Event Detail


Here be Dragons: Policing the newly acquired New Territories and Islands from 1898

Patricia O'Sullivan
Tuesday, 12 Mar 2024
Complimentary Free-Flow Fine Wines from 6:45 pm; Talk at 7:30 pm
The HK Management Association, 14/F, Fairmont House, 8 Cotton Tree Drive, Central

Historical maps often feature fantastical creatures or the words “Here be Dragons”, for parts of the globe which had not been explored and whose existence could only be surmised.  

Patricia O’Sullivan shows how, for the British administration, the New Territories and Islands in 1898 were similarly unchartered territory.  For those who had to try to impose British law on the region, this meant not only unfamiliar country, but their first real encounter with traditional Chinese customs and practice, within long established villages and communities. 

For those suddenly under a, foreign to them, British administration, there was now the challenge of making sense of alien rules.  This included what they perceived to be bizarre, convoluted legal practices.  Or perhaps the option of ignoring them, and continuing with life as it had always been.  

Given all this, when serious crimes came to the ears of the Police Force, they had to investigate and prosecute as best they could, often with little understanding of the actions and motives of those involved.

Patricia explores some of these challenges and how they could result in compromises, misunderstandings and miscarriages of justice, through looking at some of the major trials of the first decades of the twentieth century.

Patricia O’Sullivan has been writing about Hong Kong’s vibrant history since 2010, initially uncovering long-forgotten family stories. The result, Policing Hong Kong - an Irish History, was published in April 2017.  Many avenues of exploration were opened up by this, often involving the less-chartered waters of Hong Kong’s social history.  She published Women, Crime and the Courts: Hong Kong 1841-1941 in 2020.  Patricia has also written a book on the First World War in Hong Kong, focussing on the Police who volunteered for military service.

Patricia has resided in Hong Kong and the United Kingdom, where she worked for Hertfordshire Music Service, and is still actively involved in music and music education.  She now visits Hong Kong annually to conduct historical research.

Members of the RGS-HK, their guests and others are most welcome to attend this event, which is HK$200 for RGS Members and HK$250 for guests and others, including free-flow drinks. This talk is free of charge for student members, please write to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to reserve a seat.

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