The Giles Pickford Collection


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Most of the early photographs, especially those relating to the siege of the Legations in Beijing (June–August 1900), were apparently the handiwork of Lancelot Giles (grandfather of the donor of the collection) who was appointed Student Interpreter in the British Consular Service (Beijing) on 19 July 1899.

Giles describes his experience of the Siege in his diary, published as The siege of the Peking legations: a diary, ed. with introduction, Chinese anti-foreignism and the Boxer uprising by L.R. Marchant, foreword by Sir R. Scott. [Nedlands] University of W.A. Press [1970]. The original is held in the Australian War Memorial.

Captions: all captions are as they appear in the albums except where included in square brackets—thus:[....]—which have been added by the curator.

Comprising eight individual albums and hundreds of photographs, these family albums offer a unique glimpse of an important period of modern history. Covering the period c. 1860–1950, the albums reflect life and conflict in Asia—and especially China—from the point of view of a family which was intimately involved with the diplomatic and expatriate communities from Beijing to Bombay. Especially noteworthy are the excellent and detailed photographic records of diplomatic and foreign student life in Beijing at the turn of the 19th/20th century as well as the siege of the Beijing Legations by the Boxer rebels and its aftermath.

The Giles Family

Central to these records is the Giles family, many members of which are renowned for their outstanding contributions to Chinese studies.

Giles, Herbert Allen (8/12/1845 - 13/2/1935)

Born at Oxford 8 December 1845 and educated at Charterhouse. Renowned Oriental scholar and linguist, Giles served in the British Consular Service from 1867–1892 [including Consul at Tamsui, 1885- and Ningbo, 1891-]. Resigned in 1893. Hon. LL.D. Aberdeen 1897 and then served as professor of Chinese at Cambridge University from 1897 to 1932. Received Hon. M.A. in 1898 from Cambridge University. Giles modified Sir Thomas Wade's Chinese transliteration and the resultant Wade-Giles system became the standard for the discipline until recent times. Publications include: 1876: Chinese Sketches; 1878: Glossary of Reference; 1882: Historic China; 1892: Chinese-English Dictionary [uses the modified Wade transliteration system]; 1897: Chinese Biographical Dictionary; 1901: A History of Chinese Literature; 1906: The Religions of Ancient China; 1915: Confucianism and its Rivals; 1924: Chaos in China

m. Catherine Fenn 30/6/1870 (d. 1882 at Pagoda Anchorage) [then in 1883 m. Elsie Edersheim (their issue: Kathleen)]

Their children

  • Arthur Allen Giles (6 July 1871–20 April 1872)
  • Harold Alston Giles (17 February 1872–2 November 1873)
  • Bertram Giles (24 September 1874–?) (British Consular Service, China)
  • Lionel Giles (29 December 1875–1958) Keeper of the Department of Oriental printed Books and Manuscripts, British Museum and translator of the Chinese classics; Publications include: 1906: The sayings of Lao Tzu; 1910: Sun Tzu on the art of war: the oldest military treatise in the world; 1911: An alphabetical index to the Chinese encyclopaedia: Ch'in ting ku chin t'u shu chi ch'eng; 1944: Six centuries at Tunhuang: a short account of the Stein collection of Chinese manuscripts; 1947: Taoist teachings from the Book of Lieh Tzu; 1948: A gallery of Chinese immortals: selected biographies tr. from Chinese sources; 1949: The book of Mencius (abridged); 1949: The sayings of Confucius: a new translation of the greater part of the Confucian Analects; 1955: Musings of a Chinese mystic: selections from the philosophy of Chuang Tzu (ed.); 1957: Descriptive catalogue of the Chinese manuscripts from Tunhuang in the British Museum)
  • Valentine Giles (12 February 1877–?) (Royal Engineers, British Army)
  • Lancelot Giles (6 June 1878–21 November 1934) m. Marjory (nee Scott) 28 October 1905 (British career diplomat and author of many of the photographs in this collection; Career highlights include: 1899, July: appointed Student Interpreter in China, British;1900: received China Medal for Defence of the Legations during the Boxer uprising; 1903: Vice-Consul, Hankou; 1906: Vice-Consul, Tianjin; 1907: Pro-Consul, Xiamen; 1909, June: Acting Consul, Xiamen; 1909, August: Acting Vice-Consul, Guangzhou; 1911, March: Acting Consul, Jiujiang then Changsha; 1915: Acting Consul-General, Tianjin; 1917, March: Foreign Trade Department of the [British] Foreign Office; 1919, April: Consul, Changsha; 1925: Consul, Fuzhou; 1927: Consul, Shantou; 1928, April 18: Acting Consul-General, Hankou; 1928, June 4: Awarded the Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George; 1928, November: Consul-General [Hankou]; 1930, February–1934 November 21: Consul-General, Tianjin.)
    • Rosamond Giles (b. 31 March 1907) m. Harold Pickford - children: Giles Pickford (donor of the present collection), and Belinda Pickford
    • Marjory Giles (House) (b.1913). Daughter: Rosamond Stewart (nee House) and son: Richard House
  • Mabel Giles (b. Amoy; 21 November 1903 m. Claud Laurence)
  • Edith Giles (b. Amoy; 1907 m. Capt. H. R. B. Reed)