In the late 17th Century Captain Van Hardt came from Holland with King
William III of Orange to North Ireland. It is said that on their way to
the famous Battle of the Boyne in 1690 they rested in the vicinity of
where Ravarnette House now stands on the Carnbane Road a few miles from the
town of Lisburn. Several long established families on the Carnbane Road such as the
McCanns recall this fact from traditional story.
It is said that the Captain was given Kilmoriarty, an estate near
Portadown in payment for services rendered, although documentary evidence
cannot be found to substantiate this claim. The story continues that the
Captain turned out to become a hard drinker and ended up having to sell it
to pay off the debtors. He was buried in Dublin where many years later his
grave was found quite accidentally by one of the Hart family.
It was Robert Hart who in 1869-1879 purchased as much of the
Kilmoriarity estate as was possible. It was then resold by him
subsequently in 1904. There is another account which can be given by
historians to suggest that the Hart family always lived in Lisburn and
moved to Portadown. Lisburn Cathedral records confirm that between 1662
and 1721 there were several. Hart families in the Lisburn area having
similar Christian names of those who later were domiciled in Kilmoriarty.
Documentary evidence shows that Abraham Hart came from Lisburn and
founded in 1796 the first Orange Lodge in Kilmoriarty, which still
flourishes under the name of the Kilmoriarty Bible and Crown Defenders.
Incidentally Abraham Hart was quite a character. He was fond of the Old
Testament and named all his sons after its heroes, Hiram, Joshua and
Hart has been a fairly common surname in Ireland and historians trace
his name to the Irish family Ua Airt which became anglicised to O'Hart.
These became princes of the Tara held lands in Meath. Some of these
O'Harts dropped the patronymic "0". At one stage Robert Hart in his letter
of the 25th May 1893 to Campbell his London agent, wondered if the
Kilmoriarty Harts in Co. Armagh belonged to the same family as the
Kilderry Harts in Co. Donegal. Extensive research was inconclusive.
Alexander Brodie, son of Sir Robert Hart's daughter Mabel Milburne,
tells us that a lot of Jews in London took the name Hart in the time of
Oliver Cromwell, after a Lord Mayo who befriended them when they came to
England.' Alexander also tells us that he once met a Dutchman in the
train, who, when asked about Van Hart replied that he had never heard such
a name, but the nearest that he had heard was the surname "Hart" and that
Dutch Hart's were Jews. An interesting fact also is that the last Chief
Rabbi of the British Empire was Sir Israel Brodie, although his born name
Sir Frederick Maze also claimed that there was Jewish blood in the Hart
family and that the original Hart may well have been a Dutch Jew who had
settled in Ulster a few years prior to 1689 and became a contractor to the
Orange Army or he may well have joined one of the brigades of King
Documentary evidence of the origin of Sir Robert Hart's
surname still remains a mystery and leaves plenty of room .for extensive
So taking either of the above accounts the Hart family were of Orange
Henry Hart (1806-1875) the father of Sir Robert Hart married Ann Edgar
in 1834 who was the daughter of a farmer, John Edgar in Ballybreagh in
County Armagh. She became the Proprietor of the Mandeville Arms, the main
hotel in Portadown. The Edgars were of Scotch origin and had come to
Ireland with Edward Bruce, "The Ruthless Pillager," between 1315 and 1318.
John Edgar's father Thomas Edgar had married Mary Bruce, a descendant of
the Scotch Robert Bruce. Mary Bruce's dowry consisted of the lands of
Miltown, Bavin, Sheeptown, and Derrylacky in County Down.
Henry Hart's ancestors can be traced back to a John Hart of Kilmoriarty
who married Margaret Milburne who had a son Robert Hart who in turn
married Mary Wright who had a son also named Robert Hart who in turn
married Sarah Grant who had a son James Hart who married Margaret Weir
whose son presumably was Henry Hart. Henry Hart became a Wesleyan through
the preaching of John Wesley and so did the Edgar family. It may well have
been through this common church connection that they first met. Henry Hart
eventually became a lay preacher.
The Hart family lived in 42, Woodhouse St., Portadown. We received a
letter from Peter J.V. Sheil to tell us that it was also the birthplace of
his grandfather who became Judge Peter Joseph Sheil, and who owned the
house and grocery shop until his death in 1942.
Unfortunately the house was recently demolished in 1968 to make way for
a large supermarket. Then, it was a street given over to markets and
eating houses. It was here that the family had their first child on the
20th February 1835. Little did they know or anyone else then, that he was
destined to have a distinguished career in China and become a household
name amongst the kings and rulers of the-- countries of the civilised
world. He was baptised Robert Hart in St. Marks Church in Portadown.
On the day our school pupils visited that church, the minister, the
Rev. Twadell was able to show us the original plaque erected at the house
where Robert Hart was born. That plaque remains in the church.
The Hart family were devout Methodists. Good Christian upbringing of
their children was the hallmark of the parents Henry and Annie Hart. They
believed this was one of the best things that they could do for their
children. They were active members of Priesthill Methodist Church, off the
Agnatrisk Road about 2 miles from Ravarnette. The original church has been
extended since, and next year they will be commemorating their church
anniversary. It will be interesting to note the many famous Ulstermen who
were members of that church and who made their mark on world affairs. For
some time the family also worshipped in the Old Methodist Church, Market
A retired minister of: Priesthill Methodist Church, the Reverend Fee
also was once in China as a missionary and recalls the timewhen he was in
Shanghai. He taught English there and recalls tying his bicycle to the
railings surrounding Sir Robert Hart's statue on the-Bund, Shanghai. I am
sure the thought must have gone through his mind, "Well, isn't it a small
world. Here we are, two Lisburn men in a strange place and in a very
strange land but our paths have crossed even tho' one of us is now a
statue and the other living flesh."
Henry Hart was in partnership with John Gall who ran a small distillery
which was subsequently destroyed by fire in the north end of Portadown,
near Bann Foot.
In 1839 Henry Hart was an employee in another distillery owned by
William and David Hutcheson: The firm went bankrupt in 1843 and looking
around for another job he found one near Ravarnette at Culcavey. Here he
became the general manager in 1842. This distillery was built in 1826 by
When too much whiskey was produced they let the excess flow into the
nearby river according to a local resident. It is not known what effect it
had on the fish, but you can guess. This distillery employed forty men.
Nowadays, the building still stands but the premises are used by a timber
merchant. The factory manager showed us the location of the General
Manager's House (once belonging to Henry Hart) during our school visit to
the premises. Only a few overgrown garden shrubs amongst a jungle of long
uncut grass remain to mark where once there was a garden, the pride and
joy of the family.
Henry Hart, a "born again" Christian, under teaching of Wesleyanism
became more convinced that it was not the will of God that he should carry
on, "this degrading business." So an opportunity cane for him to purchase
Ravarnette House from the Hendersons together with fifty-seven acres of
land. He also took over a flour-mill and installed in an adjacent room a
set of looms for linen weaving. Thus the business of linen weaving came to
Here, he Hart family lived from 1st January 1855 until 1st November
1873, when the place was subseqently taken over by Mr. John Sinton. The
Harts lived 18 years in Ravarnette.
The two parents then went to retire at Springville, on the Belmont Road
in Belfast, Their retirement only lasted a matter of months. Anne Hart,
his wife died in June 1874 and Henry seven months later. They were buried
in the family, grave in Old Blaris Cemetery, Lisburn.
Many interesting stories are told about his early years. In fact he was
scarcely ten days old when he lay in his Aunt's lap as she braided a watch
chain from her Titan-red hair. The family doctor, Dr. Bredon asked her
curiously for whom did she make the chain? Whereupon this aunt remarked,
"I'm making a wedding present for this new nephew of mine when he marries
your daughter." What a joke. But what a prophecy.
The doctor did not have a daughter nor a wife yet. But yes. It came
true. The little baby had 31 years to grow and mature into a fine young
man before it came to pass. And the doctor found a wife and had a daughter
who was 18 years old when that prophecy was fulfilled.
Had this Aunt some strange power that somehow she exerted or influenced
for future events? Or was it just a coincidence? Or was it the hand of God
When young Robert Hart was only two years old his parents had moved to
Culcavey near Ravarnette and Hillsborough. Another strange prophecy was to
be made. A couple of brothers, the Arnolds came from nearby, trying to
cajole parents to send them children for a school they had just started.
They were phrenologists. They claimed that they could assess a child's
potential and brain power by feeling the skull for bumps.
Having felt all the bumps on young Robert's head they pronounced that
the boy would do well academically, and that they had a great system of
education which would be just the thing for him. So they must have built
the parent's expectations up for their little boy. Again what a prophecy.
He was to excel at Queen's College, Belfast years later.
When young Robert Hart was only six years old the aunt told him all
about his ancestor, Captain Van Hardt and how he fought in the Battle of
the Boyne and how he was given Kilmoriarty as a reward, but lost it
through drinking and debts. The young boy whose imagination on was fired
replied that when he became a man he would buy back Kilmoriarty for the
family, get a title to his name like the famous Captain and do a great
thing like fight in the Battle of the Boyne. Well that all came to pass.
He did buy back Kilmoriarty. He did get a Knighthood and he did a great
work in China restoring order to chaos.
His father must have taken the prophecy of the Arnold brothers very
seriously because he went to quite some expense in sending his son to the
Wesleyan School in Taunton, Somerset.
Whilst at this school he had as friend a young boy called Stocker Aglen
who became later Archdeacon Aglen and whose son was destined to succeed
Robert Hart as Inspector-General of the Chinese Customs.
The present Headmaster's Secretary was able to send us a copy of the
school register which showed that he was enrolled at the school in 1845.
General observations recorded state that he studied Latin for 2 years and
also Arithmetic, Interest and Fractions. Little did he realise that he
would come back over 50 years later to open the new Swimming Baths and be
a special guest at Speech Day in October 1908. It was then that he
countersigned the enrolment book and opposite his name he wrote some
It was only recently that the Chinese Characters written were
discovered to be his name written in Chinese. Pronounced phonetically as
"Her Der" they are the equivalent of the name Hart and mean literally
"Shining Virtue." This claim was substantiated by some Chinese boys at
present attending the school. The swimming pool is still in continuous use
by the school.
He crossed over the Irish Sea on the "Shamrock," a ship which he was
destined to meet again in China and under different circumstances.
When the summer holidays came he was to be accompanied home by a Belfast
tutor. But something prevented the Tutor from going home and the young lad
was sent home unaccompanied. He travelled to Liverpool by steam train,
then chose a hotel to spend the night and ordered refreshments. The
proprietor brought him tea, cold chicken and buns which he tucked into
with great glee. The proprietor and servants were so impressed with his
business-like attitude that the next day they took him down to' the docks
and put him safely on board the right ship for Belfast. The young lad
finally made it home on his own all right but when father met his son in
Belfast he was raging that the lad was unaccompanied and he immediately
withdrew him from Taunton and sent him instead to the Wesley Connexional
School in Dublin. At least that would not be so far and would avoid the
long tedious journey by ship across the Irish Sea, he thought:
The Headmaster of the Wesley Connexional School was the Rev. Dr. Robert
Crook who was a strict disciplinarian. The boys were drilled in Latin and
Greek as well as English, French and mathematics. The Rev. John Oliver,
(whose son, Charles Henry ultimately became a Commissioner in Chinese
Customs) let him have free use of his home.
It is said that young Robert Hart excelled during an examination of
Scripture History. He knew all the Kings of Israel by memory. This was his
first big success at school. The tutor encouraged him to keep it up. It
became a big challenge for him and he used to even take time during his
lunch hour to learn Hebrew. Consequently the other boys nicknamed him, "Stewpot"
and the "Cosequential Butt".
He attended that school from 1848 to 1850. One of the records that the
school kept of Robert Hart was his account for the quarter, 1st July
to the 30th September 1849:
|Board and Tuition
||£7. 17. 6
|Medical Attention per annum
||£10. 6. 5
Of the original Wesley Connexional School there is no trace to be found
as it was demolished. The building which replaced it now forms part of the
Department of Foreign Affairs. A new Wesley College was built in 1879,
beside the Methodist Centenary Church and this building was demolished
when the College moved to a fifty acre site near Dundrum, Co. Dublin in
His best friend at the school was Thomas Shillington from Portadown who
was later to become the Right Honourable Shillington, P.C.
Well the result of all this was a conclusion. A new College had just
been opened in Belfast and father decided to send him to this new Queen's
It was to Queen's College he was sent at the age of 15 years. His four
years at Wesley College had given him a good academic foundation. He
passed the matriculation examination without any trouble and gained a
scholarship at the beginning of each year. He made a remarkable success in
achieving this because in each succeeding year there were a diminishing
number of scholarships available.
He tried his hand at writing poetry and on one occasion sent a poem to
a; Belfast newspaper under the pen-name "C'est Moi." It was published and
his father gave him £10 as an encouragement. This success in creative
writing was short lived because the next time the editor not only refused
to write it but indicated to him that his last poem was worthless and was
only put in to fill up an empty part of the newspaper.
One year he felt a bit despondent and down in the dumps after the
examination. One of his fellow students rushed up and told him he was
first in the examination. Robert thought it was a joke and when he was
brought along to the notice, lo, his name stood first above all others. He
could not believe it and did not write home until the next day for fear it
was a mistake.
During his first year he studied Greek, Latin, Logic, Metaphysics,
Chemistry, Natural History, English Law and Juraprudence. It was a well
balanced course and very comprehensive. The Curriculum at Queens was based
on the Scottish University course. There was also a great deal of
individual teaching. It gave him a very well trained memory. "Wax to
receive and marble to retain".
At Queen's College he received a gold medal and £15 for Literature
under Professor George Lillie Craik, and another gold medal and £15 for
Logic and Metaphysics. At this stage he seriously thought about becoming a
doctor but gave the idea up in horror when he thought of the possibilities
of contracting terrible diseases from some of the victims he would have to
Whilst at Queen's College he lodged in Adelaide Place with a family
that had a little girl, two boys and three grown up daughters who were mad
keen for marriage. The grown up daughters consisted of Miss. Hardy age 23,
Miss Jane age 20 and Cordelia about 17. His friend, Hugh Stewart courted
Miss. Hardy while Robert's favourite was Cordelia. It is said that he
always looked forward to enjoying her company very much to church each
Sunday. Many years `later he writes in his diary recalling the fond
memories of the "ould sod" with great vividness and detail.
Robert Hart and the Methodist Church
Robert Hart had the privilege of having good Christian parents who took
him regularly to Church and brought him up in a Christian atmosphere. In
fact it was often a topic of conversation at the family meal in Ravarnette
House. Father would ask "What have you done for God to-day?"
Whilst at Ravarnette the family attended Priesthill Methodist Church and
his loud for that church can be ascertained by the letter he wrote to them
during their Jubilee:
"I am glad you thought of writing to me in connection with the Jubilee,
for as long as it is since I left that part of the world I still have an
affectionate recollection of the place and the people.
Of course, like many a child I hated to be forced to attend the service
there when not in humour; but now, time has mellowed me and the memory is
simply a sheer delight.
As I write here some faces and sounds come up. I can see someone going
round to snuff the candles after the sermon....... I can follow the
steady, solemn voice of Deacon James Carlisle as he delivers an
affectionate watch-night address. I can see down the hill and over the
bridge, and along the broad straight road with high trees on either side,
having on one hand Carlisle House, and on the other the lane that leads to
Sam Jone's, and which after passing the Phoenix's and Bradbury's touches
the Maze and turns off by Knox's. Indeed as I write, it is interesting,
here, forty years come back again. I suppose it is the same with all who
go far from home and work in foreign lands: we never forget, and a sound,
or a smell, or a sight brings up cradle days and all the surroundings of
Home Sweet Home.
I've had to stop here for a minute: the tears fill my eyes. Fancy
weeping in '89 in Peking over recollections at Priesthill in '49; but so
it is, and it is good to have one's memory aroused, and one's heart
touched and wakened from the wintryness and worldliness of age.
Although no longer one of your neighbours, I am glad to have the
opportunity of once more showing the old friends that I have not forgotten
the old place, and so I enclose a cheque for one hundred pounds.
You can give 60 or 70 to the Chapel Fund, and the rest you can divide
among the poorer members of the congregation; a pound here and a pound
there may be of some service, especially coming when not looked for."
The family also attended the Methodist Church in Lisburn, at a later date.
Whilst at Queen's College he attended Donegall Square Methodist Church
and boarded with Dr. John Aicken, a well known Wesleyan Physician and
friend of the family. He was a regular attender and took an active
interest in missionary work especially in China.
At the age of 17 he nearly decided to become a missionary to the
heathen. The story is told at Bisham in Buckinghamshire, England that one
day he was visiting a bereaved family near Ravarnette. He was performing
the duties of a lay preacher and comforting the family. Whilst he was
saying a solemn prayer a young and attractive lady appeared at the door.
He found it difficult to concentrate on his duties to the family and his
prayer. So, from that day on he had the stong conviction that God did not
call him to be a full time preacher. Although on many occasions later in
life he felt nearly convinced that he should become a missionary himself.
Belfast had become a dominant centre of Calvinism in the mid 19th
Century with its major proponent of dogma and theology, Dr. Henry Cooke.
That form of Christianity held no attraction for Robert Hart: His theology
was founded on the great truths of the Wesley tradition and he never
Robert Hart and
When he was at Taunton he was known for having the fleetest pair of
heels in the school although he did not play the usual school games such
as cricket, bowls, football and rounders.
It is said that after he left Taunton he ran no more races. He was so
caught up in reading books, studying and the challenge of passing
examinations. His only other forms of exercise were walking and riding.
He had a real Irishman's love for a horse. During his boyhood at
Ravarnette he rode his pony all over the tiny lanes of Carnbane,
Sprucefield, Blaris, Culcavey, and most of the surrounding countryside of
Lisburn. It was at Timothy O'Laughlin's in Lisburn that his first pony
saddle was made in the early 1840's.
Later in Peking he kept up his interest by having a small racing stable.
His colours were orange, from his Ancestry, and green to remind him of the
green grass at home:
As for walking, he always enjoyed a good country walk. Many times he
walked from Ravarnette into Lisburn and back. Indeed he writes an account
in his diary on the 12th July 1866 when he walked from Ravarnette House
into Lisburn with his sisters Margaret and Charlotte and 'Doty' Hughes to
see the Orangemen on parade and to the weekly market. Two days previously
on the 10th July 1866 he had a leisurely walk along the Ravarnette River
and Corry's Glen.
Robert Hart's Contemporaries at Queen's College,
Many of his fellow students also became famous and made great names for
|Edwin Lawrence Godkin founded and edited 'The Nation' the best weekly
newspaper not only in America but in the world.
|John O'Beirne became Professor of Celtic at Queen's College, Galway.
|William MacCormac became surgeon to the Prince of Wales (King Edward
|Andrew Marshall Porter became Member of Parliament for County Londonderry.
|James Cumming became the ablest physician in Northern
Ireland and held the Chair of Medicine at Queen's for 34 years
|John Coates became the Principal and Professor of
Medicine at the Medical College in Calcutta.
|David Ross became the Recorder of Belfast and County Court Judge of
|David Graham Barkley became Judge in the Supreme Court of the Punjab in
During the Spring of 1854, just at a critical point in his life the
British Foreign Office gave out to the three Irish Queen's Colleges, in
Belfast, Cork and Galway one. nomination each. Thirty seven applicants
were to sit an examination at Queens in Belfast for their one nomination.
When the College authorities heard that Robert Hart had applied they
decided to give it to him without any examination.
The time quickly passed for his journey to China. He called to bid many
of his friends and relations goodbye. There was one family he was very
much attracted to and that was Sam Hart's family. He was rather in love
with the eldest girl, Agues. The news of his imminent departure came as a
shock and a terrible blow to Agues. Many years later whilst sitting in
Peking he recalls the incident. Poor Agnes looked up petrified and it was
impossible for him to describe the look on her face.
Another family he called on was the Russells. Young Miss. Janet Russell
and he had had many dates previously but that was all over and she was now
engaged and to be married to another. Again in Peking many years later he
recalls that day very well.
"It was in the drawing room that I Left them, but Janet came running
down to the door after me, and looked very much as if she wished for a
kiss: I was so foolish as merely to raise my hat, instead of bruising her
Had Robert remained in Belfast no doubt he would have married a lot
earlier from all accounts.
He set out for China in May 1854 at the age of nineteen and one can
just imagine his mother's reaction. The thought of him leaving home must
have terrified the family. "How will he get there? Are the natives
friendly? When will he come back? or... Will he come back at all?" These
are some of the questions that must have surely gone through the minds of
the Hart family at Ravarnette House.
But none of them discouraged him from going. In fact the family was behind
his venture all the way. His father's parting gift was a roll of fifty
sovereigns. That was a fair bit of money in those days when you reckon
that the Hart family income would have only been a few hundred pounds a
The Journey to
Documentary evidence shows that he travelled on the 4th June 1854 on
the "Candia," an Italian steamship, from Southampton to Alexandria in
Egypt. The Candia after a long and useful lifetime was sunk by a submarine
in the Mediterranean on the 11th April 1917. The fare for a gentleman was
£153 London to Hong Kong.
The Suez Canal had not yet been completed and so he travelled to Cairo
via the Mahmoudieh Canal. From Alexandria to Atfeh on the Nile. he
travelled in a large track boat hauled by horses along the 48 miles of the
Mahmoudieh Canal. At Atfeh he transferred to the river steamer for the 120
mile overnight journey up the Nile to Boulac, the port for Cairo. The
final stage from Cairo to Suez, a distance of some 70 miles across the
open desert, was covered in horse-drawn carriages or "vans". The last part
across the desert took 10 hours, but the whole journey from Alexandria to
Suez took just under 80 hours.
At Suez he boarded a steamer to Galle, the main port in Ceylon, (now
Sri Lanka). From here he took another steamer to Bombay. Another change of
ship was made and he sailed on, "The Pottinger" (1846-1862) to Hong Kong.
On arrival at Hong Kong he met Sir John Bowring, the Governor of the
Colony and'for a few months he was 'serving in the Superintendency of
trade. Plenty of sound advice was given to him and of a practical nature.
Sir John Bowring told him, "Study everything around you. Go out and walk
in the street and read the shop signs. Bend over the bookstall and read
the titles. Listen to the talk of the people. If you acquire these habits,
you will not only learn something new every time you leave your door, but
you will always carry with you an antidote for boredom."
In September 1854 he was appointed to the British Consulate in West
End,' Ningpo. He travelled on the 150 ton opium schooner the "Iona" from
Hong Kong to Shanghai a journey of three weeks. Its only passenger was
Robert Hart. His diet on board was water-buffalo and peanuts. The monsoon
had made weather conditions very bad for the schooner.
Further hair raising adventures awaited him on the journey to Ningpo.
The ship was chased by a pirate junk and only narrowly escaped capture.
Every piece of sail was put out and the entire crew worked the big oar on
In 1855 Ningpo was a very quiet place. Roads were non-existant and only
a few houses separated each other by a haphazard collection of paddy
fields. The British Consulate was at the West End of the settlement and
hence was known by that name. There were a few merchants.
China" is one of the world's oldest countries and has a history and
culture of long standing. Chinese calligraphy and painting date back to
ancient times and Chinese cuisine is acknowledged to be second to none in
the world but the country was very much a sleepy land, where under the
same wheel, the same old rut would deepen year by year. The Great Wall,
the Imperial Palace of Peking and the Qin dynasty tomb figures of a legion
of warriors and horses amongst many other cultural relics symbolised
China's ancient architecture, sculpture and painting.
Chance came for young Hart when the British Consul at Ningpo was
suspended from duty over a dispute with the Portuguese Consul. Robert Hart
was placed in control for a few months and his calm judgement gained him a
favourable commendation by General Van Straubenzee who predicted a great
career for Robert. His official job at Ningpo was as a supernumary
Expecting to be asked out to sing, should he be invited out anywhere in
Ningpo he thought he would write a song for Christmas 1854. He wrote the
following lines to the tune of Auld Lang Syne:
|Friends, here we are who destined were in foreign
lands to roam,
In the Celestial Empire for a time we've fixed our home;
And as you ask., why - I comply, and sing my friends for you,
Who sit around this festive board at Ningpo.
At Ningpofoo, my
At Ningpofoo -
We taste the brimming winecup joys at Ningpofoo.
Though few the words which now are heard that we can understand,
Though few friends who kindly nod or clasp the proferred hand,
Though not a pretty girl is seen with whom to bill and coo
Yet still we have some pleasure here at Ningpofoo.
No evening walks with ladies fair, no squeezings of the waist
The nectar of rich rosy lips tho' now we never taste
Tho' moonlight meetings there are none - no tender billet doux
Yet still we've some enjoyment here at Ningpofoo.
Then as we're far from English joys - girls - concerts - balls - and
The best of Chinese customs blend with good old English ways -
Love native lassies - smoke cigars - drink wine - good toddy now
The fault's our own if we don't enjoy some life at Ningpofoo.
At Ningpofoo, my friends, at Ningpofoo,
There's what makes life charming, even here at Ningpofoo.
-Robert Hart 18/12/54
The Portuguese had abused their position and trust with the Chinese to
the extent of banditry, looting, murder and rape. They terrorised the
entire coast, burning villages whose inhabitants would not pay tribute.
Eventually the Chinese backlash came. The Portuguese were attacked en
masse. They were hunted down and butchered. Some were tied to their own
boats which were set on fire and sent down the river to roast to death.
The Portuguese sought refuge in the British Consulate but were denied
access lest the Chinese extend their vengeance to include the British.
This was not to prove Hart's last experience of a, "Chinese Fracas." He
was to experience many more during his career in China.
He was next sent to the city of Canton in March 1858 as Secretary to
the Allied Commission which was the governing body.