Captain Henry Rodolph Davies And His Chinese Passport

Captain Henry Rodolph Davies And His Chinese Passport

Look at this huge Chinese passport issued to a soldier from the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry more than 100 years ago. Captain Henry Rodolph Davies was aged 29 when, in 1894, he was chosen to lead a survey expedition to Yunnan Province in China. The document that enabled him to travel through China has remained remarkably intact. The purpose of Cpt Davies’s expedition was to look into the feasibility of building a railway line to connect the network in British-ruled Burma to China’s railways to maintain trade with Yunnan through Burma’s ports.

Explaining the purpose of Cpt Davies’s mission, Major Hugh Babington Smith, of the Soldiers of Oxfordshire Trust, said: “The French aimed to capture all commerce in this region. “British merchants foresaw the possible loss of the profitable south-western Chinese trade and a threat to Burma and persuaded the Government to seek similar advantages. “In the event, though, the French built a railway in 1910 to connect Yunnan Province with Haiphong. “But Cpt Davies’s reports will have contributed to understanding of the region in an age when seeing for yourself on foot was the only way to gain information.”

Henry Rodolph Davis passport

The display also features Captain Davies’ Chinese visiting card and a picture of him with his Burmese wife and their four children. Cpt Davies continued his career with the regiment and, as a Lieutenant Colonel, commanded the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry’s 2nd Battalion in Belgium and France at the start of the First World War. By the time he retired, he had achieved the rank of Major General.

Captain Henry Rodolph Davies And His Chinese Passport

5 Comments

  1. Hi,

    I am doing some research and several questions pop up:

    1) The post mentioned that Henry Rodolph Davies married a Burmese wife and had 4 children. However, another book says that he married an English lady in Northern China. Which one is correct?
    2) The passport is quite interesting because nowadays it is the country where the person is a citizen that issues passport and foreign governments issue visas. However, Henry Rodolph Davies’ passport shown in the picture was issued by the Qing Imperial government, not Great Britain.
    3) Where can I find a high resolution picture of his passport? I would love to read more details from the picture.

    Best,
    Zhan Ye

    1. Hi Zhan, there are several sources on Davies easy to find on the web. My source is from an old newspaper article which reported on an exhibition, probably in the V&A museum in London. That’s the only picture I have. Good luck for your research, Tom.

    2. Hi Zhan Ye

      I am one of the relatives of the family. He did have a Burmese wife and 4 children all of which are buried in the grave yard in Elmley Castle. It was was a big issue at the time which limited his career when he got back home. If you would like to know more information please let me know

      Best wishes

      Charles Davies

  2. Wow! I am doing some research on Henry Rodolph Davies and found his passport on your site. I am writing an article about him. He has profound influence in China’s research on minority ethnic groups in Yun Nan province.

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