. During the Taiping Rebellion and the years immediately following there was considerable development in municipal affairs.

Establishment of the French Municipality,1862

In the beginning there had been a fair prospect of municipal affairs being carried on under one administration. The French,however, fearing lest their interests might be overlooked, determined to set up a separate municipal government.

They held they were free to do this, for although the Land Regulations of 1854 had been signed by the French Consul, they had never been ratified by the French Government. Accordingly on May 13, the Municipal Council of the Concession Francaise was formed. It differed from the English Municipal Council in that all its decisions were subject to the approval or veto of the French Consul.

Inasmuch as for some time after this the foreign trade of Shanghai was largely carried on in the English Settlement, the French Municipality found it difficult to raise a revenue, and depended largely on income derived from licenses to opium divans, brothels and gambling houses.

Amalgamation of the American Settlement with the English

In the American Settlement which had been founded in Hongkew, across the Soochow Creek, were the premises of the American Episcopal Church Mission, the Shanghai Dock, some wharves, and some establishments for the entertainment of sailors. It was justly called "the Cinderella among the settlements."

It had the disadvantage of becoming a refuge for the criminal class, driven out of the English Settlement by its more efficient police force, and the authorities found it difficult to control the large Chinese population which flowed into it during the Taiping Rebellion. The Hongkew Municipal Committee was obliged to come to an arrangement by which the Hongkew police (consisting of a body of six men) were amalgamated with the police of the English Settlement, so as to gain the co-operation of the latter.

A movement for one municipal government for both Settlements was put forward by Mr. Edward Cunningham of Russell and Company and Mr. George F. Seward, the American Consul. On September 21, 1863, a union was effected, and the International Settlement, north of the Yangkingpang, came into existence.

At the same time, Consul Seward and Huang Taotai agreed to the following boundary line of the American Settlement. Starting from a point opposite the Defence Creek it extended down the Soochow Creek and the Whangpoo to three miles up the Yangtszepoo Creek and then in a straight line back to the point facing the Defence Creek.

Proposal to Make Shanghai a Free City

The Shanghai Municipal Council (the Municipal Council of the International Settlement) realizing the burden of providing a government for hundreds of thousands of Chinese, as well as for the foreign residents, seriously contemplated the practicability of converting the International Settlement into a free city - or, in other words, into an independent republic.

The British Consul, Mr. W. H. Medhurst, son of Dr. W. H. Medhurst, pointed out that such a step would be a violation of the Treaties, as "the territory belongs to the Emperor of China, who merely accords to the Foreign Powers, that have entered into treaties with himself, an

The Custom House In The Fifties

extraterritorial jurisdiction over their own citizens resident at this port, but retains for himself all authority over his own territory and subjects."

The British Envoy, Sir Frederick Bruce, was even more emphatic in his opposition to the proposal and declared that the "English Concession at Shanghai was neither a transfer nor a lease of the land in question to the British Crown, the land so acquired remaining Chinese territory."

Signing Of The Treaty Of Nangking,1842

It can readily be seen that the scheme proposed was impracticable. It would not have been possible to obtain the consent of the Chinese Government, and if the plan had been attempted, in face of Chinese opposition, it would have been easy to wreck the new republic by placing round it a cordon of Custom barriers preventing trade with the interior.

Proposal of the Envoys

The Envoys, especially Sir Frederick Bruce, made counter proposals in regard to the administration of the Settlements.

"It was proposed that a municipality should be created, to include if possible the English, French and American settlements; that each resident should be subject, in both criminal and civil suits, to the jurisdiction of his own authorities but that arrests for the Chinese >authorities should be made only by the Municipal police; that a Chinese element should be introduced into the Municipal Council, and that no measure affecting the Chinese residents should be taken without its consent, but this proposal was contingent on the extension of the scheme to all three settlements; that territorial jurisdiction should rest solely on grants from the Emperor or his representatives; and that if necessary to obtain such grants, certain revenues, or a percentage of revenues, should be paid to the Imperial authority."

An important part of the proposal was not carried out. The three Settlements did not come under one administration, the French preferring to have a separate Municipality and as a consequence, the admission of a Chinese element into the Council was not effected, and the Chinese ratepayers were left without representation.

Taxation of the Chinese within the Settlement

In July, 1862, the Taotai called attention to the expense to which his government. was put in protecting Shanghai, and asked permission to impose a poll tax on the Chinese residents of the Settlements similar to that which had been paid in the native city.

The British Envoy was in favour of granting this permission and maintained that there was nothing in the Treaties exempting the Chinese population of the Settlements from paying taxes to their own government. The merchants in Shanghai saw more clearly than the Envoy the difficulties that might arise, as it would bring about dual and rival jurisdiction within the same area. They were obliged, however, to bow to the will of the Envoy and to admit the right of the Chinese Government to tax her own subjects for national purposes. As a compromise it was arranged that the tax should be collected by the Municipality and handed over to the Chinese authorities. Accordingly on June 12, 1863, it was agreed that the Shanghai Municipal Council should collect from Chinese residents 20 per cent rental tax and that half the proceeds of this tax should be paid to the Taotai and half to the Council, and that no further tax should be imposed by the Chinese Government.

Although theoretically it would appear that the Chinese authorities had the right to impose taxes on the Chinese residing in the Settlements, yet practically, if this right had not been restricted, it might have resulted in a great hardship on the Chinese themselves and would have subjected them to increasing exactions on their commerce and personal property. One of the chief reasons for their seeking a home in the Settlements was to be free from government interference with their trade. As a matter of fact the Chinese Government had done little or >nothing for the protection of the Settlements and the expense had fallen almost entirely on the foreign governments having extraterritorial jurisdiction therein.

The Establishment of the Mixed Court

The exercise of jurisdiction over the Chinese residents raised many questions.How were Chinese offenders to be dealt with? Should the Chinese set up a court in the Settlements? The solution was found by the establishment in 1864 of what is known as the "Mixed Court," presided over by a deputy of the Shanghai Magistrate. Police cases were to be heard by the deputy alone. In criminal cases against Chinese, in which a foreigner was interested, a delegate from a consulate was to sit as assessor with the deputy. In civil cases, where it was between Chinese,the deputy was to sit alone; where it was a suit of foreigners against Chinese, a consular assessor was to sit with the deputy. Appeals were to be heard by the Taotai sitting with a Consul as assessor.

At first the court was held in one of the outbuildings of the British Consulate, and did not command much respect, partly because of the low rank of the Chinese deputy appointed. The procedure was amended in 1869, when it was agreed that the court was to be presided over by a deputy - who had the rank of sub-Magistrate.

All cases affecting the interests of foreigners were to be heard with an assessor, but the deputy sat alone where both parties were Chinese; servants of foreigners could be summoned only with the consent of the Consul concerned; criminal charges punishable by death were to be tried by the Shanghai Magistrate.

In later years there was further modification. The consular assessor became a party to the judgment in every case - in police cases because of the interest of the foreign community, and in suits between Chinese, on the ground that "the Chinese official, with his tradihonal methods of enforcing judgments, must not be admitted to an unfettered jurisdiction within the area reserved for foreign trade and residence." These changes, as we shall see later, came to be regarded by the Chinese as an infringement of their sovereign rights.

Land Regulations of 1869

In 1866 the Land Regulations of 1854 were revised by the land renters in concert with the Consuls, without previous consultation with the foreign Ministers in Peking.

The new rules recognized the establishment of the French Concession. The Council was increased to nine members, vested with amplified powers, and personnjly exempt from any claim arising out of their administration.

The Municipal Council, as a body, however, was liable to the jurisdiction of the Court of Consuls, established for this special purpose. Upon requisition of 25 land renters the Consuls might jointly or singly convene a public meeting and adopt measures which, if passed, should have the force of laws. The land renters should have the right to vote by proxy. Chinese were to have the right to participate in the Municipal Government.

These new rules and bye-laws were not sanctioned by the foreign Ministers at Peking until 1869, and in sanctioning them, the Diplomatic Body eliminated the clause in regard to Chinese participation in the Municipal Government.

The new Land Regulations were drawn up without consultation with the local Chinese authorities, but the latter made no objection to their being put into operation as the changes did not affect Chinese interests.

Shanghai is probably the only municipality in the world where proxy voting is permissible, and naturally this has given rise to much criticism, inasmuch as it lodges a dangerous power of blocking progressive legislation, in the hands of absentee landlords.

Detailed rules for the Court of Consuls were not promulgated until 13 years later on July 10, 1882. Although attempts, as we shall see, were made in later years to amend the Land Regulations still further, yet no change was endorsed by the Diplomatic Body until 1898, and the revision made at that time did not materially alter the Regulations of 1869.

In 1860 Mr. Pickwood was employed as Secretary of the Council. He was succeeded in 1862 by Mr. R. F. Gould and reforms were made in the internal working of the Municipality. A small staff of assistants, including a qualified engineer, a European interpreter, and an officer to supervise the Municipal revenues from wharfage dues were appointed.

The police force was increased, and in 1864 consisted of 164 foreigners. On account of expenses this number was cut down, and Chinese were drafted into the force. In 1870 the foreign police numbered 112.

Fire Brigade

The crowding of the Settlements with cheaply constructed Chinese houses during the period of the rebellion added to the danger of fire. In order to cope with this menace fire wells were sunk in the main thoroughfares to serve as reservoirs for water. Before the introduction of a system of waterworks, these fire wells, the creeks, and the river were the only available sources upon which the one fire engine could draw. This engine was imported from the United States in 1863 by the Courcil, and formed the nucleus of a voluntary fire brigade service >organized in 1866. Captain J. P. Roberts was elected first Chief Engineer, and Mr. C. J. Ashley, foreman of the Mih-ho-oong (destroy fire dragon) Hook and Ladder Company. The French joined heartily in the enterprise and the three Settlements worked in complete harmony.

The Brigade was not at first under the control of the Municipal Council, and, as it was largely supported by the Insurance Companies, was not a great drain on municipal resources.

Fire alarms were in the beginmng given by the ringing of the church bell and the firing of three guns from the senior man-of-war in port, and the ringing of the bells of the steamers in harbour. Owing to the fact that the church bell could not be heard distinctly, a tower was erected at the Hongkew Police Station, and one of the church bells not in use was lent by the trustees as a fire alarm.

In 1880 a large bell weighing 5,150 pounds was purchased from the Meneely Founders of West Troy, N.Y. The bell had been cast in 1865 and was obtained at the low cost of $1,500 gold. It was hung in the 100-feet high tower erected at the Central Fire Station on Shantung Road and the one in use there was transferred to the tower at the Hongkew Police Station. Some time after bells ceased to be used for fire alarms, the large bell purchased in 1880 was moved to Jessfleld Park and mounted on a stone pedestal in front of a small Chinese pavilion where it may now be seen.

The second and third articles of the constitution of the voluntary Shanghai Fire Department read as follows:

"Article 11 - The Shanghai Fire Department is instituted for the better preservation of all property exposed to conflagration and its motto shall be 'We Fight the Flames.'

"Article 111 - That the American, English and French Settlements be known respectively as Fire Districts Nos. 1, 2, and 3, and the operations of the S. F. D. shall be within the foreign settlements of Shanghai, and these limits shall not be passed except in cases of urgent necessity, and by order of the Chief Engineer."

The Fire Brigade played an important part in the life of the Settlements. The young men took up the service with considerable eagerness and enjoyed the excitement and the social life connected with it. Some of them lived at the fire stations, so as to be on hand when alarms were given, and no matter what social functions they might be attending, at the sound of the fire bell, they rushed off so as to be at their stations as quickly as possible. There was keen competition among the different units as to which would reach the scene of the fire first.

As we shall see later, owing to the extension of the Settlement area and to great increase in the number of fires, it became necessary to abandon the voluntary system, and to introduce in its place a paid fire brigade,with a trained Chief Officer at its head, appointed by the Municipal Council.


A Cemetery Company was formed in 1844 which by the sale of shares, raised 3500 with which was bought the first burial ground behind the Custom House.

Before it could be laid out as a cemetery Messrs. Lindsay and Company acquired this plot of ten and a half mow, by giving in exchange for it a piece of 14 mow on Shantung Road, with a well-built wall, a gateway and a mortuary chapel. It is known as the Shantung Road Cemetery. Here will be found many of the graves of the early residents of Shanghai including those of Dr. E. C. Bridgman, the first American Missionary to China and the Rt. Rev. William J. Boone, the first Anglican Bishop in China.

During the years 1844-1851, 54 seamen died in Shanghai and were buried in the foreign cemetery. Later on a special cemetery was set apart for seamen, in Pootung.

An interesting cemetery is situated at the corner of Rue Hue and the Boulevard des Deux Republiques. Here are the graves of the British soldiers and sailors who lost their lives during the time of the fighting around Shanghai, in 1861-1864. They were buried at first just under the city wall, but when this was demolished, after the Revolution of 1911, the graves were removed to the present site.

In September, 1863, it was decided that a new cemetery was necessary and that it should be located outside of the Settlements. This led to the purchase by the Municipalities of the Pahsienjao Cemetery, at that time situated beyond the French Concession. In 1866 the Councils undertook the charge of all cemeteries.

In later times other cemeteries were acquired, first that on Bubbling Well Road and then the one on Hungjao Road.


The fact that one of the Settlements, the American, which became a part of the International Settlement in 1863, lay to the north of the Soochow Creek,made better communication between the two sections necessary. At first the only way of crossing the Soochow Creek was by ferry, and this of course was inconvenient, especially in inclement weather. The need of a bridge was apparent, and in the first instance it was supplied by a man named Wills who organized the Soochow Creek Bridge Company. A bridge known as Wills Bridge, not a very sightly structure, was erected in 1856 at a cost of $12,000. It had a span of 450 feet, and a drawbridge in the centre that could be opened for the passage of boats. The company made a great profit from the tolls collected from those using the bridge, and claimed it had received a charter from the Taotai giving it a right to this monopoly for 25 years. The public, however, protested, and denied the authority of the Taotai to grant any such charter. When the company attempted the erection of a new iron bridge in 1871, two poles gave way and the part of the bridge that had been completed sank into the river. Some years later the Council obtained control, first, by erecting a free bridge by the side of the company's, and later by buying out the company, and erecting what was known as the Garden Bridge. This first wooden bridge was replaced by the present structure in 1906.

When the first Garden Bridge was built the authorities of the Settlement were of the opinion that the Taotai might be willing to help pay for pubJic improvements of benefit to the whole community - Chinese and foreign alike - and he was asked to contribute one-half the cost. This he very positively declined to do, and the Municipality learnt that it must be self-supporting, and could not expect the Chinese authorities to pay for the expense of protecting the Settlements or to contribute for their upkeep.

Street Lighting

At first, the streets were lit at night with oil lamps, and were nearly as dark as those within the city walls. In 1864, the Shanghai Gas Company was formed and obtained permission to lay mains, and thus after 1865 gas was used for street lighting. There was considerable objection to this improvement on the part of the land renters as it increased their rates, and did not add much in the way of illumination, the lamps being placed 100 yards apart.


During the early days of the International Settlement, the revenue of the Municipal Council was not sufficient to allow it to spend much on public works or to establish institutions for the benefit of the community, and a good deal was left to private enterprise. We see this especially in connection with the development of hospitals.

Health conditions were poor, due to stagnant pools, to lack of proper drainage and to the unsanitary habits of the Chinese population. At times the death rate was exceedingly high, and there were frequent epidemics of cholera, smallpox and typhoid. The need of better hospital accommodation became urgent. In 1862 Shanghai had two hospitals for foreigners, the Shanghai Hospital and Dispensary, and the Marine Hospital. These proving to be insufficient, shares were sold for the establishment of a General Hospital. A sum of Tls. 31,000 was subscribed and trustees were appointed. The new hospital was first situated between the West Gate and the Ningpo Guild (popularly known as the Ningpo Joss House). The patients were cared for by the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, many of whom rendered devoted service.

As years went by it became necessary for the Municipal Council to assist in the support of this enterprise, and to make an annual donation towards its maintenance. In this way the large General Hospital, now standing on the north side of the Soochow Creek, between Chapoo and North Szechuen Roads, came into existence.


The need of a gaol was soon realized, for Shanghai from the start had to cope with a criminal class. Sailors on shore often gave serious trouble, and the influx of Chinese into the Settlements brought many of the undesirable class.

The first gaol to be erected was on the grounds of the British Consulate, in 1856. Being the only foreign prison in existence it had to serve for all criminals, and we find that "by courtesy American criminals were confined there as well as the English," the American Government having made no provision for a gaol. In 1868 a new British gaol was erected on Amoy Road near the junction of the Defence and Soochow Creeks, where it still stands.

Chinese criminals were handed over to the Chinese authorities, and it was not until later that a Municipal Gaol was built.

H.B.M. Supreme Court

In 1865 the British Government appointed Sir Edmund Homby as Chief Justice of a British Court for Shanghai, and the jurisdiction in legal matters was transferred from the Consulate to the Supreme Court. The buildings for the new court were erected on land adjoining the Consulate lot.

Building of Roads

There was little money for the construction of roads, and as sedan chairs and wheel barrows were the usual means of transportation, the importance of roads was not keenly felt by the early residents.

The original Land Regulations provided for four roads, those now named Hankow, Kiukiang, Nanking, and Peking, and for the preservation of the river frontage, formerly used for a towing path.

Gradually the roads system underwent an extension. The land renters were obliged to make roads for their own convenience, and these were afterwards handed over to the Council. With the coming of the Chinese into the Settlements and the erection of houses for their occupation, more roads had to be opened.

For a long time these roads were in a poor condition and were quite impassable during the rainy season. The soil of Shanghai, being alluvial, can only be converted into good roads at considerable expense. At first broken brick was used as a foundation. Later on shingle was introduced, and then cinders and clinkers, obtained from the steamers. Granite chips were first used in 1856 on Mission Road (now Foochow Road). The present unmettled suburban roads will give a fair idea of what the roads must have been like in wet weather.

In road building we can trace the following evolution: first, the land renter made his own road and handed it over to the Municipal Council to keep up; second, the land owner bought the land for the road and the Council made it up; and thirdly, the Council bought the land and made the road. Before the Council had power to acquire land for public purposes, it was often obliged to pay large sums for the property it wished to purchase.

Originally in various parts of the Settlements, for greater security, woodem gates were erected on some of the streets to prevent a sudden inrush of mobs or rioters. These were closed at night and guarded by watchmen. The last was not removed from Nanking Road until 1866.

The haphazard way in which the roads were constructed accounts for the utter lack of system with which they were laid out, and makes it difficult for strangers to find their way about.

During the Taiping Rebellion, when Shanghai was occupied by military forces, some roads were made for transporting supplies and ammunition, and in this way Jessfleld Road came into existence connecting with the Fan-wang-tu (Van-waung-doo)Ferry. Afterwards this road was kept up for a time by Mr. James Hogg, and later was taken over by the Council.


The origin of the name Jessfleld recalls a romantic story of the early days. A Portuguese gentleman, while passing a circus tent erected in Hongkew, heard the cries of a small girl who was being ill-treated. He purchased her freedom from the circus company, and sent her, in care of a missionary, to the United States for education. Upon her return, he married her, and as her name was Jessie, he called his country place, now the site of St. John's University, Jessfield. The road connecting it with Bubbling Well Road thus became known as Jessfleld Road.

The Public Gardens The way in which Shanghai secured the Public Gardens on the foreshore is interesting. Originally the land it now occupies was known as the Consular Mud-flat, being formed by the silt deposited by the meeting of the waters of the Whangpoo and Soochow Creek. The foundering of an old brig close to The Bund, led to the further accumulation of silt.

The land belonged to the British Consulate, but permission was obtained from the British Government to make it over to the Municipal Council on condition that it should be used as a public garden. At considerable expense the land was filled in and thus gradually out of what had been an unsightly mud flat a beautiful park was developed.

Shanghai Volunteer Corps

In 1870 the control of the Shanghai Volunteer Corps was handed over to the Council "who shall, through their Chairman,decide upon all questions of organization, and shall generally control the actions of the Corps."

This, of course led eventually to its becoming a more efficient force. A Rifle Range, where Range Road is now situated, was constructed for target practice. In 1897, owing to the rapid growth of the Settlement, it became necessary to move the Range to its present site on the road to Kiangwan.