European Settlements in the Far East – Part Four Macau in around 1900

Vaudine England has kindly sent a link to what she describes as a typically 1900-era directory of the European empires in the east. The author was D Warren Smith. We have already posted the following extracts from this account, Part One – Industries in Hong Kong, Part Two – Shipyards in Hong Kong, and Part Three – The Peak District and the Peak Tram in Hong Kong, all from around 1900. These are all linked below.

Fourth up is a section on Macao (Macau)…While our website naturally concentrates on Hong Kong we also from time to time focus on Macau and China especially where there is a direct link to Hong Kong.

Warren Smith’s article on Macau provides mention, though scant information, of the following subjects which could be thought industrial:

tea exports, “essential oils” exports, trade in opium, silk filature [filature has several meanings but linked to silk these are all related to the process of drawing silk from cocoons or actually spinning silk), manufacturing of bricks, a cement works (I am presuming, until corrected that this was the Macao forerunner, shown below, of the Hong Kong Green Island Cement Company)…

…and other factories. There’s also a brief mention of Macau-Hong Kong/Canton ferry services and the Hongkong, Canton and Macao Steamboat Company and of “another company operating on the Macao – Hong Kong route.”

If you can provide further information about these subjects please contact me.

To aid reader’s searches I have retyped the relevant pages. Many thanks to SCT for proofreading this.

European Settlements Detail A Macau Vaudine England


Macao is situated in 22 deg. 11 min. 30 sec. N. latitude, and 113 deg. 32 min. 30 sec. E. longitude, on a rocky peninsula, renowned, long before the Portuguese settled on it, for its safe harbour for junks and small vessels. The Portuguese, who has already settled on the island of Lampacao, and frequented for trading purposes Chin-chew, Lianpo, Tamao, and San-choan (St. John’s Island, where Francis Xavier, the celebrated missionary, died), first took up their residence at Macao in 1557. Shortly after their arrival pirates and adventurers from the neighbouring islands commenced to molest them. The Chinese authorities were powerless to cope with these marauders, who went so far as to blockade the port of Canton. The Portuguese manned and armed a few vessels and succeeded in raising the blockade of Canton and clearing the seas.

The town of Macao soon afterwards began to rise, and during the eighteenth century trade flourished there, and the difficulty of residence at Canton greatly contributing towards it. The East India Company and the Dutch company had establishments in Macao.

Historians are divided in opinion as to whether the possession of Macao by the Portuguese was originally due to Imperial bounty or to right of conquest. There can be no doubt, however, that it was held at a rental of 500 taels a year until Governor Ferreira do Amaral

in 1848 refused to pay the rental any longer, and forcibly drove out the Chinese Custom-house, and with it every vestige of Chinese authority. This bold stroke cost him his life in August 1849, for he was waylaid and barbarously murdered near the Barrier of Porta Cerco and his head was taken to Canton. The sovereignty of Portugal over the peninsula was, however, formally recognised by China in the Treaty signed with Portugal in 1887.

The colony is separated from the large island of Heang-shan by a wall built across the narrow connecting sandy isthmus. Two principal ranges of hills, one running from south to north, the other from east to west, may be considered as forming an angle, the base of which leans upon the river as anchoring place. The public and private buildings, a cathedral, and several churches, are raised on the declivities, skirts, and heights of hillocks. On the lofty mount eastward, called Charil, is a fort, enclosing the hermitage of Na. Sra. de Guia, and westward is Lillau, on the top of which stands the hermitage of Na. Sra. da Penha; entering a wide, semi-circular bay, which faces the east, on the right hand stands the fort San Francisco; and on the left, that of N. Sra de Bom Parto. Seen from the roads, or from any of the forts crowning the several low hills, Macao is extremely picturesque. The public and private buildings are gaily painted and the streets kept very clean.

In the town there are several places of interest apart from the fan-tan or gambling saloons. The Gardens and Grotto of Camoens, once the resort of the celebrated Portuguese poet Camoens, are worth seeing, as also the noble facade of the ancient Jesuit church of San Paulo, burnt in 1835. The Cathedral is a large plain structure having no architectural pretensions, and the various parish churches are stucco edifices, ugly without and tawdry within. Pleasant excursions can be made to the Hot Springs of Yo-mak, about sixteen miles from Macao, accessible by steam launch. In winter snipe are to be found in the neighbourhood and afford good sport.

After the cession of Hongkong to the British the trade in Macao declined rapidly, and the coolie traffic subsequently developed gave it a certain notoriety. This traffic, pregnant with abuses, was abolished in 1874. Tea continues to be an article of export, showing the value of about $500,000 a year. Essential oils are also exported to some extent. There is likewise some trade in opium. Silk filature, brick and cement works, and other factories have also been established.

Date/Source: unknown. I presume the cement factory is on the left indicated by the chimneys.

The commercial activity of the place, however, so far as the Portuguese are concerned, is a thing of the past. There is still a fair native trade carried on, the value of which, according to the Chinese Customs returns from Lappa, in 1898 reached Tls. 12,030,939 as compared with Tls. 13,143,774 in 1897. As the harbour is fast silting up, however, most of the native trade will soon desert the place unless efficient dredging operations are inaugurated. Some work has recently been done in this direction, but the operations are on a small scale.  Owing to its being open to the south-west breezes, and the quietude always prevailing, Macao has become the frequent retreat of invalids and business men from Hongkong and other neighbouring ports/ There are two well-conducted hotels: the Boa Vista and Hing Kee’s Hotel.

The Hongkong, Canton and Macao Steamboat Company runs a daily steamer (Sundays excepted) between Macao and Hongkong, leaving the former port at 8 o’clock a.m. and Hongkong at 2 p.m. Another company also runs a regular steamer daily between Hongkong and Macao. Between Macao and Canton there is a daily steam service, Sundays excepted. The distance from Macao to Hongkong is 40½ miles and to Canton 88 miles. Macao is connected with Hong Kong by telegraph. The population of Macao, with its dependencies of Taipa and Colowan according to returns made in 1896 was – Chinese, 74,568; Portuguese, 3898; other natiomalities, 161; or a total of 78,626. Of the Poruguese 3106 were natives of Macao, 615 natives of Portugal, and 177 natives of other Portuguese possessions. Of the foreigners 80 were natives of Great Britain.(1)

European Settlements A Macau Vaudine EnglandEuropean Settlements B Macau Vaudine EnglandEuropean Settlements C Macau Vaudine England

European Settlements D Macau Vaudine England

European Settlements E Macau Vaudine England


  1. European settlements in the Far East; China, Japan, Corea, Indo-China, Straits Settlements, Malay States, Siam, Netherlands, India, Borneo, the Philippines, etc., D. Warres Smith, Sampson Low, Marston & Company, London, 1900


  1. Those nostalgic for an ‘old Macau’ are pining for a place that never existed SCMP 17th May 2019
  2. Cigarette factory in Macau
  3. Shipyards in Macau 1912

This article was first posted on 16th May 2019.

Related Indhhk articles:

  1. European Settlements in the Far East – Part One, Industries in HK around 1900
  2. European Settlements in the Far East – Part Two, Shipyards in HK around 1900
  3. European Settlements in the Far East – Part Three, The Peak District and the Peak Tram in HK around 1900

Related Indhhk articles – Green Island Cement Company, Hong Kong

  1. John Laird Wright – MacDonald & Co Shipyard, HK and Green Island Cement, Macau
  2. Green Island Cement Company – photographs c1900
  3. Green Island Cement Company – stunning photos
  4. Green Island Cement Company – aerial ropeway
  5. The Green Island Cement Company – Conflagration – March 1906
  6. Green Island Cement Company photographs – Set 1 -1930s
  7. Green Island Cement Company during World War Two
  8. Ling Hang Quarry – supplier to Green Island Cement Company
  9. Noel Croucher – philanthropist and director of Green Island Cement and Hong Kong and China Gas
  10. Robert Gordon Shewan – CLP, Green Island Cement and HK Rope Manufacturing
  11. Robert Taylor – Manager of Green Island Cement – interned and badly injured in Stanley Camp during the Japanese occupation

Related Indhhk articles – Macau general

  1. The Hong Kong and Macao Glass Manufacturing Company Ltd
  2. The Hong Kong and Macao Glass Manufacturing Company Ltd – HK Daily Press article
  3. Macao Dragon Company, Hong Kong-Macau ferry services 2010-2011
  4. Y.C. Liang and HK Macao Hydrofoil
  5. Hong Kong and Macau Heliports and Sky Shuttle helicopter company
  6. The Macau Aerial Transport Company – first commercial airline company to be established in Hong Kong or Macau
  7. Charles de Ricou – founder of The Macau Aerial Transport Company – biography
  8. Planned helicopter service HK to Macau 1962, Stanley Ho
  9. Waterfront Air – 2008 proposed HK to Macau seaplanes
  10. Macau Air Transport Company (Hong Kong) Ltd – The One Cigarette Airline

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