A Rare Boxer Rebellion Group to Vice Consul
A rare Boxer rebellion ‘Defence of Legations’ group of four awarded to Mr W. P. Kerr, C.M.G., Vice-Consul and Second Chinese Secretary at the British Legation during the siege of Peking, later Consul-General at Tientsin 1917-27 The Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George, C.M.G., Companion’s breast badge converted for neck wear, silver-gilt and enamels, in its R & S Garrard & Co case of issue, both centres with chips to enamel; China 1900, 1 clasp, Defence of Legations (W. P. Ker, Vice-Consul) naming officially engraved in the usual style for officers; Coronation 1911; China, Republic, Presidential Inauguration Commemorative Medal of Yuan Shi-kai as the first President, 10 October 1913, silver-gilt and enamels, the reverse with finely enamelled crossed national flags, Chinese characters, ears of grain, etc., the last three on old Hunt & Roskell Ltd court mounting as worn. Footnote: William Pollock Ker was born on 12 December 1864, son of the Rev. W. T. Ker, of Deskford, Banffshire. He graduated as an M.A. from Aberdeen University and, having passed a competitive examination, was appointed a Student Interpreter in China on 26 July 1888. He was promoted to be a 2nd Class Assistant in April 1894, and a 1st Class Assistant in September 1897. He was Acting Consul at Soochow in 1897 and 1898, and Acting Vice-Consul at Shanghai in 1898 and 1899. Employed as an Assistant in the Chinese Secretary’s Office at Peking from 28 May 1899 to 15 September 1901, he was present throughout the siege of Peking and received the China Medal and Clasp for the Defence of the Legations at Peking, 1900. He was mentioned in Sir Claude MacDonald’s Siege of Peking despatch in the following terms: ‘Mr Cockburn, besides acting as a volunteer in the barricades of the West Wall, was in charge of the very important correspondence which took place between the enemy and myself, commencing on the 16th July. By means of this correspondence much valuable time was gained, which enabled our defences to be considerably strengthened, so that, when the final assaults were delivered, they were repulsed with heavy loss to the attackers. Mr Cockburn’s house was especially selected by the enemy for their attentions; several shells struck and burst on the roof, and rifle bullets pierced the mosquito curtains, besides other parts of the house. Mr Ker was a very able second to to Mr Cockburn; he came particularly under my notice as a conscientious worker.’ Six days after the lifting of the siege, another victim was claimed in the form of Ker’s baby son, Murray, aged one year and ten months. With this sad event behind him, William Ker continued as Acting Consul at Wuhu from October 1901 to April 1902, when he was promoted to be Consul at Wuhu. He was called to the Bar at the Middle Temple in June 1903 and accordingly returned to London. He transferred to Nanking in March 1905, and was Acting Consul-General at Tientsin in 1908 and 1909. In January of that year he was appointed Commercial Attaché in China, a post he held through to March 1917. He received the Coronation Medal, 1911, and was made a C.M.G. on 3 June 1913. In the following month Ker was appointed Commissioner to examine and adjudicate upon British claims arising out of the revolution in China in 1912, by which a new republic came into being. In April 1917 he gave up his post of Commercial Attaché upon appointment as Consul-General at Tientsin. He was granted a new Commission as one of H.M. Consuls-General in China on 1 March 1922, and retired from the service, whilst Consul-General at Tientsin, at the end of 1926. He retired to live in Surrey and died on 6 August 1945.