Men of the Time, eleventh edition/Alcock, Rutherford
ALCOCK, Sir Rutherford, K.C.B., D.C.L., son of Thomas Alcock, Esq., a medical practitioner of some eminence in his day, was born in London in 1809. He himself was educated for the medical profession, and after taking his diploma in 1831 he spent some years on the medical staff of the British auxiliary forces employed in Portugal and Spain, in furtherance of the policy of the Quadruple Treaty with regard to the Miguelite and Carlist wars of that time. He rose rapidly in both services; retired in 1837 with the rank of Deputy Inspector-General of Hospitals, and subsequently received her Majesty's permission to receive and wear the insignia of the Tower and Sword of Portugal, the Cross of Charles III., and the Commander's Cross of the Order of Isabella II. of Spain, conferred upon him for his services in the field. On his return home he was appointed British Commissioner in the two "Mixed Commissions," which sat in succession to settle the claims of the British auxiliary forces, naval and military, on the governments of Spain and Portugal, for which his knowledge of the two languages, and of the services, especially recommended him. Both these Commissions were brought to a satisfactory termination, and in 1844 he entered the Consular service, being appointed Her Majesty's Consul at Foochow; afterwards he was appointed in succession Consul at Shanghae and Canton; in 1858 he was selected to establish Treaty relations with Japan as her Majesty's Consul-General. In 1859 he was promoted to the rank of Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary—the first instance on record, we believe, of such a promotion from the consular service to the diplomatic. He occupied this post until 1865, under a perpetual menace of violence and assassination. In 1861 an armed force of Lonins stormed the British Legation in the middle of the night, killing and wounding many of the inmates. But when he left the country, commerce and friendly relations had been formally established, after the decisive blow, struck under his direction, at the confederacy of hostile Daimios, in the attack on Simonoseki, which, as the event proves, changed the whole course of Japanese policy and history. He was made a C.B. in 1860, and a K.C.B. in 1862; in 1865 he was transferred to Peking as Her Majesty's Minister and Chief Superintendent of Trade in China. This post he held until 1871, when he resigned, after twenty-seven years' service in the "Far East." Both in Japan and China he has left his mark in more than one direction. The municipal government of Shanghae, which has earned it the complimentary title of the "Model Settlement," took in his hands in 1853 the form it has since retained, with little material change. And the Foreign Inspectorate of Customs is an institution which will always be associated with his name, as its originator at Shanghae. In 1863 the University of Oxford conferred on him the honorary degree of D.C.L., and in 1876 he was elected President of the Royal Geographical Society. He was appointed one of the British Commissioners for the Paris Exposition of 1878. He was a member of the Royal Commission appointed in 1881 to enquire into the condition of the London Hospitals for small-pox and fever cases, and into the means of preventing the spread of infection; and in 1882 he presided over the Health department at the Congress of the Social Science Association held at Nottingham. Sir Rutherford is the author of "Notes on the Medical History and Statistics of the British Legion of Spain," 1838; "Elements of Japanese Grammar," 1861; "The Capital of the Tycoon: a narrative of a Three Years' Residence in Japan," 2 vols., 1863; "Familiar Dialogues in Japanese, with English and French Translations," 1863; and "Art and Art Industries in Japan," 1878. He also edited, and added a concluding chapter to, "The Journey of Augustus Raymond Margary from Shanghae to Bhamo, and back to Manwyne," 1876; and he has been a frequent contributor to the Quarterly and Edinburgh Reviews.