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Scots in Asia
A small summary of some Scottish connections in Asia

Our thanks to Jim Wilkie for providing this information.

There were quite a number of Scots active in the East, and I just wish I could remember all of them. One of them was the original for the character of Pinkerton in Madame Butterfly, but his name escapes me for the moment; he was an Aberdonian who made a career in Japan. And then there is the partly less salubrious story of the Jardine Mathieson company of Hong Kong. In a book entitled "Scottish Firsts: innovation and Achievement" (published by Mainstream for the then Scottish Development Agency) I found this information:

"As new trading opportunities opened up so were the Scots to be found. It was the Scottish King James VI who was the first royal personage to write to the Emperor of Japan. The ensuing trade agreement gave the Japanese their first glimpse of the Stuart tartan, which was reproduced in Japan during the period. Many of the early Indian "Nabobs" were Scottish, and later it was the Scots Hugh Falconer of Forres and William Jameson of Leith who were largely responsible for the development of tea plantations in India. Many of the great trading houses of the Far East such as Jardine Mathieson were founded and are still largely run by Scots."

"Scottish shipbuilding expertise was exported to build the floating docks of Java and Saigon... Much of the development of Japanese shipbuilding over the past century has been in Scottish hands. Many of Japan's shipbuilders and naval architects were trained on the Clyde, and the first professor of naval architecture at Tokyo University was naturally a Glasgow University graduate. Dundee, renowned worldwide for its "jute, jam and journalism", exported its skills to develop the jute industry of Calcutta. At one time Dundee-based companies operated 3,714 jute looms in India, and also provided an eighth of the capital investment involved in the development of the industry."

  • Lord Maclehose of Beoch was Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Hong Kong 1971-82

  • Lord Hopetoun was first Governor-General of Australia

  • Thomas Sutherland was first Chairman of the Hong Kong Dockyard Company

  • Sir James Carnhill (1851-1926) founded the first medical college for Chinese students - one of whom became the first President of the Chinese Republic

  • Sir John Macarthur (1767-1834) established the Australian wool industry and planted the first vineyard there

  • Allan Octavian Hume founded the Indian Congress Party

  • Moiuntstuart Elpninstone (1779-1857) founded the Indian state education system

  • Thomas Macaulay founded the Indian Penal Code

  • William Kidston (1840- ) founded Queensland University, Australia

  • William Paterson (1755-1800) introduced the peach to Australia

  • Sir William Cresswell (1852-1933) founded the Australian navy

  • George Boyle (1746-81) the first British visitor to Tibet, concluded a commercial treaty with the Panchen Lama

  • Rev. Thomas Burns and Capt. William Cargill in the 1840s established Otago and Dunedin in New Zealand

  • Lachlan Macquarie (1761-1824) Governor of New South Wales and transformed it from a penal colony

  • Catherine Spence (1825-1910) was Australia's first woman novelist

  • James Chisolm ran the first saloon in Sydney, called the Thistle Tavern

  • Samuel Laing was India's first Finance Minister

  • Dame Nellie Melba, the Australian operatic singer, was of Scots ancestry

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