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Descendant of Taiwan's first British consul visits historic site

2019/01/18 22:44:58

Christopher Swinhoe-Standen (right) / Photo courtesy of Kaohsiung City government Bureau of Cultural Affairs

Taipei, Jan. 18 (CNA) A fifth generation descendant of Robert Swinhoe, the first British consul in Formosa (Taiwan), visited the historical British Consulate at Takow in Kaohsiung on Thursday.

Christopher Swinhoe-Standen made the visit after contacting Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressing his desire to visit the country to search for his ancestral roots.

Swinhoe-Standen traveled to the southern port city from Taipei to visit the former British Consulate and was accompanied on a tour organized by Kaohsiung's Bureau of Cultural Affairs.

From the consulate, Swinhoe-Standen made his way to a wax figure on a nearby trail that symbolized his ancestor's biological research, including into macaques and true frogs.

According to the Bureau of Cultural Affairs, Robert Swinhoe was stationed in Taiwan in July 1861 as the first British vice-consul, and he set up the first British Consular Office on the island.

After the establishment of a customs office in Takow (Kaohsiung) in 1864, the British relocated their vice-consulate in Taiwan to Takow in November of that year, the bureau said.

The vice-consulate was upgraded to a consulate in February 1865, and Swinhoe became the consul general.

In addition to his official post, Swinhoe was also a biologist who studied the rich wildlife on the island, and he documented a vast number of the country's birds.

It was that legacy that Swinhoe-Standen was pursuing, and he said he plans to share all the photos he took during his trip in Taiwan with his 91-year-old mother when he returns to the United Kingdom.

He also said he expected to return to Kaohsiung in the future with family and friends.

(By Chen Chi-fong and William Yen)