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British Colonial Government Policy on land administration in New Territories, 1899

1900 Jan 17

British  Colonial Government Policy on land administration in New Territories, 1899

Bruce Shepherd, then Deputy Land Officer, stated clearly in his report to Government dated 17th January, 1900, of British Colonial Government Policy in land administration in New Territories.

The policy would be based on the Land Registration Ordinance of 1843, requiring all land owners to register their land ownerships from Ching Dynasty, they would then be issued  title deeds for a period of 99 years.

Henry Blake, the Governor, issued a Chinese notice on 12th July 1899 informing all land owners of  New Territories and Outlying Islands to file their claims of  land ownerships.

Stewart Lockhart emphasised all owners ought to bring along their Ching Dynasty title deeds in person, submit the filled-in claim form to visiting officer to the village.

A list of  land owner names would be posted in the village for 7 days. If there was no dispute, a certificate of title would be issued to individual owner after payment of Crown Rent.

If there were disputes, the case would be passed on to Squatters Board for examination and the outcome would be decided by Governor.

All land in New Territories would be surveyed for its size and exact location, land not claimed would be British Colonial Government land.

“ Do not say that I have not warned you here, do not show disobedience.” Henry Blake.

FORM 指定表格

English Land Claim Form

Chinese Land Claim Form
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Last edited by Cheung Chau Magazine on 2013 Oct 21

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Cheung Chau Block Crown Lease, 1905

1905 Mar 18

Cheung Chau Block Crown Lease, 1905

Block Crown Lease is basically a Land Lease covering many land lots.

In the past, many big families in New Territories have built up a large land bank in certain village or district over a long period of time. Hong Kong Colonial Government issued a single land lease covering many land lots belonging to same family for easy management accordingly.

Wong Wai Tsak Tong is a typical example, after land claim for Cheung Chau in 1899, Hong Kong Colonial Government issued a Block Crown Lease on 18th of March in 1905 to register Wong Wai Tsak Tong for 90% of private land on Cheung Chau.

In 1995, a legislation named Block Crown Lease (Cheung Chau) Ordinance, passed to terminate Wong Wai Tsak Tong’s Taxlord status for Cheung Chau, all sub-lessees of Wong Wai Tsak Tong, lease renewed or not, who were registered in Land Registry before commencement of this legislation, would become Hong Kong Government lessee.

A chapter was closed for Wong Wai Tsak Tong and Hong Kong Colonial Government.

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Last edited by Cheung Chau Magazine on 2013 Oct 04

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Cheung Chau in 1898

1898 Oct 01

Cheung Chau in 1898

When Stewart Lockhart, Special Commissioner to Hong Kong , wrote a report to Colonial Office in Oct 1898 after taking over New Territories which includes outlying islands, this is how he described Cheung Chau in his report :

“The Island of Cheung Chau is a busy place, at which many of the steamers, launches, and junks plying between Hong Kong and Macao call.

There is a station of the Chinese Imperial Maritime Customs on the Island, as there is also on the Island of Ma Wan, commonly known as the Kap Shui Mun Station.

The deep anchorage of Cheung Chau affords good shelter, especially during easterly gale.

He also remarked the population of Cheung Chau at 5,000 in 1898, based on the estimate from the officer of the Chinese Imperial Maritime Customs stationed at Cheung Chau.”

But a British, L C Arlington, the expatriate employed by Ching Dynasty as Imperial Maritime Customs Officer stationed at Cheung Chau between 1894-98, recalled a different aspect of life in his book.  “The exceptionally strong smell from raw fish and shrimp paste under the sun was almost everywhere on the island. It made him very difficult to set foot on Cheung Chau again after 6 long years of service on the island.”

長洲島上海關檢查站

Chinese Imperial Maritime Customs at Cheung Chau


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Last edited by Cheung Chau Magazine on 2013 Oct 21

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Ching Dynasty New Territories and outlying islands Land Tenure, before 1898

1898 Jan 01

New Territories and outlying islands Land Tenure, before 1898

With a view to increase land tax revenue for British Empire, then Colony Secretary  for Hong Kong in 1900, Stewart Lockhart, with the assistance of Mr. Messer and Mr. Tsoi, prepared a Memorandum of Chinese  Land Tenure of Ching Dynasty for submission to then Governor, Henry Blake.

In brief details, ” Chinese land title will not be passed to female, only through the male line. Title deeds are often in perpetuity or for 1,000 years. Many deeds were registered in Ka Tsing years of Ming dynasty (A.D. 1519-1626) and recognised by Ching Dynasty.

Ching government stipulated all farm lands must be registered with authority or risk the chance of repossession for resale once discovered by government. In reality, many farm lands were registered in a much smaller than their actual size.

Land with fertile soil and near water supply to yield 2 crops of rice annually is considered 1st class farm land. Farm land on slope and relatively far from water supply, yielding 1 crop of rice per year, is considered 2nd class. Land on hilly area far from water supply is considered 3rd class.  Fish pond is top class land, whereas building land and others are lowest class of land.

Red deeds means title deeds with Official Stamps in red from Ching government and registered with authority. White deeds are title deeds in private agreement not registered with Ching Government. Government will only recognize and collect Crown Rent on Red deeds.

Landlords has Ti Kwat (地骨), the right to receive rent, tenant has Ti Pi (地皮), the right to cultivate, this double ownerships has caused many dispute.

Small village where farm land is located usually has security problem making villagers looking up to big clans for protection. They also pay land tax through these big clans, who most often have members as officials in the government. But then these big clans did not usually registered farm lands with authority.

Villagers did not  claim these farm lands as their own, in fear that Ching government would repossess these land as a result of non payment for land tax. They would then lose the farm land and livelihood.”

Henry Arthur Blake , 1898-1903

Henry Arthur Blake

Governor, 1898-1903

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Last edited by Cheung Chau Magazine on 2013 Oct 21

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First Public Land Sales on Cheung Chau, 1906

1906 Jan 01

First Public Land Sales on Cheung Chau, 1906

After completion of land surveying in New Territories, most land claim disputes were settled. Colonial Government also held the first public land auction on Crown Land on Cheung Chau.

In 1906 December, Mr. G H Wakeman, Land Officer of Government, announced a public auction for Lot 622, Lot 623 and Lot 624 on Cheung Chau,  would be held at District Land Office, Hong Kong, at 2:30pm on Friday on 4th January 1907.

Each lot is 735 sf., and had no right of access to the sea, no compensation would be made in the event of reclamation of the sea in front of it.

Today these lots are no longer in Hong Kong SAR Government Records.

刊憲通知

Hong Kong Government Gazette announced Public Land Sales on Cheung Chau, 1906 December

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Last edited by Cheung Chau Magazine on 2013 Oct 21

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