Papers of Sir Alwyne George Neville Ogden

Scope and Content

The collection comprises chiefly the correspondence and personal papers of Sir Alwyne Ogden, dating from 1889 to the 1980's. Also included are his diaries (c1920-1970), photographs, notes and drafts for his autobiography. The collection also adds detail to the life of his wife Jessie Ogden and her father, Albert Henry Bridge.

Administrative / Biographical History

Sir Alwyne Ogden was born on June 29th 1889, the son of a Railway Auditor. He was educated at Dulwich College and Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. Failing to enter the Indian Civil Service he chose to go to China and was appointed as a Student Interpreter at the British Legation in Peking on December 3rd, 1912. His work involved roaming through Henan Province from August 1916 to the following February, buying cattle for the British Army, serving as Acting Consul at Changsha in 1916 during an anti-foreign riot, and working with the recruitment of the Chinese Labour Corps in Shandong Province from October 1917 to July 1918. Afterwards he served in Peking and Tientsin from 1918-1920, where he met Jessie Vera Bridge, the daughter of a local missionary, Albert Henry Bridge. The couple was eventually married in Tientsin in 1922.

In 1922 he visited the Tibetan frontier on special assignment, before being caught up in a siege in Chengdu upon his arrival to serve as Vice Consul. He became Acting Consul General there from December 23rd, 1922 until the following May. In June 1925 he was appointed Acting Vice Consul at Hankow, and in February 1926 he became Consul at Jiujiang. He served there during the traumatic and violent period when the British concession was overrun and abandoned in January 1927 at the height of the Northern Expedition of the Guomindang. His actions in this period of crisis earned him an OBE in June 1927.

After a period of home leave he served in Tientsin from September 1928 as an Acting Vice Consul, and from January 31st as a full Vice-Consul. He served there, often as Acting Consul General until his next home-leave when he was briefly employed by the Department of Overseas Trade to draw up a booklet entitled China: Notes on some aspects of life in China for the information of business visitors (1934). His next appointment was at Shanghai in 1933. From December 1933 he became Acting Consul at Chefoo, and full Consul from February 1934 until April 1936. After a stint in Kunming he was in charge of the Consulate in Shanghai from March 1937 for two years. During this period he organised the evacuation of all British women and children from the city during the Sino-Japanese hostilities. From February 1940 to April 1941 he was put in charge of the Consulate in Nanjing, then under Japanese occupation. In 1941 he was transferred to Tientsin as Acting Consul General. At the outbreak of the Pacific War he was placed under house arrest with his family before being repatriated in July 1942. Thereafter he was Consul General in Kunming and then Shanghai, where he landed on September 7th 1945. He was responsible for the administration of the internment camps there, which held some 7,000 Britons, until they were closed. For this he was awarded the CMG in 1946. His experiences thereafter in Shanghai, as a member of the newly amalgamated Foreign Service, were not particularly happy and he left the service in 1948, six months after becoming a KBE.

In retirement he played an active role in organisations supporting Chiang Kai-sek's regime after it fled to Taiwan at the close of the Chinese civil war in 1949. He was also an early advocate and publicist of Tibet's plight after 1950. He wrote reviews of works on contemporary China and its history, and many drafts of an autobiography that was never completed. He maintained an interest in British business relations with China through the China Association, and cultural relations through the China Society. He died in 1981.


The collection is divided into categories as follows: family and personal correspondence and papers; papers and correspondence regarding domestic matters; post-retirement items relating to China; non-family correspondence; diaries/notebooks; bank statements; photographs and printed matter; souvenir items; autobiography - narrative version and notes, drafts and transcripts. Material is arranged chronologically within each category.

Access Information


Acquisition Information

Donated in 1993.

Other Finding Aids

Unpublished handlist

Related Material

Related Collections at SOAS: Coates, Patrick Devereux [PP MS 52]; SOAS Library holds P.D. Coates, The China Consuls: British Consular Officers, 1843-1943 , (Hong Kong, OUP, 1988).

Associated Material held elsewhere: Public Records Office, Peking Legation files [FO228]; Public Records Office, Foreign Office Correspondence Dossiers [FO371]; National Maritime Museum, papers of Sir Louis H. Keppel Hamilton (including some notes by Ogden on the situation at Jiujiang).

Corporate Names