Butterfield and Swire Shanghai, Private Office Letters In

Scope and Content

This section contains a collection of unbound letters addressed personally to the Eastern Manager in Shanghai chiefly from Butterfield & Swire agents stationed in various outports along the Chinese coast and the Yangtze River. All outport business was supervised from Shanghai - except Hong Kong and Canton - and many of the agents preferred to send in unofficial letters to supplement the official reports on the business of their port. For administrative and business reasons this private correspondence was not approved of either in London or Shanghai and after 1906-1907 was actively discouraged. The surviving letters from the Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries do, however, provide an insight into the functioning and relationship of the firm's organisation in the East of which there is little other evidence. The files of the outport offices as well as those of Hong Kong and Shanghai were lost during the Japanese occupation (1941-1945), the only other interportal correspondence remaining being the copies of outports letters forwarded from time to time to London from Hong Kong or Shanghai if of particular interest to the Senior. These can be found for the Nineteenth Century and early Twentieth in JSSI 2, and for 1921 onwards in several of the main correspondence series of John Swire and Sons Ltd firms - particularly Butterfield & Swire (JSSII 2) and China Navigation Company (JSSIII 1&2).


The bundles of letters have been sorted into chronological order and arranged according to the port from which they originated and then arranged geographically into 4 sections: A. South Coast Ports: Ningpo [Ningbo], Foochow [Fuzhou], Amoy [Xiamen], Swatow [Shantou], Formosa; Canton B. River Ports: Chinkiang [Zhenjiang], Nanking [Nanjing], Wuhu , Kiukiang [Jiujiang], Hankow [Hankou], Ichang [Yichang] , Chungking [Chongqing]; C. North Coast Ports: Wei-Hai-Wei [Weihai], Chefoo [Yantai], Tientsin [Tianjin], Newchwang [Yingkou]; D. Other Places: Far East, Kobe, Yokohama, Nagasaki, London.

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Copying for personal research purposes is permitted. Please contact the archivist for all publication requests.

Copyright is owned by John Swire & Sons, Ltd, 59 Buckingham Gate, London, SW1E 6AJ

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