Academic journal article China Perspectives

Magistrate's Court in Nineteenth Century Hong Kong: Court in Time, Hong Kong

Academic journal article China Perspectives

Magistrate's Court in Nineteenth Century Hong Kong: Court in Time, Hong Kong

Article excerpt

Gillian Bickley (ed), Magistrate's Court in Nineteenth Century Hong Kong: Court in Time, Hong Kong, Proverse Hong Kong, 2005, 532 pp.

Gillian Bickley has for some time been inter- ested in Hong Kong's early years as a British colony during the second half of the nineteenth century. She has more specifically centred on Frederick Stewart, whose life and prominent role during this period, notably in the establishment and development of Hong Kong's education system, have been the subject of sev- eral publications by herself and her husband, Verner Bickley, notably The Golden Needle: The Biography of Frederick Stewart (1836-1889) and The Development of Education in Hong Kong, 1841-1897.

If Frederick Stewart's role in the field of education is well-known and well-documented, it is less well-known that he also held the position of "Police Magistrate" for a brief period from 1881 to 1882. The authors of Court in Time seize on this detail as the jumping-off point for a lively and engrossing illustration of Hong Kong society of the time as it appeared in accounts, published in the contemporary press (the Daily Mail), of judg- ments delivered by Frederick Stewart. The vol- ume's contributors include a journalist and profes- sor of Journalism, Tim Hamlett; a lawyer and for- mer "Crown Counsel," Christopher Coghlan; a judge, Garry Tallentire, and a former Police Commissioner, Geoffrey Roper. Each author relies largely on his or her own experience in the terri- tory of Hong Kong during and/or after the colonial era. This sort of "insider's view," gives Court in Time a remark- able authenticity, allowing authors to compare the state of affairs during Stewart's era with the situation they live or have lived with daily over the course of their careers. …

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