Friday, September 26, 2014

Howell, Augustus

Updated October 17, 2014

Augustus Howell, mercantile assistant, was listed as a resident of Hong Kong from 1846 to 1848. He was employed by the mercantile firm, Jardine, Matheson, as an assistant in 1846.

Selected Bibliography: Hong Kong's First [online]. Tarrent, William, The Hong Kong Almanack and Directory for the Year 1846, 1848, 1850, Hong Kong: China Mail, resp. 1846, 1848 and 1850. Williams, Samuel Wells (Ed.), Chinese Repository, Vol. 17, January to December, 1848. Canton: 1848.

Jardine Godown Manager
I am breaking my rule not to feature any opium dealers, or people who worked for opium firms. There are two reasons I want to write about Augustus Howells. Firstly, it was quite rare in the 1840s for a Scottish firm, particularly a prestige firm such as Jardine, Matheson & Co., to hire an American to fill a managerial position. The usual hiring practice as I understand for British firms was that Britons were hired as managers and Portuguese as clerks or book-keepers, while several Chinese would be contracted to work as Compradors. Secondly, Howell was the first person I've come across, who was a member of the American Art-Union (1839-1851). He was listed in the member roster in 1846, having the place of residence in Hong Kong, China. I have no idea when Howell came to Hong Kong and for what reason. He was employed by Jardine, Matheson & Co. as a godown manager. He ought to be doing quite well as he bought a track of land, a part of Marine Lot No. 10 at Victoria (in the form of Crown lease) from Alexander Matheson on October 25, 1845. In March 1856, the same property was sold to Charles Woolett Bowra (full story in “Early Settlers, Not Opium Smugglers”), who was no longer in Hong Kong, and his brother William Addenbrooke Bowra, by Jardine, Matheson & Co. acting on a power of attorney granted by Howell on September 22, 1855. The address given in the power of attorney was in Sag Harbor, Long Island, New York. There were only a handful of records of Howell in Hong Kong. He was summoned to jury duty at the Supreme Court on April 11 and December 16, 1846. He was subpoenaed to appear at the Supreme Court on February 23, 1846, in the case of Thomas Larkins v Aling. Larkins probably was Captain Thomas Larkins, proprietor of the steamer Corsair, that ferried between Hong Kong and Canton (Guangzhou). I will try and find out more about this case and how was Howell involved.
I found a Augustus Howell (b. August 31, 1818, Sag Harbor, Long Island, New York or Saybrook, Connecticut - d. April 12, 1856, Sag Harbor) whom I believe to be our Howell. He was the son of Silas Howell and Bethia Post. Augustus's parents as well as his step-mother, Margaret Post, who was actually his aunt (Bethia's sister), all died in Sag Harbor. Howell went to the Clinton Academy in East Hampton and was a schoolmate and close friend of famous author, Henry P. Hedges. He married Phebe Rogers (b. October 28, 1820, Saybrook, Connecticut - d. 1902) of Deep River on February 6, 1852. The marriage was performed by the Rev. E. Cushman. Phebe gave birth to a daughter, Anna, in 1853. Howell died three years later. Anna married Lyndon M. Swan (b.1839- ) and had three children: Benjamin, Ann and Anna.


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