subseries HALIFAX/A4/3 - Vice Admiral Sir Charles Richardson, R.N.: The Lintin Affair

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HALIFAX/A4/3

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Vice Admiral Sir Charles Richardson, R.N.: The Lintin Affair

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  • December 1821-March 1822 (Creation)

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Letters from James Brabazon Urmston, President of Select Committee of East India Company at Canton.

"The most important event of the season 1821 was the affair of H.M.S. Topaze. She arrived at Macao at such time that her arrival was known at Canton on November the 10th... She carried 40 guns and 300 men and her Commander was Captain Charles Richardson. Seven days after her arrival she moved to Lintin in company with H.M.S. Curlew...

On 15th December a party of seamen from the Topaze, on shore on the island of Lintin, were attacked by 'such an overpowering and menacing force of villagers that the First Lieutenant who observed their situation from the Ship found it necessary to order away the boats manned and armed to their assistance and to fire several shots from the Frigate for their more immediate protection'. It does appear that the round shot caused any casualties; but the force which was landed came into collision with the mob and there were casualties on both sides, two Chinese being killed and several wounded while of the seamen belonging to the Frigate fourteen were severely wounded. The Viceroy of Kwangtung sent a mandate to the Hong Merchants that the English Chief was to surrender for trial the 'foreign murderers', to which Mr. Urmston replied that he had no authority over a King's ship; and Captain Richardson wrote to the Viceroy complaining of the unjustifiable attack upon his men, in reply to which the Viceroy repeated his orders, declaring that two lives had been taken and two culprits must be surrendered. The Viceroy refused to recognise anyone but the Chief of the English factory and tried to bring pressure to bear on him by stopping all British trade. So menacing did the Chinese attitude become that, on 7th January, the Committee moved the staff and most of the treasure on board the ships, and took the ships outside the river to Chuenpi. There they remained, both sides being obstinate, until, on 8th February, the Topaze sailed off to Macao and thence to India to rejoin Sir Henry Blackwood, her Commander leaving word that the case would be submitted to his superior officers for trial according to the law of England. The Viceroy found that he could obtain no better result, and for the moment he accepted this as a settlement. The factory then, on 22nd February, returned to Canton and the ships to Whampoa, and the interrupted trade was resumed...

The volume containing all the consultations and correspondence relating to the Topaze is missing from the records of the India Office..."

Morse. The Chronicles of the East India Company in China. 1635-1834. Vol.4 (1926), pp. 18-19.

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