Colonial Cemetery, Happy Valley

A tranquil spot in Happy Valley, Hong Kong is the resting place for many who travelled to the Far East from Europe in the 19th. Century.   The former British Colony was a thriving trading centre and home to merchants, military and members of the colonial service.  Members of the Royal Navy and merchant seamen all spent time on what was once termed ‘this barren rock’. 

In the early years the fledgling colony was stricken with outbreaks of typhoid, cholera and bubonic plague and these took their toll on the community.  The Old Protestant Burial Ground in Wanchai was soon full and ground for a new cemetery had to be found.  In the 1840s Happy Valley was on the outskirts of the growing city and was seen as an ideal spot.

From 1985 to 1995 I spent my weekends in the Hong Kong Cemetery transcribing and indexing those of the inscriptions that were still legible.  Some 12,000 people had been buried since the cemetery had opened and I did not like to think of them lying forgotten so far away from their homelands.  It was a tremendous undertaking that I had set myself but I ploughed on regardless.  In the height of the summer when snakes came out to bask in the sunshine beside the graves, or when typhoons raged and the resulting deluge threatened to wash away the graves, then I found other sources of information to supplement my index:  church records, obituaries, government gazettes.  Each source added additional information to the sometimes sparse and maybe illegible inscriptions. 

I left Hong Kong in the summer of 1995 having completed the last inscription in the last section just one week before. 

Genealogists searching for details of that elusive ancestor could well find that they are laid to rest in this far flung outpost.  Perhaps I have them in my database !!  Please use the “Contact Us” tab at the top of the page if you would like to contact me.

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