West Clare connections to the Shanghai Municipal Police and other parts of the Chinese administration

Kilkee Historical Society

8:00 p.m. Tuesday 7 May 2019

Stella Maris Hotel, Kilkee

by Paddy Waldron

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Chinese history

From the Treaty of Nanking in 1842 to 1946:

In March 1865, HSBC opened its doors for business in Hong Kong.

Greater Shanghai had three sections:

  1. the Shanghai International Settlement;
  2. the French Concession; and
  3. the Old City of Shanghai.

The Shanghai International Settlement began originally in 1842 as a purely British settlement but always remained Chinese sovereign territory.

Americans and French and other foreign powers gradually became part of the administration of the settlement.

The Shanghai Municipal Council first met on 11 July 1854.

In the late 1930s Japan's involvement became of increasing importance.

The international settlement came to an abrupt end in December 1941 when Japanese troops stormed in immediately following the attack on Pearl Harbor. In 1943, the settlement was retroceded to Chinese control.

Shanghai Municipal Police were on patrol by September 1854.

Recruitment was by London agents, John Pook & Co.

By 1936, there were 4,739 men, of whom 457 were in the Foreign Branch in which the British and Irish served.

Force commanders included Pierre B. Pattison (Captain Superintendent, 12 Feb 1898-30 September 1900), on secondment from Royal Irish Constabulary.

For lots more, including lists of names, see the Shanghai Municipal Police web page by Robert Bickers.

Chain migration from West Clare to Shanghai

Most of the West Clare men who went to China were (or became) part of the Bermingham, Keane or Keating dynasties.

The pioneers appear to have been Micho Gibson and John O'Toole, who were both in their early 20s when they joined the Shanghai Municipal Police from the Royal Irish Constabulary in 1900.

Bermingham dynasty

Thomas Bermingham (1840-1924) of eviction fame m. 25 February 1868 (Kilkee parish) Margaret McGrath and two generations of their descendants worked in Shanghai:

Keane dynasty

Thomas Keane (1864-1934) of Carrigaholt m. 12 February 1890 (Carrigaholt) Mary Anne Cahill and had 11 children, including:

Keating dynasty

John Keating of Feeard (d. 1878 aged 68) had three children who remained in the area, all of whom had children who went to China:

Unrelated men