Extracts from the book by Susanna Hoe


The marriage register is quite clear: on 8 June 1847 Charles St George Cleverly, bachelor of Hong Kong, married Mary Pope, spinster of Hong Kong; [...] Mary Pope Cleverly is mentioned briefly from time to time in historical sources for her husband remained some years in Hong Kong, and was responsible for many of its early buildings, such as Government House.


The scarcity of Western women on the China Coast contributed to the quite common establishment of relations between foreign men and Chinese women. Sometimes they were long-lasting and resulted in children. That created a Eurasian population which is now an integral part of Hong Kong society, often at the highest echelons, but which was earlier an excluded and anomalous segment.

Osmund Cleverly, the merchant shipping captain, (brother of Mary Ann Hickson's admirer – Charles [St George] Cleverly) provides a good example of the phenomenon. The baptismal records show two children christened on 9 September 1845: Charles Osmund, born February 1842, and Emily Osmund, born April 1845. There is no mother's name, and the children's surname is their father's first name*. On 31 October that year Osmund Cleverly married Ellen Fagin, and they had at least one child, Ellen, born in 1853. Thus Osmund Cleverly had two families. He may well have cut off relations with the first upon his Christian marriage but it was not unprecedented for the new Western wife of a man with a family by a previous, Chinese, union, to act with grace and generosity towards the earlier family. Often the man at least made provision for that family when he married. Cleverly's will shows that he did not do so there though he may have done so earlier.

*     In fact, the baptismal record form used did not a column for the children's surname. It shows that "Osmund" was included as the second Christian name for each child. – HdA