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Sir Catchick Paul Chater CMG (Armenian: Փոլ Չաթեր; Chinese: 遮打; 8 September 1846 – 27 May 1926) was a prominent British-Indian businessman of Armenian descent in colonial Hong Kong, whose family roots were in Calcutta.

Sir Catchick Paul Chater
Solemn studio portrait of a distinguished bald gentleman with white sideburns wearing a 3-piece suit; left arm on armrest of a chair
Sir Paul Chater in 1924
Senior Unofficial Member of the Executive Council
In office
8 September 1896 – 27 May 1926
Appointed byWilliam Robinson
GovernorWilliam Robinson
Henry Arthur Blake
Matthew Nathan
Frederick Lugard
Francis Henry May
Reginald Edward Stubbs
Cecil Clementi
Succeeded bySir Henry Pollock
Senior Unofficial Member of the Legislative Council
In office
1 May 1900 – 16 January 1906
Appointed byHenry Arthur Blake
GovernorHenry Arthur Blake
Matthew Nathan
Preceded byEmanuel Raphael Belilios
Succeeded bySir Kai Ho
Personal details
Khachik Pogose Astwachatoor

8 September 1846
Calcutta, India
Died27 May 1926(1926-05-27) (aged 79)
British Hong Kong
Spouse(s)Maria Christine Pearson
Paul Chater
Traditional Chinese遮打



Early lifeEdit

Chater was born Khachik Pogose Astwachatoor[1][2] (Armenian: Խաչիկ Պողոս Աստվածատրյան) in Calcutta, British India, one of thirteen offspring of Armenian parents Miriam and Chater Paul Chater. His father was a member of the Indian civil service.

Chater was orphaned at the age of seven, and he gained entry into the La Martiniere College in Calcutta on a scholarship. He later became a benefactor of the school when, in 1924/25 he made the single biggest donation to any institution or organisation whilst still alive, donating eleven lakhs Rupees to the desperately struggling school, thus allowing it to avoid certain closure. To honour his contribution to the school, Sir Paul Chater's name was included in the school prayer.[3] In 1864,[4] he moved to Hong Kong from Calcutta and lived with the family of his sister Anna and sister's husband Jordan Paul Jordan.[5]


Full-length portrait of Chater, c. 1903

In the early days in Hong Kong, he was an assistant at the Bank of Hindustan, China and Japan. Later, with the aid of the Sassoon family, he set up business as an exchange broker, resigned from the bank, and traded gold bullion and land on his own account.[5] He took sea-bed soundings at night in a sampan and was thus instrumental in plotting the reclamation of Victoria Harbour.[5] He is credited with a pivotal role in the colonial government's success in acquiring lands then held by the military, at a cost of two million pounds sterling.[4]

In 1868, he and Sir Hormusjee Naorojee Mody formed brokerage company Chater & Mody, a largely successful business partnership in Hong Kong, although the firm's Hong Kong Milling Company (aka Rennie's Mill) failed in 1908 and resulted in the suicide of Albert Rennie.[5]

In 1886, he helped Patrick Manson establish Dairy Farm, and he entered the Legislative Council that same year, taking the place of F.D. Sassoon.[6] Also in 1886 Chater established Kowloon Wharf and Godown, predecessor of The Wharf (Holdings).[7]

In 1889, he established Hongkong Land with James Johnstone Keswick.[8] Hong Kong Land commenced the land reclamation project under the Praya Reclamation Scheme in 1890. Persuaded by the suggestion of temporary councillor Bendyshe Layton that Hong Kong should have electricity, they secretly acquired an old graveyard in Wan Chai, where they built one of the earliest power stations in the world.[9] In 1890, the Hongkong Electric Company went into production.[10]

Chater was enthusiastic in two sports: He played for the Hong Kong Cricket Club 1st XI, and was a thoroughbred horse racing enthusiast. He reportedly never missed the weekly races at the Happy Valley Racecourse in 60 years.[9] He set up the Chater Stable in Hong Kong in 1872 that won many races at Happy Valley.[11] The Hong Kong Champions & Chater Cup, the Group One third leg of the Hong Kong Triple Crown, is named in his honour.

In 1896, Chater joined government ranks when he was appointed to the Executive Council of Hong Kong, and served there until 1926, the year of his death.[6] Chater was knighted in 1902. In 1901, Chater constructed a very fine home with imported European marble at 1, Conduit Road, Hong Kong which he named 'Marble Hall'.[12] Therein, he housed his collection of fine porcelain. To commemorate the coronation of King Edward VII in 1902, Chater presented a statue in bronze of the King to Hong Kong,[13] executed by George Edward Wade and unveiled at Statue Square in 1907. In 1904, Chater single-handedly financed the construction of St. Andrew's Church[4]

Some titles and positions held by Chater:


Marble Hall, subject of a 1935 Christmas postcard
Bust of Catchick Paul Chater at La Martiniere Boys School, Kolkata

Chater died in 1926, and bequeathed Marble Hall and its entire contents, including his unique collection of porcelain and paintings, to Hong Kong. The remainder of his estate went to the Armenian Church of the Holy Nazareth in Calcutta, which runs a home for Armenian elderly, named The Sir Catchick Paul Chater Home.[5] He was interred at the Hong Kong Cemetery.

Chater's wife lived in Marble Hall as a life tenant until her death in 1935.[12][15] Ownership then passed to the government. It became “Admiralty House” – the official residence of the Naval Commander-in-Chief, and was commandeered by Japanese during their occupation. It accidentally burned down in 1946, and the government buildings occupied the site since its demolition in 1953. Government residences named 'Chater Hall Flats' are today located on the site of Marble Hall.[12]

Chater amassed a large collection of historical pictures and engravings relating to China which he gifted to the colony. The Chater Collection was subject to a work by its curator, James Orange, in 1924, at which time the collection stood at 430 items. Its backbone was the collection of Wyndham Law of the Chinese Maritime Customs Service, and included oil paintings, watercolours, sketches, prints and photographs, most of which are based on landscape scenes of the South China trading ports in the 18th and 19th centuries, and of British activities in China.[4] The Chater Collection was dispersed and largely destroyed during the Japanese occupation, and only 94 pieces (now an important part of the collection of the Hong Kong Museum of Art) are known to have survived.[16]

On the occasion of Paul Chater's 171 birthday a bust of Paul Chater was unveiled at the La Martiniere Boys School, Kolkata.[17]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Biography: Who Was This Man? CHATER. Liz Chater published 2010
  2. ^ “This was such a fantastic discovery for me and the first I knew that I had Armenian ancestors in my family”, HETQ online, 29 March 2010
  3. ^ Armenians in India: Mesrovb Seth, P.551
  4. ^ a b c d James Orange (1924). The Chater Collection: Pictures Relating to China, Hongkong, Macao, 1655-1860.
  5. ^ a b c d e England, Vaudine (16 December 2007) "Who was this man Chater?", Page 11, South China Morning Post
  6. ^ a b Vaudine England and Elizabeth Sinn, The Quest of Noel Croucher: Hong Kong's Quiet Philanthropist (Hong Kong University Press, 1998)
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b c Jason Wordie, Land-grabbing titans who changed HK's profit for good Archived 22 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine, 18 April 1999
  9. ^ a b "The Legacy of Sir Catchick Paul Chater" Archived 8 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine, City Life, Retrieved 28 January 2011
  10. ^ Wiltshire, Trea. [First published 1987] (republished & reduced 2003). Old Hong Kong - Volume Two. Central, Hong Kong: Text Form Asia books Ltd. Page 11. ISBN Volume One 962-7283-60-6
  11. ^ Coates, Austin China Races, Oxford University Press (China) (February 2, 1984) pp133-140
  12. ^ a b c Marble Hall Gatekeeper's Lodge (1901- )
  13. ^ "Court Circular". The Times (36905). London. 22 October 1902. p. 8.
  14. ^ Congregation (1923) - Sir Catchick Paul CHATER, Doctor of Laws Archived 28 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine, University of Hong Kong
  15. ^ According to her gravestone, Lady Maria Christine Chater was born 6 May 1879 and died 11 March 1935; but according to her birth certificate she was born 6 May 1874 in Granberga, Heby, Sweden
  16. ^ Press Release (23 March 2007). "Chater art collection goes on show[permanent dead link]", Hong Kong Museum of Art
  17. ^ "A friend in need" (The Telegraph). ABP. 9 September 2017. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  18. ^ The Hong Kong Government Gazette, March 19, 1909

External linksEdit

Legislative Council of Hong Kong
Preceded by
Frederick David Sassoon
Unofficial Member
Representative for Justices of the Peace
Succeeded by
Frederick David Sassoon
Preceded by
Frederick David Sassoon
Unofficial Member
Representative for Justices of the Peace
Succeeded by
Henry Edward Pollock
Preceded by
Emanuel Raphael Belilios
Senior Unofficial Member
Succeeded by
Kai Ho
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Phineas Ryrie
Chairman of the Hong Kong Jockey Club
Succeeded by
H. P. White
Political offices
New office Unofficial Member of the Executive Council of Hong Kong
Succeeded by
Chow Shou-son
Senior Unofficial Member of the Executive Council
Succeeded by
Sir Henry Pollock