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William Caine (Hong Kong)

Captain Caine

William Hull Caine (1799–1871) was the first head of the Hong Kong Police Force (1841-1844 as Chief Magistrate), Colonial Secretary of Hong Kong from 1854 to 1859. He attained the rank of Lieutenant Colonel prior to his secretary appointment. Caine was also the acting Governor of Hong Kong between May and September 1859.


Captain Caine was born in England in 1799 and served in the British Army's 26th (Cameronian) Regiment of Foot during the Peninsular War against Napoleon in Spain. His regiment was later transferred to Hong Kong and he began his long association with the colony.[1]

Caine was Chief Magistrate, the head of pre-Hong Kong Police Force from 1841 to 1844. The then Major Caine was appointed Colonial Secretary and Auditor General[2] from 1846 to 1854.[3] His role was considerably diminished after the arrival in 1849 of the new governor Sir John Bowring who stamped his authority on Hong Kong after his power struggle with Caine went all the way to the Colonial Office for resolution.[4]

He was the Colonial Secretary of Hong Kong from 1854 to 1859. He was the acting Governor of Hong Kong between May and September 1859.

Caine was party to a long-running feud with William Tarrant, who, as Registrar of Deeds in 1847, accused Caine of permitting his comprador to extort vendors in Central Market. An internal government inquiry held Tarrant's claim to be baseless, and Tarrant was sacked from the civil service and effectively barred from future re-employment. Tarrant then became a journalist and after purchasing the Friend of China newspaper in 1850 repeatedly attacked Caine in its pages until the latter sued Tarrant for libel in 1859, as a result of which Tarrant was sentenced to prison.[5]:64

Caine had four sons, Charles Henry Fearon Caine, Henry Monteith Caine, George Whittingham Caine (in 1855, a junior clerk in the Plenipotentiary's Department),[6]:353 William Hull Caine.

Caine retired and left Hong Kong in 1859 and died in 1871.[7]


Caine Road on Mid-levels was named after him.[8] A 29 floor L-shaped building called Caine House, part of the Hong Kong Police Headquarters, was named after him and completed in 1987.[9]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Captain Caine, the "Big Man" of Hong Kong".
  2. ^ "No. 20709". The London Gazette. 26 February 1847. p. 834.
  3. ^ "About us - History of the Audit Commission".
  4. ^ Munn, Christopher Munn (2012). May Holdsworth & Christopher Munn (eds.). Dictionary of Hong Kong Biography. Hong Kong University Press. ISBN 9789888083664.CS1 maint: uses editors parameter (link)
  5. ^ Endacott, G. B. (2005) [1962]. A Biographical Sketch-book of Early Hong Kong. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press. ISBN 9622097421.
  6. ^ Norton-Kyshe, James William (1898). History of the Laws and Courts of Hong Kong. London: T Fisher Unwin.
  7. ^ "William CAINE [1799-1871] - Gwulo: Old Hong Kong".
  8. ^ Wordie, Jason (2002). Streets: exploring Hong Kong Island. Hong Kong University Press. p. 16. ISBN 978-962-209-563-2.
  9. ^ GmbH, Emporis. "Caine Building, Hong Kong - 152272 - EMPORIS".

Further readingEdit

Government offices
Preceded by
Adolphus Edward Shelley
Auditor-General of Hong Kong
Succeeded by
William Thomas Mercer
Preceded by
Frederick Wright-Bruce
Colonial Secretary of Hong Kong
Preceded by
John Bowring
Administrator of Hong Kong

May 1859 – September 1859
Succeeded by
Hercules Robinson