kong Station of the London Missionary Society in 1850.

Variant Names: Ho Tsun-shin 何進善, Ho Fuk-tong 何福堂, Ho Yun-yeung 何潤養.

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.


When Ho Tsun-shin 何進善 (alias Ho Fuk-tong 何福堂, Ho Yun-yeung 何潤養) was ordained a London Missionary Society [1] priest in 1864, he knew he had just become the first Chinese Protestant minister in Hong Kong [2]; what he didn’t know was that his name would one day be placed atop (on the Chinese side) a family tree, one that depicts the origin and the early evolution of the Chinese medical community in Hong Kong.
[1] (LMS) 倫敦宣道會

[2] Ho was the second ordained minister in China after Liang Fa 梁發 (b.1789-d.1855) who was ordained by Robert Morrison of LMS in 1823. Ho and Liang were colleagues at the Anglo-Chinese College printing press in Malacca; both of them were woodblock cutters

Son of a second generation immigrant worker in Malacca, the Rev. Ho Fuk-tong was born in Xiqiaoshan, Nanhai, Guangdong 廣東省南海縣西樵山 in 1817. In his teens, Ho was sent to Malacca to join his father and grandfather who worked at the Anglo-Chinese College, later to be known as the Yang Wah College 英華書院, both as woodblock cutters (one who carves woodblocks for use in printing) in the school printing press.When Ho turned twenty years of age, he was admitted to the College, which was established and run by LMS for the purpose to scout bright ethnic Chinese as missionary candidates and prepare them for evangelistic works. Ho was baptized the following year. Always an eager and quick learner, Ho was well liked by the school headmaster Scottish missionary James Legge 理雅各 (b.1815-d.1897) who went on to teach Ho theology and the languages of Hebrew and Greek. At times, Ho would assist Legge in teaching as well as preaching at the College. Following the British occupation of Hong Kong in 1841, the College was moved from Malacca to Hong Kong in 1843. Ho moved with Legge and there he continued to study theology while working for the college and preaching. In 1864, he was ordained and in stages was put in charge of the Union Church 香港愉寧堂 [3]. Meanwhile, the Rev. Ho traveled quite extensively to Guangzhou (Canton), Dongguan and Foshan doing missionary work and building new churches. Ho narrowly escaped death when an anti-Christianity riot broke out in front of the new LMS church in Foshan on the very day it was scheduled to open in 1870. Survived but a broken man – both physically as he was quite badly beaten and mentally, he suffered a stroke upon arriving back in Hong Kong and died on February 15, 1871 in Guongzhou, at the age of 53.
[3] Established by the Rev. Legge in 1844, the church was physically situated on Hollywood Road and was opened in 1845. The church was moved to its present address at  No. 22A, Kennedy Road in 1889 and is known today as the Union Church Hong Kong 香港佑寧堂
The Rev. Ho’s was not only a fast leaner when coming to gospel and ancient languages, evidently, in wealth management as well. He started buying and selling properties as early as in 1846 – three years after he landed in Hong Kong, at which time he purchased a lot in the Lower Bazaar [4], for HK$150. Two years later, he included money lending in his earthly extracurricular activities. In such first transaction he lent HK$400 on a security of a Lower Bazaar lot charging an interest of five per cent per month. His business appetite, which grew as successful deals replicated themselves, reached yet another benchmark when in 1862 – two years before he was ordained - he paid LMS a sum of HK$26,325 for a portion of the Society's original properties. By then, his business dealings went beyond Hong Kong and became well-rooted in his native county of Nanhai. When he died in 1871, his estate was sworn at over HK$100,000, which amounted to about a quarter of the annual profit of the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation for the same year. This wealth afforded his children a good education and further enabled them to move in the right circle in the society.
[4] area in present day Sheung Wan around Jervois Street 蘇杭街 (previously 乍畏街) and Bonham Strand 文咸街
Ho Fuk-tong had five sons and six daughters.

The sons were:
Shan-chee 神賜 - died in Ho's native village in 1890
Shan-tim 神添 - Hong Kong Government interpreter (1873-1875); independent real estate broker (1875); became a big-time speculator (1881); went bankrupt when the property market collapse and moved to Guangzhou; returned to Hong Kong where he died in c.1907
Shan-po 神保 - alias Wyson Ho 何衛臣; read law and was called to the bar in the U.K.; admitted as a solicitor in Hong Kong (August 23, 1887) and became Hong Kong’s first Chinese solicitor; died in 1891
Shan-kai 神啟 – alias Ho Kai 何啟
Shan-yau 神佑 - worked for Wyson as an article clerk; accompanied his brother-in-law Ng Choy 伍才, alias Wu Tingfang 伍廷芳, to the U.S. - Ng was the Qing Minister (head of the legation) to U.S.; appointed Qing Consul-General in San Francisco (1900)

No information was found on the daughter’s of the Rev. Ho, except Ho Miu-ling 何妙齡 who married Ng Choy, and after whom the Ho Miu Lin Hospital was named. Another daughter, name unknown, married Dr. Kuan Huang 黃寬 who was the first Chinese to have studied abroad and qualified as a physician


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