China Trade and Empire Jardine, Matheson & Co. and the Origins of British Rule in Hong Kong, 1827-1843

Le Pichon, Alain
Date published: 
January 2006

This edition of 263 letters written by or to William Jardine and James Matheson traces an intriguing range of commercial, political and personal dramas played out in Britain, India and China. The correspondence covers a period of rapid growth for Jardine, Matheson & Co, from 1827 when the founders first joined forces, to Jardine's death in 1843, shortly after the end of the Opium War. The letters document the immediate business concerns about tea, opium and British exports to China; but they also reveal articulate and passionate views on the major issues of the day, including monopoly, free trade, and after 1839 the conduct of the Opium War and the start of British rule in Hong Kong. The volume's detailed editorial notes make this a rich resource for anyone interested in individual families and firms engaged in the Eastern trade.